The Robinson Factor

Another year, another sophomore exploding on the scene.

Michigan’s Denard Robinson has turned the Heisman race upside down with his other-worldly performances the past two weeks.  If the vote were held today, he would win.

It is an old saw in Heisman circles that to win the trophy, you must either beat Notre Dame or play for Notre Dame.  Well, Robinson beat the Irish in about as impressive and dramatic a fashion as possible.

So what’s next in store for Michigan’s Mr. Robinson?

Is there any reason to think he’ll slow down in the next few games? Sure, there is a thought that he might not hold up to the rigors of the schedule since he handles the ball so much.  But the Wolverines take on Massachussetts, Bowling Green, Indiana and Michigan State in the next four weeks.  Six games into the season, barring injury, Robinson should still rank among the nation’s leaders in rushing and total offense. 

At that point, he’ll be tested, as Michigan hosts Iowa and travels to Penn State.  Then there is Illinois and Purdue before two major clashes to close the season against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

If the Heisman gods were truly shining upon us, that Wolverines-Buckeyes battle could shape up to be a Pryor-Robinson headliner, with the winner taking home the Heisman.

It’s all in Robinson’s hands.  Believe it or not, the Heisman is his to lose right now.  It’s a notion that was almost unthinkable a couple week ago.  But there it is: I don’t think anyone else in the country can match his ‘spectacular’ factor when he is on his game.  Since he is a one-man show for a traditional power, he’ll be given a little bit of leeway even if he doesn’t put up 500 yards every time out.  Amazingly, a 2,000/2,000 season is not out of the question for him–he’s probably the first player who has ever had a realistic shot at that mark.

There is still a lot of football to be played, but no one has started the season out better against more quality opponents than Robinson. 

It’s him and everyone else right now.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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5 Responses to The Robinson Factor

  1. Ed Newman September 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    Realistic shot? No, but he has an outside shot (still pretty impressive just to say that). At least five things stand in his way:

    1. Injury risk. He handles the ball so much he’s bound to get clocked. Even if he suits up all season, he likely have to play through some injuries that will slow him down.

    2. Real defenses: OSU, MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin.

    3. Midwest weather: Cold, wind, rain and sloppy fields.

    4. Quality backup(s): Forcier and the freshman will take some snaps away from him in any laughers (see Ball State, Minnesota) and possibly in some other instances as well.

    5. History: Most Rushing Yards by a Quarterback Season – 1,649 – Jayson Foster, Georgia Southern University – 2007. So he’d ONLY be breaking the all time record by more than 350 rushing yards (21%).

    On the plus side the Michigan defense will likely give up a lot of points, so he’ll get more opportunities than some QBs.

  2. Michael September 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    He will probably end up as a regression to the mean casualty. I think it’s very unlikely Denard Robinson is truly as good as his outlandishly impressive statistics suggest at this point. Much more likely is at the end of the season we’ll look back and see that he is a very talented player who started off the season with two career days. Anyone remember when Garrett Wolfe was on pace to run right through Barry Sanders rushing record?

    He may still win the Heisman, but it’d be absolutely incredible if he could keep this level of production up.

  3. HP September 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m not sure if you guy are giving him enough credit.

    This is not your run of the mill fast guy at quarterback. He is a guy who ran a 10.44 in the 100m and who made my fastest players list. He is a freak of nature at that position and it is not an accident how well he is doing now that his passing game has gotten up to speed.

    Robinson is the logical next step in the evolutionary process for quarterbacks. It was only a matter of time before a guy who could run like him and pass like him would be used at quarterback. And now we see the result.

  4. Tim September 13, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    We don’t play Minnesota this year

  5. Ed Newman September 14, 2010 at 5:44 am #

    Or Ball State for that matter!:)

    Just sub Bowling Green and Indiana. Same difference.