NOTRE DAME - There's no ideal way to prepare for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
Just when you think you've got him where you want him, he turns a loss into a big gain, sometimes even six points.
"There isn't an easy answer to that", coach Brian Kelly said when asked how to contain Robinson. "He's a superior football player. He's not a great player; he's the best player on the field."
Nobody knows that better than Notre Dame. Robinson burst onto the national scene two years ago, slicing and dicing his way through the Irish defense for 500 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns at Notre Dame Stadium. Last season in Ann Arbor, the Irish were able to bottle him up for the better part of three quarters. But over the final 15 minutes, Robinson led the Wolverines to 24 points...in a last second come from behind win. It was devastating for the Irish.
"We've got to keep him from making big plays", Kelly says.
So how do the Irish keep Robinson in check this Saturday? The answer lies in the game plan they had last year, but weren't to execute down the stretch.
"I thought we did a pretty good job, really, for three quarters," Kelly says of the 2011 game in Ann Arbor. " think if there's a couple plays we'd like to have back in the passing game maybe; but we liked our plan. We think that we are physically a better football team than we were the previous couple years."
"He's a superior football player. He is he's a difference maker. So we have to find a way to limit big chunk plays, just like we have the first few weeks. It's about our defense not giving up those big, chunk plays. We gave them up in the running game in year one and we gave them up in the passing game in year two."
"We have to eliminate and control those big plays that are out there. If we do that, we feel pretty good."