Commentary

Robinson will thrive in new offense

The switch to a pro-style attack could give Michigan one of nation's top passing games

Updated: April 19, 2011, 12:41 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Denard RobinsonAP Photo/Tony DingDenard Robinson figures to be doing more passing and less running in 2011.

When Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry added the shotgun to his more traditional offensive scheme in the 1970s, he did not actually make any significant alterations to the Cowboys' playbook. There were a few backfield options that could be run off the shotgun, but the basics of the Dallas aerial attack remained the same, which ultimately made the switch a smoother one than some might have initially expected.

This history lesson is worth noting when analyzing the Michigan Wolverines' switch from Rich Rodriguez's option-spread offense to Brady Hoke's pro-style scheme. After all, there seems to be more than a bit of trepidation as to whether or not junior quarterback Denard Robinson (aka "Shoelace") will be able to effectively shift to this new system after bursting onto the national scene last season on the strength of his tremendous running ability. Robinson's skills as a passer were frequently questioned last season, and an inconsistent showing in the Michigan Spring Game didn't do a lot to help alleviate the fears of those worried that Shoelace won't be able to thrive in a more pro-style system.

However, nervous Maize and Blue fans should take comfort in the fact that, just as the Cowboys' shotgun offensive changes weren't as great as generally thought, a detailed look at the 2010 season shows why Robinson and company have already mastered a number of the passing elements they will be asked to use in the new system. Based on the abilities and promise shown by Robinson as a passer last season, there is good reason to believe that he could thrive in Hoke's system in 2011 and lead one of the top passing attacks in the country.


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