As frustrating as it often is to watch Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, you can’t help but wonder what he and this team could be doing if he was let loose and allowed to do what he does best. I feel like this is something I need to say at least once a week, but Gardner was never supposed to play in this system; he was recruited by Rich Rodriguez to run the spread offense. So while he continues to look bad, let’s not forget that the potential is right there, he just isn’t allowed to use it.
That has to be the most damning part of Michigan’s on-field performance this season. You watch Gardner—who is 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, quick on his feat, a physical beast— and you will occasionally see flashes of the athleticism and playmaking ability that brought him to Ann Arbor in the first place. Rarely is it by design, though. Most of the time, it’s a broken play that open up the door for him to do something.
That’s a major problem. The Michigan coaching staff has effectively taken their best playmaker and put him in a box. Gardner is not supposed to be dropping back into a pocket; he is supposed to be making quick reads and judging the defense on the fly. And before you say he hasn’t been able to make such judgements this season, I’ll agree. But who’s to blame? I blame a coaching staff that has taken a Lamborghini and tried turning it into a family minivan.
This coaching staff, week after week, runs a true threat out onto the field at quarterback, but then forces him to play with a handicap, and it’s disgustingly unfair to him and his team.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.