Junior quarterback Devin Gardner will lead the Michigan offense against a stingy South Carolina defense in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day, according to Darryl Slater of The Post and Courier.
Brady Hoke said Devin Gardner will be the starting QB and Denard Robinson "will play some quarterback." More definitive stuff from Hoke.— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) December 31, 2012
This is not a surprising decision by Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke because Gardner gives his team a better chance to win than Robinson.
Gardner is a more accurate passer and doesn't turn the ball over as much. Here's how the two quarterbacks compare in some important statistical categories.
The Gamecocks defense does a tremendous job of rushing the quarterback, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is one of the most talented players in the nation. Clowney is a major reason why his defense ranks eighth in the nation in sacks with 40.
Against a South Carolina front seven that will likely win the battle at the line of scrimmage, the Wolverines will need a quarterback who can read the defense and make quick decisions.
Gardner proved in the final four games of the season (in which the Wolverines had a record of 3-1) that he is capable of being efficient in all areas of the field and will make the right decisions. He also has a strong arm, which helps him connect on big plays in the passing game.
Robinson will likely play an important role in this game even though he won't start at quarterback. His speed and athleticism should still be a major part of the Wolverines' running game, which needs to perform well for Michigan to defeat South Carolina.
Hoke has made the correct decision by choosing Gardner to start at quarterback, but he must ensure that Robinson still makes an impact on the offense.