Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hot Topics: Should Denard Robinson Return Kickoffs?

On a regular basis, our writers will break down a "Hot Topic" among the Michigan fans and express their personal opinions regarding the issue. Topics cover everything from major athletic department decisions to team apparel. Writers have their own opinions and readers and their views may not necessarily represent Hoke's Mad Magicians as an entity.  Readers are welcome to comment below or contact our writers via Twitter with their own thoughts.


Tyler Fenwick - Denard Robinson Should Not Return Kickoffs
1) Obviously, Denard Robinson is one of the most electrifying play makers in college football, and we are very lucky to have him in a winged helmet. Let's not forget that and put the kid in danger of getting injured on such a gamble. It doesn't take a genius to catch on to the fact that Robinson gets banged up a lot. Granted, he is a tough player and stays in there. But that does not justify throwing our quarterback onto the field to return kickoffs. Besides, say the other team doesn't kick him the ball (I know I wouldn't); do we ask him to now block for the returner? No. When I saw Robinson was out there with the return team on Saturday, I'll admit I was excited at first. But it didn't take me very long to come across the thought of our star getting hurt because we thought he could give us a little better field position.

2) Do we really even need Denard Robinson returning kickoffs? Dennis Norfleet is doing a fine job in my opinion. Even if I wasn't concerned with the health of Robinson out there, this would still be a point of mine. The Michigan return game is doing its job, and I would be surprised if Norfleet or any other returner doesn't take one to the house before the season is over. Sure, I would pay a lot of money to watch Denard Robinson catch the ball in the open field and let his legs go, but we have guys for that already, and it's not like they're struggling.

Thomas Beindit - Denard Robinson Should Return Kickoffs

1)  The job of the football coaches is to put the best football players on the field and to use them in the best way to get victory.  Of course, there are other things that go along with the job, but that is the main objective. Set-up your team to get the best chance at victory.  Nine times out of ten, Denard Robinson will be the most electrifying player and the player with the most big play potential on the field.  Why limit his ability to impact the game?  Every time Denard is on the field, there could be a massive explosion for a score.  Returning kickoffs is just another chance for Denard to help the team.  Even if he doesn't get the ball, he will easily distract defenders and make them devote time to him.  Going even further, what if Michigan decides to run some interesting trick return plays?  Have Denard get the ball run to the left and throw back to Norfleet on the right.  We've seen teams do this all the time and it's very effective.  I don't think there's anybody out there that doesn't think this would increase production for the special teams.

2) The other thing that I think fans are missing is the possible impact for the future.  Whether fans like it or not, Denard Robinson will only be a Michigan player for a few more games.  Even if Michigan makes the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game, that gives Denard seven more games.  At this point, it's pretty obvious that Denard will not be making it as a quarterback in the NFL.  Just about everybody and their brother thinks Denard should and will enter the NFL Draft as a wide receiver/returner combo.  The problem with this is that there is very little tape and material for scouts to evaluate him at this position.  So there are basically two options.  First, play only at quarterback and only use the combines and pro days for draft evaluation.  This is a very risky strategy considering that these are over the course of a few days.  The other option is to play at the position during his remaining college games.  This will still give him the chance to impress scouts during the combines and pro days, but will also give him some material to fall back on in case those don't go as well as many hope.  To me, this is a great chance for Denard to improve his pro prospects, which is something that should make fans happy.


Final Points

Tyler - Those are a couple great points, and I agree with them both. But let's look at the NFL. Injury on kick returns became such a problem that the league adjusted it so a return is rare, limiting hits and injuries. It's not as huge of a problem in college football, but football is football. There's no denying that fact. And when our number one play maker does run the ball up to 25 times each game, do we really want to increase that load? If he was a dual threat QB that only ran 7-10 times a game, I would be all for this gamble. But, in my opinion, the risk is not worth the reward. It's that simple.

Thomas - I agree that the chance for injuries will increase if Denard is consistently put out on kick returns, but is the injury factor really that great?  I mean, this is the same guy that runs the ball upwards of 20-25 times during a game straight into huge defensive linemen.  If that doesn't concern fans, I'm not sure why going in for a few plays a game would be that concerning.  I mean, he would have went in a total of 3 times last week and even less against Illinois.  I also agree that Norfleet has been doing a great job returning the football, but think about his chances if opponents are distracted by Denard being on the field.  He doesn't even have to touch the ball or block and he will receive extra attention from the other team, which should make it easier for Norfleet.  Yes, this move is riskier than not playing Denard, but this team should be playing to win and to develop players, not just playing it safe, especially when the reward is worth so much more than the risk.


All writers are entitled to their own opinion and those may or may not represent the held beliefs of Hoke's Mad Magicians as an entity. Readers are welcome to comment below or contact the writers via Twitter with   their thoughts


  1. This is a stupid discussion. Our #1 QB and easily the most important player on our offense should not be returning kicks with guys flying at him with a full head of steam. Even if he only gets the wind knocked out of him, that could take him out of the ensuing series. Dumb.

    1. As much as it may surprise some fans, this is actually happening on the field right now and will likely be continued for the rest of the season. So whether the concept is dumb, it's a reality, which is why we debated it.

  2. Two words...Blake Countess.....never played a snap on D this year.