ANN ARBOR — Brady Hoke anticipates that Denard Robinson will play this weekend.
Michigan’s second-year coach said Monday that the quarterback will practice this week in preparation for Saturday’s game at Minnesota. Robinson re-aggravated an injury to the ulnar nerve of his throwing arm late in the first half of Saturday’s 23-9 loss at No. 21 Nebraska.
“He should be fine,” Hoke said Monday during his weekly press conference.“He should be ready to go.”
Robinson’s injury left him unable to properly grip a football Saturday night, but Hoke said Monday that Robinson’s grip was good, and that if there was a game Monday, Robinson would be “close” to being game-ready.
Michigan (5-3, 3-1 Big Ten Conference) faces Minnesota at noon Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and Hoke said his staff is working with doctors to examine preventative measures in regards to Robinson’s injury — one he sustained Oct. 13 in a 45-0 win over Illinois, referring to his "funny bone," and also suffered last season in a win at Iowa.
“There may be something, a sleeve of some sort,” Hoke said. “And then the guy’s got to get used to it.”
As a precautionary measure, wide receiver Devin Gardner — converted from a quarterback prior to the season — will take more snaps this week at quarterback, as will redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy, Michigan’s designated No. 2 quarterback.
“If Denard’s as well as we know he’s going to be, Devin’s still going to play receiver,” Hoke said.
Bellomy relieved Robinson on Saturday but completed only three of 16 passes and was intercepted three times. Neither Robinson nor Bellomy will be made available to the media this week, but offensive tackle Taylor Lewan took exception to criticism of Bellomy’s performance in the wake of Saturday’s loss.
"I have 100 percent faith in Russell," Lewan said. "It was a tough situation to go in. Any person that thinks, ‘well, I could have done a better job’? No, you couldn't have — 90,000 screaming fans in red shirts, screaming at you and you're a redshirt freshman, that's a tough situation for anybody to be in.
"All these things I'm being told about Russell, I don't appreciate it. Because Russell's my quarterback, Denard's my quarterback, Devin [Gardner], Jack Kennedy. Anybody who's in that game, that's a tough spot to be in.”
Still, the Wolverines felt Robinson’s absence. Without its catayst, the offense finished with 95 rushing yards and accrued just 14 rushing yards in the second half of the loss at Nebraska. Michigan failed to score a touchdown inside Nebraska’s 20-yard-line, geography where Hoke believes the ground game is critical.
“I was a little disappointed [in the run game],” Hoke said. “Even though we were doing OK, I think we ran 40 plays in the first half and out of five possessions, three of them were 10 plays or more. We were doing OK, but I usually, generally, am always disappointed in the running game if the numbers aren’t there to a certain point.”
GAME TIME SET: The Big Ten announced Monday that Michigan will kick off at noon Nov. 10 against Northwestern at Michigan Stadium. Television assignments will be announced after Saturday’s games.
INJURY UPDATE: Hoke said defensive end Frank Clark practiced Sunday and is expected to be available Saturday at Minnesota. Clark did not travel to Nebraska because of an ankle injury.
Hoke also said defensive end Mario Ojemudia would not miss significant time after he was injured Saturday at Nebraska. Hoke did not disclose Ojemudia’s injury, but Ojemudia limped off the field in the second quarter.
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