I'll admit I was a little scared when the last minute news broke that Denard Robinson would not be a go against Minnesota. But we have to give credit to the coaching staff for preparing Gardner as though he would at least see some action.
Devin did the rest himself.
Gardner completed his first pass of the season, and that had to have given him a world of confidence moving forward in that game. However, on Michigan's second possession, Gardner attempted his second pass and was picked off, rolling out to his right. But it was near flawless from that point on.
The Junior went 12/18 for 234 yards and 2 TDs. I was especially impressed with his composure. It looked like a veteran was out there leading the Wolverines offense. He was making good decisions, putting great touch on his passes, and played within himself.
This was a Gopher defense that did not give up the big play all year, and Devin had two by himself. It was a very relieving performance for Wolverine fans and coaches, now knowing there there is a reliable backup behind Denard Robinson.
One key to the success of Gardner was the production of Fitzgerald Toussaint out of the backfield. Fitz had 70 yards on 13 carries, and while that isn't his best statistically, it looked like the most productive he's been this season. He was breaking tackles, getting to the edge, and bursting through the holes up front. That wall all lacking up to this point.
Also contributing on the ground was Thomas Rawls, seeing his first bit of action in two weeks. He ran the ball 16 times for 43 yards. So it wasn't quite what we were anticipating for his return, but he became an obviously reliable back in short yardage situations.
Defensively, it was just another day at the office. I mentioned in my preview how Mattison needed to dial up some early pressure on the young QB Nelson, who had some confidence coming into this competition. And that's exactly what happened.
Kovacs was used for pressure; Craig Roh and Jake Ryan continued their domination of opposing QBs. It was all very affective and helped take away the Gopher passing game.
The lack of a passing game might also be contributed to the fact that Michigan is the best at defending against the pass in the nation. They continue to make it very difficult for QBs to move the ball down field through the air.
JT has been catching my attention all year and didn't fail to so again against Minnesota. He has been doing a tremendous job of breaking up passes this season. He gets a good read on the QB and makes a quick break on the ball.
Tyler's Prediction Record: 8-1