What Does Denard Robinson Have To Do To Win The 2011 Heisman?

Here’s where you get your football picks.

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As the season gets closer, we’re taking an in-depth look at each of the top candidates and asking:  What does that player have to do to win the Heisman?

So far, we’ve gone over Andrew Luck, LaMichael James, Kellen Moore and Justin Blackmon.  It just so happens that they finished 2 through 5 in last year’s Heisman vote.

Which brings us to the sixth-place finisher from last year’s Heisman race, Denard Robinson of Michigan.  What does he have to do to win the 2011 Heisman?

First off, it’s a little crazy (on the surface) that he didn’t win it last year and he most certainly should’ve been on this list.  By “on the surface” I mean that if you didn’t watch any games and didn’t know how good the teams were and just looked at the pure numbers, Robinson was pretty hard to beat in 2011 (that guy named Cam had some decent numbers, too).

But he does enter the season with a few things going for him.

– He’s got excellent name recognition.

– He plays for a traditional power.

– He’s coming off an incredible statistical season.

– He’s might be the most exciting player to watch in all of college football.

So what’s missing?

Well, winning.  The Wolverines have to start winning again.  The days of Paul Hornung are long gone and, while those who say the Heisman winner must come from a national title contender are overstating it a bit, it does count for a lot in the Heisman race.

On another note, there is a change of offensive systems underway at Michigan.  No longer will Robinson be a one-man show in Rich Rodriguez’s spread option offense.  Instead, he will be under center in Al Borges’ more pro-like scheme.

While I am not a fan of pro schemes in college football, Borges has a long history of making them work at a variety of programs.  He’s also pretty good at the quick turnaround, as he helped Cade McNown, Jason Campbell and Ryan Lindley turn into very good players in a short time span.

It often happens that a player who puts up incredible single season numbers one season is perceived as having not played as well if he does not at least duplicate them the next season.  Had Michigan stuck with the spread option, Robinson would’ve had a large hurdle to overcome statistically.

However, people understand that his system has changed and that, while they do want him to produce in spectacular fashion, the offense is unlikely to allow him to rush for 1,700 yards again.

What matters more to the voters is the wins.

If Michigan can win the Big Ten title, or get to 10 or 11 wins and land in the top 10, while Robinson has the kind of efficient year that McNown and Campbell had under Borges, then he’s got a chance to win the Heisman.  A really good chance.

Heisman voters love to see traditional powers on the rebound and Robinson would be seen as the triggerman responsible for it.  Voters already know he can run.

Now, they want to see him run Michigan back to national glory.

About Heismanpundit

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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