Road Trip Report: Inkster and Livonia Stevenson Comment Count

Tim September 29th, 2009 at 10:14 AM

devin-gardner-superman

The MGoCreeperVan was out again this weekend, and Paul and I headed to Highland Park to see them take on Devin Gardner's Inkster team. After that, we stopped by Livonia Stevenson to check out Austin White in action against Northville.

Inkster @ Highland Park

I've seen Devin Gardner in action 3 times now, and every time I walk away more impressed than the last. While he's shown flashes of brilliance in the past, against Highland Park he showed true game-breaking ability despite not having his best statistical performance. He finished 9/16 passing for 129 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also tacked on 74 rushing yards on 11 carries, including 2 exciting touchdowns, as he led the Vikings to a 27-22 victory.

Michigan fans are familiar with the Devin Gardner scouting report by now: he's improving as a passer and has athleticism that high school defenders are unable to stop. That was on display against Highland Park, but I also thought he showed a "wow" factor running the ball that I hadn't seen out of him before. He no longer looked like somebody toying with lesser competition, but rather a guy who will be able to bring that dominance to the next level. Don't take my word for it, check out the video evidence:

Okay, he threw two interceptions, but one was an very athletic play by the defender. Both are things that should happen less once he gets college-level coaching (and his future QB coach Rod Smith was in the house, though he wasn't allowed to talk to Devin). The two touchdown runs showed why he's an elite prospect (and possibly still underrated by the scouting services), and gave Michigan fans something to be excited about for the future.

aWhite_Northville.jpg

Livonia Stevenson v. Northville

The Inkster game ended a little later than expected and I have top-end ability to get lost in Detroit, so we were a little late to Austin White's game. [EdThe video we have isn't comprehensive, and White scored a 58-yard touchdown as we were walking in at the end of the first quarter. Still, I've seen him in action two times before, so we still have a robust library of Austin White footage with the newest addition:

Against Northville, White didn't do anything to surprise. I've come to expect at least one big touchdown run from and a couple other long runs that don't find the endzone each game. As per usual, he sat the entire fourth quarter. Stevenson's blown out their last three oppoents.

White is an upright runner, sort of like Brandon Minor. He doesn't have the size or power that Minor does, which may lead to getting killed by a headhunting safety at some point. However, that's where the Minor comparisons end. Austin has excellent change of direction, quick in and out of his cuts, and shows good balance. He can find his way through traffic. If he gets into the open field, he's likely to score, but might not have the raw Carlos Brown speed to continue that at the next level. He didn't show this against Northville, but he's also a productive receiver both out of the backfield and as a split end.

Austin looks like he'll be a productive player at the next level. With all the young backs Michigan has, he'll probably get the luxury of a redshirt year, then be able to contribute as a redshirt freshman.

For more in the world of Michigan commits, check back later this afternoon for Friday Night Lights.

Comments

DoubleMs

September 29th, 2009 at 10:23 AM ^

Is it just me, or does Gardner have a really really ugly spiral? Less than half of his passes look like they are of the straight and spinny variety. I wonder if his completion percentage will improve with his release being modified slightly to get a better spiral?

That sack he took was kind of ugly... he didn't really tuck at all, he just took it. Ouch.

Top quality QB obviously, but those were two things that just jumped out at me with this video. I've come to expect all the big plays out of him, so I look for nitpicks now.

BlueBulls

September 29th, 2009 at 10:55 AM ^

it was most pronounced throwing quick passes to receivers. I noticed his motion on those is sort of shot-putish. Not sure what the deal is there.

Another thing I noticed is that he rarely sets his feet and throws off of his back foot a lot.

That being said, he's obviously an elite athlete, and I'm happy as hell that he wants to be a Wolverine. He reminds me of what (I assume) is going on with Will Campbell; he is so physically dominant in hs that he picked up bad habits. He could play immediately, but won't be as effective because of a lack of technique, which is a bigger issue at QB compared with DT.

After seeing this video I'm thinking a redshirt is probably in his future. Caveat: I'm aware that this is just one game.

Grandmof

September 29th, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

I noticed that as well, it looked like he was pushing the ball rather than throwing it on those quick screen passes as well.

Going back and watching film of him at camps and even in his big game against ST. Edwards, his spiral looked much better. I'm guessing that maybe he hurt his shoulder and is playing through the pain as his throwing motion and ball accuracy/velocity do not seem normal.

SarcasmoBY

September 29th, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

I was able to drive out early to the East Kentwood game a few weeks back and watched DG in warmups. At the time he definitely looked to be working more on his mechanics, which showed in the game. Most of his passes were crisp and hitting his targets right between the numbers (he did have a couple of long balls that were well overthrown, but impressive nonetheless).

Like other posters have already mentioned, his arm looks to be dropping again and almost pushing the ball on those screen passes, but it is just 1 game and I'm watching from video.

Either way, I'm excited as hell he's going to be a Wolverine. He's still raw but incredibly talented and dangerous.

Geoff

September 29th, 2009 at 10:24 AM ^

Thanks for the work. Also, hope all the dust and dirt flying around at the Inkster/Highland Park game didn't ruin your camera. Yeesh... great field.

MLAWyer

September 29th, 2009 at 11:00 AM ^

Tim and Paul were at the game, so I have to give them the benefit of the doubt in their evaluation of DG, but on the video it looked like he was regressing with his mechanics. He threw the ball off his back foot a lot, especially when he was going to his second or third read. Admittedly, it could be seen as a positive that he was even progressing through his reads that much. His throws on the bubble screens looked like shot-puts also. It's pretty common that over the course of a long season, you will start to regress in your mechanics as you spend less time concentrating on them than in the offseason, and more time on gameplan, etc.

The runs were very impressive though; Often in past tapes he looks like he is jogging around people like TP did in high school. His runs on the video were more impressive to me.

Greg McMurtry

September 29th, 2009 at 11:33 AM ^

reminds me of Vince Young/TP in the way he scrambles. His throwing motion is very poor from this video. It seems evident, from this video at least, that he should be redshirted next year. That way, the UM offense would be able to run with TF and DR for two years, then DG will be a redshirt Frosh in 2011. It seems the most likely case as RR has gone with older, less talented players rather than younger more highly touted players as was the case with Floyd, Kovacs and Leach. If DG and the UM staff can work on his throwing motion (and ball placement) he has the potential to be a great player with a very high ceiling.

casmooth

September 29th, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

Assuming our current QB's can stay healthy and we can afford to give DG a red shirt, based on what you've witnessed, what do you think DG's potential could be with college-level coaching? From what I've heard, he worked over the summer on his own to improve. Once he starts practicing 80 hours per week with UofM's experienced coaches, potentially what type of monster could we have donning the maize and blue?

Tim

September 29th, 2009 at 11:36 AM ^

I think in the short passing game (especially the rhythm game, which those 3 consecutive short swing passes were), he resorts back to old habits. On longer throws, especially those with multiple reads, he's much more likely to show good mechanics. Keep in mind that he'll have at least another year of coaching before he ever hits the field for Michigan.

BlueChitown

September 29th, 2009 at 11:54 AM ^

On getting this right:

"I've seen Devin Gardner in action 3 times now, and every time I walk away more impressed than the last."

Half of the people out there (even professional writers) will flub this idiom by saying "more impressed than the next." It drives me up the wall. It's worse than saying "could care less."

Noahdb

September 29th, 2009 at 1:21 PM ^

Don't worry about how a back runs when he's in high school. The small, fast guys all break everything to the outside because they can outrun everyone.

Usually, by the end of the first week of practice in college, the RB coach has managed to convince them to take the three extra north-south yards that right in front of them instead of chasing the mythical touchdown run that they think they can get outside.

hailtothevictors08

September 29th, 2009 at 1:26 PM ^

i know the music in the background of the white video is a take off the movie friday night lights ... for whatever reason that movie made me love that music and link it too football and struggle ... does anyone know where i can download or just a name of this song?

as always great work on the videos

LEFT-TACKLE

September 29th, 2009 at 3:57 PM ^

He has a lot of raw talent and needs the skill training in order to more fully develope and to protect himself. He sure does have a strong arm, is powerfully built and runs well. In time he will be very good. In time, he or Denard may pass Nate.

SeattleChris

September 30th, 2009 at 12:32 AM ^

Seriously, watching the backdrop of the Gartner video had an almost unintended? artistic quality and was so demonstrative of the the past 20 years for the bulk of the Detroit PSL (King and Cass Tech are the exemptions): Dusty, delapidated but still kickin'. It's ironic at the same time because neither team is a Detroit PSL team, but it just as easily could've been Finney vs. Northwestern. In reality Inkster and Highland Park are probably worse off. Someone should do a Pahokee special on the Metro Detroit area schools. Maybe it's already been done?