When a fifth-year senior has to go back into a quarterback competition in the middle of the season, he knows he’s not doing something right. When a fifth-year senior loses his job to the sophomore backup, all he can do is fire himself up and come out stronger than he left. For Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, that became true in a loss Saturday night against Rutgers.
Sophomore quarterback Shane Morris got the start two weekends ago against Minnesota in Michigan’s first conference game of the season, and when Gardner entered the game late in wake of an ankle/head injury to Morris, he took his offense on a drive that looked like it would have a lasting impact. That drive ended with Gardner punching himself into the end zone and standing tall, letting those who remained in The Big House know that he is the quarterback.
On Michigan’s first drive against Rutgers, that feeling was reinforced, only this time it was the entire offense letting fans know that they showed up ready to compete. Of course, that enthusiasm didn’t result in a win, as the Wolverines fell to 0-2 in conference play, but after the night Gardner had, there is a strong chance we begin to see a different quarterback leading Michigan’s offense.
Gardner looked confident and in control against Rutgers, which was a mighty feat in itself when considering how aggressive and successful the Scarlet Knights’ defensive front has been this season. They did get to Gardner on Saturday night, but he continually bounced back up and played through the adversity, delivering for most of the night.
There were three things Michigan had to do against Rutgers in order to improve his its offense, and the Wolverines did a combination of all three at some point throughout the game. Now, was there enough of it? That’s for a different time. The point is: Devin Gardner looked like a quarterback who is finally in control of his offense, and that is something Michigan is going to desperately need as it moves forward into the meat of the conference schedule.