April 16, 2013

Gardner appreciates his blockers

Devin Gardner got a taste of blocking in his time at wide receiver last year. Sometimes, a taste is enough, but the redshirt junior quarterback can certainly appreciate the need.

He's kept a close eye on Michigan's battles in the trenches this spring, and he likes what he sees … from a safe distance, anyways.

"A lot of guys were getting slammed on the ground," he said. "A lot of guys were getting angry. It's not fun down in those trenches. I can see that, and I'm just glad I'm not in it. They got really nasty in there."

Of course, Gardner wants to see the highest level of nastiness on the offensive side of the line. He couldn't be hit in spring practice anyway (other than possibly by an errant flying Taco) but the time is coming when he's fair game.

He likes to remind his large friends of that fact, with emphasis.

"I push and motivate them every day," Gardner said of Michigan's offensive line. "I make sure they know it's their job to protect me. They don't want to let the team down, and they've expressed that. They've been working really hard and I've been happy about that. They're really nasty, and they want to protect me. I love that."

That leads to having time for seeking out wideouts such as fifth-year senior Jeremy Gallon, senior Drew Dileo, etc. This year, it also means looking for someone like sophomore Amara Darboh and redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson, who bring length to the mix.

"He can do everything well," Gardner said of Darboh, who hauled in a 33-yard sideline catch from Gardner to kick off U-M's spring scrimmage.

"He can shake guys in the short-range game, and he can go deep. Our receivers aren't limited. He can do everything."

Gardner insists he's anxious for everyone to see what the second-year receiving duo can accomplish.

Obviously, we don't get a chance to show it all, in a setting such as this," Gardner said. "When the game time comes, you're going to get a full-fledged dose of all those guys."

Meanwhile, Gardner keeps enough of an eye on the defense to break into a big grin when the possible mid-October return of redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan comes into the conversation.

"Yeah, he told me that," Gardner said. "He said the middle of the season, he's going to be back. Jake Ryan is a tough individual. He's a guy who doesn't even know when he's hurt. He plays hard all the time. I believe him. I'm looking forward to him working hard every day.

"I know he's going to be there almost all day, every day, getting ready to come back. I can't wait to see it."

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