And On Third Down, He Rose Again

Submitted by Brian on November 5th, 2012 at 12:19 PM

11/3/2012 – Michigan 35, Minnesota 13 – 6-3, 4-1 Big Ten


Erin Kirkland/Daily

The only press box I've ever been in is Eastern Michigan's, and I was there to watch Devin Gardner play. He was at Inkster; Inkster was in the Big Day Prep Showdown. We even live-blogged it. The cadre of grizzled preps guys sat a few seats down. Their silverback called Gardner "high school superman" and Paul taped him from the sideline.

In an eerie prefiguring of Denard Robinson's career, Gardner had a ridiculously high percentage of Inkster's yards and made everyone feel ill when he got knocked out of the game. Inkster was on a grinding fourth quarter drive with Inkster down two. They had no kicker, so on fourth and seven from the eight they went for it. Gardner did a Vince Young impression down to the one and did not get up.


The backup came in to guide Inkster to minus three yards on the next three plays. Gardner was reinserted for fourth and the game. He rolled out into heavy resistance, drew coverage to him, and threw a weird mechanics-free jump pass that scored the go-ahead touchdown. His teammates celebrated; he laid under a defender. Defender removed, Gardner got up like a glacier tired of gouging lakes out of mountains. Weary. A thousand years weary.


In the press box, the preps silverback spake thusly: "and on fourth down, he rose again."

[UPDATE: Damn my memory. This was actually a Tim tweet. Sorry I didn't remember it right and work you in all fancy-like, Tim.]


With Gardner on the sideline, Pioneer went 68 yards in 49 seconds to win. At halftime, the Free Press had launched their Rodriguez jihad, sucking any attention his Lazarus comeback may have generated out the airlock.

That's just how being Devin Gardner has gone. He arrived with an armload of hype and fell prey to an avalanche of it wearing dreads. He didn't even get to preserve his redshirt year thanks to Tate Forcier's inability to keep on the sunny side of life and Denard going out in about 2/3rds of Michigan's games. He moved to receiver, but called himself a quarterback. He saw the Nebrasaka game up close and personal. What was he thinking then about where he had ended up?


Things happen and you feel certain ways about them and you can only figure out why you felt the things you felt in the moment later, after. From distance I think my extremely complicated yesssnononononoyessss response to Gardner's rolling out stopping neh neh neh no lets turn around and run the other way touchdown heave was comprised of these three things:

  1. Seeing that Dileo had broken open by twenty yards.
  2. Remembering Devin's high school superman act.
  3. Remembering what happened when he tried to matriculate that upwards. Yeah, it's the MSU yakety sax clip. I didn't need to tell you this.

It was third and seventeen and Michigan hadn't been able to move the ball a lick against Minnesota, so that colored my expectations as well.

Mostly I expected that something hilariously bad would occur and I would tweet out gallows humor while scouting out Goldy for some Ohio Bobcat action. This expectation got much better when Gardner cleared the containment and broke to the backside of the play. It got worse again when Devin chucked it without setting his feet, and then it was a touchdown and I'm just like…

oh. That was madcap. That's not happening again but at least we're seven points closer to not losing this game. I wonder how we will get any more? I think we should try the triple reverse throwback bomb to Lewan. Works every time when the universe has turned into a cartoon.

Michigan went with "fade route to 5'8" receiver in jet boots." Close enough. No one adjusts to the laws of physics going all looney tunes like the Michigan Wolverines.

Yeah, Minnesota is just a high school team with a nice stadium that disguised their pass defense in the wreckage of 2012 Big Ten quarterbacking. Yeah, everyone is getting way ahead of themselves praising Gardner when his performance seemed split about 50/50 between yakety sax (but good!) and receivers bailing Gardner out on balls they have no business catching. Yeah, Gardner's mechanics still look bizarre. The main takeaway from that game was uh-oh, Ohio State. Sure.

I don't think Devin Gardner cares after years of being a two-snap sideshow. That ridiculous heave was the first hint that he might be able to hack it next year, and that's a huge relief for everyone. It took three years and third and seventeen, but Devin Gardner got up and recaptured some of that old magic.


Gallery from the Daily. Detnews game story and gallery. Here's another for the Hoke pointin' files:

(caption)  Michigan head coach Brady Hoke shouts some instructions to his players in the second half.   *** After trailing 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, in which they gained just 9 yards, The Michigan Wolverines, led by backup quarterback Devin Gardner, came roaring back to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 35-13 to retain the Little Brown Jug. The victory at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis improved the Wolverines' record to 6-3 (4-1 Big Ten). Photos taken on Saturday, November 3, 2012.  ( John T. Greilick / Detroit News )

John T. Greilick/Detnews

Photos from MVictors. This is epic:


 Obligatory jug shots from same:


Highlights again:

Hoke postgame; players postgame.


brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumbBrady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week.

A close race this week. I did tweet "JMFR" after that and meant it. Nine tackles, five solo, three TFLs, various other things that don't show up on the scoreboard but let other people make plays. However, Jake Ryan got edged again and I'm pretty sure he was the guy who let Minnesota's tight end get so wide open on their touchdown.

So… Wide Receivers As A Unit, come on down! Drew Dileo: I'm not even laughing at the inevitable Wes Welker comparisons. Jeremy Gallon: separate like a boss, leap like a man with rocket boots. Roy Roundtree: Devin Gardner TARP. If those three guys don't collectively play out of their minds the narrative about Gardner is quite a bit different today.

Honorable Mention. Devin Gardner, about whom more in a bit, Jake Ryan(beastmode on several plays), Jordan Kovacs (damn you fluck), Desmond Morgan (when he hits you on third and short stops happen).

Epic Double Point Standings.

3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska).
0.3: Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota)

Brady Hoke epic double troll of the week. This is just magnificent:

Coach Brady Hoke said after the game Gardner now is entrenched as Michigan's backup quarterback while Bellomy deals with an undisclosed injury, although he was guarded about what exactly is ailing the redshirt freshman.

"Russell's situation is a little different," Hoke said. "Not one I want to discuss."

Asked to clarify whether the issue is injury related, Hoke said "Most likely. Yes. A boo boo."

There's an art installation about the nature of truth and reality in Hoke press conferences. UMAA, get on that.

BONUS TROLL THAT MAKES IT DOUBLE: When Michigan announced that Denard Robinson wouldn't play after Hoke said he "will start," they described Denard's injury like so:

The Michigan Athletic Department delivered the sobering news minutes before kickoff: senior quarterback Denard Robinson would not start against Minnesota due to an “undisclosed injury.”

Hoke is "very optimistic" he'll be back next week. Amazing thing: that was the first game Denard has ever missed with injury.

Obligatory Gardnertake. Obviously he'll be the backup QB the remainder of the year what with Denard being even more fragile than normal and Russell Bellomy being both injured and the primary author of the second half of the Nebraska game. And he's finally done something other than worry everyone about his future not living up to what people were hoping it would be. This is major progress.

I still find myself way on the conservative end of reaction to Gardner's performance. Some other blog takes to set the table:

"After a frightening start, Gardner was amazing.  I’m amazed that he can spend basically one week preparing for this game and do that.  Yes, I realize it was The Gophers and like everyone else I’m prone to oversteer after a win, but that was remarkable.  So that is the 5 star guy that everyone was salivating over out of high school."


Also at MVictors, Steve Sapardanis:

WOW!!! His performance evoked three words from me: Poise, Confidence and WOW!!


Robinson didn't play at all, and converted receiver Devin Gardner made him look utterly expendable. Lining up at quarterback for the first time this season, Gardner was 12-of-18 for 245 yards – he had three completions covering at least 45 – and two touchdowns, good for a sky-high pass efficiency rating of 206.6.

Meinke's headline-writin' guy:

Devin Gardner's stellar performance leads Michigan to rout

This may be an effect from sitting in the stadium instead of catching it on TV: Gardner had plenty of wide open dudes, and his throws were erratic. On the one hand, there was the picture-perfect bomb to Gallon; on the other, Dileo and Roundtree bailed Gardner out hardcore on the touchdown drive that put the game out of reach. The Dileo catch was a circus catch all the way, one that could have been made much easier.


Roundtree == Gardner TARP. MVictors

Meanwhile Roundtree broke open by yards and would have had an easy touchdown if Gardner had gotten the ball to the endzone on the opposite hash. As it was he had to circus Michigan out of an interception. I'm torn on pressured completions to Jerald Robinson and Roundtree that were wobblers but did pick up big chunks.

Gardner does have a much better sense of when to run around like a lunatic than Denard. His High School Superman mode picked up the Dileo touchdown and a critical third down conversion on Michigan's second touchdown drive. He's still having trouble adjusting to what he can get away with in college, as his second attempt to reprise his MSU 2012 Yakety Sax (except good(!)) ended in a crazy whip-around throwaway that is easy to see resulting in something worse than a harmless ball out of bounds.

Compounding everything is the complication that Minnesota is Minnesota, and Minnesota, despite being Minnesota, was the top pass efficiency defense in the league entering the game. I tend to give more credence to the Minnesota bit of that given Ace's FFFF of Jared Abbrederis hand-wavingly wide open and seeing plenty of that in person Saturday. Gardner had doorwalls, not windows.

Okay, yeah. Michigan called maybe one or two runs for Gardner, which was frustrating but

The passing game wasn’t difficult to acclimate to, Gardner said, but recognizing new protections and familiarizing himself with the ground game took some time. He called offensive coordinator Al Borges’ gameplan a “safe” one, due to the extreme lack of depth at quarterback.

“They couldn’t run the quarterback,” Gardner said. “I’m comfortable with doing that, but there was no way we could have done that, it just wouldn’t have been smart.”

…okay yeah I'm with you.

Running game, turrible. Michigan got a short-yardage romp from Fitzgerald Toussaint in garbage time to make the final numbers look okay. Extracting the final two drives (four Thomas Rawls runs for 6 yards and four Toussaint runs for 50), suck out sacks (three for 23), and Michigan's run game did this:

  • 30 carries for 122 yards.

That is a hair over four yards a carry, and suuuuuucks. Even if you add in the garbage time they only get up to 4.7 YPC, which is almost two yards worse than Minnesota's best performance to date in the Big Ten.

Kids, it's sackcloth and ashes time. I had a little fit in the stands when Michigan ran an iso on one of their first couple drives and it went for three yards because it was Rawls running into an unblocked linebacker instead of Toussaint running into an unblocked linebacker and getting two yards. Things got marginally better from there, but only marginally. Michigan's long run other than the Toussaint TD was a Gardner scramble. Their next two were 1) a Gallon end-around that didn't require much blocking, and 2) the Rawls counter pitch that required none. I'm guessing that when I do the UFR the offensive line won't come out much better than they did against Nebraska.

That's mystifying after they did pretty well against a rampant ND defense and throttled a couple bad Big Ten teams. Minnesota and Nebraska aren't much better than Purdue and Illinois on defense. Michigan crushed the latter two, and essentially got crushed by the former two. Denard's absence has a lot to do with that; it's still depressing to think of Michigan's rushing offense as the worst in the Big Ten minus #16.

Hagerup dup. Will Hagerup, please report to the garage for a tuneup: three punts for an average of 29 yards each. Yorp.

Minnesota trip report section. The Gophers' new stadium is nice, as you would expect. Unlike Northwestern—the Big Ten stadium of comparable size I've been to—even the far reaches in the corner are pretty good seats, and the video board is far superior to Michigan's. I looked it up on the wikipedia: their main board is 5184 square feet to M's 3,991 and has a higher resolution. Michigan's down to 14th on their list of biggest screen things; kind of feels like the boards installed just a couple years ago are already dated.

I was on the aisle. I spent most of the game looking around people going up or down, because 1) they serve beer and 2) Minnesota fans in our section made Michigan students look like ruthless drill instructors with their punctuality. I guess it was an 11 AM local start. Even so my strategy as a Minnesota fan would be to show up for the part of the game where you're competitive and exit early if and when that ceases to be true. At least they were nice. I didn't see a single negative interaction between Michigan and Minnesota fans.

The chintz factor was pretty high, largely because the announcer would prompt everyone with "THAT'S ANOTHER GOLDEN GOPHER…" and then a variable number of fans would say "FIRST DOWN." The PA guy's mood shifted wildly with the fortunes of the game, too. By the end of it he was almost surly. The Minnesota marching band is 350 strong and the only thing I remember them playing was the Mortal Kombat theme sometime in the third.

Logistically, the stadium is in a good spot. We tailgated at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul, which was a ten minute bus ride from the stadium on a private university road. That last bit is key: no traffic. After the game I went to a sportsbar to watch an epic Sparty No moment with various folk; another set of companions went right back to the car. The bus line: about ten minutes and then you're out of all traffic.

Oh so Sparty. Oh, Sparty. You sonsabitches. First you have to run out to a two-score lead and then salt the game away before getting their world-class Sparty No(!) moment in on a personal foul on a pick six—one of like six you sonsabitches took after being on your best fairy godmother behavior against Michigan because really you're just misunderstood—and then getting outright screwed in a fashion that I couldn't even enjoy because you needed to win that game.

And then. And then after the game you took a shot at Denard for no damn reason:

"He's faster than Denard, even though he thinks he's faster than (Usain) Bolt," Narduzzi said. "He's flat-out fast. He's a good football player."

And then players hopped on Twitter to claim they had not lost but one game this year:


The post-MSU-win column truly could not have been anything but what it was. So Sparty.

It took exactly two weeks to go from "where's the threat" to Same Old Spartans. Well, okay. I actually hope you sonsabitches make a bowl game because thanks to the ineligible teams you'll get sucked into a NYD thing against an SEC team and lose by 600.


Kid's got a future with Vince McMahon if the football thing doesn't work out.

All that said. I'm with MGoGadfly KJ on the validity of that penalty.

The player is trailing the play, looking at what's going on. He's Kenny Bell—he's fast. There is a possibility the play cuts back to where he's relevant, and Adams doesn't hit him in the head, he just shoulders him to the ground. It's not dirty or excessively violent. It's the equivalent of the PF Michigan got last week for hitting Martinez late—overprotective busybody stuff done in the name of PR. Unlike last week, it swung the game.


Fake field goal thing. Minnesota folk were livid at it but after seeing it on replay I think Kill almost got us.

Kill had something up his sleeve and used it, getting his quarterback wide open on the sideline with no one covering him. If he'd run downfield and the guy had thrown downfield, touchdown. Bizarrely, despite setting this up and getting a quick snap in the throw was on the LOS and Michigan could recover because they were not rushing seriously. It didn't seem like it was a screwup by the guy throwing the ball, either: Nelson just sat on the LOS instead of running downfield.

I don't get that bit, but the idea worked. The execution/play design was busted.

Side note: if you're wondering how that happened after the rules were changed such that anyone checking into the game has to do so between the numbers: Nelson was already on the field and just stayed on as the rest of the offense jogged off. I'm not sure why you'd put Nelson out there instead of a receiver in that case, another strange thing about that play.

So… yeah, everything that happened after the snap was weird and bad. The gamble itself I can get behind when your kicker is .500 on the season.

A plea for pass interference sanity. I'll probably expand this into a larger post after the season but Saturday really crystallized how much I hate the pass interference rule as currently implemented. I actually thought this when Michigan got the benefit of it on the long incompletion to Roundtree on which the DB had excellent position and Roundtree kind of flung himself all over the dude's back.

IMO, if the DB is over the top of the WR, he's earned the right to slow down and prevent the guy from getting to the ball. If he's behind him and the ball is crappy and underthrown that is the offense not executing. You should only be able to commit pass interference with your arms or by actually hitting a guy. You have a right to your momentum, and to exist. Grabbing, holding, blowing a guy up before the ball gets there—all of these are legitimate calls. Running over a guy because he suddenly stops because the QB left the ball 10 yards short is not. I'm really tired of plays on which the offense is bailed out when a terribly-thrown ball turns into 15 yards.

Defensive backs are corporeal beings! Let's treat them like that! I'm founding the We're Made Of Matter Too League.

LOLWUT. I'm with Heiko:

Michigan by 13.5 over Northwestern? That's higher than the opening line for Michigan vs. Minnesota.

Home/away yeah but Northwestern is competitive against teams not named Purdue. This does make me feel so much better about that game. PREVIEW PREVIEW: Not picking the spread this time, probably.

Oh, right, defense. The defense held Minnesota to 13 points and under 300 yards—though if pass interference penalties were credited as offensive yards they would have gone over—and other than some Jake Ryan chatter above this 4000-ish word post has nothing to say about it, because that's just what happens. Being seventh in yardage defense just happens. Hail Mattison.


Inside The Boxscore:

It's Michigan versus Minnesota week, at Minnesota, which means one thing. A University of Michigan quarterback is going to have a career day. In 2008, Nick Sheridan was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a 127.8 QB rating. In 2006, Chad Henne was 17 of 24 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and a QB rating of 211.5. That may not have been his best performance, but I don't ever remember seeing a QB rating greater than 200. In 2003, John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards and 2 TDs. During my college years, we put up these scoring numbers at Minnesota: 49, 52, 58, and 44 ('89, '91, '93, '96.)

I guess what I'm saying is, we shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired yesterday, but after that first quarter, I'm betting that I'm not the only one that was shocked by the next three quarters. After 9 consecutive TD-less quarters, we scored 5 in the next 3.


Blog folk. MVictors also made the trip, where he took in the game from the resplendent comfort of the press box. He was also not impressed by Gopher timeliness, and reminded me that I was also astounded by how into the Kiss Cam everyone was.

Sap's Decals:

QUINTON WASHINGTON – To me it seemed like every time a Golden Gopher ball carrier got up from a run up the middle, Big Q was at the bottom of the pile. There may have been some questions about the strength of UM D-Line, but Washington is starting to clog up the middle, making it tough sledding for opponents to run on Michigan this year.


I think one of the hardest things college football fans have to reconcile is the ephemeral nature of players.  When you consider depth charts, redshirting, and the like, we may get about three years with them at most, four if we're really lucky.  We get to know them, we come to appreciate them for what they can do, and then, like that, as quickly as they came, they are gone, leaving only memories, and occasionally questions of what might have been.


Gardner looked like a Jim Tressel-led Terrelle Pryor: an athletic, tall quarterback being forced to play under center and make plays only when he's asked to while allowing the defense to carry the load. In this game, Gardner was able to do so, but this was against a Minnesota team that allowed 44 points to New Hampshire and 28 to Western Michigan and Purdue. Does Gardner's obvious improvement actually resemble a sustainable winning offense? That's debatable.

Tremendous bullets. Ditto TTB bullets. Maize and Blue Nation bulletsMaize and Go Blue recap. They're SEOing Drew Dileo's name into post URLs at SBN! (Don't bother with the "RESURGENT POWER RUNNING GAME?!?!?" comment if you hit up that article, as they have been taken care of.) Gopher takes from Fringe Bowl Team and Daily Gopher. I agree with TDG on Phillip Nelson—guy was extremely impressive. Holding the Rope column.

There is a flowering of "no QB controversy" posts, BTW: Maize and Go Blue has one, and the MZone leads with:

Repeat After Me: There is NO QB CONTROVERSY

After Devin Gardner's amazing game (minus the 1st quarter), I joked on Twitter that the easiest way to identify a so-called "Walmart Wolverine" on sports talk radio this week will be the guy calling in asking if there's a QB controversy now in A2.

There is not.

Devin was outstanding (minus the 1st quarter).  He was outstanding by any measure, but more so since he hadn't gotten any meaningful game reps at quarter back since... Illinois 2011?  But as soon as he's 100% again, Denard is Michigan's QB this season.  Period.

Also yes so hard


Paid folk (and the Daily). Come on Baumgardner diviiiiiide and take into account connnnntext before you praise RB production. Numbers from same.  Michigan had its first consecutive 90-yard TD drives ever, which… like… wow.


When Michigan has needed to scramble this year, it has turned to Gardner.

Gardner was never really given a fair shake. He came in as a five-star recruit marooned behind a once-in-a-generation talent. Next year, he’ll have to compete with another hyped recruit, Shane Morris, who better fits Michigan’s pro-style system.

This year, he was asked to move to receiver, though it’s unclear whether he had a choice. The extent of his protest was to say he still considers himself a quarterback.

On Saturday, Michigan thrust him into uncharted territory: a wide receiver given one week to prepare for quarterback. There was little run game to bail him out, and even with Robinson, Michigan hadn’t scored a touchdown in two games. Gardner had taken reps at quarterback in his first two years, but he had to learn new protections and run packages in days.

“I was pretty nervous coming in to know how I would handle that,” Gardner said. “But I feel like I handled it pretty well.”


It looked as though Gardner, a junior who moved to receiver following two seasons as Robinson's backup, was back at home -- and he said that's exactly how he felt.

"I play quarterback," he said, "so I feel good."

Is it possible Gardner is a better quarterback, now that he doesn't play quarterback?




November 5th, 2012 at 11:02 PM ^

This.  Thank you.  It's so black or white for many people these days.  I'm a very grey person when it comes to just about, well everything.  Meaning I know how to praise and I know how to criticize but much of what I end up coming up with is a middle ground notion of whatever the subject.  In football, it's taking into account the opponent, how certian plays unfold(ed), situations that unfold(ed), history of a player/team etc. etc. and coming up with conclusions that have a sense of what went well and what went bad/could be worked on and improved. 

So for one to say that Devin did well and put the team in position to win, but also take a reality check and go through all the "facts" and establish that he was NOT "great" and happened to do a few things that weren't rainbow-ey and butterfly-ey, would be a logical synopsis of the day; to others it's blasphemy and Devin deserves a Gold Medal dammit.  Hyperbole aside, maybe it's how I was raised and coached as a youth, but always striving to be better and looking to fix any and all flaws is the attitude to have to achieve elite success (some of us fans of course carry this mentality over toward the players/teams we watch).  Not, well he won and looked kinda pretty at times against a sh**ty team, let's hold back any criticisims we have because we shouldn't have any if the first place.  

The former mentaility that I touched upon, that some fans/bloggers carry the realistic/what could be better approach over to their rooting interests, is what some fans look upon as "being a hater".  That is wrong.


November 5th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

Ah yes. The thread where idiots pop out from the wood-work to argue over the question:

"Is the all-time yardage leader at the winningest program in college football history any good?"


November 5th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

Who are these "idiots"?  There doesn't seem to be a single post making that suggestion.  Seems like folks (other than Brian) are just impressed with Devin's performance and look forward to seeing him year.  But hey, who am I to get in the way of a giant, angry strawman.  


November 5th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^

My brother is one.  He doesnt post here but he is adament that the team would be much, MUCH better if Denard was a slot reciever and not our QB.  And he spent most of Saturday lavishing praise on each and every pass of Devon's and remarking that "this is what you get when you have a REAL QB under center and not a slot reciever."

The idiots are out there and some of them (like my brother) are season ticket holders.  

Ed Shuttlesworth

November 5th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

Not sure how the "all time leading yardage guy" is a gotcha.  In point of fact, Denard isn't that good at throwing the football by 2012 standards. 

He's obviously a great runner, whiich leaves you not in the unambiguous position of concluding, "This guy is a great quarterback," but in the much more ambiguous position of wondering, "How much running do I need to make up for his passing defiencies?"

Gardner was 12-18, or 67%.  That's the kind of number the best dual threat QBs put up in 2012.  Denard rarely gets that in a game against a serious opponent and doesn't sniff it against serious opponents in the aggregate.


November 5th, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

Keep waiting, hater.  What's my history?  Not being a fan of RichRod's performance?  Being fond of the Hoke hire?  

What does any of that have to do with being happy that Devin got a chance at QB and excelled?  I get it...back in the RR days, those who leveled any criticism about performance were called "not true fans" and told to "STFU".  Now that Hoke is the coach and Devin had a good game, it's ok to (somehow) find fault with Devin's performance and also call people "idiots" even if such people don't exist and posted not a single comment about which yours was directed.  

Not sure why you're so angry that we've got a solid backup QB who can lead the team next year, but most folks are pretty happy to see it.   It's ok to appreciate the positives, Silky Jr.


November 5th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^

I'm not upset about Gardner's performance in the least. I think he played well.

I think he's incapable of papering over our terrible run-game, which Denard is. That's not really his fault - he's not Denard with the ball in his hands. Fine.

What I'm laughing at is your swipe at Brian for "excusing" every mis-step Denard has taken. I recall you being a guy that didn't think he was a real quarterback, so that seems consistent.


November 5th, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

Mario Manningham bailed out Eli Manning and the Giants in the Super Bowl,  too.  Sometimes those guys have to make spectacular plays.  It comes with the territory.

For a guy that was playing receiver for the majority of the season, Gardner did a masterful job of overcoming a shaky 1st quarter.  I feel better about next year.

Ed Shuttlesworth

November 5th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

With the caveat that Wisky probably didn't care, since they rushed for 337 yards, Michigan had the most passing yards against Minnesota of any serious team the Gophers have played:

SYR -- 229

IOWA -- 192

NW -- 67

WIS -- 106

PUR -- 196

MICH -- 234

There's no serious case to be made that Gardner was not facing a reprsentative Big Ten pass defense and a decent case to be made that he was facing a good one.


November 5th, 2012 at 2:41 PM ^

If Denard has a bad game, it's pretty much everyone else's fault ... from the receivers to the OC. If Devin has a good game, it's really just luck. Do i have that right? And we're going to complain about Devin's mechanics, really? Brian does realize that we have a senior QB who pretty regularly shows worse mechanics than anything Devin did on Saturday, right?

I like Denard, and have said before that this year you win or lose with Denard. I'm not ready to annoint Devin "the next great QB" at all. I'm just disappointed that the easiest prediction to make was that Brian would analyze the game in a way that took away from Devin's achievements in an attempt to defend Denard ... mostly from people who don't want to attack Denard in the first place.


November 5th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

If I hadn't watched the game and just read this blog I would have thought Devin just played a so so game!  He was nothing short of spectacular!  I don't recall reading how lucky Denard was last year when big play Hemingway came down with every jumpball Deanrd threw.  I' have been a long time reader of this blog so it is no surprise Brian would feel this away about anyone other than his crush, Denard.  Give DG his props!!


November 5th, 2012 at 6:58 PM ^

That you don't recall Brian describing the jump ball offense as "unsustainable" and implying many of those completions were both lucky and the result of a receiver unusually good at high pointing the ball says more about your memory than what Brian actually wrote. 

I mean one of the tags from the ND UTL game is "hopeful downfield jump-ball fiesta"


November 5th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

Devin deserves a ton of credit for the game he played, but if you take away those great plays by the receivers, it would have been a lot less spectacular. And, while we are at it, if you take away the drops in the Nebraska game and add in 3 of these great catches, Bellomy's performance looks a hell of a lot better.

Ed Shuttlesworth

November 5th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

Brian blamed the offense for whatever bad things Denard did against Notre Dame in 2011.  Almost everything bad Denard has done the last two seasons has been the fault of someone other than Denard.

Then Gardner steps in, with next to no reps as a QB in a year, and completes 67% of his passes, and throws for more yards than any other serious team has passed for against Minnesota all year and it's because the receivers bailed him out.




November 5th, 2012 at 4:57 PM ^

From the 2011 ND UFR:


Denard. Also Hemingway, Gallon, and especially Gary Gray.



But don't let facts get it the way. Brian was critical of Borges in that UFR but totally recognized the fact that Denard was bailed out on numerous occasions by his receivers.



November 6th, 2012 at 8:02 PM ^

It's cool dude, don't let things like facts get in the way of your opinion. Just insinuate the other person is a loser because they took the time to confirm the fact, or they remembered it from the first time. Just be anti-intellectual and take pride in your ignorance. It's a good look for you.


November 5th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

The reason there's controversy on this thread is becuase Denard Robinson's passing performance this year has made Devin Gardner look like Aaron Rogers in one game...

Imagine if we could have Henne for one game this year, we'd be comparing him to Joe Montana that's how distorted our perspectives are due to the Denard Robinson era. 

Devin had a good game.  Not a great game, and certainly not a bad game.  We just haven't seen a QB make the kind of decisions and throws he made in the past 4 years... Let us have our moment.  The immediate future just became a lot less scary.


November 5th, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

Aren't you the one who has been "reporting" on this site most of the year that Devin's days as a QB were over after the Sugar Bowl and Bellomy would be the starter next year no questions asked?

Now the immediate future is less scary? Which is it mpbear?


November 5th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

Yes, I was.

Does Devin start against Minnesota if Bellomy wasn't seriously injured? (according to Mr. Schofield, Bellomy has a serious injury, and in no way can play as it stands.  No idea what that injury is* posted on a different site)  There's a chance, but I say no.

I absolutely said Devin Gardner was going to be a WR after the Sugar Bowl and by all accounts, that was the intention.  (Remember, his first snap since fall camp was this past Sunday)

I wish Bellomy a speedy recovery but his injury could have been a blessing in disguise that lead to Devin's coming out party.    The coaches had to decide between Jack Kennedy and Devin Gardner last week.




November 5th, 2012 at 5:09 PM ^

How many times are you going to use the line about Gardner having taken "no snaps since fall camp" before this past week, when Borges specifically said otherwise at his press conference just a few days ago?  He started to say it had "been awhile" since Gardner practiced at QB, and then corrected himself and said he'd taken some snaps within the past couple of weeks.  Read the transcript, for cripes sake.

Even the most casual observer of Michigan football over the past two years knows full well that Gardner would have won any true QB competition with Bellomy.  The coaches wanted to get Gardner on the field by any means possible, though, so they moved him to a position of need in the hope that Bellomy could at least be servicable as an occasional fill-in for Denard.  That risky move came back to bite them in the Nebraska game.  But surely nobody here is surprised that when the coaches needed an actual replacement for Denard, and not just a guy to take a few snaps while Denard nursed a "boo-boo" on the sidelines, they made sure Gardner was ready to go and gave him the first-team reps in practice last week.


November 5th, 2012 at 7:20 PM ^

And Hoke specifically said Denard was fine leading up to the Minnesota game.   Hoke also said Devin was the number 2 QB leading up to the Alabama game only to change his mind the following Monday saying Bellomy is the number 2.

Why are you still putting any weight with what this coaching staff says in press conferences?   They lie.

Devin has thrown the ball on the side lines here and there.  He hasn't taken a meaningful snap in practice since fall camp. (by meaningful, I mean an actual snap with the 1st or 2nd string.  Throwing drills yes, he has done a little.) 

I think if Devin would have in fact been taking snaps under center before the Nebraska game he gets put in.   Is there another explanation I'm missing on why Bellomy was left in if Devin was actually getting snaps?   He was getting zero and that's why the staff didn't make the move.

Your 2nd paragraph I agree with but neither you nor I can say for certain, Gardner would have gotten the majority of 1st team reps if Bellomy was 100%.   I wouldn't be surprised if later down the road it is reported Bellomy has a concussion (which would make it 2 in less than a year) and the staff had no choice but to get Devin the reps. 


November 6th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

Heiko's transcript of it was posted here on Oct. 30.  (I've tried about six times to link to it in this post, but no luck -- my html "skills" are slipping, I guess.)

Here is the direct quote from Borges:

What was the last time Devin took a snap at quarterback?

“I don’t know. It’s been a while. I shouldn’t say that. That’s not true. We’ve put him in a couple times, but I can’t put my finger on exactly when -- it’s probably been a couple of weeks."


STW P. Brabbs

November 5th, 2012 at 3:10 PM ^

Disclaimer: this is not about Denard, either ex- or im- plicitly.

That said, I do think Brian's take appears to be strangely negative.

1) The fade to Gallon. This may not be the greatest play design (though to confuse the joke that Gallon found rocket shoes with the obvious reality that the coaches and the team have seen the little man ascend to the heavens before - as have we as fans.) Regardless, this was a tremendously accurate and well-timed throw. If that's not charted with a DO, I'll be looking for a thorough explanation.

2) The pass to Robinson was impressive both in terms of Garnder's pocket presence and in terms of the throw itself. On TV, it was obvious that this was a dart, not a wobbler. It was thrown a little low, but see: avoiding the rush/pocket presence. Also - and this is significant - Gardner generally tends to miss low, rather than sail the ball. This is what happened here, and it bodes well in terms of future passes into the middle of the field and under duress in the future.

3) I don't specifically recall the Dileo and Roundtree wobblers of which you speak, so will await the UFR.

4) I also think you're seriously underplaying the degree to which Gardner made excellent decisions orchestrating the offense. In light of the WR position switch, this is not too much short of extraordinary. Even in the first quarter - where Gardner had every reason to look a bit out of sorts - I thought the interception was the only bad moment (and it was thrown on what looked like the exact same play you criticized Borges, and not Denard for against ND. Shit. Only Denard reference, I promise - but this one is really about Borges.) The third down throw to Dileo was both thrown under pressure and dead nuts accurate - the Minnesota DB made a great play on the ball. And the sacks occurred with free-rushin' linemen coming up the middle - a product of our garbage fire of an offensive line rather than indecision in the pocket.

5) Finally, I though Garnder's mechanics look much better than they did last year, though I'd like to hear coaches' takes on this. He looked to have a higher release point, and the motion was much quicker and more decisive than it looked against, say, Illinois last year (again: remarkable, WR switch, etc.)

Alright, I've exhausted my Gardner defense. This is only one game, and Minnesota ain't MSU. But all he can do is play against the opposition in front of him, and the returns so far are very, very encouraging.


November 5th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

I'm not going to individually respond to everyone who is questioning my objectivity in judging the quarterback situation because clearly all of them are so desperate for next year's quarterback situation to not be a problem that they cannot think straight. Since they are clearly comfortable with that sort of stupd ad hominem argument directed at me, they cannot respond to the same directed at them. 


November 5th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^


Yes, we're "clearly" so desperate and can't think straight.  Dude, it isn't hard to say, "Devin did really well.  I didn't expect it, but am very pleased with his performance."  Look, Tate had some wow games and that "clearly" didn't make him the future.  Devin might not be The Truth, but he gives a lot of hope.  It's nice to have optimism and regrettable for "some people" to be so unnecessarily negative, especially when "some people", in the past, were so optimistic about other players (and coaches). 


November 5th, 2012 at 4:01 PM ^

Somewhere between the snarky "yakety sak" and "falling all over [oneself]" exists a land of many possibilities.  

P.S.  Let's not forget that the biggest win of the last couple seasons involved a bit of WR's bailing out a QB and our passing game last year was described as "jump ball".  Nothing wrong with praising the WR; just weird to ding the QB at the same time. 

STW P. Brabbs

November 5th, 2012 at 5:49 PM ^

I'm replying a bit tangentially, but here goes:  my issue would be Brian's identification of jump balls in the Minnesota game.  I only saw one: the post route to Roundtree.  I don't agree with the premise that Brian somehow adores Denard's jump balls, though.

Also, I think there's are times and places for putting the ball up and letting the receiver try to make a play (which applies to both Denard and Devin).  If you're never going to go downfield unless a receiver is wide-assed open, you're going to have a pretty damn conservative-looking offense. 


November 6th, 2012 at 9:40 AM ^

For what it's worth, I actually disagree with Brian. I don't think either threw hailmary-ish jump-balls, really, in either case. I've said for a year that Denard's throws against ND looked like back-shoulder throws to me, and I can really only think of one "bailout" that Gardner got - the long throw to Roundtree.

I'm defending Brian, however, because he's getting accused of being a hypocrite - for excusing Denard but not excusing Gardner. I think that's obviously not the case - he thinks Gardner got bailed out on Saturday, and that Hemingway repeatedly saved Denard's bacon in 2011.

I disagree with his conclusion, but the charge of hypocrisy is stupid - he's lock-step consistent.

El Jeffe

November 5th, 2012 at 3:31 PM ^

I'm not sure whether it's "questioning your objectivity" so much as "reading the 2 million or so words you've written over the past five years with the scrutiny of nonagenarian Talmudic scholars and delighting in catching you in one of several inevitable inconsistencies in logic or fandom."

Srsly, it would be one thing if Denard were a RR recruit and Devin a Hoke recruit. Then, at least, the tired old "you're hanging on to the RR era, man" saw could be trotted out. But I don't get the ANGAR over whether you treat Denard and Devin exactly the same.


November 5th, 2012 at 3:55 PM ^

Doesn't take a lot of attention to notice that Brian is strangely holding Devin to a standard completely unlike the one used to judge Denard and Bellomy.  But if looking at a twitter stream and the front page of mgoblog makes one a Talmudic scholar; make my payes lengthy!

El Jeffe

November 5th, 2012 at 4:16 PM ^

I didn't mod this as flamebait and in fact tried to unmod it, but I'm not sure I was successful.

Anyhoo, now I'm not sure what we're arguing about. I get your point that you think that Brian blames the WR when Denard throws awful armpunts (though my memory is that he was more blameful of Borges) but gives the WR credit for bailing out Devin. Not that it matters a whit, but I kind of see your point there. But I don't get the Bellomy bit. Are you saying that he was more positively disposed toward Bellomy than Devin? If so, then I deploy the



November 5th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

Appreciate that, but my feelings aren't hurt.  My skin has thickened with age!  Your description was pretty much my point (credit here v. blame there).  The Bellomy thing was similar (i.e. finding reasons why the bad performance might have been someone else's fault vs. finding reasons why Devin's good performance doesn't deserve credit).  No biggie all around; hoping Devin is able to keep it up.


November 5th, 2012 at 3:19 PM ^

And yet Andrew Maxwell earlier this year was annointed "not much of a downgrade from Cousins" (the best Sparty QB ever) with just a slightly larger sample size. 

Brian you have an issue with walking past your prior analyses when commenting on the present.  Gardner's MSU play has been so completely overblown on this blog that you feel it impossible to walk away from it.  Add in the cloud of limited spring game performances with second/third string walk-ons (and completely ignoring a clutch performance against Illinois last year), and you're ignoring what was clear to most: Devin expertly avoided the rush all day, extending plays; he kept his poise and continued to look downfield, hitting open receivers; he made some great decisions (including tucking and running) and threw some outstanding passes.  Optimism is warranted.