August 1, 2014

Gardner likes Michigan's defense

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner won't like the Wolverines' defense much over the next month. After that, he'll be excited about how much Greg Mattison's troops can boost this team's fortunes.

Gardner got a good look at the reconfigured defense over the spring, and he came away impressed. He's ready for a renewed challenge when the Wolverines take the field in fall camp, but he's already impressed by the strides U-M has taken on defense.

"That defense is going to be good, man," he said in Chicago at the Big Ten football meetings. "Playing against them, I feel like they're going to be one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, and in the country. Being able to play against them, with that speed they've got over there, is very exciting."

Gardner talked about junior linebacker Joe Bolden calling out Michigan's plays in the spring due to his extensive study, but Bolden is far from the only one who impressed him in the spring. With a host of Wolverines returning, Gardner didn't hesitate when describing those he expects to do well.

"We've got a lot of leadership over there," Gardner said. "Frank Clark and Jake Ryan, the two guys that are here. Jarrod Wilson. Blake Countess, all of those guys are playing very well. Ray Taylor. That back end, and all of those linebackers. I've talked about Joe Bolden.

"They're playing really well. James Ross is coming along, and even Royce Jenkins-Stone. I feel like they're really deep on that side of the ball. They're really performing."

Michigan's offense, meanwhile, got a long look at the Crimson Tide leading up to spring practice. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier came from Tuscaloosa in the offseason, and the best way to demonstrate what he wanted was to show it on video in recent, effective form.

"There's no way we can learn the offense just on paper," Gardner said. "You have to see it. Now we have our own film from the spring, though. The plays we're putting in or that are new, we always watch the Alabama film.

"Watching it a year ago, you're watching it as a fan, and to see good football. Now you're watching it to see, what mistake was this, or how could this route be pushed a little deeper, how could there have been more touch on that ball?"

Alabama runs it well, Gardner conceded. The blueprint has been spread across the drawing board.

"They play together," Gardner said. "They make plays. When there's an opportunity to make plays, they make them. And they run the ball."

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