Alright lets dive right into it. (There are going to be a lot of obscure Chris Rix mentions, get used to it people.)
1. Devin Gardner’s Progression and Health– The health part is obvious and yet is unpredictable. One thing you can take note in is that Michigan will not be running their QB like they have done with Denard. Devin can run but the main reason he won’t is Michigan lacks a veteran backup like OSU. (Although if Braxton went down for an extended period of time I still think that would cause you guys to panic even though Guiton has shown some skill.)
His progression as a QB will be interesting because he only spent 4 weeks and a bowl game at QB last season. He started the year as a decent WR but once Denard went down and Bellomy showed he wasn’t capable of leading the team he was forced to move back. His numbers over that five game stretch were pretty damn good; 59.5% Comp %, 1,219 Yds, 11 TDs, 5 Ints.
The question will be can he play more consistently against top competition. He struggled against OSU and had a rough start against South Carolina before having a solid second half including a late go ahead drive. He has had a full offseason now back at QB and OC Al Borges has more experience with a taller pocket passer in Devin than he ever did with Denard. (Borges is basically a chef who specializes in BBQ that was forced to try and cook Sushi for two years. (Yes I am hungry and I am thinking of BBQ right now.))
As for this season I can only guess to how much he has progressed and how much he will once the season starts. Right now the consensus best QBs in the B1G are Braxton and followed by Taylor Martinez and then the swiss army knife that is Kain Colter at Northwestern. The question will be where will Gardner rank amongst those guys at the end of the year. I would expect him to put himself up there with Martinez to compete for the 2nd All Big Ten QB and I hope he makes an absurd leap to be considered up there with Braxton.
As long as he is healthy to play 12 plus games Michigan will be fine. If he isn’t well…
2. QB Depth- Ummm, there is none. Redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy tore his ACL in the spring and won’t be available this fall. This means the backup job will either be walkon redshirt frosh Brian Cleary or true freshman Shane Morris.
While Shane has a considerable amount of hype he missed the majority of his senior year with Mono and he did not enroll early meaning his first snaps will have come this week at fall camp. While Shane has the big arm its hard to see him being able to lead Michigan to a Big Ten title if Gardner goes down. Hopefully for my sanity that does not happen.
Next up: Michigan’s interior OL and the run game is previewed. I know you’re excited to talk about pulling guards.
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