0 The Michigan Daily ( michigandaily.com September 6, 2011
By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Editor
What kind of running back is Fitzgerald Tous-
The question seemed simple enough. Denard
Robinson smiled, leaning back in his chair.,.
"Oh man," Robinson said, with a guffaw.
"All right, I don't want to juice his head up too
Sittingto his left was Toussaint, the redshirt
sophomore who missed eight games in his first
season due to knee and shoulder injuries, the
back who took his first career handoff from
and saw nothing but green grass in front of
him only to be caught from behind by a Bowl-
ing Green defender 61-yards downfield. He's
the same back running backs coach Fred Jack-
son said had "Mike Hart ability with speed," a
"Fitz is probably one of the best running
backs I've played with," Robinson said. "When
he gets the ball, he runs hard and he makes
guys miss and he's fast - he's a good back."
Toussaint shot all 5-foot-10, 195 pounds of
himself out of a rocket into the heart of West-
ern Michigan's defense every time he got the
ball on Saturday, shooting gaps between the
tackles, side-stepping defenders in a phone
Relentlessly, Toussaint kept answering the
bell, launching himself into the opponents'gut.
"We just chip away until we get the long
one," he said. "Credit to the offensive line, keep
doing their job, then eventually it will come."
The hiring of Brady Hoke could be the best
thing that ever happened to Toussaint.
Last year's backfield was just as crowded as it
is now, and Toussaint was fourth on the depth
chart entering his redshirt freshman season.
Jackson said he could become the inside run-
ner Hart was, but it would take time.
See TOUSSAINT, Page 4B
in new offense
cut short due to
By MICHAEL FLOREK
No one knew what kind of things junior
quarterback Denard Robinson would be asked
to do in his debut in offensive coordinator Al
Borges's pro-style offense. That included the
"I didn't know what to expect, to be hon-
est with you," Robinson said. "We were just
out there ready to play and we've been work-
ing all the plays, so whatever
he threw at us we had to be NOTEBOOK
It turns out 144 is the new 335.
Though Saturday's game against Western
Michigan went just under three quarters after
being ended due to lightning, it was the worst
statistical game of Robinson's career. He threw
for just 98 yards and ran for 46 more, giving
him 144 all-purpose yards. A year ago he aver-
aged 335 all-purpose yards in his first season
as a starter.
Since Borges's new offense is designed to
take the load off Robinson and distribute it
among others, Robinson's previous perfor-
mances in the spread offense aren't compa-
rable. The only way to evaluate his game is to
take his word for it.
"I've still got some learning to do," Robinson
said. "I got to do better. I think I did alright."
Seeing just six offensive drives couldn't
answer the question about whether the new
scheme bottles up Robinson's speed too much.
But there were glimpses of the past. Borges
See ROBINSON, Page 43
where ... we made a check and I
ended up coming off the edge, and
Kovacs got free. I don't think the ball
rolled my way. I think I went to go
get the ball and then just ran it into
But it wasn't all defensive scores
and rampant positivity on defense
Fifth-year senior linebacker Brandon Herron (top) scores on the longest in
tion return in Michigan history. Junior quarterback Denard Robinson (left)
through the rain. So did Michigan coach Brady Hoke (right).
By KEVIN RAFERTY
Daily Sports Writer
Fifth-year senior linebacker Bran-
don Herron should probably send out
a couple of thank-you notes - one to
redshirt freshman Jake Ryan and
another to redshirt junior Jordan
through a dismal year defensively
With the score knotted, 7-7, and
the Broncos threatening midway
through the second quarter, Ryan
tipped a pass by Western Michigan
junior quarterback Alex Carder,
popping the ball straight up into the
just looked straight ahead, obviously
with no ball security whatsoever. I
just tried to get it in the endzone."
In the third quarter, with the Wol-
verines leading 20-10, Kovacs busted
through the Western Michigan front
line and drilled Carder, forcing the
ball loose. Herron was right there
Kovacs. air and eventually into the hands of to scoop it up and return it for his Saturday.
In the Michigan football team's Herron. The linebacker cradled the second score of the game - this time On the first drive of the game,
34-10 victory against Western Mich- ball and took it 94 yards for the score from 29 yards out - to increase the things looked awfully similar to
igan on Saturday, the first-ever rain- - the longest return for a touch- Wolverines' lead to 27-10. last season. Carder carved up the
shortened game in Michigan football down in modern-era Michigan foot- And after the game, Herron said Michigan defense, finishing a per-
history, Herron was the beneficiary ball history (since 1943). himself that he has some people to fect 8-for-8 with 56 yards. He threw
of a pair of great defensive plays - a "I was just looking up (at the ball) thank. the ball with ease, often finding his
three-word phrase that is music to and my legs just carried me," Her- "First of all, I want to thank receivers wide open with room to
Michigan fans' ears after suffering ron said. "After I caught the ball I Kovacs," Herron said. "It was a call See WESTERN, Page 4B
Defensive line dos' edfrHke
By TIM ROHAN
Brady Hoke said he wants to hear
his football team. And he certainly
sees them. On Monday, he defined
another sense he uWses in evaluat-
ing his players - Hoke wants to feel
his players' impact.
The Michigan defensive line bet-
ter take notes.
"I think we played OK," Hoke said
of his defensive line. "We weren't -
you guys have heard me talk about
hearing football. You also want to
feel guys during the course of a
game. I felt No. 32, (Jordan Kovacs),
during the course of the game, an
impact. To some degree, I thought,
J.T. (Floyd), ypu could feel him a
little bit. 4
"I never felt our front like we need
to - not to be specific. So I think we
played OK, but I think we need to
play at a higher level and a higher
Hoke and defensive coordinator
Greg Mattison - both former defen-
sive line coaches - preached all off-
season how their defense has to be
led by the play of the Wolverines'
After one game, the defensive line
could be described as the weak link.
The front four couldn't pressure
Western Michigan quarterback Alex
Carder on its own, and the defense
didn't start making an impact until
Mattison started blitzing more to
rattle Carder's cage.
Specifically, three potential
impact players fell silent - senior
captain defensive tackle Mike Mar-
tin finished with one tackle; fifth-
year senior defensive tackle Ryan
Van Bergen had three; and Craig
Roh, the team's rush defensive end,
See DEFENSIVE LINE, Page 8B
HERRON'S A BELIEVER
Brandon Herron made sure to credit
God for his unbelieveable performance on
Saturday, but Tim Rohan offers another
man to thank. Page 2B
DOMINATION IN UTAH
Led by freshman setter Lexi Dannemi-
ller, Michigan goes perfect during Utah
Valley Invitational, setting the stage for
next weekend in Dayton. Page 7B