Michigan to expand use of deuce formation after finding success with 2-quarterback look
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Remember the deuce formation?
The look, which featured Gardner at quarterback and starting quarterback Denard Robinson either in the backfield or split out at receiver, was highly effective for the Wolverines.
It seems, even if Gardner plays some receiver this year, Michigan plans to bring back the offensive wrinkle.
"They say we’re going to expand on that as well," Gardner said Sunday at the team's media day. "It’s just going to give the defense a lot of things to think about."
Coordinator Al Borges first unveiled the unorthodox formation against Minnesota in last year's Big Ten opener. The initial play out of the look -- a handoff from Gardner to Robinson -- resulted in a 4-yard loss.
Then, it was off and running.
Michigan frequently dialed up the formation as a supplemental package, running everything from power runs up the middle to halfback passes. There were reverses, end-arounds and screen passes.
Borges said Michigan averaged more than 8 yards per play in the deuce formation. The Wolverines averaged 6.2 yards per play overall.
"Even the plays that weren’t good set up plays that were good," Borges said recently. "There were guys we’d run a play that wouldn’t yield much, only to be set up by another play that did. It’s not always the play -- sometimes, it’s the residual effect of the initial play.
"Now how much we use of it (this year)? I don’t know. That’s a game-plan deal. As we get through the install and we see where we are, we’ll decide on that."
Another residual effect of the formation: It got quarterback snaps for Gardner, who otherwise was buried on the depth chart, and got the ball out of Robinson's hands, which was key to injury prevention.
Robinson mostly was used as a decoy in the formation, taking defenders with him on a steady diet of misdirection plays. Others did the heavy lifting.
Borges said he hasn't yet decided how he'll employ the formation this year.
"That’s not what we’re about right now -- we’re about teaching the system and getting our evaluations straight," Borges said. "Once we do that, then and only then will we start playing with some of the more, I guess, cute phases of our offense.
"I hate using that word. Why’d I say that?”