Gardner's physical presence and scrambling ability have Michigan fans drooling, but the word "raw" appears in virtually every assessment of his passing.
His release is side-armed, his dropback is too shallow, and, like with any young quarterback, his pocket presence will be nil. He's been able to steamroll most high-school competition, but his struggles with passing were evident even then.
No one is faulting his effort, or his ability to run. He's a high-motor guy, very coachable, wicked fast, elusive, with a build like an outside linebacker. That sturdiness will be critical when he takes some lumps in college.
He will really benefit from the fine tutelage of Michigan QB coach Rod Smith, who coached a similarly gifted Pat White on the zone-read and also made White into a competent passer.
While Rodriguez is still coach, Gardner is the future of Michigan football (sorry, Tate). His development as a passer somewhat hinges on his ability to redshirt in 2010, but his running ability is closer to the spirit of RichRod's system.
Case in point: Michigan's passing game, which was an underdeveloped and sorry to watch this year. RichRod just doesn't have a passing-oriented mind like some of his colleagues.
No surprise, then, that there are grumblings of a Forcier transfer (though nothing close to official), which would set Michigan back at least another year.
The writing isn't on the wall for Forcier, who is making the system his own and likely won't be pushed by Gardner immediately, but there could be controversy down the road if Gardner blows up like some are predicting.