CHICAGO -- The chatter isn’t bothering Devin Gardner.
Speaking at Big Ten media days this week, Gardner was peppered with question after question about his resiliency, whether or not he can bounce back after a very trying 2013 season, and to Gardner’s credit he took it all in stride, still as confident in his ability as ever.
“I really could care less about any of that,” Gardner said. “It really doesn’t matter because we know how we feel about each other, outside talk really doesn’t matter.”
“Adversity is going to come,” Gardner added. “I feel like the years that I’ve been here have made me a better man. I’ve been able to endure adversity in a lot of different forms, from mental position changes, to being sacked more than anybody in the Big Ten; different things.
“Enjoying a lot of great success too, setting a lot of records at Michigan. It has been great for me. I feel like I’ve dealt with it well. I’ve been humble and have worked hard and confident. I’m excited going into this year and a chance to defend our home.”
And Gardner appears to have that opportunity in his hands, Brady Hoke once again stating if the Appalachian State game were tomorrow, No. 98 would get the first snap at quarterback.
While Gardner looks for that fresh start in 2014, he’ll get it in several different ways specifically with the guidance and approach brought by former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
“I have a pretty good relationship with Coach Nuss,” Gardner said. “He’s a good guy. He’s really a player’s coach. I think he’s the definition of a player’s coach. Like if player’s coach were in the dictionary, his picture would be next to it, as a guy that’s played in college.
“He’s played in the NFL. He’s coached in college. He’s coached in the NFL and successful at all of those things. Our relationship has developed a great deal. He is so hard on me, which is what I like. I like to be challenged. He has challenged me in so many different ways.”
While Gardner admitted he had mixed emotions when he found out about the firing of former offensive coordinator Al Borges, his first glance at those same credentials mentioned above about Nussmeier quickly had him honing in, ready to get back to work.
Returning to the field ahead of schedule following broken bones in his foot against Ohio State, actually back in time to fully take part in spring football, Gardner noticed a distinct difference the very first day.
“It is just the practice,” he said. “We’ve got a really good pace in practice and it is really high tempo.
“We try to get in and out of the huddle as fast as we can and get the play in so that I can make adjustments to protections and things like that and we won’t run out of time.”
Everyone will have to wait until Aug. 30 against Appalachian State to truly know what Nussmeier’s version of the offense will look like and just how exactly Gardner will fit into that.
Until that time, Gardner at least hints at an extremely versatile system that’ll allow he and his teammates to showcase their skills.
“He knows how to use his personnel,” he said. “We have a lot of personnel. We’ve got some guys good in space, some bigger guys that are fast. We’ve got a lot of different talent and he is really good.
“You got me at quarterback who can do a lot of different things. He’s really good at developing his talent and making sure that we’re in the right place.
“It is going to be similar to Alabama and similar to Washington where he has been. He’s going to use my skill set as best as possible. That’s what we’ve talked about and I’m excited for it.”