After their first loss of the season, the Michigan Wolverines are searching for answers. What went wrong? How did the Wolverines lose to the Penn State Nittany Lions? Was it Devin Gardner‘s fault? Those questions will take a week or more to receive answers, but in the meantime, the Wolverines might want to consider giving Shane Morris reps in practice.
Sure, Gardner has been solid in the past when he won the starting quarterback job after Denard Robinson‘s injury in 2012, but he has been nothing but mediocre in 2013. In just five starts in 2012, Gardner completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a force on the ground as well, rushing for seven touchdowns.
Michigan has yet to see the same quarterback this season for the 5-1 squad. Gardner has passed for just 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns, but his 10 interceptions through six games has been double the amount he had in 2012. His rushing ability has been better, running for over 400 yards and six touchdowns. It’s not the running that has been the problem — it’s his poor decisions and lack of a killer instinct.
While the Wolverines are 5-1 still and have the talent possible to make the Big Ten title game, Gardner might be holding back this offense. With opportunities to win the game in the fourth quarter of the Penn State game, the junior quarterback could not keep a 10-point lead and failed to score a touchdown in any of the four overtimes.
The fact that this team didn’t score any touchdowns in four overtime chances shows that the leadership on offense hasn’t been there. Having almost lost to one of the worst teams in college football at home, the Akron Zips, and another one of the worst teams in the nation the next week on the road, the Connecticut Huskies, the Wolverines hopes look cloudy for the rest of the season if changes aren’t made.
Even if benching Gardner for a quarter to give Morris a chance will help, why not try it? It could light a fire underneath the junior quarterback.