When the 2012 college football season began, Denard Robinson figured to be deep in the Heisman conversation throughout the year. Now granted, it’s only been one week, but after Robinson’s performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide he seems to be almost a Heisman afterthought.
The Michigan Wolverines were trounced 41-14 by the Tide on Saturday, in a beat down that resembled a late 1980’s Mike Tyson fight. Michigan, as well as Robinson, looked lost against Alabama and were outclassed from the get go. Robinson barely threw for 200 yards and only completed 42% of his passes. In addition, the normally fleet of foot quarterback averaged just 2.7 yards per carry.
Making matters worse for Robinson was that all the other early Heisman candidates had strong opening week performances. Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 372 yards and three scores, Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball ran for 120 yards, South Carolina Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore scampered for two scores and 110 yards, and West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith went 32 of 36 for four touchdowns.
If that wasn’t bad enough, two new contenders from inside the Big 10 may have also surpassed Robinson after strong opening game showings. Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller took to Urban Meyer’s new spread offense like Peanut Butter to Jelly, as he rushed for 161 yards. And then running back Le’Veon Bell from the arch rival Michigan State Spartans had a 210 yard game on a whopping 44 carries.
Now in fairness to Robinson, he did have some things working against him in week one against Alabama. Michigan didn’t have starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint in the lineup due to a suspension. That would have no doubt taken a lot of the pressure off Robinson and forced the Alabama defense to key on more than one guy. Speaking of that Alabama defense, they have made more than their fair share of quarterbacks look below average in the Nick Saban era. So Robinson shouldn’t feel too badly about being humbled by the best defense in the country.
The Wolverines now face a couple of more favorable matchups in the coming weeks against the Air Force Falcons and Massachusetts Minutemen. We should see strong performances by Robinson there, leading into a crucial game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 22nd.
While there is no shame in struggling against a defense as good as Alabama’s, Heisman voters tend to remember a rough big game performance. It will now be Robinson’s job to use the rest of the season to make them forget.