It seems that the common thought here on MGoBlog is that it would be in the team's best interest to redshirt Devin Gardner next season and allow him to take total control of the team in his third or fourth year on campus, as a RS Sophomore or Junior.
While I actually agree with that line of thought, it's not happening.
I'm a pretty big fan of Rich Rod's. I see the direction that he's taking this team and I like it. I realize it will take time, and I am more than willing to give him that time. I am not in charge of how much time he has, however. If he doesn't perform soon, more and more fans will be calling for his job, and they just might get their wish if this season results in a 6-6 or 7-5 record.
Gardner is Rodriguez's prototypical quarterback. More skill rushing than Forcier, more skill passing (especially after some coaching this spring) than Robinson. In two or three years, he will be a dominant force in Ann Arbor, but Rodriguez can't wait that long.
This isn't to say he doesn't have the best interest of the team in mind, but he is going to have to have at the very least an eight win season to keep the critics at bay, and even that likely will not be enough.
Nine or ten wins will keep his job secure, and the easiest short-term fix that would give this team the best chance at a ten win season is using Forcier primarily, and using Gardner much like Robinson was used last season. With Gardner in the backfield, however, there will be a little more confusion for opposing defenses. It wont be "Robinson up the gut" play after play. Gardner will be an intimidating player to line up against.
So while it would absolutely be in the teams best interest to redshirt him and maximize his playing time and impact at Michigan, even one more season under eight wins could cost Rodriguez his job, and then three years of Michigan football will have been completely useless as a coach with a more traditional style will be brought in, and there will be even more re-building to find players that fit that scheme.
As long as Gardner isn't a big disappointment at spring practice and can learn a good zone read as well as about 30% of the playbook, Rich Rodriguez has to play him this season. He won't be starting on opening day, and he may not start at all this season, but he'll be in the same role that Robinson was in last season. It has to be done for Rodriguez's job, and for Michigan's immediate future.
As for Denard.. I don't know. Slot? KR/PR?