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November 26, 2012Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner might get a redshirt for his injury-plagued freshman season, after all. On Monday, head coach Brady Hoke said his "gut feeling" was that the junior would be cleared by the Big Ten to play in 2014.
Gardner played only a handful of plays as a freshman before being sidelined by a back injury.
"I would expect that would go through," Hoke said. "I think the documentation and everything has been sent to the Big Ten."
Gardner has played well since senior Denard Robinson's injury has limited him to a running role.
"There is some momentum," Hoke said. "I know how terrible he feels right now [after a 26-21 loss to OSU], but there are some things to learn from. Also, he had some success, too."
Robinson might play quarterback, running back, wide receiver or kick return in the bowl game, Hoke said, but both he and Gardner will play. Hoke said he didn't regret not playing both in a similar capacity earlier given that Robinson "was our quarterback," but added there are no limitations in the bowl game.
"Throwing the ball with Denard - if he can't be successful and doesn't have the confidence, why put him in that situation? That's not fair to him," Hoke said. "In doing [two quarterbacks], you've got to look at offensively, what are you? Are you a pro style? Are you a spread? What are you? How do you get them both involved?"
Gardner, meanwhile, continues to improve as a player and a leader.
"Well, he's going to have to compete and earn it, but he's done a good job doing what we've asked him to do," Hoke said, adding Russell Bellomy would be back next year, as well. "They'll compete."
"You'll see guys walking on campus with footballs in their arms," Hoke said. "I haven't done it here, but I've done it."
"We're all excited for all of them, but Roy, because of how he has handled himself as a student and athlete, how he's come to work every day I thought he played a good football game the other day, obviously, and being an Ohio kid, you want to see that," Hoke said.
"We had a couple routes in there for him," he said. "Pretty obviously they paid attention to where he was. You can do that.
"Has he had a whole lot of route running and that stuff? No. Maybe could have had a little more, but that wasn't the plan."
Hoke added he didn't think the game plan was predictable when Robinson was in the game, even though he couldn't throw.
"I don't think so, because there were plenty of opportunities," Hoke said. "You've got to block, too."
"I don't know if there are any quick fixes," he said. "There are some guys we haven't played, so we'll see. They got some growth. The 15 days we'll practice will be a big part of bringing them along. In both of those areas, there's a higher expectation than what we're doing right now.
"The one thing we've tried to do is continue to develop them all fall. A couple practices we'll be a little more focused on what they're doing."
The play up front altered the way coordinator Al Borges could call a game, Hoke said.
"Sure it does. It's the same thing defensively," Hoke said. "You've got to have enough calls in there, which I can guarantee on both sides of the ball we've got enough calls, that if they are taking advantage of you some way, you can respond differently and counteract."
"If we do a couple things better, I think we'll all be much happier," he said. "I thought play calling was exactly what it should have been."
Hoke kept in contact with Borges throughout he second half.
"I talked to him at halftime, third quarter and fourth quarter," Hoke said. That included a moment before the fourth and three failure on the first drive of the second half. "I just told him after I called the timeout, 'get ready.' We thought we had a good play. In fact, we did have a good play if we execute it. It wasn't blocked the way I'd like for it to be blocked."
Hoke said he might have faked the punt had he not called timeout.
"We always have a fake punt ready," he said. "Coming off the first half we had from an offensive perspective, I felt pretty good we could get a first down."
"We've done our diligence with sending in all the information we need to," he said. "There's a date they'll give you. I can't remember what that date is. We'll talk this week. We're going to gear the young man for what's best for him."
"You need both," he said. "You'd better have a back, a couple backs, and better have guys up front who can move the line of scrimmage. It's hard to evaluate to some degree for the simple fact that maybe if we had blocked a little better, it would have been better."