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Wolverines notebook: Robinson special against UM

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Central Catholic graduate Ryne Robinson piled up 249 yards in punt and kickoff returns yesterday for Miami. He had a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by a penalty.

Morrison / Blade photo Enlarge

ANN ARBOR - Ryne Robinson did his part for Miami to try and take down eighth-ranked Michigan.

The former Central Catholic standout left Michigan pondering special teams adjustments.

Robinson, a 5-10, 165-pound sophomore, had 249 return yards, including a punt return of 70. He even had a punt-return touchdown called back in the first quarter.

"We won the battle of the punt returns [and] that was part of the challenge today," Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said. "But that wasn't enough."

Robinson, who ranked second in the nation a year ago in punt return average (17.2), had 139 yards on four punt returns and another 110 on six kickoff returns, with a long of 29 yards.

However, a 59-yard punt return down the sideline for a touchdown that was nullified because of an illegal block would have been his most significant run of the day, and would have broken a scoreless tie.

"On special teams those return positions are big playmakers, in general, and I feel like I can be that man," said Robinson, who also caught three passes for 43 yards.

Last week against Indiana State he scored on a 70-yard punt return and had two other punt return touchdowns called back because of penalties.

The wideout's success on special teams seems to be a result of doing his homework and utilizing the instincts of a running back.

"I always try to poke at a weakness in the punt teams," he said. "I go back and watch film and just try to do it all over again.

"It's all about reading the blocks just like a running back does. It's about picking my spots and finding the weaknesses."

Michigan linebacker Pierre Woods was impressed with Miami's punt return team.

"On two of the returns I got blasted," Woods said. "We take pride in our special teams. You have to give him [Robinson] credit because he's a great returner."

HENNE'S DEBUT: Chad Henne, Michigan's first true freshman to start at quarterback since Rick Leach in 1975, had the support of several family members who made the trip from Pennsylvania. His father, Sheldon, said his son told him on Thursday night that he would be starting against Miami instead of seeing playing time in the second quarter as originally planned.

For the elder Henne was pleased with his son's overall performance that included a couple of touchdown passes.

"I think, as a freshman, he did real well," Sheldon said.

As far as Henne's place in Michigan football history, the elder Henne thinks the younger Henne probably didn't put much thought into it.

"Coming from Pennsylvania he probably had never even heard of Rick Leach," Sheldon said.

BEN WAS HERE: Former Miami and Findlay High quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a first-round pick by Pittsburgh, stood on the sideline.

He's a week away from his first NFL regular season contest. He was able to attend because the Steelers had the day off.

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