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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki
Michigan QB Denard Robinson leaves a lot to be desired as an NFL passer, lacking the field vision and accuracy to throw from the pocket, and the Wolverines' junior signalcaller looked out of sync in the more traditional offense of new head coach Brady Hoke. But no one can question Robinson's playmaking ability or on-field flair — which were never more apparent than in the fourth quarter of the Wolverines' wild, come-from-behind, 35-31 victory against Notre Dame on the biggest stage in football.
Down 24-7 late in the third quarter in front of a crowd of nearly 115,000 on prime-time television, Robinson came alive when he rolled to the left, stepped up to avoid the rush and, with a defender draped around his legs, chucked the ball to open WR Junior Hemingway, who scampered for a 77-yard gain. A fumble bounced perfectly back to Robinson three plays later and he picked it up in stride and cleanly ran into the endzone to close the gap to 24-14.
Building on a sensational 502-yard outing against Notre Dame a year ago, Robinson added an exclamation point to last year's effort in the final few minutes when he overcame a very sluggish first three quarters, repeatedly pushed the ball downfield and sparked the offense by stacking big plays.
Irish QB Tommy Rees, who replaced the struggling Dayne Crist the week before, seemed to regain command of the offense midway through the fourth quarter. He connected with Michael Floyd — which he did 13 times for 159 yards, which helped Floyd surpass Golden Tate as Notre Dame's all-time career receiving leader — and pieced together a strong, clock-eating drive that came close to putting the game out of reach. Instead, the ball slipped out of his hands on a 1st-and-goal play from Michigan's seven-yard line and he fumbled, turning the ball over to Michigan with 6:08 to play.
Robinson then showed that no game is ever out of reach, reeling off two TD drives in the final two minutes and 23 seconds, including the game-winning TD pass with two seconds to play.
A very experienced Irish secondary, featuring standout senior S Harrison Smith and CB Gary Gray, played on its heels and could not prevent the mystique that Robinson brought to the game in wearing Michigan throwback uniforms. Gray was flagged for pass interference on the final TD pass, and Smith struggled to get over the top and contain the deep fades that worked magically for Hoke.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Robinson, Baylor junior QB Robert Griffin and Wisconsin senior QB Russell Wilson have proven to be the most exciting quarterbacks in college football.
• Florida International senior WR T.Y. Hilton showed his exceptional burst and playmaking ability when he scored TDs on his first two catches to spark a 24-17 upset victory over host Louisville on Friday night. Hilton finished with a school-record 201 receiving yards on seven catches. At 5-9½, 178 pounds, Hilton has been clocked at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but he plays faster with the ball in his hands and is dynamic changing direction and wiggling through traffic and could become an impact return man and slot receiver in the pros.
• Georgia OLT Cordy Glenn clearly has enough athletic ability to man the left side, but he appeared more comfortable inside last season than he does handling the edge and needs to do a better job recognizing where pressure is coming from prior to the snap. He left QB Aaron Murray vulnerable to too many clean shots coming from Glenn's inside in the Bulldogs' 45-42 loss to South Carolina. He also was flagged twice for jumping before the snap.
• After sitting out the first game for his role in an impermissible-benefits scandal, Miami (Fla.) senior QB Jacory Harris is slated to return to the starting lineup next week when Ohio State comes to town. Harris was one of 12 Hurricanes who were sanctioned by the NCAA and had to make charitable donations after a university investigation revealed they accepted money or gifts. Sophomore Stephen Morris could continue to fend for the job considering how much Harris has struggled in the past. Morris showed fairly well in the Hurricanes' only outing this season, but could not finish the game in the opener, allowing Maryland senior CB Cameron Chism to pick off his final throw on fourth down and return it 54 yards for a TD to clinch a 32-24 win for the Terrapins. Chism could excel in a cover-2 scheme. Despite his lack of size, he has good ball skills and plays aggressively.
• The knocks on USC junior QB Matt Barkley are that he could not close out games last season when the Trojans needed it most and has been too inconsistent down the stretch. He managed to escape Minnesota with a 19-17 victory on Sept. 3 and pulled off controversial 23-14 win over Utah Saturday, but his early-season efforts have been less than inspiring.
• Fresno State WR Devon Wylie, one of the fastest players in college football, returned a punt 67 yards for a score, doing an excellent job setting up his blocks, sidestepping the initial wave of tacklers, splitting three more and cutting against grain again to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead on the road. Wylie's speed and return ability will draw mid-round interest if he shows he can stay healthy.
• Oregon junior CB-RS Cliff Harris was reinstated this week following an indefinite suspension for excessive speeding (118 mph) on a suspended license, but the Ducks did not need him in the return game in a 69-20 thumping of Nevada, with LaMichael James showing great balance bursting through two tackles on a 58-yard punt-return touchdown.
• Alabama's competitive, tempo-setting OLB Courtney Upshaw took himself out of the Penn State game in the second quarter after suffering an injury, but it is not expected to be serious.