Robinson shines in spring game

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson slipped a few tackles and made modest throws to set up his touchdown run on the opening drive of Michigan's public practice.

The estimated crowd of 35,000 fans at the Big House didn't get too excited because they saw him make similar plays as a freshman last season.

Robinson, though, made the crowd roar later by perfectly connecting with Roy Roundtree in stride on a 97-yard pass that helped answer some questions about his arm.

"He's always had the ability to throw," Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said.

People outside the program just didn't know that until Saturday.

Robinson connected on just 45 percent of his 31 passes as Tate Forcier's backup last season.

"Denard has certainly made some big leaps," Rodriguez said.

While Robinson shined with what was usually the first-string offense against second-string defense, Forcier struggled to move the ball consistently with projected reserves against expected starters.

Rodriguez pleaded with reporters not to read too much into their performances, the order in which they played or who lined up with them.

"The competition at quarterback is wide open," he insisted. "The competition will go on."

The Wolverines may not even announce who their No. 1 QB is before opening Sept. 4 against Connecticut.

If someone had an edge, Rodriguez joked that he wouldn't acknowledge it.

Highly touted freshman QB Devin Gardner appeared to get rattled by performing in front of a big crowd excited to see him, turning cheers into groans by fumbling on his first play and throwing an interception on his next drive.

"I think he was nervous," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez was weary of his QBs getting involved with a controversy so he told them not to answer questions from the media and they listened.

Robinson, clearly happy with his day, was interviewed by the school.

"It went as planned, I guess, as I wanted it to go," Robinson told mgoblue.com in an interview posted Saturday night. "I grew a lot from the whole spring. The spring game, I did good, I think."

Rodriguez agreed with some comparisons that are being made between Pat White, whom he coached at West Virginia, and Robinson.

"They have a lot of the same abilities," Rodriguez said.

Michigan's defense was not impressive and Rodriguez wasn't sure if making the QBs off limits for hits took away the unit's aggressiveness.

The Wolverines finished with a 5-7 record last year after a 4-0 start and lost a school-record nine games in Rodriguez's debut season two years ago in large part because they were awful on defense.

"We can only get better," linebacker Obi Ezeh said.