TAMPA — Michigan QB Denard Robinson insisted again Friday that he'll go into the Outback Bowl capable of providing the one dimension he hasn't shown in two months.
The forward pass.
Robinson, who injured his right elbow late in the first half of the Wolverines' loss at Nebraska on Oct. 27, said he threw "a couple of passes" during the team's morning practice Friday at Jesuit High.
"Oh yeah, I can throw the ball," the Deerfield Beach High alumnus said.
Robinson missed the two games immediately after the injury but lined up at various spots — quarterback, tailback, receiver — in Michigan's final two games.
He ran for 220 yards in those contests and even had two receptions. He needs 86 rushing yards in the Outback Bowl to supplant West Virginia's Pat White (4,480 yards) as the NCAA career record-holder among quarterbacks.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges, clearly guarded on what Robinson's role will be Tuesday, said the senior is "throwing the ball better all the time."
"We're going to try him in a variety of different roles and we'll see what he's capable of," Borges added. "He's had a month to heal, so we'll see. He's going to be involved, that's for sure."
NO FEAR: Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has a healthy respect for the speed he'll be challenged to contain in South Carolina's offense.
Just the same, he has seen what Michigan's team speed can do against an SEC defense first hand.
"Everybody wants to talk about the SEC as being really fast," Mattison said at the Tampa Convention Center. "I'll give you an example: When I was at Florida, my last year, we played some team from Michigan, and talked about their speed all the time, and I think we got beat."
Mattison was Florida's defensive coordinator in 2007 when the Gators lost 41-35 to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. The Wolverines scored 10 points in the final five minutes as Chad Henne outdueled Tim Tebow in the year between the Gators' two national championships.
Mattison left the Gators for three years with the Baltimore Ravens and has spent the past two years building Michigan's defense. He said South Carolina's speed, while impressive, isn't unfamiliar to his players.
"I think they have very, very good speed, but we see great speed every day in practice," Mattison said. "It's what team comes out and plays. SEC's a great conference. Big Ten is a great conference. You wouldn't be here if you didn't have speed."
THEY SAID IT: "I didn't even know he played basketball." — Rick Nafe, emcee of Friday's DeBartolo team luncheon, joking about Steve Spurrier twice being named ACC coach of the year while at Duke.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
52 Consecutive starts for South Carolina C T.J. Johnson — a school record — entering the Outback Bowl. Johnson's streak matches Nevada OL Chris Barker for longest among active Division I players.