April 14, 2012

Robinson makes major progress

Denard Robinson got himself into trouble on several occasions last season throwing off his back foot. Stepping into throws represents one of his biggest leaps forward this spring, Robinson assured.

"My biggest progress was making the right reads and not throwing off my back foot," Robinson said. "Throwing off my back foot was the biggest part of the reason for me throwing interceptions last year.

"I probably threw one time off my back foot all spring, because of a blitz coming at me."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges didn't disagree, and his excitement over Robinson's progress is obvious. Borges expected it, but still appreciated seeing it in the spring, while insisting it has to continue into the fall to mean anything.

"The two things that have gone away in Denard's game are falling off throws, or throwing off your back foot," Borges confirmed. "Number two is, indiscriminate decision making. He had very, very few interceptions this spring.

"He cut his interceptions from last spring to this spring four times - four times less interceptions. That's not unusual, now, for a guy that understands the offense. I said it last year. Our passing game was a drastic disparity from what they had done here in the past, and there were going to be growing pains.

"Now, we've got to take the step into the fall. It's all irrelevant if you don't. But his awareness of our passing game has enhanced immeasurably."

Robinson wasn't exactly showcased in the spring game, appearing in one series. Borges had seen plenty of him in 14 earlier outings, though, and wanted to get a good look at junior Devin Gardner and redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy.

He saw plenty of both, Gardner tossing the only interception among the top three QBs but scrambling very capably, and Bellomy making a number of solid, albeit not flashy, plays. Unofficially, Robinson connected on 2 of 3 passes for 13 yards and Bellomy 5 of 7 for 30. Gardner kept the ball eight time for 42 yards, while connecting on 2 of 7 passes and tossing an interception.

Borges has seen aspects he likes during the course of the spring from both Bellomy and Gardner.

"Devin, in particular, has had an outstanding spring," Borges said. "He's really done some very nice things. He's developed in the position more and more. He needs more time in situations like this, were there are a lot of people watching and the pressure is on. He's done a nice job."

"Russ has been steady and solid. When the guy is open, he hits him. He makes very few mistakes. He's just one of those kinds of guys. He's very athletic. He can get himself out of some messes. He's a solid guy.

"We have three quarterbacks who, I'm not sure when their major contributions are going to come - two of them, anyway - but I think there will be a point in time when they'll make a major contribution. I've been happy with the position."

Robinson, meanwhile, was happy seeing his teammates get some run in the final work out of the spring. But he feels very good about the progress he's made, and insists he'll be ready to go when September rolls around.

In fact, Robinson sees the progress as dramatic.

"It's like day and night," he said. "It's a big difference. You've been in the offense a year. You're used to everything. Last spring, we were doing a lot of learning. This spring, we're on the run right now. We're sped up. The pace is coming faster.

"I'm learning how to get into the fight, like Coach Borges is always saying. Getting into the fight means pushing the pocket, hitching up into the pocket and still looking downfield, getting under the rush."

Robinson won't rush the summer, but he's ready to go.

"It's night and day," he reiterated. "Completions, lack of interceptions. As a quarterback, you've got to be ready to go. No turnovers … turnovers were a big factor. They kept a lot of teams in games. This year, we're hoping to decrease the turnovers."

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