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September 05, 2012 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-05

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10A - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Remorseful Toussaint ready
to fight for starting RB spot

Borges not planning
to adjust game plan

By ZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan football team
was beaten and broken Saturday,
and 1,000 miles away, Fitzgerald
Toussaint was a spectator.
From the house of assistant
basketball coach Bacari Alexan-
der, Toussaint watched as sopho-
more cornerback Blake Countess
hopped off on crutches after the
game. He watched redshirt junior
tackle Taylor Lewan hobble away
on one good leg, and he watched
Michigan coach Brady Hoke
address the media, his voice tired
and hoarse.
In -his mind, Toussaint was
imagining what he could have
done, what would have gone dif-
ferently had he been on the field
with the men he calls his broth-
ers, he said Tuesday.
Toussaint said that Alexander
had extended an invitation to
Toussaint on behalf of the team,
because "they wanted me to feel
wanted."
Toussaint had not been wanted
in Texas, and it was no one's fault
but his. Hoke suspended the red-
shirt junior running back along
with sophomore defensive end
Frank Clark for the opener after
separate legal issues.
No, Toussaint had not been
wanted. But he was needed.
Without the former 1,000-yard
rusher, Michigan's ground game
was suffocated by the Crimson
Tide. His replacements, senior
Vincent Smith and sophomore
Thomas Rawls, combined for just
42 yards on 19 carries. As senior
quarterback Denard Robinson
struggled to find consistency
through the air, Alabama crowd-
ed the box, and Michigan had no
answer in the backfield, not with-
out Toussaint.
Toussaint spoke with the
media on Tuesday for the first
time since his arrest.

Redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been reinstated following a one-game suspension.

For a few seconds after he
strode into Schembechler Hall,
finally free from the weight of
the suspension and Hoke's own
rebuke - which both declined
to discuss - a smile stretched
across Toussaint's face. When
he approached reporters, the
grin disappeared, and for four
minutes, he earnestly answered
questions about his own personal
failings. Had he learned?
"Guys my age, they feel they
know everything up until they get
in trouble," Toussaint said. "That
day really brought a lot of things
to me and showed me about my
character."
Was he angered by the suspen-
sion?
"I kind of knew I messed up,"
Toussaint said, "and I was ready
to face any consequences."
In jail that July night after he
was arrested for driving a vehicle
while intoxicated, Toussaint said
the worst part was the feeling
that he had let down his team. In
the span of four minutes on Tues-

day, Toussaint mentioned letting
down his teammates a total of
seven times. Now that he's back,
the job remains up for grabs.
"We're not going to want to put
him in and say he's the starter,"
said offensive coordinator Al
Borges. "I don't think that's fair
to the other guys. So we'll go this
week and see how everything
works out and make a decision."
Toussaint, though, remains the
No. 1 running back on the depth
chart and is the likely leader to
start. Though the Alabama defen-
sive frontblanketed the Michigan
backfield on Saturday, Smith and
Rawls didn't create any seams
for themselves in Toussaint's
absence. Rawls, heralded since
spring as a bulldozer, was bull-
dozed.
Smith was never supposed to
be a feature back, and aside from
one 22-yard scamper on a burst of
speed to the outside near the end
of the third quarter, he gained
just 11 yards on 12 other carries.
Still, with just 33 yards, Smith led

Michigan in rushing.
On Saturday, back in Alexan-
der's house, Toussaint said he
analyzed the game. No one knows
how Toussaint would have fared,
but, of course, he wondered any-
way. Before the team left for
Texas, Toussaint said his team-
mates visited or spoke with him
individually to show him their
support. He said Robinson had
the biggest impact, and one day,
Robinson showed up at Tous-
saint's house with fellow captain
Jordan Kovacs, the fifth-year
senior. The visit, and Robinson's
phone calls, showed Toussaint
the team still had his back.
Senior receiver Roy Roundtree
said he didn't speak with Tous-
saint individually, but he said he
never lost faith in him. He sup-
ported him from the beginning.
"The whole team did,"
Roundtree said. "That's our
brother. He just made a mistake,
and you learn from it, watching us
Saturday wishing he could be out
there."

ByZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Editor
After an ineffective offensive
performance and a lopsided loss
against, Alabama on Saturday,
Michigan offensive coordinator Al
Borges said he was ready to rip up
the playbook, run more and pass
less. Right?
Well, Borges has eight words
for you.
"No. No. Nope. No. Not at all.
No."
The plan will remain the same,
Borges said on Tuesday, despite
criticism that he didn't properly
utilize senior quarterback Denard
Robinson's ability to run. He said
that he wouldn't change his plan
even if he were playing Alabama
again.
When the defense stacks the
box to try to stop Robinson, Borg-
es will favor pass. With fewer men
in the box, Borges will favor run.
Borges' philosophy isn't particu-
larly new or radical, but perhaps
more than ever, Robinson must
pass efficiently for the offense to
succeed.
Under former coach Rich
Rodriguez, Robinson was asked to
run first, and, well, run second. To
shake things up, Robinson could
fake the read option and look for a
receiver over the sleeping second-
ary, though if things broke down
he could always - you guessed it
- run.
Last year, Borges adjusted,
though Robinson still ran the ball
17 times per game. Good defenses,
like Michigan State's, shut down
the Michigan offense by crowding
the line of scrimmage and daring
Robinson to throw.
The opener and remarks from
Borges indicate Michigan will try
to exploit that defensive philoso-
phy this season. Robinson ran just
10 times against Alabama, and his
first designed run came with just
30 seconds left in the first quarter.
"I would not have run Denard
Robinson any more than we

ran him Saturday," Borges said.
"Absolutely not. No.I know alot of
people think that, but no way. That
wasn't going to happen."
Borges is betting that Robinson
has improved his decision-making
and mechanics enough to catch
defenses creeping in. Against Ala-
bama, Robinson limited the num-
ber of throws off of his back foot,
but still appeared flat-footed at
times. He made one catastrophic
decision - a second-quarter inter-
ception returned for a touchdown
- but also connected on a beau-
tiful deep ball to redshirt junior
Jeremy Gallon and found junior
Devin Gardner for a long touch-
down.
"The game plan, obviously we
know they were going to try to
stop me from running, so we went
in with a different mindset, and
we took what they gave us." Rob-
inson said "The play-calling was
great.... We've just got to execute."
Against a lesser defense, Rob-
inson will have bigger passing
lanes. The backs will take some of
the pressure off. Alabama simply
made plays that other defenses do
not.
"Never in my life have I seen a
corner knock a guy out of bounds,
run back and intercept. a fade,"
Borges said. "In 37 years of coach-
ing, I've never seen that happen."
Though Borges said he will
limit Robinson's touches to keep
him healthy, Michigan will likely
run him more against the remain-
der of the schedule than against
Alabama. Borges said he takes a
game-by-game approach in decid-
ing how much to utilize his quar-
terback's legs, and the Crimson
Tide's past success against mobile
quarterbacks spelled doom.
Yet the blueprint is out there.
The defenses that turned Robin-
son into a one-dimensional player
have shut Michigan down.
It's up to Robinson to prove he
can beat them with his arm.
"Whatever coach calls,"he said,
"I'm with him 100 percent.", 0

Dantonio criticizes Spartans for 'disrespectful' tweets

Michigan State
players bash Denard
Robinson for play
against Alabama
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
While the Michigan football
team was getting manhandled by
No. 2 Alabama in the Cowboys
Classic on Saturday night, Mich-
igan State players were sitting at
home watching.
But a handful of them decided
it would be smart to get on Twit-

ter and critique Michigan senior
quarterback Denard Robinson
on his performance, setting off a
firestorm of criticism.
The tweets were deleted,
but not before being captured
by MLive.com. Some of them
included:,
" "DENARD IS SOOOOO
BAD!" wrote safety Kyle Artin-
ian. "And it makes me feel so
good."
. "I can play quarterback for
the school in blue," added line-
backer Jamal Lyles. "(Spartan
tailback Le'Veon Bell) for Heis-
man > the other guy in the great
state of michigan."
. "Is this guy really a QB I'll

say my mans (walk-on quarter- running back Nick Hill.
back Tommy Vento) is a bet- "Even a blind squirrel can get
ter QB lol," linebacker Denicos a nut ever once in a while ..." Hill
Allen tweeted. tweeted.
"S/O to my boy Allen, real-
vento by the izing the fire-
way." "Our guys storm he'd set
Robinson off, put in the
passed for 200 need to keep final word on
yards on r-of- Sunday after-
26 passing, their mouths noon.
but threw two "Lol well
interceptionsshut." apparently I
He complet- hurt a lot of
ed a 71-yard feelings sorry
pass to red- guys lolI guess
shirt junior wide receiver Jere- we have 'to wait till October
my Gallon in the second quarter, 20th to play some real football
but that didn't impress Spartan

#GoGreen," he wrote.
"I heard about it," Robinson
said on Tuesday. "But I'm think-
ing about Air Force, I'm not even
worrying about it now."
But did it bother him?
"No," he said. "It doesn't both-
er me at all."
Michigan State coach Mark
Dantonio was prepared for the
question during his Tuesday
press conference and roundly
rebuked his players.
"Our guys need to keep their
mouths shut," Dantonio said,
adding that the tweets were "dis-
respectful."
"You need to approach this

game with humility," he said.
"When this becomes personal,
that's when it crosses the line."
In his two career games
against Michigan State, Robin-
son hasn't seen much success. In
Michigan's 34-17 loss in 2010, he
threw three interceptions. In a
28-14 defeat last season, Robin-
son was just 9-of-24 passing with
an interception.
But for Dantonio, not only are
the personal attacks uncalled
for, he also remembers being
lambasted by Alabama recently
- Michigan State lost the 2011
Capital One Bowl, 49-7, to the
Crimson Tide.

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