Despite Preseason Hype for Devin Gardner, Michigan Has a Quarterback Problem

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Despite Preseason Hype for Devin Gardner, Michigan Has a Quarterback Problem
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

As the old saying goes—Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Most Michigan fans have to be feeling that way to one degree or another about not only their team, but its quarterback, Devin Gardner, following another less-than-stellar performance on Saturday night.

One week could be chalked up to a bad day, but two straight weeks of bad performances against bad football teams is a trend—and for the Wolverines, that means they've got a quarterback problem on their hands. 

A problem that may have no real solution, either, and that could spell doom for a team with the kind of preseason hype the Wolverines had

Devin Gardner was hyped as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and someone who could take the next step for Michigan's offense, but following a 24-21 escape at UConn on Saturday night, one has to wonder if Gardner is more of a question mark than an answer at quarterback. 

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A week after going just 16-of-30 for 248 yards in a narrow win over lowly Akron, Gardner followed it up by going just 13-of-25 for 111 yards with two interceptions on Saturday night. 

Besides the interception issues, Gardner had a fumble (that he recovered) and added only 59 yards rushing to his output in this game. 

Sure, he had a rushing touchdown on Saturday night, but the numbers of the last two weeks aren't those of a quarterback capable of winning you a ton of football games. 

The problem for Gardner and the Wolverines is deeper than just himself, though. It is a combination of bad offensive line play and bad decision-making by their quarterback. 

One could point to the choice he made to throw a bad interception in the back of his own end zone three weeks ago against Notre Dame as perhaps the turning point for Gardner. 

Before that pick-six, Gardner was much more careful with the football in that game and appeared to be turning a corner to becoming a dynamic quarterback.

Instead, Gardner has now thrown at least one interception in each of his eight starts in his career and has had a bevy of turnovers in the past two games alone. 

Those are major issues for a person expected to lead a team on offense.

Last week against Akron he managed to turn the ball over on three straight drives—fumbling the ball deep in Zips territory and throwing two interceptions (even if the last one was tipped and not entirely his fault). 

That speaks to the exact issue this team has really had all season long—an offensive line that can't give Gardner enough time to feel comfortable inside the pocket.

It has led to Gardner getting happy feet and making bad decisions because he doesn't feel comfortable about the protection he gets up front. 

Continued play like this from the offensive line and from Gardner behind them won't win them many games in the Big Ten; Michigan was lucky it was playing two weaker opponents over the past two weeks. 

Unfortunately, the Wolverines don't have any experienced options behind Gardner who they can trust to not make the same mistakes, which means the Wolverines are likely stuck with Gardner—warts and all.

 

*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. join the conversation by following him on Twitter

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