Loading…
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Monday, 4/15/2013

Gardner looks solid as Wolverines wrap up spring football practice

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner throws the ball against defensive end Brennen Beyer during the spring game Saturday in Ann Arbor. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner throws the ball against defensive end Brennen Beyer during the spring game Saturday in Ann Arbor.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

ANN ARBOR — Clearly, the pro-style offense suits Devin Gardner.

During the Michigan football team’s spring game, the redshirt junior wasn’t afraid to air things out in a more traditional scheme.

Gardner opened Saturday’s spring game by completing a pair of passes for 38 yards, which set the tone for his afternoon. Gardner completed a 32-yard strike to tight end Devin Funchess late in the first 20-minute session, which set up Thomas Rawls’ 14-yard touchdown run.

Even though Gardner wore an orange noncontact jersey on a blustery afternoon at Michigan Stadium, he didn’t stumble.

In a controlled scrimmage, Gardner finished 11 of 16 passing for 145 yards and one touchdown — a 12-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Jake Butt.

“Devin, naturally, throws a tight ball,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “When you throw a tight ball — and he’s got good arm strength, he has a good velocity on it — you can cut through the wind pretty well. But he’s always thrown the long ball pretty well, and I think he had a pretty good day.”

PHOTO GALLERY: UM Wolverines scrimmage

A year ago, Gardner played for the No. 2 spot behind Denard Robinson, then moved to wide receiver for Michigan’s first eight games before an injury to Robinson forced his move back to quarterback for the final five games.

Dennis Norfleet split time in the Michigan backfield during the spring game. Dennis Norfleet split time in the Michigan backfield during the spring game.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

That brought about Michigan’s move to a pro-style offense in the late-season stretch, a move Gardner believes wasn’t a major change for him.

But as far as the Wolverines’ transition to a pro-style offense?

“I think I’d be shocked if we didn’t show a whole lot of anything [Saturday], as far as scheme and all those things,” Hoke said. “But it’s what we have run. But you can tell from the play-action standpoint how comfortable Devin is and how good he can be within that offensive style.”

Yet another question arose Saturday: who will be Michigan’s No. 2 signal-caller behind Gardner?

With quarterback Russell Bellomy preparing to undergo surgery May 1 to repair a torn ACL, redshirt freshman Brian Cleary (2 of 9 passing, 24 yards, and a touchdown) and redshirt sophomore Alex Swieca also took snaps at quarterback on Saturday, behind Gardner.

“We don’t have a lot of depth at quarterback,” Gardner said.

“You don’t want Cleary throwing 150 balls when I’m very serviceable. I have no problem with getting better.”

Hoke didn’t hesitate when asked who the No. 2 quarterback was.

“I think Brian is,” Hoke said.

Even though highly touted quarterback prospect Shane Morris will join the Wolverines this fall, Hoke said during a Big Ten teleconference last week that he would consider bringing in a junior college transfer or a graduate transfer to create depth at quarterback.

When asked again Saturday about that prospect, he hesitated.

“I don’t know,” Hoke said. “It could happen, and it couldn’t happen.”

Michigan tight end Devin Funchess makes a catch against safety Jeremy Clark to help set up a score. Michigan tight end Devin Funchess makes a catch against safety Jeremy Clark to help set up a score.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Also in question for the Wolverines is depth at running back. Fitzgerald Toussaint has been in a limited role during the course of spring practices while recovering from a broken left leg, which he suffered in November, and he did not participate in Saturday’s spring game.

Instead, Thomas Rawls, Drake Johnson, and Dennis Norfleet split time Saturday.

“They showed they have great vision, that they’re able to see the holes and hit the holes as hard as they can,” Gardner said. “They’ve been playing really hard. But there’s going to be competition.

"I can’t wait until fall camp, to see all those guys because it’s a stable of running backs competing to have the starting job.”

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories