Michigan vs. Minnesota: Wolverines Get Peek at Life Without Denard Robinson

Carl StineCorrespondent INovember 3, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - APRIL 16: Devin Gardner #7 of the Michigan Wolverines drops back to pass during the annual Spring Game at Michigan Stadium on April 16, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Michigan's victory over Minnesota in the battle for the Little Brown Jug gave us a sneak peek at what Michigan' offense will look like in 2013 post-Denard Robinson.

Denard did not start against the Golden Gophers due to an ulnar nerve injury in his elbow, and, in a surprise pre-game move, was replaced by Devin Gardner, who filled in admirably in the absence of "Shoelace."

Let's not kid ourselves, Minnesota's defense is no Alabama, but the Gophers have been decent this season, only giving up an average of 23 points per game.

Gardner and the Wolverines hung 35 on them in their meeting, and Gardner provided some highlight plays with his arms and legs, including a 42-yard bomb for a touchdown after scrambling on 3rd and 17.

He finished the game with 234 yards passing, completed 12 of his 18 attempts and rushed for 21 yards on 10 attempts. He also scored two touchdowns through the air, one on the ground and threw one interception.

Not bad for a guy who hasn't started a game in his career.

The offense was fairly efficient most of the game for the Wolverines, which should encourage fans who fear a drop-off from this offense next season.

Gardner and the offense converted on seven of 12 third down attempts, the best the Wolverines have been on third down all season.

Part of this is due to Gardner's passing ability. He finally looked like the highly-touted quarterback recruit who came into Michigan three years ago, leading the Wolverines on touchdown drives of 91, 90, 86 and 79 yards.

The Wolverines put up 35 points after going consecutive games without a touchdown.

Granted, Michigan State and Nebraska have defenses that are a little better than Minnesota, but even so, the offense clicked, and Gardner shook off some rust to put up pretty solid numbers.

After spending the season at wide receiver, and doing a pretty solid job of that, Gardner reminded us that he can throw a ball.

Michigan fans should be pulling for him to win the starting job next fall.