With the college football season quickly approaching, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the Michigan Wolverines as they prepare to kick off the 2012-2013 season against SEC power and defending BCS Champion Alabama in what is widely considered the premier non-conference game on the entire FBS schedule.
So much for starting out with the proverbial "cupcake game." Remember 2007 anyone?
There is plenty to be excited about in Ann Arbor as fans are looking forward to the second season under Brady Hoke. Michigan is coming of its best season since 2006, its first victory against Ohio State since 2003 and its first BCS Bowl victory since 2000.
Both senior Denard Robinson and junior Fitzgerald Toussaint were named as early members of the Maxwell Award watch list after turning in strong 2011 campaigns. Toussaint was more of a surprise than Robinson, but the tailback is arguably just as important as "Shoelace" to the Wolverines' success this season.
Robinson's credentials speak for themselves. He's racked up 4,931 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air, but it's what he can do with his legs that makes him truly special. In 2010 he recorded a NCAA record for quarterbacks by rushing for 1,702 yards. In his three years wearing Maize and Blue, he's recorded 3,229 yards and 35 touchdowns on the ground. That's a total of 8,160 yards and 75 total touchdowns in two full seasons as the Wolverines starter.
Toussaint burst onto the scene last season with 1,047 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 187 carries. He was the first Michigan back to rush for over 1,000 yards since Mike Hart did it back in 2007. He also caught a touchdown, giving him ten total touchdowns for the year. Most importantly, Toussaint provided much needed balance to the Wolverines offensive attack, taking a huge load off of Robinson's shoulders.
Entering 2012, there has to be continued concern over the quarterback's durability as a run-first quarterback with a small frame. Moreover, Robinson still showed he can be an inconsistent passer against top-tier competition. He threw 15 interceptions last season, giving him 30 for his career.
Robinson accounted for 96 points in 2011 and Toussaint added 60 more—the two top totals among Wolverine position players last year.
"Shoelace" might get the majority of the national press and Heisman hype, but the Wolverines' hopes rest just as heavily on the shoulders—or legs— of the talented tailback.
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