Denard Robinson is going to be Michigan's quarterback. Both this year and next. But the the Wolverines may have found another way to use him Saturday. Early in Michigan's 58-0 win over Minnesota, offensive coordinator Al Borges inserted backup quarterback Devin Gardner in the game and moved Robinson into the backfield. He later switched the two and had Gardner out wide. While no major plays came from it, the potential was exciting to watch.
“We’ve been doing that in practice and working on it and Coach Borges has been telling us to be ready for it," said Robinson, who had his best passing game of the season going 15-for-19 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. "We love doing new stuff like that on offense because it gives us an opportunity to make more plays.”
Gardner said they've been lobbying for the package to be used in a game ever since they started working on it in spring practice.
"We've been pushing for it but I don't think Al (Borges) cares much. It's a dictatorship," Gardner joked. "We trust him to come up with situations that will work for everybody and he knows what he's doing. I think that’s a really dangerous formation because you’ve also got guys like Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith back there too. You’ll have to wait and see, but I really like it.”
Smith joked that they call the package "2" after his jersey number. After all, he was the biggest benefactor of it when he was able to throw for a touchdown pass on a trick misdirection play.
The bottom line is that Michigan, along with any other team, is better when all of its best athletes are on the field. Gardner is one of those athletes.
"Devin will probably be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten once he gets a chance to start," Robinson said. "He's got a strong arm and is really fast and athletic so we like seeing him out on the field."
Michigan coach Brady Hoke didn't make any promises, but hinted that the Garnder/Robinson combo package, along with further developments, will be a part of the Wolverines' game plan going forward.
"We worked on it in camp and then we put it to bed for a little bit but that way the kids had the knowledge of it so they could come out and execute. Believe me, Al is very, very creative. It's not just going to be that package with those guys. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of creativity with our offense."
Hoke also knows the importance of finding other ways to use Robinson as well as getting other players involved in the offense now that Big Ten play has started. When asked if Michigan could contend in the Big Ten with Robinson carrying the bulk of the workload, Hoke didn't shy away from the reality.
"I don't think so," he said. "We're going to go up against some really good coaches with good personnel and when you do that they're going to make adjustments. You can't go out there and run the same thing each week."
Michigan faces a high-scoring Northwestern team in its first road game next week. The Wolverines may be using more of the "2" package in their second Big Ten game.
Follow me on Twitter @Maghielse.My Michigan football column for Sunday's Oakland Press