UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: To slow down Robinson, Badgers look to gang up

Finding someone to simulate Michigan's Denard Robinson on the scout team -- which operates against the No. 1 defense in practice -- can be as challenging as tackling Robinson in the open field.

"We don't have anyone who runs a 10.2 (100 meters) on our team," said UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren.  So who got to wear Robinson's No. 16 in practice?

Jeff Lewis, a freshman tailback from Brookfield Central, who's redshirting.

"He gave us a good look because he can really run," said linebacker Blake Sorensen.

But there's Robinson's speed, and everybody else's speed.

"He's the only quarterback I know who runs a 4.3 (40)," said cornerback Antonio Fenelus, who grew up playing Little League football against Robinson in Florida.

Fenelus is from Boca Raton, and Robinson is from Deerfield Beach. But he had an aunt who worked in Boca. So he spent his summers there and attended football camps with Fenelus.

"He was always fast and had a nice arm," Fenelus said of Robinson, who earned the nickname "Shoelace" after purposely leaving his laces untied during games. Velcro is his secret.

"I usually text him after every game to see how he played or whatever," said Fenelus, who communicated with Robinson last weekend. What words were exchanged between the old friends?

"I told him, 'You'd better be ready' and he said, 'Ball-out and play your best.'"

What's the key to slowing down D-Rob? "You're trying to tackle a tremendous player in space," Doeren said. "And the rule is to get as many guys to the ball as you can."

When Doeren was coaching at Kansas, he faced the likes of Missouri's Brad Smith and Texas' Vince Young. They each posed different problems because of their size. Robinson is 6-foot, 193.

"You have to be very sound and smart about how you play him," Doeren said.

How does Robinson compare with Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor as a running threat?

"He's a lot quicker than Pryor - he gets downhill," Sorensen said. "Pryor runs to throw sometimes, but Denard Robinson will run around you and through you.

"Everyone talks about how fast he is, and they're right. He's explosive. He can change the game in one play. It's scary when a quarterback can run like that. Haven't seen one like Robinson yet.

"We're not going to beat him one-on-one ... we have to stay in front of the ball and be ready for the run. We have to play run first and react to the pass. And we've got to gang tackle."

Robinson is one-half of a tag team with quarterback Tate Forcier.

"He's athletic, too, and probably a better thrower than Denard," Sorensen said.

But he can't match Robinson's running ability. Who can?

"I'd say maybe Michael Vick, he's the closest I've seen," Sorensen said.