Blackshirts take advantage of Robinson’s second-quarter injury

By Andrew Ward on October 29th, 2012

One thousand, two hundred and sixty-four yards passing, 900 yards rushing and 76 percent of a team’s total offense this season.

Michigan was missing all that when its senior starting quarterback and 2010 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Denard Robinson left Saturday’s game against Nebraska midway through the second quarter.

Robinson grabbed his right arm when he was tackled after a seven-yard run, deep in Nebraska territory. He aggravated a nerve injury in his throwing elbow, which caused him to struggle gripping the football. He missed the rest of the Saturday’s game.

Before the injury, Robinson had 46 yards rushing and 55 passing. After the quarterback left the game, Nebraska was forced to change its defense. Michigan’s offense gained 87 more yards and three points the rest of the game.

“Schematically, we didn’t really change a whole lot,” senior linebacker Sean Fisher said. “I think everybody in the stands and on the sidelines could kind of breath a sigh of relief because he’s such a threat.

“We figured that they’d try to get the ball into some of their other good players’ hands, so we didn’t really change anything from a defensive stand point. We just kept running our calls and really kept an emphasis on the things that we always made a point of running.”

Robinson had a chance to run out of bounds during the play he was injured on but chose to attempt to get more yards. Shortly after he cut the ball back up the field he was tackled and hurt.

“Well … you’ve got a guy that is a pretty good competitor, and sometimes competitors are stubborn,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “He was trying to get into the endzone. For me to say he shouldn’t have done that, I would be a hypocrite. You like competitive people, and he is a competitive guy.”

Robinson’s injury changed Michigan’s plan on offense. The Wolverines went with redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy who saw a plethora of Nebraska blitzes.

The Blackshirts forced Bellomy into three interceptions, including one on Michigan’s final possession by Husker cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste to seal the game. Bellomy finished the game completing three of his 16 pass attempts for 38 yards.

“We were preparing for Denard, and I called some things in the second half that we didn’t call a lot during the week, so I thought our kids executed well,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.

The Michigan players were confused with Bellomy’s disappointing play. Wolverine receiver Roy Roundtree said the freshman usually plays better than he showed Saturday.

“Practice is better,” Roundtree said. “He was getting rushed more tonight. The defensive line was really bringing pressure when he came into the game. I feel like Nebraska made some adjustments on blitzing against runs, but that’s something we can all work on.”

The Wolverines also struggled on third down without the more-mobile Robinson running the offense. Michigan entered Saturday’s game leading the Big Ten by completing almost 50 percent of its third downs. Saturday the Wolverines managed completing 33 percent of their third downs.

Michigan’s third-down completion percentage dropped two whole points for the season after Saturday’s game. A lot of the struggles on third down had to do with Robinson’s absence.

When Robinson was in the game, Michigan completed four of eight third-down conversions, about the team’s average. Three of those conversions were on Robinson runs.

After he left with the nerve injury, the Wolverines completed just one more third-down play the rest of the game.

Hoke said the Wolverines game plan changed on offense when Robinson left.

“Oh, it changes a little bit obviously,” Hoke said. “There are some runs in there that Denard (Robinson) is very good at. We ran the ride play still, and Russell (Bellomy) took it up in there a couple of times, but he didn’t get that many yards.”

Nebraska players and coaches felt bad for Robinson when he went down with an injury, Fisher said. But the team isn’t complaining about the win.

“Of course, we don’t want to see anyone injured,” Fisher said. “I’ve had plenty of injuries in the past, and they’re no fun, but we weren’t upset about it during the game.”

sports@dailynebraskan.com

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