Can Michigan's Denard Robinson be Successful in Pro-Style Offense?


Rich Rodriguez's spread offense seemed the perfect fit for Denard Robinson. He was simply electric whenever he touched the ball and he had some ready to hand him the Heisman Trophy a few weeks into the season.  Injuries began to take their toll, however, as Robinson carried the brunt of the Wolverines offense. Ever the warrior, he still played in every single game last season.

Robinson flourished in the spread offense, racking up 2,570 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air; and rushing for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. This offseason, however, Robinson must get used to playing in the pro-style offense of new head coach Brady Hoke.

The Detroit Free Press ran an article dated March 21, 2011 assuring Wolverines fans that 'Shoelace' was adapting well to the new offensive system. The article quotes Hoke:

"He loves to play the game and is hungry to play the game," Hoke said last week. "There's some things at that position, because of the offense, that he's going to have to get comfortable in, but it's the same offense he ran in high school, so he feels good about that part of it, too."

The Detroit News quoted Hoke similarly a week prior. They also quoted Hoke:

"They both have done a really good job of taking the time getting to know the intricacies of (the offense)," Hoke said of Robinson and Gardner. "They still have a lot to learn. Taking the snap from center — I know they've worked on that on their own a little bit. The ball handling part of it, looking at coverages and defenses, that's all from film study. Those are things they really have to get grounded in."

Robinson is going to be under a microscope given the amount of attention paid to his transition from the spread style offense in which he played so well last season to the pro-style offense that tends to conjure up images of heavy-footed, immobile quarterbacks who do nothing but drop back and throw the football.

His speed and athleticism, while they may not be showcased to the extent they were last season, will no doubt be on display when Michigan football takes the field in 2011. You don't sit on talent like that no matter your offensive philosophy. Whether a designed play or an improvised one, Robinson will not be shackled to the point that he is unable to use his natural athleticism to help the offense move the ball downfield. I don't see any coach limiting a player's use of such amazing athleticism.

Every one of Robinson's missteps is going to be overanalyzed as he begins to take snaps from under center. Snap looks funny? Footwork not flawless? Hand-off a little iffy? It'll all be highlighted. He looked capable in the videos of spring practice posted on Michigan's official athletic website and, as pointed out by coach Hoke, he took snaps from under center in high school. With some hard work and dedication, Robinson should find success in the Wolverines' new offensive philosophy.

Danny Hobrock, is a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB. An NCAA Football On-Air Personality, Danny is the editor of our college football content. Danny's college football work has garnered national attention and has been critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock

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