Overall Game Grade: A-
Having Devin Gardner under center for today’s game was an unexpected sight for many. After the first quarter, it seemed as though he wasn’t prepared for it, either.
Brady Hoke announced that Gardner, who had been starting at wide receiver all season, would be replacing Robinson in the lineup just before kickoff. The Wolverines’ offense mustered up a measly total of nine yards in the first quarter, highlighted by an interception on an ill-advised throw by Gardner on the second drive of the game.
It seemed as though Michigan’s offense was in for another 60 minutes of ineffectiveness, but a 45-yard passing TD to Drew Dileo on 3rd-and-17 turned the Wolverines’ fortunes around. Gardner, pressured like he had been all of the first quarter, used his scrambling abilities to extend the play and found a wide open Dileo waiting in the end zone.
From then on, Gardner was masterful. Yes, given his experience and the time he had to prepare, masterful is a suitable word to describe his play. Gardner’s crisp downfield throws were on point much of the afternoon and three of them went for 45 yards or more. In turn, that opened some breathing room for the running backs and Fitzgerald Toussaint finally broke through in the fourth quarter for a 41-yard scamper into the end zone.
For the game, Gardner finished 12-for-18 through the air with 234 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also picked up 21 yards and a score on the ground.
Most, including myself, figured Michigan would need a huge day from its defense if Robinson couldn’t go. While that looked to be the case early, it was far from it as the game carried on. It was a refreshing performance for the Maize and Blue after failing to put up a touchdown in the two games leading up to this weekend.