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Dr. Saturday

Denard Robinson finds some new ways to shine in Michigan’s offense

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Dr. Saturday

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(Associated Press)

Michigan gave Denard Robinson way more than one ceremonial play on Senior Day. The Wolverines gave him a whole new role.

In the process, the Woverines' offense looked the most dynamic it has been all season in a 42-17 win over Iowa.

Robinson lined up as a running back on the first play, quarterback Devin Gardner pitched it out to him and the crowd roared, probably wondering if that would be the extent of his action, considering he had missed a two-and-a-half games with an elbow injury. Instead, that was just the first play in Brady Hoke's new bag of tricks.

Robinson lined up at running back, receiver and quarterback and the Wolverines looked great with him lining up everywhere on the field, and there's good reason to believe this will be their offense the rest of the season, including against Ohio State. Robinson's presence alone helped the offense. On one play Gardner and Robinson both started right, the entire Iowa defense followed, then Gardner threw a screen pass back to his left for a touchdown.

The major wrinkle in the offense allows Michigan to get both Gardner and Robinson on the field at the same time. Gardner has done surprisingly well replacing Robinson at quarterback, and Michigan would be crazy to remove Gardner from that role at this point.

Whenever Robinson lined up at quarterback, it was clear that he had no intention of passing. Perhaps that was to throw off Ohio State, but it could be that his elbow just isn't well enough to throw the ball. ESPN pointed out during the broadcast that Robinson was usually holding the ball with his left arm when he ran, even when he probably should have had it in his right arm, which may have been a sign that his throwing arm still doesn't feel right.

There are plenty of people who will say that being in a versatile role like this fits Robinson's skill set better than lining up at quarterback every play. In the first half, Robinson lined up at running back seven times, quarterback four times and receiver twice. The Wolverines even ran a triple reverse to him. Robinson led Michigan with 98 rushing yards on 13 attempts, added two catches for 24 yards and didn't throw a pass. Gardner threw for 314 yards and had six touchdowns — three rushing and three passing.

Michigan's offense looked great with Robinson playing various roles and Gardner continuing to impress as a quarterback, which some more intrigue to that Ohio State game next week.

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