Can we see a 2013-type Gardner turnaround?

Submitted by Yo_Blue on September 22nd, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Everyone talks about Gardner's poor performance last year and about him being a turnover machine.  Does it surprise anyone that he had three (3) interceptions in B1G play?  How about 1 INT in the last 6 games?  While he struggled in out of conference play, he cleaned up considerably once the conference started.


CMU 10 15 67% 162 1 2
ND 21 33 64% 294 4 1
Akron 16 30 53% 248 2 3
@Conn 11 23 48% 97 0 2
Minn 13 17 76% 235 1 0
@PSU 15 28 54% 240 3 2
Indiana 21 29 72% 503 2 0
@MSU 14 27 52% 210 0 1
Neb 18 27 67% 196 1 0
@NW 24 43 56% 226 1 0
@Iowa 13 28 46% 98 2 0
OSU 32 45 71% 451 4 0

Is it unreasonable to expect this kind of improvement or is it wishful thinking? 

If the play calling could help Gardner out (less under center play action where he doesn't see the defense for 3 seconds at a time, more screens and quick slants to defeat blitzes, etc.).  We saw how Utah played against our blitzes - most of the time the ball was out before we could get close to the QB.

Looking at Devin's numbers from last year, consider that we didn't have anything close to the running attack we have this year.



September 22nd, 2014 at 8:32 AM ^

Why is that sad? Carr won 8+ games just about every year, usually 9, and gave us our first national championship in decades. Something even Bo couldn't do. He also ran the program with class and integrity, consistently put kids into the nfl and by all accounts was a great guy.


September 22nd, 2014 at 9:22 AM ^

Carr wasn't perfect but I liked him a lot. The losses to Tressel were troubling, and with recruiting it sounds like he may have just gotten tired. But damn, those were much better years than now; app state included.

True Blue Grit

September 22nd, 2014 at 11:26 AM ^

near the end of Carr's time there.  It may be partially because he was getting tired of it.  But I really think we were also getting significant negative recruiting from other schools telling kids Carr wasn't going to be around very much longer. 


September 22nd, 2014 at 9:12 AM ^

Actually by all accounts (of people who were in/close to the program, not ESPN talking heads) he had wanted to retire AT LEAST a year earlier but decided to see Henne, Hart and Long (plus other seniors) through their careers, and others have suggested he wanted to retire as early as the end of the 2004 season but Bill Martin kept talking him into coming back.

Space Coyote

September 22nd, 2014 at 10:30 AM ^

Even if that is true, I don't understand you making it a negative thing. The game is supposedly passing him by (despite two years earlier being a TD away from the MNC game), he's interested in retiring (and there is evidence he was interested well before then), so he's supposed to stay around and not perform his job up to his expectations so some people can bash on his legacy?

Man, what an asshole.


September 22nd, 2014 at 11:04 AM ^

Getting out after wasting a great senior class while knowing full well your defensive back 7 is going to be weak due to your lack of recruiting is pretty shrewd. Had he stayed, he probably would have had his worst season at Michigan in the next couple of seasons. As it was he got to underachieve with Henne Hart and Long one last time but knew that that was better than what lay ahead.


September 22nd, 2014 at 10:49 AM ^

first in yards per attempt among all B1G QBs

second in total touchdowns

second in passing yards

second in total yards

second in adjusted passing yards and

second in passer efficiency rating

set several new records for pass completions and points scored in games at a school with a long line of illustrious QBs. All this behind the worst offensive line in UM history.

playing for his second coach, his third coordinator, and (now) in his third offensive system (if you call what Borges laid out a system)

I agree that he is not playing well; he may still be injured. (Nussmeier looked like reality was his thing despite all the manball talk, mixing it up pretty good in the first half against ND; we can only wonder why more scrambling and short passing was not part of the mix Saturday. Wiser heads are hinting that this really MAY be a case of both Borges and Nuss following Hoke's hard-headed orders. If so, that might be a reason why Nuss as acting HD could be revelatory.) 

I'm all for Morris stepping in when Devin isn't performing well. But Morris would have been starting if he was killing Devin in practice. Now, if you say that he might settle down if given more game experience--maybe. Sure hasn't done it yet. 

El Jeffe

September 22nd, 2014 at 8:22 AM ^

Remember those two straight zone reads to the right we did against OSU last year? I think we might need to put a bit more of that in. I mean, DG was a or the top dual-threat QB when he came out of Inkster. I'm a little surprised that Borges was more willing to use DG's feet than Nuss seems to be. Unless he's laying in the weeds...

Meanwhile, it doesn't seem like Nuss/Hoke or the fans would worry overly about DG getting hurt because Shane seems to be growing in popularity as a backup option.


September 22nd, 2014 at 9:32 AM ^

I wouldn't be surprised if they're not running him because he *is* hurt. Something's not right with his throwing motion and he has no velocity on the ball which has never been a problem for him. I don't recall a single designed run since ND.

For that matter, we've only gone deep maybe twice since then and both were way off. I don't think it's just play calling either as they've had no issues throwing deep with Shane,  or running him even. 

Space Coyote

September 22nd, 2014 at 10:33 AM ^

I have a feeling the foot injury is still contributing. He doesn't look nearly as fast or athletic either. I think the mechanics are more an issue of focusing on other things, but it may stem from the foot issue as well.

Either way, Gardner doesn't look exactly healthy or dynamic as he once did. Likewise, every time he does scramble he still does it in a way that ends with him getting nearly decapitated. He still hasn't learned to take a hit without being destroyed (Shane, on the other hand, just looks like a rag doll every time he gets hit, someone needs to teach these QBs how to approach contact a little bit because they are getting beat up).


September 22nd, 2014 at 10:37 AM ^

You're right, Gardner doesn't seem to commit to when scrambling, often slowing to a jog to see how things develop or even stopping dead at times. It only leads to guys teeing up on him though.

He looked pretty athletic in the Spring Game and Fall Scrimmage, but you're right, he looks like end of 2013 Devin again only 4 games in. I really really feel for the kid, it just sucks to take shot after shot and be robbed of your natural athleticism.


September 22nd, 2014 at 1:28 PM ^

Short throws with crossing patterns over the middle you really see him what looks to be pushing the ball to the receiver instead of actually throwing it.  Like he's aiming it.  Even on his longer throws he looks like he's shifting his body weight too forward too soon and shotputting the ball.  It doesn't look normal and doesn't look right.  Either he's injured or just that screwed up in the head mentally right now that he feels pressure to make a perfect pass every pass play and overanalyzes everything right down to his mechanics and release.


September 22nd, 2014 at 8:32 AM ^

Absolutely not. He is not a qb or atleast at the college level. Still at high school talent level. Honestly dg is a great dude but he sucks. Time to end this experiment. If he wants any shot of the nfl he needs to make catches

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September 22nd, 2014 at 8:37 AM ^

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September 22nd, 2014 at 8:37 AM ^

His confidence appears shot.  Hopefully he gets it back.  I always thought that Devin would be the second coming of a college vince young.  Hope he shreds Minny and gets the confidence rolling in the right direction!  Anything is possible.  GO BLUE

You Only Live Twice

September 22nd, 2014 at 8:37 AM ^

It's not unreasonable, what you are postulating.  And I'm hoping for it to start against Minnesota.  After what Devin Gardner has endured for this team, we owe him our support this year, win or lose.  I don't know what it's like to stand in that pocket, and neither do a lot of people who are criticizing him. 


September 22nd, 2014 at 8:43 AM ^

(plus Minny stats in a blowout, but I don't remember too much from that game).

In other games, our offense was anemic

There's no reason why the Good Devin can't return.

As for Hoke, I don't see him returning in 2015 with anything short of a B1G championship or damn close. 

As for Shane, I haven't seen any on-field production that leads me to think he's ready right now to lead Team 135 to the B1G Championship.  I can see an argument for giving Shane some time to see what he can do--maybe a quarter or so a game--but I think if Hoke switches to Shane full time then Brady is doomed.


September 22nd, 2014 at 8:48 AM ^

will we?  Pretty unlikely.


Our WR core is Manchild  Funchess, 2nd year player, 1st year player, 1st year player.  TE's are returning from injury 2nd year player, worthless blocker 2nd year player, and 1st year player

Our RB's are both 2nd year players, and the third guy is the obvious 3rd down back who will never run the ball tipping the defense that we are passing.

Our offensive line is a year away from even being serviceable in the Big Ten, just can't block unless we are playing two of the worst teams in FBS


Poor damn Toussaint?, Its poor damn defense this year.




Space Coyote

September 22nd, 2014 at 11:04 AM ^

I think Borges understood that the offense wasn't good enough to work the ball down field consistently, and that's why it was a lot of chip, chip, all-or-nothing. I think vs Utah and ND we've seenproof of this. So I think that idea has credibility in a vacuum, but I also think it's the reason for part of the problems DG is experiencing right now.

I touched on this a bit in my coaching points article, but there needs to be a balance between finding consistency and threatening a defense over the top. Right now, I don't see anything threatening to defenses in terms of getting beat over the top. They are perfectly satisfied with keeping everything in front and not threatened in a way that a mistep can lead to a huge gain. That threat needs to at least come back with Michigan taking some shots.


September 22nd, 2014 at 8:50 AM ^

I'm torn on this. Gardner just doesn't look well right now. When he has time - and he did have plenty of time on numerous occasions on Saturday - to throw, he doesn't make the right decision and his form is poor. I honestly think last year may have gotten to him to the point where he thinks he's gonna get destroyed every time he drops back to pass. So when I think of things like this, I'm of the mind that Morris should be put into the starting line-up not so much for this year, but for next year. 

On the other hand, we've all seen what Devin can do when he's on. He put in three all-time performances last year on offense. Clearly, when he's feeling it, the tools are there to be great. So do you roll with that idea going into the Big Ten season, because everyone is 0-0 and there is still the possibility of a title? 

Worst case scenario is that we paste Minnesota (I'm 100% sure of this) with Devin and look pretty good because they are terrible. Then against Penn State, Devin looks like he has to start the season and we've wasted valuable time where we could have been playing Shane, so we just throw him into the fire with little time to get ready for his death march into East Lansing. 

I dunno. There doesn't seem to be a good answer. 


September 22nd, 2014 at 9:42 AM ^

Devin's throws Saturday seemed like they were floating. Almost like his arm is hurting. It's either that or he is just flat scared to let it rip. It just seems his is uncomfortable and tentative.


September 22nd, 2014 at 10:38 AM ^

of his TD passes against Appy St were thrown with those mechanics.  If he's hurt, he was hurt going into the season.  If he's hurt....but I don't think he is.  Remember the video of Nuss telling him that he shouldn't throw through the LB, to throw over the LB?  It may well be that Gardner has taken that to the extreme.


September 22nd, 2014 at 9:54 AM ^

His confidence is shot to hell. I don't know how he could get it back, but we've seen DG play a lot better than this. He had those 3 games last year where he was superman and played great. He was solid during B10 play except against sparty, but the whole team was shit that day and DG took a pounding. Then he took another beating against Nebraska.

The guy has been through 3 different qb coaches,3 different OC's, and 2 head coaches. He went to WR in 2012 and was a top option and had 4 td catches before moving back to qb when Denard went down. When he moved back to qb, he looked amazing running and throwing and the offense took off.

I just see a fractured dual threat qb trying his damn hardest to be a pro - style drop back qb ala Denard. DG would be awesome and probably AA at a lot of other programs with the tools he has. He deserves his share of criticism for play, but he doesn't deserve all the venom being sent his way from fans and media. I feel sorry for the kid. I hope he bounces back.

You Only Live Twice

September 22nd, 2014 at 9:55 AM ^

What do people think about the two quarterback concept?  Equal time? Especially if Devin's arm is hurt.  I'd believe that before thinking that he's been "broken" mentally - much more likely to be physical damage.



September 22nd, 2014 at 10:05 AM ^

He didn't have interceptions, but he sure could have. Remember how many balls bounced off Northwestern players? There were other games where he similarly got lucky. Except for OSU (and, I guess, Nebraska), his completion percentages were terrible. Let's not kid ourselves. Last year was bad, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

I've seen no reason to say Shane Morris will do any better, of course.  


September 22nd, 2014 at 10:34 AM ^

I love Devin but he looks really bad right now. Maybe there's too much thinking going on up there, too afraid to make a mistake. Hell, I dont know. He seems really hesitant to throw at times and I personally wish he'd scramble more often. 

I certainly hope he gets back on his game because it would suck to see him go out like this.

Miles was right

September 22nd, 2014 at 11:45 AM ^

Gardner is in the wrong offense... youre hoping he has a Drew Brees moment, with back against wall when Rivers was drafted but held out... and snapped out of it.  But I think its the offense... and its moot.

I'll be very surprised if Morris doesn't take the reigns this week.


Sten Carlson

September 22nd, 2014 at 11:59 AM ^

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that during the App. St. game he tweaked the foot that was broken last seaon.  IIRC, there was a play where he got hit and looked a little gimpy afterward.  Remember, that was the first contact that he had been exposed to since the Ohio State game in 2013.

As Space Coyote said, the wonky mechanics might very well be caused by a foot injury.  There is no doubt he's lost his speed to the edge as well.

I feel so badly for DG at this point.  I know he wants so badly to lead Michigan to a B10 Championship (and he still can) but it's looking like he's got a high mountain to climb to achieve that goal.


September 22nd, 2014 at 1:44 PM ^

Seeing that same data, and having watched all those games, I think the pattern was one of inconsistency.  Gardner really struggled in the late-season Iowa and Nebraska games.  Certainly, he can play better!  But I would go no futher than that.