ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the first time in four years Denard Robinson’s name won’t be included anywhere on the Michigan football roster -- his shoelaces are off to remain untied in the NFL. And on the depth chart, even backup quarterback Russell Bellomy’s name doesn’t appear after he suffered a season ending ACL tear this spring.
It’s just Devin Gardner. And even he’s trying to adjust to life as the lone, scholarship, signal caller for the Wolverines -- at least for the time being.
“It felt kind of weird not having Denard around cause I’ve had him around since I got here,” said Gardner Saturday. “But other than that I felt like it was my team and we did really well this spring.”
Last year at this time the coaches had the luxury of sitting Robinson after just one series with the first team offense, choosing instead to give Bellomy and Gardner extra reps. Saturday, Michigan didn’t have that luxury, giving Gardner, and his brand new orange quarterback or ‘don’t hit me’ jersey plenty of snaps for the fans.
“I’m sure it wasn’t that I needed the snaps, it’s just, we don’t have a lot of depth at quarterback,” said Gardner. “You don’t want (Brian) Cleary throwing 150 balls when I’m very serviceable so I don’t have a problem with getting better.”
Gardner looked sharp in the spring game Saturday, completing 11-of his-16 pass attempts, totaling 145 yards and a 12-yard touchdown hook up with true freshman tight end Jake Butt in traffic.
The full-time move to Al Borges power running, pro-style offense has been a seamless transition for Gardner. Not only did Gardner star in five games in 2012 after taking over as the starter at Minnesota, he feels his skill set featured this repertoire all along.
“It’s not a big change,” said Gardner. “I feel like I was recruited for pro-style schools and spread schools -- it’s not like you just lose it.”
Displaying his powerful arm, Gardner didn’t waste any time opening up the offense, completing a go route to sophomore wide out Amara Darboh on the first play from scrimmage, a play Borges told him to run and throw it up for the new guy to go get -- which he did.
Whether or not Darboh can translate his strong spring practice performance onto the field in the fall remains to be seen but at least his quarterback finally has his name down.
“We know what we can do and I knew Darboh was going to catch the ball,” said Gardner. “Darboh, I called him ‘Dar-bar’ cause he was a freshman -- and I didn’t get his name right.”
To watch video of Gardner after the 2013 spring game, press play below.