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Keeler: Iowa’s Robinson in discussion for Big Ten MVP

[ 3 ] October 16, 2010 |

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Go on. Say it. Print up the posters, roll out the buttons, shout it from the rooftops: Robinson for Big Ten MVP.

Adam Robinson, that is.

“Absolutely,” Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi said after the Hawkeyes held off Michigan 38-28. “I think he’s our offensive MVP, hands down.”

Iowa's Adam Robinson is playing like a Big Ten MVP. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

“I like it,” Hawkeye guard Julian Vandervelde said with a grin. “I like it.”

“That’s a nice gesture,” shrugged Robinson, the Iowa tailback who accounted for 204 all-purpose yards Saturday afternoon. “But there are a lot of other good athletes that are probably going to get picked over me.”

Maybe so but, at the halfway point of the regular season, the rugged 5-foot-9 sophomore deserves a place in the stratosphere alongside Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor, Michigan State’s Greg Jones and Wisconsin’s John Clay.

You want numbers? Try 623 rushing yards, 4.8 yards per carry, and eight rushing touchdowns — with half a regular season yet to go. Throw in the receiving totals, and the Des Moines native has already accounted for 138 all-purpose yards a game. He breaks tackles. He breaks ankles. Either way, the feet never stop moving. The dude has one gear: Fifth.

You want clutch? Take his latest performance at Michigan Stadium, inside the Big House. Iowa converted seven of its 13 third-down opportunities. Robinson had a hand in six of those makes, either with a timely carry or a money reception. And A-Rob’s six third-down plays — two catches, four runs — averaged 10.2 yards a pop. And he saved the best for last: A 26-yard grab on third-and-8 late in the game that set up the Hawkeyes’ final points, a 30-yard field goal by Michael Meyer that iced the victory.

“(I) turned upfield and noticed that my defender was about 5 yards off of me,” Robinson recalled. “So I knew I had to make him miss. And I luckily, I did that, I got the first down, and made a couple other guys miss, too.”

You want context? Robinson isn’t just Iowa’s featured back — he’s the Hawkeyes’ only experienced back. When Brandon Wegher left the squad during preseason camp and Jewel Hampton blew out his knee against Arizona, the onus to carry the rushing load fell squarely on the shoulders of the 205-pound former Des Moines Lincoln star. Stanzi may steer this party bus, but Robinson’s powerful legs are the engine. The quietest secret weapon in the Big Ten isn’t much of a secret anymore.

“I like that feeling — I like having the target on my back and having something to prove,” Robinson said with a grin. “And things like that, I think, help me perform better.”

Speaking of performing better, Saturday proved that the Hawkeyes had exorcised some of the demons that had plagued them in Tucson last month. Defense and a strong running game travel well, but not when you’re busy shooting yourself in the foot.

This time, it was the Wolverines with the gun and an itchy trigger finger. Big Blue rolled up 522 yards of total offense, real estate wasted by four turnovers. And the special teams gaffes that’d scarred the Arizona junket were Michigan’s problem now, as the Hawkeyes blocked a 38-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter.

Granted, the last 10 minutes didn’t do your blood pressure any favors, but look at the big picture. You’re 2-0 in the league and the rest of the Big Ten’s bullies — Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State — have to weather a trip to your house in order to grab the brass ring. They’ll have to weather Robinson, too. Wish them luck.

“He’s going to make some tough plays,” Vandervelde said. “And at the end of the day — when you’re the running back carrying the load for a team like us that relies on balance and the run — if you’re looking for the most valuable player for his team, I think he’s definitely up there in the standings.”

Thanks to Robinson, so are the Hawkeyes. And with each passing week, this bunch starts to smell more like a team that can stay there.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Sean Keeler: Sean Keeler has been a sports columnist at The Des Moines Register since 2002. Got a story tip, comment, complaint? E-mail him at skeeler@dmreg.com. You can follow him on twitter at twitter.com/seankeeler or on Facebook at facebook.com/smkeeler. View author profile.

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