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Posted on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Denard Robinson's solid camp allows Devin Gardner and Russell Bellomy to get QB reps in Michigan spring game

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy was 6-of-9 passing for 36 yards and showed good elusiveness during Saturday's Spring Game at Michigan Stadium.

Angela J. Cesere |

Senior quarterback Denard Robinson has started the past two seasons for the Michigan football team, and played a year in the Wolverines' spread-West Coast system.

He has some kinks to work out, but also is a proven commodity.

Devin Gardner is not. Neither is Russell Bellomy.

So, the Wolverines' coaching staff decided to use their 60-play spring game Saturday to allow Gardner and Bellomy a chance to show their stuff during scrimmage-like conditions in front of an estimated 25,000 fans at Michigan Stadium.

Robinson played only the first series, completing 2-of-3 passes for 13 yards against the first-unit defense. Gardner went the rest of the way with the starters, and it was a rocky audition.

He was erratic, completing only 2-of-7 passes, and also mistake prone. He threw one pick to cornerback Blake Countess and muffed two exchanges with new center Ricky Barnum.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said the performance was not indicative of his overall camp performance.


Michigan junior quarterback Devin Gardner completed 2-of-7 passes, threw an interception and muffed two exchanges with center Ricky Barnum during Saturday's spring game at Michigan Stadium.

Melanie Maxwell |

"Devin, in particular, has had an outstanding spring," Borges said. "He's really done some very nice things. He's developed in the position more and more.

"He needs more time in situations like this, where there are a lot of people watching and the pressure is on."

Robinson echoed that sentiment, noting Gardner had a strong camp at quarterback and that this was the worst he has seen him all spring.

"He just has to stay focused and keep his head up and keep doing what he does," Robinson said. "He’s one of the guys that pushes me all the time and helps me out. He just had a late throw today on a corner route (on the pick), and he knows that. He told me as soon as he got off the field.”

For all his struggles, Gardner still flashed the athleticism that made him the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school in 2010. He rushed nine times for a scrimmage-best 41 yards, including one impressive 16-yard burst around the right side.

Hoke has acknowledged the Wolverines experimented with Gardner at receiver this spring, which could take better advantage of that athleticism, but he did not line up there in the public scrimmage.

Bellomy, on the other hand, was the day's most impressive quarterback. Working with the the second-team offense against the second-team defense, the redshirt freshman was 6-of-9 passing for 36 yards and showcased a bit of elusiveness in the running game.

His arm strength still needs work, but he moved the offense capably. Michigan isn't asking for much more from him at this point.

"Russ has been steady and solid," Borges said. "When the guy is open, he hits him. He makes very few mistakes. He's just one of those kinds of guys. He's very athletic. He can get himself out of some messes. He's a solid guy."

Hoke quickly dispelled any notion of a competition for the backup quarterback spot, noting Gardner remains the No. 2 over Bellomy despite Saturday's results.

As for Robinson, he hardly broke a sweat in the spring game. That makes it difficult to read just how much progress he made in camp, although the fact Michigan felt he didn't need reps in the scrimmage likely affirms he's in a good place.

Robinson said he's doing a better job of not throwing off his back foot, noting he's done it only once all spring. That helped to curtail his interceptions after throwing 15 last season.

"The two things that have gone away in Denard's game are falling off throws, or throwing off your back foot," Borges said. "No. 2 is indiscriminate decision making. He had very, very few interceptions this spring."

Borges said Robinson threw four times as many picks last spring than this one.

"That (improvement is) not unusual, now, for a guy that understands the offense," Borges said. "I said it last year: Our passing game was a drastic disparity from what they had done here in the past, and there were going to be growing pains.

"Now, we've got to take the step into the fall. It's all irrelevant if you don't. But his awareness of our passing game has enhanced immeasurably."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Gardner may have to be the savior for the season teams will be trying to knock Robinson out of games(no bounties just fact teams will want to hit him as much as possible) Gardner may have to come in and lead a late drive or hold a lead. He will then lead the transition to full west coast offense once Robinson grads. I don't put much stock in the spring game performance remember he went up against the first team defense and he still split time with the other QBs with the first team. Bellomy proably looked good cause he was playing against the second team defense with an offense he got a lot more snaps with in practice. I've watched Gardner since high school and he reminds me of a "big" Charlie Ward, an Aaron Rodgers type a guy who can beat you in the pocket with the skills to make plays while running or when the play breaks down.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Bellomy will start after this year until he graduates, so they should run the read option because that is what fits him and what the everyone else understands outside of Borges. So don't count on Borges's pro-style offense for 4 years. Shane will be red-shirted and won't start til he's a junior.

Scott Laux

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I hope that is what happens.

Terry Star21

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4:07 a.m.

"Shane will be red-shirted and won't start til he's a junior".....that's what I was looking for......very funny !


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

Boy, I sure do recall a lot of read option last year and this spring..


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

ted/theo. . . . not a bad post. . . you don't have to like the coach's but at least support the MICHIGAN team!! GO BLUE!!!!!!

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

wow ted actually made a comment that is remotely plausible in reality... way to go teddy Michigan Man.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Borges is gorgeous Teddy. Give the man his do.

Terry Star21

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

I agree with DonAz that there is something about this Bellomy kid that is impresses - maybe from seeing great QB's over many years. I wouldn't say he has weak arm strength, but most certainly needs work in many areas. He seems to possess good scrambling skills and most importantly quick decision making. In retrospect, a Diamond in the Rough - basically he has all the tools necessary and the good news is we have the coaches, the program and the competition to make it happen. I see it difficult however, to find him playing time, even in our many blowouts this year. I wish Gardner all the luck, but can you imagine how great it would be for all, even DG for him to become a great receiver ! I am waiting for Michigan Man Ted, for further input. MgoBlueForTiM.....looking for more Bellomy @ gametime


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

I think Steve McQueen and DonAZ have analyzed Michigan's QB situation well. I can add that there's a difference between being seated comfortably in a book-lined study while thinking lofty thoughts and being in a football stadium under mass scrutiny while confronted by 11 young men in their prime who are determined to "interfere" and having precise thoughts about the task at hand. Gaining experience and maturity: all of Michigan's quarterbacks promise to bring good things to Michigan Football. All in all, the next several years look good for Michigan when it comes to restoring its reputation as "Quarterback U." Michigan is also back on track to becoming Defense Team U. Mothers: don't raise your boys to be Cowboys (yech), raise them to become Michigan Wolverines.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

The football landscape is littered with big-arm QBs who failed to have a lasting impact. And a fair number of "average" arms QBs who went on to great things (Brady, Montana). That's because there are many factors that go into being a good QB ... and a big arm is just one. I made the same argument about linebackers in another thread -- sprint speed is just one aspect, but other things factor in. Some argued that was a stupid argument on my part. That was a failure on their part to understand nuance. OF COURSE all things equal you want a QB with a big arm. OF COURSE all things equal you want a linebacker with blazing 40 times. But if that's ALL they bring to the table it may not be enough ... and very likely WON'T be enough. I'm starting to wonder if Gardner has stage fright issues. Does well in practices but tends to falter in the games. Borges said as much when he commented that Gardner needs more time in situations like Saturday, where "people are watching and the pressure is on."

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

Just looked it up...Jacksons big game came vs. NW in 05.

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

MRunner...interesting Jerome Jackson reset there. I remember one game where he was pressed in to action, I think vs. Iowa or someone and he had over 100 yds.... He always seemed to be a guy who could have had a better career at Michigan...but he was behind a couple pretty good RBs at the time.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Don your point about Gardner's playing time last year is stop on. Plus consider that coaches were forced to expend substantially more coaching effort on Denard because he was completely new to the system. If Denard and Gardner faced the same learning curve, with Gardner getting almost no reps and less coaching help. If we play well this season, I expect to see Gardner getting reps anytime the coaches think the game is under control. Assuming that happens the time to make an assessment of Gardner's QB skills in this offense is at the end of the season.

Terry Star21

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Don, I agree with you totally - especially your last 'reply' paragraph, we have been around long enough to know what makes a good QB, even though we have seen little of him. There is something about this kid, something special - and I'm glad he is a Wolverine.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

DONAZ. . . great post! GARDNER does have a lot more upside to his game and i am looking forward to seeing it. if you have not seen video on BELLOMY check him out, the kid also has a high upside and he is going to be a great-one !! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

By the way -- I intended no mocking of Gardner in my comment about "stage fright." It was just a term I thought was apt. And I would count myself as one who would definitely have issues stepping in front of 110,000. If you look back you see: 2010 -- Robinson, Forcier, Gardner ... with a lot of games close or Michigan behind, so Robinson stays in, allowing fewer reps for backup QBs. 2011 -- Robinson, Gardner ... with Robinson learning the new system, so reps for the primary QB important. Hence, Gardner gets *some* reps, but probably not as much as he might have if Borges wasn't making sure Robinson got as many as possible. So now for 2012, with Robinson reportedly becoming more and more comfortable with the new system, we will probably see more backup QB reps in games well in hand. This may give Gardner the opportunity to have the game time experience and settle down. Also, FWIW, I think Gardner's upside is pretty high. He had a few cases last year when he hit receivers in stride with just beautiful passes. He has it in him. I don't know much about Bellomy but there's something about him that reminds me of Kellen Moore ... QB who minimizes mistakes and uses every ounce of what physical talents he has.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Your last paragraph is spot on. Some athletes practice very well, in any sport, while others don't practice as well but excel in a game situation. We saw Jerome Jackson at tailback back in either 2006 or 2007 show that kind of poise and delivered for the Maize and Blue when he was sent in there on short yard situations. Guess that we'll have to wait until the regular season begins to see if Devin can overcome "stage fright".


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

DONAZ. . . you make a good point about GARDNER, i noticed that to. . . but stage fright is fixable with more reps which builds more confidence. GARDNER also seems to settle down as the game goes on. i think most of us would feel overwhelmed and have stage fright in front of 110,000+ people not to mention the tv-audience. GO BLUE!!!!!!


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

That spring game gave me fall fever! Forget summer I want to go straight to Sept 1st!! I understand Devon had a rough day, but i would like to see him at wideout. An athletic 6' 4/5" guy is exactly what we need out there.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

Devin* pardon me.

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Who is Devon?

Terry Star21

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Me too on Devon, and wouldn't it be great for him to become an outstanding WO !

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

Accurate but weak arm strength is what they said about Tom Brady ... however he improved significantly in the NFL and now has a pretty strong and accurate arm. Hopefully Bellomy can do the same. His work out videos on youtube show that he is a strong kid overall with explosive power.. if he can translate that in to his throws he could really be something special. Gardner has looked good in every spring clip shown...but struggled in the spring game. That is too bad cause we all want to see him do well at QB. That said, he would be a killer WR and it does make people wonder what his future holds not only at Michigan but in the NFL. Flat out, most DBs in the Big Ten would not be able to cover Gardner one on one. He is a matchup he double toothpicks waiting to happen if he should be put at WR in a game situation. Overall the QB situation is very solid... each of these 3 guys will see game action this year.

Zak Tillman

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

While the Tom Brady comment is true enough, at Michigan he wasn't that impressive. Although he did beat Bama to win an Orange bowl I'm sure I speak for a lot of people out there who would have rather have had Drew Henson stick around.

Steve McQueen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Hey Dave...I agree with you Toms arm was never weak at was slightly above average...but the NFL scouts (except New Englands QB coach who liked Tom) said that he had a below average arm, was slow, poor body type etc. Anyway IMO Toms arm has gotten stronger since he has been in the was not weak to begin with..but he has pretty much a cannon now and he didnt have that at Michigan, but it wasnt bad.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

i'am excited to see both GARDNER and BELLOMY play, they both bring something different and special to the table and i'am glad they both got more reps in the spring game. either one of these two guy's would be a starter on any college football team!! we all know what DR can do and it's nice to see we have two very good back-up QB'S! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

Not sure if people said that Tom Brady had a weak arm. I think they said average not great unlike Drew Henson who had a cannon arm. Obviously, however, Brady was the better QB in the 98-99 season. It just took a few games for Carr to figure that out as well.