Virginia Tech knows it needs to contain Michigan’s electrifying QB Denard Robinson

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Soon after the Sugar Bowl matchup was set, Virginia Tech free safety Eddie Whitley was bombarded by text messages about Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

Denard, Denard, Denard. That’s all I get,” Whitley said two weeks ago.

He didn’t need anyone to remind him.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Robinson is one of the most electrifying dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, and the Hokies know neutralizing him is the key to stopping the Wolverines’ offense.

“In this game, it’s all about stopping Denard Robinson,” Tech linebacker Jack Tyler said.

Tech and Michigan square off Tuesday at the Superdome in New Orleans. It was on that arena’s turf that Hokies quarterback Michael Vick wowed fans with his running and passing ability in a national championship game loss to Florida State in 2000.

Robinson, a Deerfield, Fla., native, said he doesn’t remember seeing that game. He was only 9 at the time, but he became a Vick fan later on.

He was inspired when he watched Vick play.

“I was just like, ‘Man, I want to be like this guy someday,’” Robinson said.

Robinson, who became the first quarterback in NCAA history to pass for at least 2,500 yards and rush for at least 1,500 in a single season in 2010, is certainly on his way.

His numbers are down from last year, but that’s because he has learned to rely more on his supporting cast in first-year offensive coordinator Al Borges’ system.

Robinson was the Wolverines’ chief rushing option last year when he gained 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. This year, he and sophomore tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint have shared the rushing load.

Robinson has rushed for 1,163 yards and 16 touchdowns, and Toussaint has rushed for 1,011 yards and nine scores. By not having to carry the rushing burden, Robinson has taken fewer hits and learned to become a more complete quarterback.

“He’s had to make sacrifices,” Borges said. “He went from being a 1,700-yard rusher to being a 1,100-yard rusher. I told him from the beginning, from Day 1, that he wasn’t going to rush [as much], because we’re going to keep him in one piece if it killed us.”

“And he accepted that and really worked at developing other phases of his game.”

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