HE’S THE MAN

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – One day soon, this is going to bite them. One day soon, a team will figure out Denard Robinson and hang a stinging loss on these incomplete Wolverines. One day soon. But in the meantime …

Give this kid the game ball. Give him ALL the game balls. Robinson redefined the term “offensive weapon” on Saturday against Notre Dame. The kid not only broke his freshly painted record for one-man offense at Michigan (set a week earlier), he not only figured on 68 of his team’s 81 offensive plays, he not only had a blistering TD run of 87 yards, he not only had had 258 yards on the ground and 244 yards passing, he not only faked out the defense, pooch-kicked the ball, and even picked up his own fumble and threw it for positive yardage, but he did something in his second start at quarterback that countless college players before him never managed to do.

He led a comeback against the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium.

And he did it in the final seconds.

“He is a superstar!” declared the NBC announcers when this game was over and Michigan had survived, 28-24, to improve to 2-0 on the season.

I’m not much for hyperbole. But in Saturday’s case, “superstar” was a modest assessment.

“One Man Army” comes to mind. Something special behind center

“I’m speechless right now,” Robinson said after the game. “I really don’t know what to say …”

Allow me. Gosh. Jeez. Holy %#$@!

When someone asked Robinson if he knew his numbers, he said “No, I do not … I’m a team player.”

Well, despite having 502 of his team’s 532 yards, this may be his greatest play of all: He splashed the best sauce you ever tasted on some very average spaghetti. The Wolverines scored 28 points, all of which were directly related to Robinson’s efforts. The Wolverines won despite too many dumb penalties, holding calls and late hits. They missed way too many tackles and gave up way too many big plays – including the second-longest pass in Notre Dame history, a 95-yard bomb that gave the Irish the lead with less than four minutes to go. They had suspicious play calling, didn’t convert third downs (3-of-16) and missed both their field-goal attempts.

Let’s face it. A laundry list of sins like that will lose you most games. And Michigan came within a few yards of losing this one. At the end of the first half, Notre Dame was on the 3-yard line and didn’t score, and at the end of the game, Notre Dame was on U-M’s 27 and threw the ball out of the end zone. Either of those plays convert, and we’re painting a different picture.

“There’s a lot of things we can learn from,” Rich Rodriguez said. “I’d rather learn from a win than a loss.”

As for his quarterback?

“Needless to say our quarterback is pretty special.”

Yeah. And ice cream is fattening. QB’s heroics save day

Pretty special? What Robinson has done in two weeks is what decent players do in a season. Let me add up his total yardage so far. This plus this equals … a gazillion!

Close enough. Nearly 900 yards in two games? Nobody hangs these kind of rushing AND passing stats. And remember, on Saturday he didn’t have a single interception and didn’t lose a yard!

Most importantly, he kept cool on that final 12-play drive, accounted for all 72 yards, and scrambled for money with 27 seconds left.

“The defense had our back all game.” Robinson said “We had to have their backs (at the end).”

They sure did. Robinson’s heroics can make you forget that Michigan blew a chance to stomp on Notre Dame early when, 11 minutes into the game, the Irish were down to their third-string quarterback, Nate Montana, a virtual Bambi. U-M should have harassed him, sacked him, embarrassed him. It did none of that. And someday soon, that will cost the Wolverines the game. Face it. Right now, this is an incomplete team – with one spectacular player.

“He’ll get a few ice bags on him, sleep on the way back,” Rodriguez said, “and rest up for the next one.”

Maybe the next one catches up to them. For now, watching their “speechless” quarterback, only one word comes to mind.

Wow.

Contact MITCH ALBOM: 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com.

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