What we Learned About Denard Robinson Today

It’s quite simple: What we learned today is that he is still leader in the Heisman race, despite those who say that a three-interception game counts as some sort of automatic disqualification.

Far more important than the fact that Robinson’s team lost and far more important than the three interceptions is the fact that, in a game where he was slowed down considerably, he still had over 300 yards of offense (217 passing, 84 rushing) against a ranked team that was determined to stop him.  It’s become clear that an ‘off’ day for him is still an ‘on’ day for most players.  Furthermore, it has still not been demonstrated that he can be ‘stopped’ the way most players can.

Hearken back to game six of the 2007 season.  Tim Tebow was held to 158 passing yards, 67 rushing yards and two total touchdowns in a loss to LSU (the second-straight for the Gators).  That loss did little to slow down the Tebow train because he was able to maintain his record-setting pace, just as Robinson was able to against Michigan State.  Had Robinson been completely shut down, his Heisman hopes would’ve suffered immensely, but that’s not what happened.

At the halfway point, Robinson now has 1,225 passing yards, 8 TD passes and 4 picks, with 991 rushing yards and 9 TDs.  It doesn’t take a math major to see that this projects to 2,450 passing yards, 16 TDs, 8 ints, 1,982 rushing yards and 18 TDs.  A twist here and there and he’s still the NCAA’s first 2,000/2,000 guy.

I will grant that there are tougher defenses ahead of him.  But even if Robinson averages the yardage he did in his ‘off day’ the rest of the year, he would end up with a 2,500/1,500 season, which would still make him a formidable, really hard-to-beat candidate.

Remember, the Heisman race does not take place inside a vacuum for each player.  Robinson will be measured against what the rest of the field has done.  If Robinson is not the front runner right now, who is?  The other candidates in the race have also had games where they were ‘slowed’ down. 

There are lots of games left to be played and I still think Terrelle Pryor has the best chance to win in the end (see my Heisman Watch), but if there was a vote today, Robinson would win. 

It’s still his trophy to lose.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, 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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24 Responses to What we Learned About Denard Robinson Today

  1. Travis October 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    Little much with the still Denard’s to lose. He is by no means out in front anymore. Perhaps if his team had still won then maybe you could still say he was the front runner. He put up ridiculous numbers against mediocre defenses but today shows it will be very difficult for him the rest of the season. And I don’t think any QB’s “on” day includes three picks. That is an off day for any QB unless it included 5+ TD’s or a ridiculous running performance.

    Looks like Pryor has the best chance right now but there are quite a few players that have a real chance at this point.

  2. Heismanpundit October 9, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    If Robinson wins the Heisman, it will be because he has incredible numbers. This game did nothing to stop Robinson’s march toward that goal…if 217/82 is an off game, then he’s changed the definition.

  3. Travis October 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Of course this game effects his chances. Ridiculous numbers with sub par efforts in the bigger games and team losses greatly effect a player’s chance of winning the Heisman. I find it astounding you could suggest this game somehow has little to no effect.

    And again 3 INT’s with a limited effectiveness in the run game (yrds per carry) is a bad game. How could it be a good game? Can’t remember the last time a QB’s been picked off three times with his team losing and the performance is described as good.

  4. Nate October 9, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I agree with Travis actuallly.

    Look at the amount of touches that Robinson gets. He is the Michigan offense to be true, however he is not the best player in the country. He’s a wide receiver playing in a gimmicky offense that rolls the lesser competition, but fails to deliver the goods against a real defense.

    Everyone said Oregon was going to DESTROY Ohio state last year, but the fact still remains. All the Spread talk is negated by great defense that plays sound X’s and O’s football and tackles well.

    Denard Robinson puts of extreme numbers because he is essentially the only option richrod has, and he’ll ride that horse into the sunset too. I can’t see Denard touching the ball 6 plays a game and lasting through the season. This will end badly for Michigan and Denard. And honetly, I don’t think it’s fair to Robinson. He’s a talented football player who’s being asked to single handedly save Richrod and the Wolverines. What a spot to be in.

  5. Nate October 9, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    That was supposed to be 60 plays a game not 6.

  6. Corey October 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Every QB touches the ball 60 plays a game.

  7. Chris October 9, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    That was Robinson’s first test against a non-crappy defense and he really blew it. Two interceptions in the endzone and another deep in Michigan territory? Nobody wants a Heisman winner who can’t perform when it really matters.

  8. HP October 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    You guys don’t get it. Robinson will not be graded like other quarterbacks–based on wins and losses–he will be graded based on his overall numbers, which are still on record pace. This game did little to knock him off of it, which is my point here.

    You are talking to the guy who, when Robinson was all the rage, still said Pryor was the long-term favorite (and still is), but to pretend that Robinson isn’t the CURRENT front runner and doesn’t control the destiny of the race is nonsense. No one else has had a more dominant first half of the season, three interceptions or no.

  9. Travis October 10, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    Overall numbers alone will rarely get you the trophy. Must be productive in the big games and lead your team to victory. Lets face it only the ND victory can be deemed a quality performance.

    Colt Brennan finished a distant third in voting the year he put up ridiculous record breaking numbers.

  10. Chris October 10, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Robinson is absolutely not on track to rush for 2000 yards. The fact that he performed poorly against the first decent defense he’s seen does not bode well for him for the remainder of the season. But I don’t think Robinson will drop from first this week, especially in a poll that’s dominated by voters with Big 10 ties.

  11. Joe October 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm #


    The Heisman Committee, an EXTREMELY conservative group, is not going to eschew decades of tradition and ignore a quarterback’s win-loss record in order to gift wrap this award for Robinson. Moreover, its not just the fact that Michigan lost its biggest test of the season to date, its the fact that Robinson’s TWO RED ZONE TO’s were the biggest determining factor. Heisman winners don’t play their teams OUT of big games. You are so enamored with the stats that you ignore this vital fact.

    I also disagree with your statement about Robinson being that current favorite and Pryor being the long-term favorite. This issue is voting. Much like a political campaign, it is HIGHLY conceivable that Pryor and Robinson will split the vote for the Midwest region, leaving room for a candidate from another region to jump in and steal and heavily split vote. Anyone with the knowledge you possess about Heisman voting should see this obvious and glaring fact. For one of them to win it, I believe the other candidate is going to have to drop off the radar the last half of the season.

    Robinson’s play against teams with substantive defenses (e.g. MSU) certainly opens the door for precisely this type of slide.

  12. Who October 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    HP said: “Hearken back to game six of the 2007 season. Tim Tebow was held to 158 passing yards, 67 rushing yards and two total touchdowns in a loss to LSU (the second-straight for the Gators). That loss did little to slow down the Tebow train because he was able to maintain his record-setting pace, just as Robinson was able to against Michigan State.”

    Tebow is 1 minute from beating the #1 team in the nation and eventual BCS champion on the road and you liken that to Robinson burying his own team at home with three interceptions? Back in 2007 you called the LSU loss the “final squelching of Tim Tebow‘s longshot candidacy.”


  13. Joe October 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    @ Who

    Excellent analysis!

    @ HP

    Please respond.

  14. Heismanpundit October 11, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    Tebow lost back-to-back games by the midpoint of that year, to Auburn and LSU (which lost twice that season).

    My analysis at that time after that LSU game was incorrect, as I then did not envision Tebow having the kind of record-setting year at that point in the season that he would eventually end up having.

    Even though Tebow’s team lost three games, he still won the Heisman as a sophomore due to his overwhelming numbers.

    The lesson here is that a player on a traditional Heisman team who puts up incredible single-season numbers does not have to go undefeated! This is why Robinson is still in the lead.

    As for Robinson’s play against substantive defenses (MSU’s), he had 301 yards of offense! That is hardly a bad game. Yes, he had a couple bad throws, but his numbers KEPT HIM ON PACE to still have the incredible year he needs to have to win the Heisman. at year’s end, if his number are extraordinary, no one will remember a couple bad throws against Michigan State.

    For the commenter brining up the Colt Brennan analogy, Brennan played for Hawaii and Robinson plays for Michigan, a traditional Heisman power. Big difference.

    and please, I am very aware of the Heisman electorate’s tendencies, being a part of it myself and knowing tons of voters and having studied it for 8 years. Note that it’s makeup is changing and this very conservative group has gone with three straight sophomores after not doing that in its entire history. If a Michigan quarterback rushes for 2,000 yards and passes for 2,000 in the same season, he’s going to win the Heisman. Period. If he falls short in one of the areas, it will get dicey, but he’ll have a chance depending on what the other candidates do.

    We’ll obviously know a lot more after this Saturday’s game between Michigan and Iowa. Robinson will have a chance to put up or shut up.

  15. Tony October 11, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    You honestly believe a QB who’s team dropped out of the top 25 is still a front runner?

  16. Buck Futt October 11, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    It’s been several years since I checked this blog; I got disgusted with HP’s “Rose Bowl Buddies” PAC-10/Big Televen bias and walked away in mid-decade. I see I haven’t missed anything in the interim.

    Robinson only succeeded up unitl Saturday because he’s been playing against terrible teams. Mark May was dead right last weekend when he compared Michigan’s opposing defenses to “tomato cans.” The Big Televen is a joke, as usual, but you can’t tell that to Rose Bowl Buddies fanatics in the media–or at this laugher of a site.

    Have fun in the smog.

  17. HP October 11, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    Tony: yes. How many times do I have to reiterate that Robinson’s numbers are what will determine his fate, not his win/loss record?

    Yeah, Buck: the defenses he faced–like UConn and Notre Dame–were so bad, that every player who plays against them puts up 400 and 500 total yards. What did Robinson do that was so special anyway?

  18. Jon Garten October 12, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    I think Robinson is probably the best player in America right now and definitely the most explosive. Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez, for example, has been a very explosive playmaker, but his team has so much more overall than Michigan.

    If you’re interested, I wrote a post comparing Robinson, Martinez, Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Mallett.


  19. Jon Garten October 12, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    Ooops! I meant to say that Robinson is “definitely the most valuable player.” I think Martinez, who breaks off big plays more frequently than anyone, is the nation’s most explosive player. My apologies, gang.

  20. ? October 13, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    Im sorry, but he will just totally dominate this season. I don’t remember who, but someone said that he will not get 2,000 yards this year! It’s not even half way into the season and he already has 991 yards. Do the math, if he keeps playing like he does, he’ll get 2,000 yards and probably the Heisman!

  21. ? October 13, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    But i wouldn’t be shocked if taylor Martinez got 2,000 yards this season either! What shocked me is that how he went from second best rushing quarterback in college football to 5th????????????

  22. ? October 13, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Especially how he played against Kansas State!

  23. ? October 13, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    It doesn’t matter what your team is rated it matters how you play by yourself, Tony! Because he is still the 1st rushing QB in college football, and a Heisman candidate!

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