Continued from page 1

The Wolverines will likely use running backs Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, Justice Hayes perhaps along with newcomers Dennis Norfleet and Drake Johnson against the Crimson Tide.

Without Toussaint, there’s an even bigger burden on Robinson to try to outrun or outwit Saban’s defenders, who are seldom caught out of position.

Saban said Robinson has improved as a pocket passer. He has warned his pass rushers of what can happen if they leave their feet while approaching him.

“Well, this guy will ball fake you like Michael Jordan and take off running and you’ll say, ‘Well, how did that happen?’” Saban said.

The swift Robinson can make teams pay for mistakes, as evidenced by his 30 carries of 20-plus yards.

“He’s fast. You see that on ESPN watching the Top 10 (plays) week in and week out,” Alabama defensive end Damion Square said. “He’s a guy that players know of. He has an exceptional arm. He makes throws that need to be made for his team and he extends plays and makes big plays a lot. That’s what you want to come and stop — big plays.”

Alabama counters with the more traditional passer AJ McCarron, offensive MVP of the BCS championship game.

Tailback Eddie Lacy also makes his starting debut in place of Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson. He has plenty of help, though, from big-play threats Dee Hart and T.J. Yeldon along with a veteran offensive line.

Michigan linebacker Kenny Demens doesn’t think there’s any room for error against Alabama.

“Zero. They’re a great team. They’re disciplined,” Demens said. “Any mistake can cost us the game.”

The Wolverines don’t seem bothered by the fact that Alabama is so heavily favored.

“The game is played on the field,” cornerback J.T. Floyd said.

Asked if he likes Michigan’s chances, he invoked the three-word catchphrase that has caught on since Hoke’s arrival.

“This is Michigan,” he said.