Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but I think it's clear this was one of the worst, if not the worst, decisions made by this coaching staff since taking over in January 2011. With Gardner at QB, we have a chance to win that Nebraska game. And we gave that up knowing full-well that Denard has a history of leaving games due to injury (no surprise there, given how much we used him for offensive output). ARG.
MGoHindsight: Gardner's Impact at Wide Receiver
Now that the regular season is over and we can now say for certain that our season came down to Denard’s ulnar nerve and a maddening loss to the Huskers, I wanted to take a retrospective look at what proved to be the key personnel decision on offense for Michigan this season; moving Devin Gardner from quarterback to wide receiver. Of course, there’s been numerous threads debating the wisdom of having Bellomy as the back-up to Denard over Gardner, but what really hasn’t been looked at is where we would’ve been in the first 8 games without Devin at wideout. This is my rudimentary, George Bailey analysis of such a scenario. I apologize up front for not having the Mathlete’s ability to take statistics and convert them into revelatory truths, but here we go.
Alabama -Devin had only the one reception in this game, but it was a 44 yard touchdown, so that’s nice. Of course, it didn’t matter because, oh yeah, we’re playing Alabama. Why the BLEEP are we playing this game? Impact: NEGLIGIBLE
Air Force - This is easily Gardner’s best game at WR. He had 5 receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Ironically his performance gets overshadowed by the debut of Funchess. Still of his 5 catches, 1 of them converts a third down which is followed by a 30 yard touchdown pass to Funchess, another is his TD catch and his final reception is a 20 grab on first down on a drive that ultimately yields a field goal. Of all the games where Gardner appeared at receiver, this game sticks out as the one where he made a difference between Michigan winning and losing. Impact: MAJOR
UMass – Gardner snagged 2 receptions for 48 yards including a touchdown, which doesn’t really matter because Michigan is playing UMass and it’s not 2010. Impact: NEGLIGIBLE
Notre Dame – Devin hauled in 3 receptions for 40 yards, which was 2 less than the Notre Dame defense hauled in on what was probably Denard’s worst game as a starter at Michigan. Two of his receptions came on a drive that ended with an interception, with the other converting a 3rdand 10 that lead to Michigan’s 2ndfield goal. His biggest play in this game, though was probably the 40 yard bomb he dropped late in the 4thquarter with Michigan still trailing by 10. Of course, after this game, Borges begins to adjust the offense to emphasize the run more than the pass. Impact: MINOR
Purdue – Gardner had 2 catches for 31 yards and another touchdown, which is a lot considering that Denard threw only 16 times in this game. Still Michigan blew out Purdue the old-fashioned way in this game, by running the football. Impact: MINOR
Illinois – Gardner only got one catch for 17 yards in a game where Michigan didn’t have to do much to whip the Illini. His grab converted a 3rdand 10 on a drive that ultimately resulted in a punt. The only thing of note in this game is that Denard leaves the game with an injury to his throwing arm in the third quarter. Bellomy comes in at QB and hands off a lot until Denard returns. Impact: NEGLIGIBLE
Michigan State - Gardner tallies a single catch for 13 yards on a drive that ends with Michigan punting. Devin actually has a pretty poor game here running some sloppy routes and not making some big catches due to some poor footwork. Still, Michigan wins despite his lackluster performance because Drew Dileo is the mother-fucking threat. Impact: NEGLIGIBLE
Nebraska - Devin had no receptions from Denard before DOOM. His sole reception for 15 yards from Bellomy is described by Brian as “Inexplicable Laser to Devin Gardner”. Once Denard is out, the only way Devin can help Michigan in this game is by going back in time and prepping to be the back-up for this game…argh. Impact: NEGLIGIBLE
So….what does this tell us? Well, I guess if the hope of the coaching staff was for Gardner to come in and become Hemingway 2.0; ummm… that didn’t happen. It’s pretty easy to argue that Gardner only played a decisive factor in just one game as a receiver. I don’t think any of us at this point would hesitate to trade a loss to Air Force for a win over Nebraska and a spot in the B1G CG. Granted, without the benefit of hindsight back in September, under this scenario, the board meltdown after an Air Force loss and 0-2 start would’ve been epic.
Still I believe the decision to move Gardner to wide receiver is pretty defensible because getting your 11 best athletes on the field at the same time is usually a pretty good idea. The decision in my mind becomes a little less defensible after the ND game only because Borges seemed to shy away from a balanced passing attack with Denard helming the offense. Of course, the Denard-lead offense and the Devin-lead offense were two completely different things, which may explain why Devin was never really considered for moving back to QB until absolutely necessary. In the end, Borges and Hoke pushed all their chips in on Denard staying healthy and crapped out.
The takeaway from all this for me is to follow the advice espoused by Magnus. You take a QB in every recruiting class. Make sure you have a viable alternative at the QB spot because you never know when you’ll need that guy. Hoke and company learned that lesson the hard way this year.
Denard went out with the ulnar nerve thing the week before. They should have had Devin taking snaps just in case that happened again and Bellomy had the issues he had.
Ugh is correct.
You didn't account for the fact Gardner hurt his shoulder late in the Notre Dame game, which obviously affected his utility for whatever he would've tried to do the following 4 games.
And let's be fair. The coaches are not to blame for shifting Devin Gardner over to WR. He would've never had to make the move had Darryl Stonum let someone drive him to his probation meeting.
Bellomy sucked it up obviously filling in for Denard. Gardner should have gone in- and him having played WR should not have made that impossible.
He played WR well even if his impact was not enormous. You want your best athletes on the field and he should have played (having a dual QB thing all year like in the last few games woulod have been sweet...).
Unless playing WR meant he could not have played QB I don't think him playing WR mattered too much. I don't buy that him playing WR made it so he couldn't have filled in- plus its hard to imagine he'd have done worse than Bellomy.
I don't buy that him playing WR made it so he couldn't have filled in
Well, you are wrong. A normal human needs practice at a given action to be good at it. Up until Denard's boo boo, Devin was not practicing as a QB.
My understanding was that he was still taking reps in practice- I guess if I was wrong that makes more sense. But either way I think he could have come in and kept us in contention which Bellomy clearly could not- and that would be the fault of the staff not giving him reps not the fact he played WR.
I think asking a player to come into a game and play a position without any preparation is unreasonable. Bellomy was certainly not ready to step into Denard's shoes in the Nebraska game, but pushing his aside and tossing the ball in Devin's hands and essentially saying, "see what you can do" is bad policy. Depth charts exist for a reason.
he probably got some reps but there isnt much time in practice especially if you want to practice at 2 positions. recievers didnt help bellomy out much either in the game and he didnt exactly have a running game to hand off too
While I love any analysis of stats and numbers, I don't know if this is the entire picture since this doesn't account for the total effect of Gardner on the field. For example, if Gardner on the outside gets a double coverage on a play that could allow Dileo much more open space to morph into the THREAT and wreck teams.
In a perfect world, you aren't looking for the effect of Gardner in his stats, but instead looking at the difference between Gardner and the player he is replacing across the entire field.
Note, what I've outlined is impossible with a football dataset.
I don't think it is fair to jump to the "Borges blows" meme with this as proof.
I realize the analysis can never be complete, quantitative, and definitive. That's why I qualified it up front by characterizing it as rudimentary and George Bailey-esque. It was not my intent to have this diary be a critique of any of the coaches or their decisions.
I think that line in my response was 80-20 percent directed at the first comment.
Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but I think it's clear this was one of the worst, if not the worst, decisions made by this coaching staff since taking over in January 2011.
However, I felt it better to reply to your post. Sorry for the confusion. I really love any and all data analysis.
Just curious if you've ever actually played any sports and if so, were you any good?....you know....a normal human being....which is to say that I don't believe Gardner is!
I was an above avg athlete but not great. The one thing I excelled at was drums. Played them since I could swing a stick. Haven't played them for years, but, can sit down and everything automatically goes where it's supposed to. Would I be perfect?...no...but I quarantee you, anyone who has been doing something (like throwing a football, reading defenses, running, using hand-eye coordination, etc.) for most of their life isn't going to just forget how to do it!
The man was on the field most every play. Does anyone really thing he didn't know the plays?
Sure, there may have been a little confusion on handoff direction or exact lineups for any given play, but, if I'm picking kids for my team on the playground, I'll take the 6'5" guy who can run and has a gun for an arm AND has had reps in a college game!
These coaches!.......supposed to be great football minds. I have news for you......just because their in the position doesn't necessarily mean that they are great football minds.
I would take the 6'5" kid by the shoulders and tell him to focus, give him some direction with easier plays to get him acquainted, tell everyone else on the field to help him get going, you know, make sure we're lined up properly, double check handoffs,........wouldn't have to remind him of the pass patterns.....because HE WAS A RECEIVER!!!!!
You've got a lot of nerve telling someone that they are wrong when all I know is, I would rather have a kid who's made a career out of playing QB and has some gametime experience, and wouldn't worry about lining up or handing off but knowing where the receivers are and the timing of the routes.......oh yeah.....HE WAS PLAYING RECEIVER.
You honestly want me to buy into the belief that he wouldn't have become comfortable under center?.......in over 2 qtrs?!
If you like data analysis so much, then stick to that and stop telling people they're wrong.
...and take a visit to MLive, maybe.
And also: it's "non illegitimi carborundum".
(MLive won't call you out on that either.)
......ever since the Bama game, this site has turned into a "click" of you people who worry more about: font, spelling, drinking, loyalty (even though I saw none during the last two years of RR's tenure), name calling, and.......unless you have been making stupid comments over the last few years to get your points up, an opinion means nothing.
I don't name call. I don't tell people that they are wrong. I don't threaten. I don't suggest that someone should venture elsewhere. I have just as much right to comment here as you or anyone else does.....so....
STICK IT UP YOUR ASS!!!
I'll try to reply to some of your rambling post
1) I was state runner up in tennis in my division and flight. I understand enough about muscle memory or whatever the hell your trying talk about.
2) Being a successful QB is more than just "throwing a football, reading defenses, running, using hand-eye coordination, etc". It is also having a trusting relationship with the wide outs and offensive line. It is also knowing silly little things such as where the play clock is in the stadium or which person is signalling in the real plays vs the dummy plays on the sideline. It is also about being calm under pressure, which for most people only comes from repetition.
3) Linemen are on the field every play as well. Would you expect them to be able to sub in as the QB without a hitch?
4) Yup, you think you are just as smart/great as Hoke et al. Great, have a e-cookie. Telling a kid to focus and play QB isn't going to do jack but increase the pressure on him when he struggles in the middle of a close game, on the road, when he was just throw into a new job. Seriously, this is exactly what practice is for.
5) At this point in time I bet you aren't even reading these.
6) I am working on data analysis right now. I've been in the lab for 14 hours now. Do not tell me what to do when I take breaks.
7) Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries
...its more than most do.
I appreciate your answers, especially the fact that you gave intelligent answers and let the name calling and derogatory comments lie. ( I especially like the last one).
I never claimed to be as smart as Hoke.
I said that there would be "hitches". Didn't use that word, however.
I merely was pointing out that DG, even while playing receiver, has shown us that he is more suited to the QB spot right now than is Bellomy....and.....with such an important postiion, the coaches should be aware of the kids skillset, abilities and obvious ability to adjust quickly, ie: one week of practice and proves it.
It didn't take this board or its posters, after the fact, to realize that the Bellomy insertion was a mistake. During the two-plus qtrs that Bellomy was in the game, countless, lifelong fans saw that it was a mistake and were begging for Hoke to give DG a shot.
It isn't about who IS better on any given day....it;s about recognition of the game. You teach kids....you COACH a game, and, this season has proven not once, not twice, but many, many times that the games are not being coached as well as they could have been. Everyone.....EVERYONE, including Ohio fans know that we were outcoached.
We were outcoached at Bama, ND, almost State and Ohio.
This wasn't a final drive situation. If DG goes in before halftime, he has time to acclimate himself. Then the "Coaches" use halftime to adjust him. Then he has 2 full qtrs to get into a rythm.
I appreciate that you were good at tennis, but it's a one man sport (with the obvious exception of dbls) and a team needs a leader. Does anyone honestly believe that the team had as much confidence in Bellomy as they would have had in Gardner?
I know that hindsight is 20/20 but I fear that we are seeing a pattern of questionable decision making going on here, during the games.....COME ON!?....do you honestly think that the decision to continue to try and run between the tackles against Ohio was a good coaching decision? Do you honestly believe that Roundtree running routs down the sideline was a good decision? Funchess is a pleasant surprise and the quick throws to him (or anyother TE) are almost nonexistent....even after proving that it works with great success. Do you think that taking that out of the game plan was a good coaching decision?
COME ON! Those of us with a few years under our belt our getting more than a little sick and tired of these decisions. Take a shot....sure....but recognize that it isn't working and try something else. And if you don't have something else ready, then theres your next problem. And while your at it, don't use the things that have proven to work.
I merely was pointing out that DG, even while playing receiver, has shown us that he is more suited to the QB spot right now than is Bellomy
I'm not sure what this means. If I take it as written, then I'm confused as to when Gardner demonstrated that he was more suited to the QB spot during the time he was playing receiver, since he wasn't actually, you know, playing QB. If your point actually was that Gardner started at QB the following week and looked vastly superior to Bellomy did the previous week, well, then you're correct. Gardner, with a week to practice and prepare, did a remarkable job stepping into the starting QB role.
But the implication that Devin's performance against the Gophers clearly made him a better choice to step in to replace Bellomy against Nebraska after Bellomy showed he was overmatched is specious reasoning. Quarterback is more than just a learned set of actions like riding a bicycle or playing the drums. There is a mental and tactical aspect that is only mastered through study and practice. Football teams have depth charts for a reason. Criticizing the decision-making of the coaching staff for following it is wrong.
We all knew coming into the sesaon that moving Gardner to WR and leaving Denard with only Bellomy to back him up was risky. You want to criticize the coaches for accepting that risk, that's fair, but in all fairness, where is the praise for the coaches getting Gardner ready to take over in a week and salvaging a good portion of the season?
We were outcoached at Bama, ND, almost State and Ohio.
We were not "outcoached" by Alabama and ND. Alabama beat us by 27 points, they were just better. No amount of strategy on the coaches part was going to change that outcome. I'm pretty sure our game plan for Notre Dame didn't include the offense turning the ball over 6 times; that's not being outcoached, that's an execution problem.
I don't even know what "almost outcoached" means. Almost getting outcoached means you weren't outcoached, which is a good thing right? If you beef with the MSU game is that it was close, well MSU played a lot of teams close this year.
OSU you have a point. We were legitimately outcoached in this game, which just goes to prove that OSU hired a smart guy in Urban Meyer to run their football program. I also think OSU was probably the more talented football team this year and we still had a legitimate shot at winning that game.
Still, if your point here is that out coaching staff is bad, well I think the results disagree with you.
Yes, and in addition taking into account:
- Any passes Gardner could have caught but dropped
- Routes may not have run properly
- Offensive line pass blocking and how it contributed to passing effectiveness
- Robinson's role in seeing his receivers and routes and making the proper decisions at the time
- Robinson's role in delivering the ball to the proper spot at the proper time
Given Robinson staying healthy ... and given a determination by the coaches to play a healthy Robinson as QB ... then I liked the "Gardner at WR" role. He's an athlete. He's big, strong and fast.
I'm not a fan of leaning heavily on 20/20 hindsight and concluding we all knew better at the time ... because we didn't. None of the "Gardner at QB, Robinson as RB" bandwagon talk post-Iowa existed earlier in the season.
Its a very interesting discussion . . . did the staff truly believe that Bellomy was ready to take the reins in the event Denard went down? If not, why move Devin? If so, were they out of their minds or did Bellomy simply not play like his usual self against Nebraska (deer in headlights?)?\
The other interesting piece to all this is that, despite all the naysayers out there, Denard had been extremely durable up until the end of this year. Sure he missed a few series here and there, but for years (yes, at least 2 years) we saw countless people posting about how Denard can't handle the carries and hits, etc. I'd be interested in seeing some data about durability of other Michigan QBs over their tenure versus Denard . . .
The other interesting piece to all this is that, despite all the naysayers out there, Denard had been extremely durable up until the end of this year.
I think this really played a role in the coaches thinking when trying to assemble their offense in the spring / summer. You're always worried about a QB getting hurt, especially one who runs as much as Denard, but it had never been a serious issue before.
I think the coaches probably thought that Devin brought more value to the team as a wide receiver rather than a back-up quarterback coming into this season. I think that's a fairly reasonable conclusion to reach with the information you had at the time regardless if it ultimately proved to be incorrect. What will be interesting is will their experiences this season influence their thinking in the future?
I think the impact of Devin at WR is shown more in his QB play.
I am by no means an analyst of any sort, but Devin just looks like he understands WR routes and timing much better than when he filled in during his first two years. He knows where and how to throw the ball now
The move of Gardner to WR was certainly not a slam dunk success but I think it's hard to blame the coaches for it. Their hand was forced due to inferior depth. As someone above mentioned, if we have Stonum this year, Gardner stays the backup at quarterback. Even with Gardner getting reps at quarterback as the backup all year, is he going to lead the offense to enough points against Nebraska to win the game? Who knows. It would have been much easier to stomach watching Gardner play quarterback than watching Bellomy but the upside of Denard's injury is that Gardner got a lot of experience at quarterback and we now feel a lot better about our QB situation next year because of it. Now, can we get enough production from the skill positions to allow Gardner and this offense to flourish?
I think depth was certainly an issue but I also think Gardner is a heck of an athlete. I think the coaches felt that way too which is why they tried to work him into the games last year. You want to get your best players on the field. Two of UM's best offensive players were stuck at a position where only one of those players could be on the field playing that position. When Stonum was dismissed the wr depth took a major hit and the coaches probably looked at it two fold - 1) they help their wr depth and 2) as a way to get one of their best athletes and players on the field.
... of the OSU board meltdown about "Why u no play D&D together?". That's what the coaches were trying to do in the first place. It was a desperation play that came within a bad boo boo of working.
The fact is that without Denard, we were going to be up the creek. He got hurt, and we are still looking for that damn paddle.
Gardner is a human. He isn't a robot. In fact, I don't think that the NCAA allows robots to play football.
At the beginning of the season we had Denard firmly entrenched as the starting QB. Say what you want about Devin being a better fit (I think this), but given the circumstances of a coaching transition and a need for continuity and leadership to help hold the team together Denard was the man. At the beginning of the year Devin is a junior. He was also a highly ranked recruit and probably knew that he was good. He was often called the second best athlete on the team. If I were him I would want to play. Holding a clipboard to protect your team against the odds that Denard gets seriously injured is probably no fun. I'm pretty sure that football players want to have fun. This worked out for him because he could play WR (a position of dire need), or to put it more direct, he could play football. Why not let the kid have fun playing the game he loves and is good at? How many top players can we land if we promise them that they can finally have a shot to start only after they hold clipboards and roam the sidelines for three years? I'd guess that we'd get the David Cone types. Devin is not Cone. Let him play.
Robots don't have emotions or a game that they love playing. They are interchangeable. Putting a robot on the sidelines for three years doesn't do anything to that robot. It doesn't care, cause it can't love the game. Football is played by humans who want to play. To hold them back because of a chance that they may be needed at some point in the season for a little while is not a nice thing to do especially if they can play somewhere else.
If Devin was good enough to play WR and start at that position, then the switch was a good thing. If he were a redshirt freshman or redshirt sophomore at the time then it would make more sense to hold him out knowing that he has at least two years to be a starter.
He is a red shirt sophomore, isn't he?
He hasn't been granted his medical redshirt for his freshman year, so right now he is a true junior. Hopefully that changes and he gets his redshirt.