Michigan Football: Wolverines Should Play Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterNovember 13, 2012

November 10, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (12) passes the ball as offensive linesman Ricky Barnum (52) blocks Northwestern Wildcats defensive lineman Sean McEvilly (67) in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

We're coming up to the last game of the season at Michigan Stadium—or the "Big House," as the kids are calling it these days—and that means one last chance to see Denard Robinson do Denard Robinson things. And against an opponent like Iowa—a burned-out shell of a good football team—those Denard Robinson things are bound to be successful.

The problem is that Robinson has missed the last two-and-a-half games with a nerve issue in his throwing arm, and Devin Gardner has been stellar as a fill-in quarterback. Michigan rolled past Minnesota then executed an amazing comeback against Northwestern under Gardner's leadership.

Put it this way: If the 2013 quarterback race isn't already decided, it's only because Brady Hoke hasn't gotten Shane Morris onto campus yet.

So, assuming that Robinson can go on Saturday, Hoke's got a bit of a dilemma on his hands. The saying usually goes that when you've got two quarterbacks, you've really got zero. But Hoke actually has two battle-tested quarterbacks he can depend on. 

Who should play quarterback against Iowa, then? Denard Robinson. And Devin Gardner.

Gardner brings a lot to the table from under center in the pro-style formations. Denard Robinson is deadly running out of the shotgun—to say nothing of the adventures that happen when he throws. Why not use both situationally?

Heck, why not put both on the field at the same time?

We're not advocating for switching Denard Robinson's position. That idea is simultaneously half-baked and tired, which is a pretty rare feat. Robinson hasn't practiced at any other positions for his entire career at Michigan, and there's so much that goes into being a receiver or running back that practically nobody can pick up that role after just one week of practice.

But Gardner's been a receiver—and a good one to boot. Michigan's had Robinson and Gardner on the field at the same time plenty with Gardner split out wide, and just because Gardner moved back to QB doesn't mean he forgot everything about playing wideout. So there's no harm in that.

Moreover, why not put both in the backfield at the same time? Not all the time, obviously, but if Al Borges isn't working up plays that take advantage of both guys' athleticism and throwing ability, he's letting Michigan down.

Can you imagine being a cornerback who's seeing Denard Robinson take a read-option handoff your direction—while Roy Roundtree takes off right past you on a vertical route? Do you cut off the run and force him to throw? Do you stick with Roundtree and hope someone else is taking away the corner? Do you have safety help or did he bite on the option too?

Oh, also, you have half a second to figure all this out or you're in no position to make a play on either the run or the pass. Have fun playing that!

Again, this isn't an every-play situation. Denard Robinson is a quarterback and Devin Gardner is a hybrid QB/WR. They run essentially different offenses. Getting both on the field in any combination other than "Robinson at QB and Gardner at WR" is a lot more difficult than it sounds, and it limits your options once they're there.

But those limited options could be a lot of fun to watch.