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November 21, 2012

Despite new package, OL's responsibilities don't change

When senior quarterback Denard Robinson lined up for the first play of last week's 42-17 win over Iowa at running back, Michigan fans certainly took notice.

Robinson was used in myriad ways. He ran the option from both the running back and the quarterback slot; he swung out on a few screen passes; he took some sweep handoffs; and, sometimes, he was used as just a plain ol' decoy to open up other areas of the offense.

While nothing the Wolverines ran with Robinson in the game could really be described as a "trick play," the package was certainly tricky, confusing the Iowa defense and allowing Michigan to score touchdowns on its first six possessions of the game

And it definitely surprised the 113,000-plus fans in the stands, who were marveling at the possibilities the new package opens for next weekend's critical game in Columbus.

But there were at least five people in Michigan Stadium last Saturday who were not paying attention to the highfalutin antics that were occurring in the Wolverines' backfield: the guys up front.

"As offensive linemen, I don't think we really pay attention to who's at quarterback and running back," fifth-year senior center Elliott Mealer said. "We try to go out there, and whatever play is called, we try to block it to the best of our ability. Obviously great players like Devin and Denard probably give us a little more versatility and make it tougher for defenses. As an offensive lineman, I don't really pay attention to personnel. I just try to block it."

Although redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint left the game with an apparent ankle injury early in the first quarter, the Wolverines, creatively deploying Robinson in the backfield, still churned out yards on the ground, led by the offensive linemen.

In the first 10 games of the season, Michigan averaged 194.1 yards rushing per game. Against the Hawkeyes, the Wolverines gained 199, without the starting tailback, all while posting a season-high 315 yards through the air.

Fifth-year senior guard Patrick Omameh was pleased to see Robinson worked into the gameplan.

"It's great to be able to utilize what we have in any way that can help up," Omameh said. "Whatever what Coach Borges and Hoke decide to use guys to our benefit, it's always great.

"You always want to have a complete attack when you're facing an opponent. And we're happy to see things coming together. Devin is a threat, and our receivers have been playing lights out the last few weeks. It feels like things are coming together as far as what we're trying to do offensively, and we're trying to keep it going."

The Buckeyes will pose a wholly new challenge for the Wolverines.

Ohio State ranks No. 17 nationally in rushing yards allowed per game, allowing just 116.8.

"Obviously, they are an excellent team, good defense," Mealer said. "Their guys up front are going to test our offensive line. We're going to have to be even more focused for a game like this, because they're a good defensive line. They have good linebackers. The whole crew, they have a good defense. For us, that's already known, and all of a sudden, it's a rivalry game, too. We're going to have to play our A-game."


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