Michigan Wolverines QB Solution? Play Gardner and Morris at the same time


Whether the conversation this week is about Devin Gardner losing the Michigan Wolverines QB job or Brady Hoke losing his coaching job,  the atmosphere in Ann Arbor is downright gloomy.

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Here it is, just days before Michigan meets Minnesota for the Little Brown Jug, and little good has been said about both teams, either.

The original “Little Brown Jug” left behind after Minnesota tied Michigan 6-6 in 1903. To get it back, Michigan would hasve to win it back. Photo; Michiganensian 1910.

Minnesota, despite being 3-1, has yet to beat a legitimate opponent.  The Gophers have victories over lowly San Jose State, Middle Tennessee and Eastern Illinois.

A tough season for Hoke

The Wolverine wins haven’t been over great competition either.  They defeated Appalachian State  in the season opener before knocking off the Miami RedHawks, now proud owners of a 20-game losing streak.

But it was the one-sided losses to Notre Dame and Utah which upset the Michigan family the most.

Hoke, who’s in his fourth season, was expected by now to field a team that played competitive football.

It’s simply not happening.

There have been complaints about Hoke’s head-set manners, his injury reporting and the real problem, his inability to win a big game on the road. He’s also been pushed to bench Gardner, who’s taken plenty of the blame, too.

Fortunately, Hoke has a shot at quieting his critics, at least for another week.

Michigan enters the Minnesota game as an 11.5-point (up from seven in just two days) home favorite.

Big Ten opener

History reminds us that Michigan rarely gets a competitive game from the Gophers. The Wolverines have beaten Minnesota 22 of the last 23 times.

While Michigan has been statistically solid on defense (ranked the Big Ten’s No. 1  team in total defense at 261.0 yards per game), it’s the barrage of offensive turnovers that’s been hard to take. Yes, the Wolverines have committed an even dozen, four lost fumbles and eight interceptions.

Most alarming is Gardner’s six interceptions and his uncomfortable play in the pocket. By now, and it’s been his fifth year on campus, you’d expect more polish from a starting quarterback.

Bench Gardner?

Whatever the reason, He’s not getting the job done.

Benching him or moving him to wide receiver are two possibilities, but why not place him and quarterback-of-the-future Shane Morris in the game at the same time—occasionally.

There’s no question Michigan’s offense needs a spark, and the precedent was set just two seasons ago when Gardner and Denard Robinson played simultaneously against Iowa, Ohio State and  South Carolina.

Gamecocks on the ropes

The skill of both players added a dimension to the Michigan offense even with Robinson unable to throw. The results too, were pretty good. Michigan crushed Iowa 42-17, led at the half before losing in Columbus 26-21, and should have beaten the Ol’ Ball Coach if it wasn’t for a communication error on the offensive line.

So what harm can be done? The offense, which has been thrown under every bus in southeastern Michigan, might have a little fun.

Morris, who has already exhibited a strong arm, can run the football and can use all  the experience he can get. Gardner is one hell of a receiver, and when he’s in space can either run or pass with the best of ’em.

“We’ve got some ideas what we’re going to do…,” Hoke said today (Sept. 24), on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “We haven’t been back on the field (for practice). We’ve got to compete and challenge, like everyone. The other day, we talked a lot and talked about what we want to do. But at this time, we’re still going to have both guys take the reps and we feel good about both guys. And we’ll have some other potential changes that we’ll have later in the week.”

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Bolded players and coaches are linked to Sports-Reference, an enhanced statistics website.