The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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michigan football did. And then once we got into overtime, that was our game; we had been given a second life and there was no way we were going to lose." The comeback win was the first of Gardner's quarterback career, dating back to his high school days at Inkster. The victory over Northwestern would give the signal-caller and his offensive teammates the hope they would need seven weeks later when they trialed South Carolina 27-22 with 8:06 left in the Outback Bowl. On a 10-play, 64-yard drive, Gardner completed 4 of 5 attempts for ate ame eroics oost 51 yards, including a 17-yard TD strike to Gallon. evin ardner s onfidence The defense would surrender the lead in the final 3:29, but Gardner had done all he could. When Devin Gardner stepped into the huddle with U-M down 31"The way we finished offensively was awesome," he said. "It felt 28 to Northwestern with only 18 seconds remaining in the game, he great to throw the presumed game-winning touchdown, and to know had a simple message for his 10 teammates: "I said, 'We're going to that we could match up with the best from the SEC. We lost, and that go win this game.'" hurt, but I sort of grew up and the offense grew up in that game." In his second career start at quarterback, Gardner faced a fate few Though he played QB in only five games last season, starting four, signal-callers must deal with so early in their careers — a potential Gardner feels he experienced almost an entire campaign emotionally game-winning drive with very little time remaining on the clock. and in terms of game situations. He'll be better However, recent history was on Gardner's for it this fall. side; both Tate Forcier in 2009 and Denard Gardner's Touchdowns Vs. "I feel like I'm in complete control of the Robinson in 2010 rallied Michigan to fourthTurnovers Game-By-Game huddle, and really understand the offense and quarter, last-minute wins (over Notre Dame Opponent TD*TO^ Result what we want to accomplish," he said. "I'm both times) in their second career starts. Minnesota 6 1 W, 35-13 also better at reading defenses. And not just Gardner completed a 53-yard pass to reNorthwestern 4 1 W, 38-31 when I drop back to pass, but checking into the ceiver Roy Roundtree, setting up Brendan Iowa 3 1 W, 42-17 Ohio State 2 3 L, 26-21 right play before the snap. Gibbons' 26-yard field goal to tie the game, South Carolina 3 1 L, 33-28 "Last year, I was thrown into the fire so then engineered a five-play touchdown drive * Rushing and passing; ^ Interceptions and fumbles quickly, I made the reads, but there were a lot in overtime to lead the Maize and Blue to their of times I should have called an audible to give eventual 38-31 win. us the best chance to be successful and I didn't do that." "I watch the Northwestern game all the time because it's just amazThe five-game trial run, in which Michigan went 3-2, also taught ing the way we came together as a team," Gardner said. "When I Gardner how important it is to secure the football; in U-M's three wins threw an interception after they had scored, I basically thought I lost he had just three turnovers, but in two losses he had four. the game, but our defense responded, Jeremy Gallon had an awesome "I didn't turn it over a ton, but enough that it hurt us," he said. "That punt return, and we had a chance. bugs me a lot. I look back, and it was like, 'Why were you throwing "That was a pivotal moment for me. Everybody looked in my eyes that pass? Why didn't you keep that ball tight?' They were dumb deciand they had this belief and that gave me confidence. sions. I just can't make those mistakes again." "Roundtree told me just to throw it up and he'd go get it, and he L D -G G H ' C B Quarterback Devin Gardner accounted for four touchdowns and only one turnover versus Northwestern, and his 53-yard bomb to Roy Roundtree set up a game-tying field goal that sent the contest into overtime, where U-M eventually pulled out a 38-31 win. Photo by Lon horwedel 8  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview

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