Michigan redshirt junior quarterback, Devin Gardner talks about competing for the starting spot in practice and playing aggressive. Gardner also discusses the development of redshirt freshman Brian Cleary, and how he (Devin) is becoming a better leader in spring camp.***Watch the Full Video***
The depth on the Michigan offense took a critical hit when redshirt sophomore backup quarterback, Russell Bellomy, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last Friday. Bellomy, who is ruled out indefinitely, will be replaced by redshirt freshman, Brian Cleary, as the signal caller in spring camp.
With the injury to Bellomy, the pressure to keep returning starting quarterback, Devin Gardner, healthy only amps up as the Wolverines head into this fall.
But don’t tell Gardner that, as the 6-foot-4, 203-pound, signal caller will continue to play hard and elusive with his arm and his legs.
“Not at all,” Gardner said on taking it easier in practice.“I practice hard like it’s a game every day. So, I mean I can’t change anything that would take us steps back. That’s one thing we can’t do.”
The same sentiment can be said by Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges.
“We’re going to do what we do,” Borges said on scaling down practice routines with Gardner. “We’re not going to change anything. I mean we’re going to adjust our plan as we go. But we’re still coming in with the same plan.”
While Michigan has been hit with the cliché ‘injury bug’ this spring and with no other scholarship quarterbacks on its roster, Hoke said there is more awareness to keep Gardner healthy.
“You’re always a little uneasy,” Hoke said on possible injuries. “You’re a little concerned. We got to keep Devin healthy. We got to do a good job of developing the other guys.”
Cleary’s Development and Competition
With the injury to Bellomy, it would most likely take an injury to Gardner for him to lose the starting job this fall. That still hasn’t stopped Gardner from competing for the starting spot in practice.
“I feel like we are competing,” Gardner said. “Brian Cleary was putting up a good fight as well. He just wasn’t getting as many reps, cause he doesn’t know the offense as well. But now I am competing against Brian Cleary. It’s all competition but I’m happy with it.
“I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against every quarterback in the country. I’m competing against everything.”
With Cleary the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart at the moment, he’s doing a good job of embracing the moment in practice, said Gardner.
“Brian Cleary is doing well. He’s taking advantage of the opportunity. That’s all you can do in college. He’s doing a good job and coming along great.”
Grading as a Leader
Gardner started the last five games with a 3-2 record last season. He threw for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions, while completing 59 percent of passes. That type of production on the field, is how Gardner has earned some respect as the new leader of the Michigan offense.
“It helps me to lead my team better,” Gardner explained. “You know, when you produce, you can lead. And when you haven’t, you really can’t lead as much as you like too.”
As far as how Gardner is leading the team this spring, Gardner is giving himself a passing grade.
“I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job,” Gardner said. “I feel like I have a ways to go. So you know a B+ (in leadership). That type of thing.”
What will it take for Gardner to get an A? “The end of the spring,” he said with a smile.