Robinson, defense stand out in Michigan spring game

A cold day in Ann Arbor didn’t deter Michigan fans from entering The Big House Saturday to get a glimpse of what Michigan will exhibit this fall.

The spring game kicked off with Denard Robinson starting at quarterback because of a lingering injury to last year’s starting quarterback, Tate Forcier.

On the first play of the drive, Robinson handed off to Michael Shaw and he was stifled. Throughout the scrimmage, the defense held the running game in check.

“I thought we played pretty well,” defensive lineman Ryan Van Bergen said. “Will Campbell and Greg Banks and all of them played very well and I think we got to the quarterback.”

Robinson was the one of the stars of the show. He completed his first two passes to ignite a sound drive.

To finish off the first drive, he faked a handoff to Fitzgerald Toussaint and took it in for a touchdown. For the rest of the scrimmage, Robinson performed with more confidence than he showed last season.

“Denard has made the most progression,” Van Bergen said, adding, “Denard is more than comfortable in the pocket.”

Roy Roundtree caught a pass from Robinson and raced down the field on a play that was reminiscent of last year’s game against Illinois, when Roundtree was caught from behind at the 1 yard line, changing the momentum of the entire game.

Unlike the disastrous play last season, he crossed the goal line Saturday.

“Ain’t nobody going to catch me this time,” Roundtree said.

Incoming freshman quarterback Devin Gardner made his debut at Michigan Stadium with a loud ovation from Michigan fans.

On his first play, he showed some nervousness by muffing the snap. After that play, however, he started to show signs of what he did in high school, maneuvering through defensive lineman to keep plays alive and making precise passes.

Forcier, last year’s starting quarterback, looked sluggish for most of the game. It was reported by the Michigan Daily that he had a black boot around his ankle as recently as last Wednesday.

Overall, the spring game was a good experience for the fans and the players.

“It’s one of the most exciting things for the fans that come every year and for those who have never been to Michigan Stadium,” one Michigan fan said.

The game also was a fund-raiser for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Fans could make donations to the hospital in exchange for incentives such as an “All in for Michigan Towel” for a $5 donation, up to a $500 donation for two pre-game sideline passes to a regular season game.

Annarbor.com reported that a total of $300,000 was raised for the children’s hospital.