Monday, November 22, 2010

BUCKEYES KNOW THAT TO WIN, THEY MUST SLOW QB DENARD ROBINSON

Michigan sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson has compiled more than 3,700 yards and 30 touchdowns this season for the Wolverines. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
COLUMBUS — If eighth-ranked Ohio State is to win its seventh straight game against arch-rival Michigan this Saturday afternoon in Columbus, they must be able to contain one of the most dangerous weapons in all of college football — Wolverines quarterback, Denard Robinson.

The 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore out of Deerfield Beach, Florida has taken the college football world by storm this season, compiling more than 3,700 total yards and 30 touchdowns for the Wolverines (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten), who are bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.

Robinson's athleticism at the quarterback position has given opposing defenses fits this season because his talents are so extremely rare. In fact, he may be the first of his kind.

"I can't really say I have," Ohio State senior defensive end Cameron Heyward said on Monday, when asked if he's ever seen a quarterback with the total skill set that Robinson possesses. "I can remember back in the West Virginia days when they had Pat White, but you know, Denard is definitely one of a kind.

"He's doing some unbelievable things on the football field."

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel agrees with Heyward and admits that it's nearly impossible to prepare for the multi-talented Robinson.

"It's impossible to simulate him because there's no one like him," Tressel said. "I'm sure we'll do a variety of things to prepare."

Known mostly for his running abilities — probably because he's tallied 1,538 yards on the ground (most ever for an FBS quarterback), including four games with 190 or more — Robinson is actually a very efficient passer, completing more than 63 percent of his throws for 2,229 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The Buckeyes know that "D-Rob" — who has thrown for at least 215 yards in more than half of the Wolverines games this season — is much more than just a tailback under center.

"We have to be on our toes because this guy here can throw it and he can run it," OSU senior linebacker Brian Rolle said of Robinson. "He's a great quarterback. He's also got some great receivers. (Roy) Roundtree and those guys can put up big numbers each week."

Rolle warned that Robinson — who he compares to Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor — likes to put pressure on the defensive backfield early in games.

"I remember, I think, during the Illinois game the first play was a pass for a touchdown, and I was like 'wow!'" Rolle said. "You would think the first play of the game you're going to run it, get the feel for it. But he takes shots down field immediately. And does a great job keeping plays alive with his feet like Terrelle does, you know, running around in the pocket.

"He's really not a run-first guy, though."

So how can a player like Rolle try to contain such a masterful opponent?

"I have to play within the scheme of the defense this week and do what I can control," Rolle said. "He's going to make plays, throw the ball, maybe run a little bit, but I've got to play within the defense and do my job and whenever I see run, go get it. And whenever I see pass, drop back into coverage and hopefully defend good against it."

Of course, it isn't as if the Buckeyes are scared of the Wolverine star. In fact, Rolle is quite confident that he can keep up with the speedy Robinson.

"Most definitely," Rolle said, when asked if he can run with the Michigan passer. "I feel like in between the lines there are very few players in the country that can run away from me."

OSU linebacker Brian Rolle
(The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
SPEAKING OF ROLLE ... The senior linebacker from south Florida found out on Monday that he was named the Big Ten's defensive player of the week, after recording a team-high 10 tackles (three for loss) in the Buckeyes 20-17 win at Iowa.

Rolle said that he didn't even realize that he had won the award until he was bombarded with congratulatory messages from teammates, friends and fans.

"I didn't even know I won it, I just heard people congratulating me, and I was like 'for what?'" Rolle laughed. "Then I heard I got the defensive player of the week. It's a great honor for me, but at the same time, I know I just did my job and in doing so was able to get the award."

Rolle leads the Buckeyes in tackles this season with 62 total. He has also recorded eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions for the Buckeyes, who rank first in the Big Ten in total defense.

KICKOFF IS AT NOON ... The Buckeyes and Wolverines will kickoff against each other for the 107th time this Saturday at 12 p.m. in Columbus.

Michigan leads the all-time series with a record of 57-43-6.