Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, left, and quarterback Denard Robinson, right, call over the offense during a timeout in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Minnesota, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Minneapolis. Robinson did not play because of an undisclosed injury.
ANN ARBOR — Patrick Omameh won’t deny it. Denard Robinson has become the de facto face of the Michigan football program.
“It would be hard to argue that he’s not,” said Omameh, a senior offensive lineman for the No. 23 Wolverines. “He’s a leader at Michigan football, in many ways, and a guy who’s become very important to not just the teams he’s been on, but to the program.”
But since a 23-9 loss Oct. 27 at No. 16 Nebraska, Robinson’s face has been absent from the play-calling and shrouded from the media as he continues to recover from an injury to the ulnar nerve in his throwing arm.
The injury has sidelined him for the past two games, and it raises a question: Will Robinson play Saturday for Michigan (7-3, 5-1 Big Ten) in its final home game and on the day the program’s seniors are honored?
It was difficult to extract much information in regards to Robinson’s status from Michigan coach Brady Hoke during his weekly media availability Monday at Schembechler Hall. Hoke described Robinson as “day-to-day,” but didn't give much in the way of clarification in regards to Robinson’s availability, either Saturday against the Hawkeyes (4-6, 2-4) or for the remainder of the season.
“I won’t have anything to do with it,” Hoke said of making that decision. “His health is what will have to do with it.”
If Robinson does not play Saturday, does Hoke have any particular emotions about it? He answered in broad terms.
“Any time a guy can’t finish the way that they would like to, because of injury or whatever, you’re disappointed for them,” Hoke said. “They’re all our sons.”
Still, Robinson’s absence on the field would be glaring. He’s winding down his senior season and his career as one of Michigan’s brightest and most recognizable players. Even this season, he has cemented himself as one of the Big Ten’s more prolific rushing quarterbacks, despite missing the Wolverines’ last two games.
Robinson is third in the Big Ten in rushing (118.2 yards a game), third in total offense (283.1 yards a game), sixth in all-purpose yards (118.2 yards a game) and seventh in passing average (164.9 yards a game).
Yet while Devin Gardner has emerged as a reinforcement, passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns in his second start this season Saturday against Northwestern, there is a sentimental swing towards Robinson, who has dressed and been on the sidelines for the Wolverines in wins at Minnesota and at home against Northwestern.
“He’s a source of encouragement,” Omameh said of Robinson’s sideline presence. “He’s the kind of guy, whatever he can do for the team, no matter what the capacity is, he’s going to try and do that.”
How much does Omameh hope Robinson gets the opportunity to play?
“Everybody wants to go out the way they dreamed, coming into Michigan,” Omameh said. “How those things unfold, it’s out of my hands. But you have to play the hand that you’re dealt.”
When asked to imagine what it would be like not to be able the final games of his senior season, senior defensive end Craig Roh offered a hypothetical answer, but offered some insight into Robinson’s psyche.
“Personally, it would be a little bit of a tough situation,” Roh said. “But that’s the great thing about Denard. He, really, does not seem fazed by any of the stuff he’s going through right now. You give credit to the resiliency that he has, and I think that’s something that’s special about him.”
BIG TEN HONORS GARDNER: Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner earned Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday. Gardner — who was 16 of 29 for 286 yards passing with two touchdowns — shared the weekly award with Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, who rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns Saturday against Indiana.
BROADCASTS ANNOUNCED: ESPN will broadcast Michigan’s final home game on Saturday, a noon start against Iowa. ABC will broadcast Michigan’s regular-season finale Nov. 24 at Ohio State.
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