Key members: Devin Gardner (SR?), Russell Bellomy (RS SO), Shane Morris (FR)
What we know: It’s pretty clear that Devin Gardner has the starting QB position locked down. His performance and ability to run the offense was more often than not impressive. With Denard Robinson’s presence on the field and the need to feed him the ball gone, this is 100% Devin’s team. Gardner has the abilities to stretch the play with his legs and is a very capable passer, as we saw many times during the season last year. Though we have seen stranger things happen, spring/fall practices could have a major impact on who starts. With that being said, Hoke has proved time and time again that the best players take the field, no matter the class standing. We could see something similar to a Henne situation his freshman year. Henne wins the battle because of a Gutierrez injury in camp, and we all know what happened with Henne after that. Until Hoke says so, we will assume that Gardner is the man at the helm of this offense.
Is this Gardner’s last year?: Will Gardner’s medical redshirt become a distraction? This question will be looming all season as Gardner’s medical redshirt status has yet to be announced. We might only see Gardner become a full-time starter for only one season compared to two years. That could be a critical blow considering the QB’s behind Gardner have very little experience and will have to be thrown to the wolves. This situation will be examined closely throughout the season.
Do you RS Morris?: This is also a very interesting topic as a dependable backup has yet to be established. The Bellomy experiment didn’t exactly work out against Nebraska and it wasn’t his fault. No one expected Robinson to get hurt, that was Bellomy’s first in-game experience of actual minutes. The past is the past. Is Bellomy capable of being a backup? Or is Morris too talented to sit? These questions will be answered during camp but red shirting Morris doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Shelving Morris for a year would allow him to work on learning the offense, working on mechanics and other skills necessary to becoming a Michigan quarterback. Let’s play the devil’s advocate, what if someone gets hurt? Depth is a serious issue with the QB’s, especially if someone goes down. Gardner is the only QB with considerable experience, would you sacrifice a RS year so Morris can be a backup? It’s a risk you may or may not have to take. Like I said before, it all depends on what happens during camp.
What to Expect?: Gardner is the starter, there’s no doubt about it. I expect him to have a solid year at quarterback. Gardner had a favorite target in Jeremy Gallon and I expect more of the same to continue. Since Michigan finally has a QB that is capable of delivering the deep ball, I expect the offense try to push the offense deeper downfield with longer passes to Gallon and other athletic receivers Michigan has on roster. I think it is reasonable to say that Gardner can see some All-Big Ten honors come his way at the end of year, though which team will remain to be seen. I think it’s a bit early and a touch unrealistic to deem him “Heisman worthy”. But, the sky is the limit for him.
Reasonable Stats: I think it’s safe to say that Gardner could throw for at least 2200+ and around 20+ TD’s (Which puts him in line with other past Michigan QB’s). Gardner can and will expose the lesser defenses with ease. His athletic ability on the ground will also aid him as well. 500 yards on the ground and at least 5 TD’s is a very real possibility. The coaching staff knows that Gardner isn’t Denard and designed rushing plays don’t have to be as frequent as years past. With that being said, Gardner will be able to pick up his own yards if plays break down and he sees openings.