Iowa 17 - #21 Michigan 42
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.comI'm supposed to have something poetic to say about Denard Robinson, but Saturday's game left me cold. Denard lining up as a running back is not how this is supposed to go, not in college football where he turns dropped snaps into 43-yard touchdowns and made an entire fan base invent a whole new vocabulary to grapple with what he was doing on the field. For the last three years, Michigan fans have held their collective breath as Denard did whatever he could to get the ball 10 yards further toward the endzone. We usually exhaled pleasantly surprised.
The lasting image of Saturday's game for me, however, will be Fitz Toussaint's gruesome broken leg. In real time, there wasn't much to see but the slow-motion replay was one of those scenes they'll never show again and that I unfortunately saw before I could cover my eyes. Those are the kinds of injuries that end careers. For a player who has spent the last 11 games unsuccessfully fighting off tacklers in the backfield, in one of the first times all season he gets to the light of day and that happens. It all just seems unfair.
Toussaint has another season if he's able to recover, a luxury that's not afforded to Denard who lost his season to a similarly unfair albeit less horrifying injury. Denard's last game in the Big House felt like a dud though, and the heckling he'll get from Ohio
Of course Jordan Kovacs and Will Campbell and Roy Roundtree also touched the banner for their final time in maize and blue and unlike Denard, it's unlikely any of these guys will sniff the NFL. Were it not for Denard the last three years, this would probably go down as one of the most forgettable senior classes in Michigan history. Recruited by Rich Rodriguez, he specialized in finding the diamonds in the rough, of which none ever developed at Michigan. Three straight classes of pedestrian talent held together by Denard's heroics.
I think that's why Denard became so beloved. Put aside his smile or the fact that he's a talent that Michigan had never seen before. He was a ray of hope during the program's most devastating three years. Were it not for Denard, Michigan's abhorrent record during his tenure would have been even worse. There's a reason that there are multiple instances of Denard's first snap on YouTube with 60,000-plus views. He was Michigan football over the last year, both figuratively and literally.
With only two games left, Denard will be unceremoniously sent off to the NFL where his career will probably be a flash in the pan, not unlike his time at Michigan.