Monday, November 19, 2012
Player of the Week: Big Ten
By Adam Rittenberg
Few would have predicted this a month ago, when Denard Robinson was still a healthy quarterback and Devin Gardner was Michigan's No. 1 wide receiver. But Robinson's injury and Gardner's emergence as a signal-caller have changed things, and for the second time in three weeks, Gardner is the pick for Big Ten player of the week.
In his third start at quarterback Gardner did something no Michigan player has accomplished since former quarterback Steve Smith in 1983. He recorded six touchdowns in a game -- three rush, three pass -- and led Michigan to the end zone on its first six possessions in a 42-17 rout of Iowa. Gardner completed 18 of 23 passes for a career-high 314 yards, finding Jeremy Gallon five times for 133 yards. He added 37 rush yards on nine carries and continued to extend plays with his feet. Gardner has recorded at least three touchdowns in each of his first three starts and has accounted for 13 touchdowns (7 pass, 6 rush) and three interceptions since taking over for Robinson.
Gardner's emergence changes the complexion of this week's showdown at Ohio State. Although Robinson has returned to the field, Gardner has provided the balance Michigan has lacked offensively and maximizes the talent the Wolverines have at receiver. "It definitely does [give Ohio State a lot to think about]," Gardner said after the game. "Unless they don't want to. And that's fine with me, as well."
Michigan's future on offense looks bright with Gardner at the helm, and it'll be interesting to see if his rapid development at quarterback continues against better defenses this week against the Buckeyes, in a bowl game and possibly in the Big Ten title game.