Analyzing the numbers: Devin Gardner vs. Akron

It wasn’t pretty, but Michigan held off Akron for a 28-24 win at The Big House on Saturday. It took a come-from-behind win against a team that hasn’t beaten an FBS opponent since 2010 for the Wolverines to extend their FBS-high 17-game home win streak.

How close was it, exactly? Check out this final play:

As close as it was, Devin Gardner improved to 6-2 as the starting quarterback and Michigan moved to 3-0 for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

However, Gardner’s trend of up-and-down play continued Saturday, as he once again showed signs of both play-making ability and poor decision making.

Gardner finished with 351 total yards, tying his second-highest single-game total behind his 376-yard effort last week against Notre Dame. But he also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.

Akron had no match for Gardner’s running ability as the junior quarterback rushed for a career-high 103 yards and a touchdown. Three of Gardner’s rushes went for at least 30 yards, including his 36-yard touchdown run that put the Wolverines ahead 14-10 in the third quarter. He only had one such run for his career entering Saturday.

Despite his success on the ground, Gardner was sluggish throwing the ball, completing 53 percent of his passes. That marked his lowest completion percentage in a regular season game as a starting quarterback.

Gardner got off to an accurate start, completing 11 of his first 12 passes from the pocket. However, he connected on just six of his final 16 such passes for the rest of the game.

Akron rarely blitzed Saturday, but when it did, Gardner had no answer for it through the air. When the Zips brought five or more pass rushers, Gardner completed just 25 percent (2-for-8) of his passes with two interceptions. When Akron didn’t bring extra pressure (four or fewer pass rushers), Gardner flourished, completing over 63 percent of his passes and throwing for both of his touchdowns.

Here’s a detailed look at Gardner’s success Saturday:

Completion percentage 25% 63.6%
Yards per attempt
1.6 10.7
TD/INT 0/2 2/1

Gardner mainly struggled throwing the ball downfield. On passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air, he went just 4-for-13 with two interceptions. For comparison, he completed over 70 percent of his passes that traveled 14 or fewer yards through the air, including hitting his first 10 targets on such passes in the first half.

Turnovers, though, continue to haunt Gardner, who has recorded at least one turnover in each of his eight starts at quarterback.

Looking ahead, the Wolverines travel to East Hartford next week to play Connecticut in their first road game of the season. With a win, Gardner would record his first win away from Michigan stadium as a starting quarterback since his first-career start at Minnesota last season.

About Ernest Tolden Ernest Tolden is a Studio Researcher for Big Ten Network and a blogger who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for Ernest is a native of Chicago, Illinois. Follow our BTN stats team on Twitter via @BTNStatsGuys.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
dick patten on 9/14/2013 @ 9:28pm EDT Said:

I was there and it was a disgusting game, for a team such Michigan who was picked to win by at least 37 points to struggle gainst an Akron team who came to play. This game reminded many in thestands of the Appalachian State Game which the Wolverines lost. The team seemed so disorganized, the offense didn’t protect the quarterback, the defense acted at times like a gracious host. I don’t know what’s going to happen next week, but this team had better get its act together fast. I mean fast, UConn would love to show why it belongs in the Big Ten or ACC. I am a little disappointed at Brady Hoke and his coaches, I would have thought during halftime, they would have read the riot act to the team. Grow up, smarten up, this is not a day off, get out there show what you are made of. Right now, you act like cream puffs, not Wolverines. This is OUR House and no one and I mean no one comes into to OUR HOUSE and win. Goi Blue, but today I wonder where the Blue went.

reality check on 9/14/2013 @ 10:00pm EDT Said:

Don’t worry Dick Gardner will light Sparty up for 300 yards

    dick patten on 9/15/2013 @ 7:55am EDT Said:

    Ihope so, because this game was so disgusting. The coaches ought to be taken to the woodshed and read the riot act. Like the Appalachian State game, they took this team way to lightly. Then the players ought to be taken to the woodshed for not playing harder. Some of them acted like they have never seen a football. They acted like a gracious host, well gracious hosts don’t win games. This is the Big House and Nobody and I say hobody doesn’t come into our House to win. I just sat there in my wheelchair in disbelief. I hope next week in Connecticut they come back big time, the band won’t be there to keep the crowd going. That’s another thing, the crowd doesn’t seem to be into it. I watch other games and the crowd is constantly cheering, waving the pompoms, They acted like they were at a country club. Finally the scoreboard comes on with players telling the crowd to get up, fire up, they need to cheer this team or boo if they are not playing good. It will be another year before I can afford to come back. I love this team, and I mean love this team but this left me wondering.

Doug on 9/14/2013 @ 11:51pm EDT Said:

get ready to pay 50 grand off mark, gardner throws another pick 6 LOL can’t wait to collect from you again !

mark on 9/15/2013 @ 8:40am EDT Said:

Well it WAS doughnut day at Michigan. That has to trump respecting your opponent. What was really remarkable was watching Lewan and Hoke still not respecting Akron during the post game interviews. It speaks a lot of the coaching attitude.

Hank on 9/15/2013 @ 12:44pm EDT Said:

Don’t worry Dick- Sparty only has the best defense in the country and between Bullaough -Calhoun, and Marcus Rush im sure Gardner will play just like he did two years ago in Spartan Stadium- four sacks- two picks and when he tries to run Allen and Jones at safety should snap him off at the waist. Akron kicked Michigan’s ass and if not for the homer interference call in the end zone and the no interference call against Akron the last play of the game, they win. So count your blessings that you are 3-0 pray for a win in CONN but understand Michigan still has 3 or 4 years of rebuilding before the wolverines will ever be elite again. Brady Hoke is your answer just stay with him.

rkgoblue on 9/15/2013 @ 4:14pm EDT Said:

Why wasn’t the BIG HOUSE filled with 100,000+ MAIZE pompoms? We as fan need to do our part!!!!!! When you’re fortunate to attend a game at the BIG HOUSE you are helping to defend our house, the BIG HOUSE, THE HOME OF THE WOLVERINES!!!!!!!! I was at the ND game last week and it was ELECTRIC!!!!!! (I lost my voice) 115,109 POSITIVE ENERGIZED FANS minus a few nd fans.THAT IS HOW THE BIG HOUSE SHOULD BE FOR EVERY HOME GAME! Doesn’t matter who our opponent is.Whether it’s nd, Akron or Pioneer High School! POSITIVE LOUD ENERGY that’s our way to show our WOLVERINES that we have their backs!

hadley smith on 9/16/2013 @ 5:40pm EDT Said:

Hank–I was curious to check on your stats you posted about how Gardner did in the moou gm 2 yrs ago. Well, here are the official results from that game:

Passing Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Robinson, Denard 9-24-1 123 1 34 4
Gardner, Devin 3-7-0 45 0 32 3

I think you were thinking about Robinson because as you can see, you were more spot on about his stats–the sacks and int’s than the sacks and int’s Gardner had.
All I want to say is, before you go posting things like this of a past game is do your homework first. I know your may be thinking it’s really not a big deal but, it’s better to be right than wrong and being called out on it.
Now, your rt. Moou’s ‘D’ does look good but they really haven’t played anybody yet. Let’s see how they do against N damm this week and those other BT schs. down the road.