Michigan makes changes to use Robinson differently
Denard Robinson is the only player in NCAA history to throw and run for more than 1,500 yards in a season.
Rich Rodriguez's spread offense brought the best out of the dual-threat quarterback. He finished sixth in voting for the Heisman and earned Big Ten's offensive player of the year and conference MVP honors.
But averaging 20-plus carries during the regular season took a toll. He was knocked out of games with concussion-like symptoms, a bruised left knee and banged-up right shoulder.
New coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges don't want to stunt their star's skills, but they want to keep him on the field, too.
''More people are going to touch the ball, but he's still going to be the focal point,'' Borges said. ''I'd like the kid to be able to start and finish a few more games.''
Fans will get their first peek at the new-look offense Saturday during the spring game at Michigan Stadium on what is expected to be a wet and cool afternoon.
''It's football, we're not playing golf,'' Hoke said.
The Robinson-led offense will play against Michigan's first-string defense. Victors get steaks and losers will be left with franks and beans.
Robinson will usually be under center after taking shotgun snaps in Rodriguez's scheme and he'll often have a couple of running backs with him instead of just one.
Borges has been an offensive coordinator since 1986 - with stops in Oregon, UCLA and Auburn - and has seen only one player anywhere like Robinson.
''Michael Vick is similar, he's the first one that comes to mind,'' Borges said. ''He's a fast guy who can raise a little Cain.''
As productive as Robinson was last season, Michigan's defense was just as awful during a 7-6 season that cost Rodriguez his job after three years in charge of college football's winningest program.
Hoke has taken a hands-on approach to making the defense better just as he did as the head coach at San Diego State and Ball State after being a defensive assistant at Michigan, Oregon State, Toledo, Western Michigan and Grand Valley State.
''I couldn't just walk around and watch stuff,'' he said. ''I'd go crazy.''
Defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said Hoke's approach has made an impact.
''The defense will be slightly more aggressive,'' Van Bergen said. ''We put more people in the box and we're more inclined to bring pressure on third and long than we were in the past
''It'll be subtle differences, you'll have to know football to see it. But there's a difference in attitude. We're going to take our shots.''