Michigan will return to the classic Wolverines style of play on offense this season with Devin Gardner fully entrenched behind center. Denard Robinson has departed and is trying to find a home in the NFL, and offensive coordinator Al Borges can return to his classic pro-style offense which should be a delight to Wolverines fans that grew up with smash-mouth football and traditional pocket passers.
Robinson is a record-breaking quarterback who brought a lot of excitement to the program during his tenure, but Borges had to throw out his playbook to fit the skill-set of a player that is now trying to transition to wide receiver in the hopes of being drafted this April.
Gardner is the perfect fit for what Borges likes to do on offense, and with every rep in spring practice is gaining the invaluable experience necessary to win a conference championship. Borges may see a little bit of Jason Campbell in Gardner, who he developed into a first-round pick at Auburn after he led them to an undefeated season in 2004.
He is far from a finished product and has a lot to learn before he can think of being a first round pick or leading a team to a perfect record, but he does offer a lot of potential after starting five games in place of Robinson last season. In those five starts, Gardner completed 59.5% of his passes for 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
This spring, Gardner will work with Borges on improving his completion percentage and should be able to do so in the new passing game that will feature shorter and therefore high percentage passes and improving his decision making to limit turnovers.
Another benefit for Gardner is the beast of a running back that will be arriving this fall in the form of No. 5 running back-recruit Derrick Green. He is the classic downhill, between-the-tackles runner that will punish would-be tacklers and will be a throwback to former Wolverines Anthony Thomas and Tyrone Wheatley, but with much more explosiveness and agility and will be the best friend to Gardner in the backfield.
The combination of a strong running back and the tutelage under Borges will transform Gardner into one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and return the Wolverines to the classic style of play fans of the program are used to seeing in Ann Arbor.