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November 14, 2012

Hoke: Devin Gardner is learning quickly

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Monday junior quarterback Devin Gardner was undergoing a cram session at his position once Denard Robinson and Russell Bellomy went down with injuries. Head coach Brady Hoke added Tuesday playing the position as well as Gardner has in the last two games is tougher than he's made it look.

"From the intricacies of the position, the checks, the different things you have to do - people in here could take a snap, but it's a little more than that," Hoke said. "It's the protections, what you're seeing coverage wise, ball handling, footwork, all those things. That's where you get more and more as far as the mental pieces of the position.

"Devin is a very intelligent young man. He is into the football part of it when you look at film and studying an opponent. He's been pretty consistent. He's managing games - and that's a word probably overused - but managing an offense, that starts with how your approach is in the huddle, how you talk to those 10 other guys and your teammates.

"Saturday at the end of the game, watching him run down the field to spike the ball, he showed great poise and leadership with it."

It's not for him to say how tough it's been for Gardner, he added, but count him among those impressed.

"I would think it's difficult," Hoke said. "He had some carryover, obviously, and there's some carryover when you play wide receiver and are studying coverages, if it's two deep, one high, inside leverage, those things. That all helped him."

Gardner and the rest of the team had another good workday Tuesday in preparation for Iowa. The Hawkeyes will be formidable despite entering on a four-game losing streak, Hoke said.

"They are playing well when you look at taking care of the football, turnovers," he said. "The running game from an offensive line standpoint, they are typical Iowa. They are going to get on you, do a great job in the zone schemes. Defensively they are going to play very tight up front, let the linebackers flow. You see that.

"In the kicking game, they've got some real weapons in their kickoff return, their kick coverage. On kickoff, they've done a nice job with it. We had a good work day, but we'll need another good one today."

Notebook

  • Hoke continued to characterize the quarterback situation as "day to day." The receivers have helped Gardner with his smooth transition.

    "Other times [than recently] I think they've played pretty well, especially getting on people and blocking," Hoke said. "They are probably stepping up like they should. Roy Roundtree has caught the ball well with his hands when you watch him fundamentally. I think they've played well."

    He refused comment on Robinson specifically, including what he's meant to the program.

    "It's 23 guys' last game at Michigan. I think they're all special," Hoke said. "What he's done is great, but they're all special."

  • The program will do something to honor the seniors Saturday for their last game at Michigan Stadium.

    "This will be an emotional time. It should be," Hoke said. "A lot of these guys have been playing since they were in third grade. Some of them will never play again - a lot of them."

  • Freshman linebacker James Ross earned more time Saturday, Hoke said, and not just because of Northwestern's scheme and his speed.

    "It's just playing different guys," he said.

    Ross and his teammates had to deal with a number of cut blocks on the perimeter Saturday.

    "You'll never get cut if you put your helmet and face on that guy's face," Hoke said. "You teach technique. You talk about it, teach it and drill it. Sometimes you ask to be cut because you're not being aggressive enough or won't put your face on it, bend your knees and do everything you need to do to play a cut block."

  • Freshman end Mario Ojemudia is getting better following an apparent leg injury and practicing. Hoke is hopeful he'll play Saturday.




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