MMQB: Devin Gardner believes this Michigan team is different

Former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner joins Inside the Huddle’s Michael Spath to preview Saturday's game against Pen

Former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner joins Inside the Huddle’s Michael Spath to preview Saturday's game against Penn State.

Michigan’s defense and the play of Shea Patterson will help the Wolverines avoid a late-season skid, Devin Gardner shared on WTKA Monday. You can hear segments here and here.

Devin Gardner on why this Michigan team is different than the 2016 team:

“This year will be different for a number of different reasons. We don’t play Iowa, that’s the huge big reason because I don’t know what it is, but Iowa has had our number for the better part of 10 years and it goes unacknowledged. I don’t know what they’re doing over there. Especially when we play at Iowa, it’s been very tough for us and we haven’t done well. That’s a monkey I’m glad we don’t have to get off our back, at least this year. That’s one thing. Another thing is this is an entirely different team. The way it’s built, the way we perform. In 2016, our defense was pretty good, but you can see like, ‘ok, there’s some things that can be taken advantage of on that defense.’ When we watch [the 2018] defense play, it passes the eyeball test, it passes the numbers test. These numbers that they’re putting up aren’t inflated. This isn’t like we’re playing Georgia Southern and we’re just dominating, making the scale look kinda different. We’re playing good teams, we’re playing good competition. That was the early talk about we’re not really playing anybody. Our defense is playing well, but how well can they play? How long can they continue to play this well? We’ve played the majority of our Big Ten schedule and they just continue to dominate. A good defense like that is what Alabama football’s been built on in the past, Michigan State football when they’re really good has been built on, and that’s how you continue to win in college football. You’ve gotta have a very, very good defense if you’re gonna be that top program in the country and in the Big Ten. That’s another reason why I think this looks totally different. Lastly, we have a quarterback on our team that is gonna make plays and not just not lose the game. To beat Ohio State, and even Penn State, who’s a very good team and has a quarterback like how I’m gonna describe, you cannot beat these teams by just not losing the game, by just not doing anything wrong. You have to be somewhat special in these games because these are very good teams and they have quarterbacks that are going to be special. You’ve gotta make some plays. You can’t just manage the game and beat these teams… I think we have a quarterback that can safely do that, and I feel confident in saying that as a careful risk-taker, he’s going to take some risks, he’s going to make some plays and that’s gonna be the difference. Those are the three things, Iowa probably being the biggest one, that I think are the different things that are gonna change for us while we’re top five [in the rankings], kinda the same type of scenario, but it’s gonna a little different this year.”

Devin Gardner on why Shea Patterson’s running ability needs to be taken into consideration:

“The thing with quarterback, I don’t know why, but people act as if, when you run the ball, that doesn’t count. You’re supposed to just throw the ball. ‘Hey, do your job, just throw the ball.’ Shea makes a lot of off-schedule plays where his legs create these plays and he’s changing the game like that, but his stats won’t reflect that. You type in Shea Patterson’s stats, ESPN stats gonna come up, it’s not gonna say anything about his rushing at the top of the page. It’s gonna say his passing yards, completion percentage and then his last game stats, which aren’t gonna include running stats either. That’s something that gets lost, that even though he plays quarterback and even though a majority of the time he’s a thrower and things like that, his running counts. Every yard he gets as a runner, you can just throw that in with all his production during the season and during the game. The big one that I’ve seen that people continue to do, and some people argue for him and some people argue against him, is Cam Newton. The last few years, he’s been the running game for the Carolina Panthers. He hasn’t been a perfect passer, he hasn’t been as good as Tom Brady, but when you add in his running and how he changes the game as a runner, he’s not equal to Tom Brady, let’s not get ridiculous, but, he’s up there in the upper echelon of the quarterbacks in the NFL. Everybody just wants to forget about the running as if it doesn’t count and I think that that’s unfair to Shea and unfair to quarterbacks like Shea.”

Devin Gardner on Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley:

“I think it’s a headache. The one thing that’s going to make it less of a headache is that he’s not as healthy as he’d like to be. He didn’t get a chance to have a bye week after not being as healthy after the Michigan State game and he played another game. He didn’t get a chance to just rest so he’s not as healthy as he once was, and maybe as he was in the game they played last year. That’s something that’s going to kinda make it less of a headache, but he’s a gamer and a guy that’s gonna come to play. Him not being healthy is not going to matter. They thought he wasn’t healthy this past week and he ripps off a giant run for a touchdown. He’s a phenomenal quarterback and he’s one of the quarterbacks in this league that I think should be looked at as one of the best quarterbacks not only in this league, but in the country. He’s proven that, and we talked about him again against Ohio State when the ball was taken out of his hands as their best player, which we both agreed that we did not like that and that wasn’t a very smart decision. This is a guy who I think is phenomenal and it’s gonna be tough for any defensive coordinator to handle and deal with because of the element he brings as far as, like our quarterback, being able to run, being able to make off-schedule plays. Some people say, ‘you’ve gotta make him throw, gotta make him throw’, but he’s a phenomenal thrower of the football…Some things are going to be done well, but you’ve just got to keep the damage to a minimum and continue to contain him.”

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