Devin Gardner on Northwestern’s defensive strategy:
**“**They had an extra week to see, ok, Michigan loves to pull our guards and that’s where a lot of our big runs come from. [Northwestern] told their defensive ends to spill the run, give up yourself so everybody else can make the play.
"When a defensive end spills the run like how aggressively they were, the run game can’t get started and if you can’t get started you can’t build what you want as a team. We made it clear that’s what we want to do. We want to run the ball to pass the ball and we weren’t able to do that for the better part of the game just because of the passion and aggression that those defensive ends were spilling the run with.”
Devin Gardner on the strategy of spilling the run:
“So you’ve got that pulling guard coming, and he’s gonna block you. You want to get on him before he can get on you and you want to just hit him as hard as you can with all the effort that you can. You can also do it with the fullback. Whoever it is, you just make almost a pile-up and you just destroy him with everything you have, knowing that you probably won’t make the play, so the rest of your teammates can make the play.”
Devin Gardner on the extra motivation Northwestern had:
“Not only do they want to get a win against Michigan, finally, but they have something larger to play for than themselves [with the loss of RB Jeremy Larkin to a career-ending injury]. When you have something larger to play for than yourself, it’s like a superpower almost. That’s the greatest power that you can have and for Michigan to go on the road in an unfamiliar environment for those guys and be able to withstand those punches and come back and make plays, that bodes well for the future of this program.”
Devin Gardner on what ‘green dog’ means for Devin Bush:
“If you’re in coverage and you have the running back and he doesn’t go out, it’s a ‘green dog’ because you see green grass, you go. That’s terrifying for a quarterback, the ‘green dog’, because he’s not blitzing because his guy stayed in for protection, now he’s free to do whatever he wants. Now, you’ve got a very fast guy just running as fast as he can with no responsibility but to just destroy you.”
Devin Gardner on the adjustments Northwestern made to take away Devin Bush:
“That’s smart, right, and that’s a good coach, once again, even though he’s a defensive coach, he’s got a bunch of good coaches around him and they’ve got an extra week. What’s the one consistent thing? They play a lot of man, Devin Bush is covering the running back. He can’t get to our quarterback if he’s on the outside, if he’s covering somebody. I mean, that was very smart.”
Devin Gardner on Josh Uche’s performance:
“I didn’t know anything about him and he came in when Rashan [Gary] came out for a little while and he responded and he played well. I think he had two sacks, but he helped cause three. That was great for him and that’s exciting because he’s a young guy and we think, ‘Oh man, we’re gonna be in trouble; Rashan’s so great he’s gonna leave,’ but when you’ve got a guy that comes in and plays like that, a big guy who looks like a little Rashan Gary, that’s encouraging.”
Devin Gardner on the defense’s ability to adjust during games:
“For our defense, you’ve seen it. It doesn’t take long, right? Once we get into that second quarter when we’ve seen something and something’s going where it seems we’re not quite ready for it and we’ve only had two sample sizes, Notre Dame and this game, late second quarter is when we kind of figure it out.
"At this point, it’s like, you guys aren’t going to get across the 50. We’re going to stop everything you do and it’s like we have your playbook at this point.
"I think that Northwestern came into the game with another good plan I don’t think a lot of people noticed. They saw a weakness in our safeties and they didn’t think our safeties were good enough to cover consistently and they continued to attack them. I think that was smart on their part, but we responded and recovered from that as well. We continue to respond and recover.
"We get a shot, we counterpunch. I think that’s something that’s great, just like a great boxer. I think that Michigan’s defense is able to do it and it allows Michigan’s offense to do it as well.”