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2013 Outback Bowl: Misuse of Robinson Costs Michigan Win vs. South Carolina


The Michigan Wolverines could have used an extra big play or two on New Year's Day from senior Denard Robinson .  Although he broke loose for a 15-yard run and rang up 100 yards on 23 carries, Robinson couldn't single-handily vault the 18th-ranked Wolverines past the 10th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2013 Outback Bowl.  Maybe it was the caliber of competition, or maybe it was the fact ...


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The Michigan Wolverines could have used an extra big play or two on New Year's Day from senior Denard Robinson. Although he broke loose for a 15-yard run and rang up 100 yards on 23 carries, Robinson couldn't single-handily vault the 18th-ranked Wolverines past the 10th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2013 Outback Bowl. Maybe it was the caliber of competition, or maybe it was the fact that Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges once again failed Shoelace, making it nearly impossible for him to utilize his speed and do what he does best. The back-and-forth, 33-28 loss to The Old Ball Coach's boys has to leave a sour taste in Robinson's mouthDeep down, he has to know that he could have changed his team's fate had he been used correctly. Robinson won't speak out against the coaching staffNo, he's not that type of guy.But others will, and they should.Watching Robinson flounder and take hit after hit was discouragingHe needed to be let loose, but instead he was held hostage by timid play calling that kept him running into brick walls wearing South Carolina football jerseys.  Did Michigan OC Al Borges properly utilize Denard Robinson in the Outback Bowl? Yes No Undecided Submit Vote vote to see results Did Michigan OC Al Borges properly utilize Denard Robinson in the Outback Bowl? Yes 24.9% No 64.8% Undecided 10.3% Total votes: 1,086 if (!BR.PollData) { BR.PollData = {}; } if (!BR.PollData[247934]) { BR.PollData[247934] = { id: 247934, question: "Did Michigan OC Al Borges properly utilize Denard Robinson in the Outback Bowl?", choices: {"choice1":{"count":704,"choice":"No"},"choice7":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice2":{"count":112,"choice":"Undecided"},"choice8":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice3":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice9":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice4":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice5":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice0":{"count":270,"choice":"Yes"},"choice6":{"count":0,"choice":""}}, sidebar: false }; } if (BR.poll) { BR.poll.showResults(247934, false); } Had Michigan catered to Robinson's strengths, a win would have been possibleLosing by five points to a quality SEC team is nothing to discountBut just one electrifying play, and one final shot down the field from Robinson would have made the difference. It's not his fault, thoughHe did what he was instructed to do, whether or not it was the right move on Borges' part. Using Robinson as Devin Gardner's primary blocker was a cruel joke and horrid way for Robinson to end his college careerGetting in front of Gamecocks stud defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a task for 6'5", 330-pound linemenAt 6'0" and 197 pounds, Robinson was a sheet of paper waiting to be torn to shreds by a bull. That didn't benefit Michigan, and it certainly wasn't ideal for Robinson, who's been nursing a nerve-damaged right elbow the past two monthsBlocking guys like Clowney isn't conducive to healing. In the third quarter, Michigan chose to run Robinson out of the Pistol formationAs one of three backs, Robinson was led to the short side of the field by a handful of Wolverines. What was wrong with that picture?Robinson hadn't been manhandled much by South Carolina's defense at that pointHe was likely ready for a few crushing tacklesBut why did Borges insist on throwing Robinson into an area where making a play would have been impossible?Sure, he can juke his way out of a phone booth, but even guys like Robinson need space to createUsing the left side of the field would have likely resulted in a sizable gainHe's effective when he has room to run. Again, that's not groundbreaking football genius at workThat's common sense. Robinson Plays the Role of Sitting Duck It's just a few minutes, so watch the entire videoYou'll see Denard Robinson out of his element, blocking for quarterbacks instead of being blocked for. Robinson's arm wasn't 100 percent healthyMichigan knew it, and so did South Carolina. The Gamecocks weren't facing the real-deal Shoelace, just a watered-down version incapable of displaying its entire skill setBut despite all of that, Robinson was still a player of interest for Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier. In the fourth quarter, Robinson was used as the quarterback in a 2-point conversion attemptOf course he was going to pitch the ball or run it in himself -- he couldn't throwDefending the pass wasn't necessarySouth Carolina put enough men up front to thwart any type of rushing attempt.Michigan had the right idea by using Robinson on first and second downs, scenarios in which he rattled off 10- and 12-yard carriesHe's certainly not a bruising back that gets the hard-fought real estate on third and fourth downs. Simple, right? Use the guy the way he's intended to be used. The Wolverines waited until their second drive before putting the ball into their most dynamic playmaker's handsOn his first attempt, Robinson tore off a 15-yard runHis second carry was a three-yard tote that helped set up Brendan Gibbons' 39-yard field goal, cutting South Carolina's lead to 7-3.How Long Will So-So Play Calling Be Acceptable?  Leon Halip/Getty Images Is Michigan OC Al Borges to blame for the loss to South Carolina? Did he employ Denard Robinson the best way possible? Michigan fans have had their fill of Borges' blunders. Michigan shouldn't consider Tuesday's loss to South Carolina as a total failureThree players---two starters---were suspended prior to the bowl and Michigan had to piece together a secondary to contend with Gamecocks' star wideouts Bruce Ellington and Ace Sanders. Although the game was competitive, it's hard not think about what could have been if Robinson had been properly used. This isn't a new issueBorges' calls left Michigan sputtering all season. Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan fared well against Clowney in the first halfRunning Robinson to the left more often would have made perfect sense, especially when the Wolverines went to the Pistol with full-house backfield. But that would have been too easySo Robinson was run to the right, and he paid for it. During other instances, the Wolverines' offensive line looked lost and distracted, forgetting how to seal edges and open holes for its leaderThe fact that Robinson reached 100 yards was a surprise in itselfIf not for a handful of 5-to-12 yard gains, Robinson probably wouldn't have cracked 50 yards.  If used properly, would Denard Robinson guided Michigan to a win? Yes No Submit Vote vote to see results If used properly, would Denard Robinson guided Michigan to a win? Yes 68.6% No 31.4% Total votes: 724 if (!BR.PollData) { BR.PollData = {}; } if (!BR.PollData[247937]) { BR.PollData[247937] = { id: 247937, question: "If used properly, would Denard Robinson guided Michigan to a win?", choices: {"choice1":{"count":227,"choice":"No"},"choice7":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice2":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice8":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice3":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice9":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice4":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice5":{"count":0,"choice":""},"choice0":{"count":497,"choice":"Yes"},"choice6":{"count":0,"choice":""}}, sidebar: false }; } if (BR.poll) { BR.poll.showResults(247937, false); } It was just that kind of day for the offensive lineBut Shoelace's athleticism allowed for spurts of production. The offense lacked the ability to adjust and shift on-the-fly for Robinson, leaving him stuck as nothing more than a really fast target for Clowney and Co. Robinson deserved moreHis team played as well as it could have as a wholeBut his coaching staff did little to feature his true football aptitudeThe seemingly obligatory Shoelace carries weren't enough for a guy who's been known to have a trick up his sleeve in big games. Michigan knew what it was up against, and it failed to design a suitable scheme for one of its most celebrated football starsTrickery with Robinson could have workedThat was the advantage that the Wolverines had going into the Outback Bowl, the two-quarterback threat that could run and throw. It was a tough way for Robinson to end his collegiate careerHis coaching staff failed him, but he'd never tell. Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81 Share Tweet 58 Comments DOWNLOAD FREE APP More Michigan From Post-Signing Day Recruiting Class Rankings Winners, Losers of Signing Day Harbaugh Does Best with Hand He Was Dealt on NSD Projecting Harbaugh's Offensive Starters Is Gentry the QB to Bring Wolverines Back to Glory? 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