What's wrong with Michigan's Devin Gardner?

Michigan fans know it all too well. Devin Gardner is in a funk, and it’s played a role in the Wolverines struggling against far inferior foes. The junior has committed 10 turnovers, including eight interceptions, and is fresh off his worst career performance (11-23, 97 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT). So, what’s wrong with Michigan’s signal-caller?

We asked BTN analyst Derek Rackley (@drack48) for the answer to that question, in addition to four other hot topics around the Big Ten.

BTN.com: What’s wrong with Devin Gardner?
Derek Rackley:
Oh, man, I wish I had the easy solution to that, because if I did Brady Hoke would probably pay me a lot for it. You know, I think with quarterbacks, or any player really, if you start to press when you know you’ve had an issue with turnovers, it can kind of become more of a mental problem. From a physical standpoint, is Devin Gardner not tucking the football away properly, is he making bad reads, does he have bad mechanics? I wouldn’t go that far. The biggest thing with Michigan is that they’ve been in a lot of close games, and I think Devin Gardner is realizing he has to make a play so his team can win the football game. Sometimes when you’re overly concerned with making a play, you force balls into areas where they shouldn’t be thrown or you try too hard to make something happen.

BTN.com: How can Wisconsin continue its ground dominance vs. a defense like Ohio State?
It’s stick to what they do well. What’s great about what Gary Andersen has done is he realized what he had talent-wise, and he didn’t change what he had. I think it’s just changing the looks up, and that’s what Wisconsin has been doing. They’ll go off-tackle, they’ll go speed-sweep, they’ll put the running backs in the slot. If Ohio State can never really pin down where they’re going to be, they’re going to continue have success running the ball.

BTN.com: How should Michigan State fans feel about the quarterback situation this week?
Concerned! I think if (Andrew) Maxwell does not come in on that final drive, they probably think, “OK, we lost the game, the quarterback didn’t play all that great, but at least we still know who our starter is.” Instead, we see Maxwell come in on the final drive – he hadn’t played in almost two full games. He comes in, throws three incomplete passes, they have a penalty, and it was game over. It’s just really tough to create confidence, consistency in an offense when you’re bouncing back and forth between different guys.

BTN.com: Which team should feel better about itself heading into the Floyd of Rosedale game?
That’s a very good question. I think Minnesota, probably, because they’re 4-0, they’ve handled their business in the nonconference slate, they did go on the road and get a victory, albeit it wasn’t a very good team (New Mexico State). And they’re doing it in what I think is the better way, which is being able to be a running team. Don’t get me wrong, we know Iowa is a running team, as well. But if I had to pick and choose between a team that was a great passing team and couldn’t run versus a team that could run the football all game long, I would take the team that could run all day long. You’ve got to be able to run the ball, and Minnesota has shown us that it can do it.

BTN.com: Four weeks in, what’s your biggest surprise?
My biggest surprise is the fact that some teams that we expected to be improved, as far as the product on the field, that’s not happening. Nebraska’s looked very shaky and Michigan’s having problems with inferior opponents. On the flip side of that, Northwestern has in fact continued its momentum from last year and Ohio State has been pretty strong. I mean, 16 straight, call it what you want as far as who they’ve played, but they’re in the top 5 and they just keep winning.

About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (20 Comments)
huskerfanbb on 9/23/2013 @ 5:45pm EDT Said:

The Gardner for Heisman talk can end now.

Devin on 9/23/2013 @ 5:56pm EDT Said:

It will be interesting if Gardner switches back to old number.

Don S on 9/23/2013 @ 7:13pm EDT Said:

Wow – what a softball cop-out for the critique of Gardner. I’ll offer one up for you though. It should read like this:
Nothing is “wrong with Gardner” per se. He is exactly who he was last year. The pre-season hype over the Michigan quarterback was completely baseless and borders on irresponsible. Look, Devin Gardner is a less than average D-1 quarterback. He didn’t light up the board when he had the chance last year and everyone attributed that to excuses like; “Hoke didn’t have the right playmakers yet” – or – “He hasn’t had the time in the system yet” – or – “just wait till he is out of Denard Robinson’s shadow”. The fact remains Devin Gardner is exactly who he was last year. A tall strong-armed kid who doesn’t have the talent playing for a team who doesn’t have playmakers to distribute the ball to. Shame on the media (ESPiN) for lifting this kid up onto a pedestal the level of which he has absolutely no chance of ever living up to. You tried to make him out to be the second coming of Tom Brady when he’ll have a hard time matching the performance of Tate Forcier.

Bernie on 9/23/2013 @ 7:26pm EDT Said:

How many turnovers can one person (quarterback) give up before its realized he’s not the man for the job.

Dotti on 9/23/2013 @ 8:39pm EDT Said:

Tom Harmon’s number was great for one game, now Gardner should return to his own number and be himself; it’ll be one less pressure!

Don S on 9/23/2013 @ 8:54pm EDT Said:

@Dotti – Seriously? It’s his JERSEY #’s fault? It takes an incredible Michigan homer to come to that conclusion. Number on jersey does not == pressure. That’s laughable.

reality check on 9/23/2013 @ 9:03pm EDT Said:

Doug , you couldn’t be more wrong about Gardner. Don’t be surprised when he lights up MSU for 300 yards half of them on a dozen pass int calls. Nov 2 comes soon Doug

reality check on 9/23/2013 @ 9:05pm EDT Said:

Gardner wins the Heisman you heard it here first Doug

Mr. Hayes on 9/23/2013 @ 9:34pm EDT Said:

Another Michigan quarterback, another September Heisman. Nothing to see here folks. Shane Morris will get the same treatment. At least the networks know how to get ratings from Michigan’s fan base.
Step 1: Find mediocre player and make him out to be great.
Step 2: Talk about him all the time until the lie can’t continue.
Step 3: Repeat.

dick patten on 9/23/2013 @ 9:56pm EDT Said:

There is definitely something going on with Devin. You can’t go from being the hero like last season to the goat of this year. The first two games he was in control, then all off sudden, blank. Is it the Quarterback Coach, is it the Head Coach, is the line not blocking for him, is his receivers not getting in position to catch it or is it time to put in Brian Cleary. Something needs to happen, and Fast, He needs to create his own play if his receivers aren’t able to catch the ball or if his ground game is not clicking. It is time for him to take off and like Denard and create some excitement. Dick Patten

huskerfanbb on 9/23/2013 @ 11:02pm EDT Said:

Doug–you are smoking dope. You can’t go 12 of 25 for less than 100 yards with two picks against UCONN and still win the Heisman. It’s one of their criteria.

Big P on 9/24/2013 @ 8:29am EDT Said:

@reality You’re joking, right? Rees, a much better QB with much better receivers got what, 150 yds on less than 50% completion? MSU will show how truly mediocre Gardner is. Turnover and sack party!! Can’t wait.

san diego is heaven on 9/24/2013 @ 12:07pm EDT Said:

MSU turnover and sack party yes but Michigan still wins 3 nothing.

prerich on 9/24/2013 @ 12:54pm EDT Said:

Interior offensive line is the problem for Michigan. Team’s learned from the Notre Dame game you can bring the house against Michigan. Any QB that’s constantly rushed will eventually make mistakes when hes not rushed. This also translates to Toussaints problems as well. He likes to run between the tackles – well those lanes are full of LB’s – that’s why that soft cushion right behind the LB’s is always open against every team Michigan has played since ND. On the opposite side of the ball, Michigan is weak at LB. It reminds me of a cream filled doughnut – gooey in the middle and flakey on every side except the place that got a little too much heat (wherever Countess is at).

Recommendation – Go to a 2 back offense – you must to this to make the passing game less predictable. This will also be beneficial for Tossuaint – he may have to share carries but it will open up who’s getting the ball, open up the screen play, and give him the extra blocker he needs. Funchess needs to be featured (more throws to the TE). Lastly – Devin – calm down, take a sack or throw it away, and dont let the ball sail all of those INT’s are not necessarily your fault (tips, missed catches tip drills) but some are due to bad decisions – manage the game and let it come to you.

Doug on 9/24/2013 @ 1:00pm EDT Said:

Hey Mark, Gardner isn’t even in the heisman talk, in fact he has 8 INT’s and 7 TD’s, I can’ wait for Nov 2nd when the # 1 defense in the land stomps him, hell if Akron and UCONN can’t shut him down, just wait till MSU gets a hold of him ! huskerfanbb, reality check is Mark, not me !

phpearso on 9/24/2013 @ 1:36pm EDT Said:

Hoke is a joke, but then he is a “Michigan Man” so that makes it okay.

chris hubbard on 9/24/2013 @ 3:28pm EDT Said:

First off, who is this doug everyones talking about. Second of all, Gardner needs a wake up call, like sitting on the bench wake up call. The failure that our fan base forgets, we have a freshman oline besides lewan. We have 3 freshman starting wide receivers that have never played albeit all the dropped balls. And touissant is so so. I personally would rather see the freshman green come in for the purdue game to see how he does, get him some plays. After you do that you can start having a 2 rb system in the backfield that will help so much more. Personally I dont know if its his lack of inconsistency maybe dropped balls or not good hands, but why isnt Norfleet a wide reciever. Granted hes only 5’7 but so is dileo. Thr kid is explosive and could break open plays and gash defenses like we need. Back to my schtick with gardner. He looked great the first two games, you know why, BECAUSE HE WASNT RUNNING AROUND. I heard this year was gonna be about him staying in the pocket and pass. Remember when he did the first 2 games, more proficient and accurate. Now adding that running aspect has doomed him. Yes I wanted him out after this last week because of poor decisions downfield and behind the line. Less we forget this is a young team and have a long way to go, more then anyone thought before.

Mary Brennan on 9/24/2013 @ 5:10pm EDT Said:

Thanks for finally finding someone else besides Nebraska to dump on.

huskerfanbb on 9/24/2013 @ 6:04pm EDT Said:


I’m so sorry. I read that wrong.

Bob Garrison on 9/25/2013 @ 10:58am EDT Said:

Brady Hoke is a nice guy but when it comes to coaching he is a joke. He doesn’t have control of his team. He runs his team on emotion and Michigan “tradition”. Did anyone see the Michigan punt return guy doing a little dance while waiting for the punt during the UConn game? Brady doesn’t wear headsets during the game. Last year when Michigan went to Bama to play Brady stood on the sideline shaking his head. He thinks that the B1G is in the same league as the SEC. The problem with Brady is that he has to create wins on the field against quality teams (Notre Dame will probably not end up a ranked team this year) and I’m not sure he knows how to do that. Time will tell.