Hoke Defends Gardner, Criticism 'Unjust'

Brady Hoke made it a point to call out criticism of his starting quarterback Devin Gardner today at Schembechler hall.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Criticism is expected after a disheartening road loss to your rival. Especially when you get shutout for the first time in 30 years and lose to Notre Dame 31-0 for the last time in the rivalry foreseeable future.

Fans are upset. The Media are asking questions. Fingers get pointed. Coaches, players and administration get blamed. Someone needs to be held accountable, right?

Yes and no, according to Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who says the heat is expected for the coaches, but the blame geared towards fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner has been “unjust,” as he called out Gardner’s critics at Schembechler hall today.

“I don’t worry about myself or the staff,” Hoke said. “Because people are going to have opinions. They can think what they want. You’re going to have opinions. And that’s fine. But when your quarterback takes some criticism that might be unjust because of things that transpired. I think that’s, I guess the way we are as a society now. But at the same time, I don’t know if that is called for.”

Gardner, who 11-8 record as starter, completed 19-of-32 passes for 189-yards in Saturday’s lost at ND. However, he threw three second half interceptions, which has been the cause of his off the field criticism this week.

“He’s a kid,” Hoke said. “He’s not a professional athlete.”

Hoke further defended Gardner, and pointed out the positives plays he made against the Irish.

“I think there were a lot things he did well (at Notre Dame),” Hoke said of Gardner. “I said the other day he made some really great throws in there. He checked us to the right plays. Was he perfect? No, he wasn’t 100-percent. Do we want to be perfect? Yes.”

Was there any progress from Gardner from Appalachian State to the Notre Dame game?

Hoke Replied: “I think so. Yeah, I mean, he’s our quarterback. Now, he’s going to prove it every week. He’s proved it how he’s come to practice, and how’s he learned.”

And while Hoke was firm that Gardner was his quarterback, he did note that sophomore Shane Morris is ready to play, if needed.

“We’re confident in him,” Hoke said of Morris. “We’re very confident in him.”

Michigan (1-1) plays host to Miami (Ohio) (0-2) this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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