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Posted on Sat, May 19, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges still advocating for expanding Devin Gardner's role next year

By Kyle Meinke


Backup quarterback Devin Gardner could see an expanded role next season for the Michigan football team, offensive coordinator Al Borges says.

Melanie Maxwell |

Offensive coordinator Al Borges continues to maintain backup quarterback Devin Gardner will play an even greater role in the Michigan football team's offense next season.

Gardner, a junior from Inkster High School, is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, according to Scout.

But he also happens to play the same position as record-setting senior Denard Robinson, who returns for his third tour of starting duty.

Borges wants Gardner on the field anyway, and doesn't mind getting creative to do it.

Borges confirmed Friday at the WTKA-AM studios he expects to expand the "deuce formation" package that got Gardner on the field at quarterback last year, with Robinson lined up in the backfield or at wideout.

The coordinator likes what he saw from Gardner in the spring and wants him in the fold.


Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges talks during the WTKA Mott Takeover Friday.

Melanie Maxwell |

"He had a really good spring," Borges said. "From the first day to the 15th day, we showed incredible progress with both (Gardner and third-stringer Russell Bellomy).

"It's always a work in progress, if you haven't played every snap at quarterback -- and even when you have -- but the snafus or the mistakes tend to minimize themselves as you gain more experience."

Borges said Gardner's struggles in the spring game -- when he went just 2-of-7 passing for 36 yards and one interception -- weren't indicative of the junior's overall performance this spring.

He isn't worried about the poor performance, calling it a normal speed bump in his development.

"I think you have to struggle before you do well," Borges said. "If he just jumped in there and romped and stomped, I don't know if that's the real world. The real world of quarterback is usually you have to go through some bumps in the road, and it's better he does it in the spring than when everyone's watching."

Gardner also practiced at wideout this spring, including running some reps with the first unit. At 6-foot-4, he would add some much-needed size to the position after the departure of top receiver Junior Hemingway.

Borges maintains Gardner is the backup quarterback, first and foremost, and is trying to balance the dual roles.

"It's tough," he said. "That's a heckuva question, because it's tough. You gotta figure out how much of it you're going to do. So, that's tough."

Borges didn't let on much, though, when asked about Gardner's abilities at wideout.

"He's got two hands -- I seen them the last time I saw him," he said.

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



Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Michigan–Ohio State football rivalry Total meetings 108 Series record Michigan leads, 58–43–6 First meeting October 17, 1897 Michigan 34, Ohio State 0 Last meeting November 26, 2011 Michigan 40, Ohio State 34 Next meeting November 24, 2012 Largest win Michigan, 86–0 (1902) Longest win streak Michigan, 9 (1901–1909) Current win streak Michigan, 1 (2011–present) Trophy None

Steve McQueen

Sun, May 20, 2012 : 9:38 a.m.

Listening to Al Borges...with his smooth tones and quick wit he could have his own show.


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Maybe this was done last season and I missed it, but why not consider a series of plays where both Denard and Devin are in the backfield together, running and passing from BOTH positions? Maybe alternating at QB and Back just to further confuse the opponent's defense? Now....I'm a golf coach....but it seems to me this would work and really cause confusion for opponents. For sure it would be FUN to watch.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Last year Borges did employ several dual QB packages that worked to varying degrees of success. I think we're going to see more of them this year, but also I think we're going to see more of Gardner lining up at WR and getting a quick pass thrown to him. The kid is one of the best athletes on the team and MUST see the field in more than a back up role. It still remains to be seen whether or not he's going to get his the medical redshirt from the NCAA. It would be a horrible shame and waste or talent to bank on that fifth year to no avail. Borges has said repeatedly that the best eleven will be on the field, and there is no doubt in my mind that Devin should be in that group. I know there are people who are concern about injuries and all that, but a team cannot play scared. Besides, from the sounds of things, Rus Bellomy seems to have developed to the point where he has become a capable backup. I am excited for Devin with this seemly new role on the team. I have a feeling we're going to be talking about the 2012 season as not only the season where Denard showed the CFB world what he's really capable of, but also the emergence of Devin Gardner as a gamechanger. Get after it Devin, we're all pulling for you! Go Blue!


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Unfortunately, it would be fun unless/until it failed. Then people would be calling for Borges' head, wondering why he would do such a thing. I am with you, I believe with that talent, that should be an option. If they practiced that way, the offense could find a rhythm in that, but realistically, it is way more difficult than it seems. It would confuse a defense, though. :)

Casey conley

Sat, May 19, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

Bellomy at QB/denard at slot/gardner at wideout/fitz at running back/rawls at fullback/roundtree at flank/ good enough to beat bama? Im excited

Casey conley

Sun, May 20, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

@azwolverine and gobigblue.... Denard definately should be our QB, and I'm sure if Saban saw Bellomy come in at QB he would be licking his chops with his defense. Just like the idea of our top skill guys being on the field as much as possible. At every other school Gardner wouldn't be on the sidelines and Denard ABSOLUTELY wouldn't come off. Even if Denard needed a breather, you keep him on the field just so the defense has to play that side of the field. Really the only concern I have for this season is replacing Molk.


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

I have nothing against Bellomy and think he will be a good QB for Michigan. But if at any point in the Bama game he is our QB then we have had major problems on the evening of Sep 1st.


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

Are you talking about full time or for a play or two? Robinson is going to be the full time QB and he deserves to be...he's earned it through his play and guiding the team to an 11-2 record/BCS bowl victory. Further, with a year of working with Borges under his belt, he's going to be better than he's ever been. As for a play or two, this could be exciting, but sometimes theses kinds of lineups confuse the offense more than the defense and lead to negative yards and/or turnovers.


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Last year I didn't much like when they took Denard out and put Devin in for one play or when they did the for just one play. Coming of the bench cold and not having any rhythem, well the plays only went for 2yds and sometimes zero. However, I definately agree Devin should be on the field with Denard most all the game. Devin's high school film showed he is a great reciever as well as QB. And with Belemy as the backup should eleviate concerns about an injury to either Denard or Devin. I also hope for a better mix of plays to keep the defenses of balance.


Sat, May 19, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

This guy is a versatile talent and I agree, Gardner is no threat sitting on the bench. I wonder just how good his speed and hands are at receiver. Most unselfish great talents just want to get playing time whether at QB or rec. The guy is a freak.


Sun, May 20, 2012 : 5:41 a.m.

They had said when he was lined up at receiver he instantly became the best receiver Michigan had. He will start at receiver.