Michigan Football: QBs Robinson, Gardner Threaten Gamecocks in Outback Bowl
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
One is enough, but when a team has a pair of athletes like Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson, things can definitely get interesting.
Depending on who you're cheering for, Robinson and Gardner could either grant your bowl wishes or annihilate your bowl dreams.
Luckily for the Michigan Wolverines (and their fans), both multi-threat players are on their side, and that should come in handy New Year's Day when they go claw-to-claw with the 10th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl.
For Robinson, the Outback Bowl could be the grand curtain call that ends a dazzling college career. It's likely that he'll run and catch the ball more than he'll throw it on Jan. 1. He's the X-factor for Michigan, and has been since his arrival to Ann Arbor.
The Gamecocks are understandably concerned.
For Gardner, the Outback Bowl could be yet another solid performance since he seized the reins of the Wolverines offense after Robinson injured his right elbow during a 23-9 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Will Gardner and Robinson determine the outcome of the game for Michigan?
Gardner accounted for six touchdowns in a trouncing of Iowa and posted a 3-1 record in relief of Robinson. The 6'4", 205-pound junior will likely be Michigan's primary throwing quarterback, but don't rule out an appearance at wide receiver.
Gardner can do a little of everything on offense: Pass, catch and run.
Again, South Carolina is well aware of the pair, just ask senior Damario Jeffery.
Jeffery told Gamecock Central that Gardner is just as dangerous as Shoelace.
The same problem as Denard Robinson, probably not as fast. Both of them can line up anywhere on the field at any given time and do the same thing. It's a scrambling quarterback that can throw. It's a big problem, but a good problem. We love a challenge.
Does Michigan Have an Advantage With Crafty Pair of QBs?
With Gardner and Robinson, the Wolverines have a distinct advantage when it comes to creativity. South Carolina can't match the dual-threat look that Michigan should use early and often New Year's Day.
As Jeffrey said, the fact that Gardner and Robinson can line up anywhere helps.
The Gamecocks have a respectable defense led by defensive end sensation Jadeveon Clowney. He's fast, but he can't be two places at once. What he can do is take either Robinson or Gardner out of commission, depending on which one he catches. The Gamecocks secondary has certainly prepared itself for its last-line-of-defense role come Jan. 1.
It's no secret that South Carolina's schedule has it battle-tested and ready for Michigan. Its defense alone could dictate the outcome of the Outback Bowl. But containing Gardner and Robinson has to be high on the Gamecocks' list of priorities.
The Wolverines do have an advantage, but offensive coordinator Al Borges has been widely criticized for his decision-making ability. Michigan won't win if Borges fails to properly employ what will be two of the most athletic—if not the most athletic—players on the field.
Something Different Isn't Always Something Good
South Carolina, like other SEC powers, wins in the trenches...brick house-like offensive lines and steel-headed running backs are common each Saturday in the Southeastern Conference.
However, the Gamecocks might be in for a surprise; they haven't faced a duo like Robinson and Gardner this season. They did shut down Clemson's Tajh Boyd, a gifted quarterback, but they're probably not too accustomed with guys like Gardner and Robinson, especially not at the same time.
The Wolverines also have an upper hand when it comes to trickery, which is a tool that is not used often in the SEC. Receivers like Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree have been on the end of trick plays.
Gallon has been right in the middle of a few, too.
That blend presents hurdles for the Gamecocks—it presents hurdles for any team, really.
Are you confident that Borges will appropriately use Denard and Devin?
This goes back to Borges' ability to draw up something that could throw South Carolina on its head—he has the tools to do it.
But will he?
The Gamecocks showed they could hang with just about anyone in the SEC. They upended the Georgia Bulldogs 35-7, and lost 23-21 to LSU. Other than an embarrassing loss to the Florida Gators, the Gamecocks weren't easily pushed around.
How South Carolina handles Gardner and Robinson and Michigan's potentially-creative plays will be a key Outback Bowl storyline.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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