Gardner finished 15-for-30 with 125 yards passing and two interceptions in U-M’s 35-11 loss at No. 8 Michigan State this past Saturday. Despite his struggles, most notably on an errant interception that led to a MSU touchdown, and an shovel pass interception that went right to a Spartan linebacker hands, Hoke maintains Gardner is his starter moving forward.
“Devin [Gardner] is going to be our starter,” Hoke said.
“Devin had some good throws the other day. Some of them we got to come down with. On the shovel pass, Justice [Hayes] gets knocked off, it’s a timing play. And so it looks like he flipped it to a linebacker. Which is actially what happened. But we got knocked off with the shovel, so the timing with that. We got to be better mechanically when you have the fumble. You get a fumble, and you fumble it right back. It was opportunity we had. But no, he’ll be the starter.”
Sophomore Shane Morris came started a series late in the fourth quarter, and played one play – an threw for an incomplete pass – before Gardner replaced him. Michigan would go on to score its only touchdown of the game, ending 13 quarter s without a touchdown versus MSU.
However, why bring in Morris for one play?
“We had talked about getting him ready to go in depending on the situation,” Hoke said, when asked why Morris came in the game. “We told him, ‘get ready, get warmed up.’ Well, we get the turnover, and Shane comes in. Depending on the situation we were going to let Devin finish the game. And part of it was you got the turnover. And Shane goes in, we wanted Devin. This is the last time he’s going to play Michigan State. He’s a Michigan kid. And it was important for him to finish.”
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier echoed Hoke’s statement on the reason why Gardner came back into the game.
“We were in situation there towards the end of the game and told [Shane], ‘Shane get loose.’ Devin we’re in a situation where we don’t know if we are going to get the ball, if we’re going to get the ball back at that time or not,” Nussmeier said. “So Shane went in for the play and we felt like Devin needed to finish the game, being that he is form Michigan. [It] was his time playing Michigan State. We put him back in the game.”
Michigan will play host to Indiana this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.