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April 30, 2013
By The Numbers: Gardner an effective third-down runner
In 79 career rushing attempts, Devin Gardner has yet to post a 20-yard carry, but while he is not as explosive a runner as predecessor Denard Robinson, Gardner brings his own effectiveness to the position, thriving on third and fourth downs.
Robinson averaged 6.22 yards per carry during his four-year career, an incredible stat that ranks second all time among Wolverines behind Jon Vaughn's 6.29-yard average from 1989-90. Gardner, meanwhile, has averaged only 2.22 yards per carry.
Gardner's six longest runs - 10, 11, 15, 15, 19 and 19 yards - wouldn't even show up on Robinson's highlight reel, but the one thing Gardner does that bodes well for the Maize and Blue in 2013 is pick up first downs. Among his 79 career rushes, the redshirt junior signal-caller has moved the chains 27 times (better than once every three carries).
The 6-4, 210-pounder is especially dangerous in third- and fourth-down situations, picking up a first down on 45.5 percent of his 33 third-down rushes and 80.0 percent of his fourth-down totes.
If there is a concern with Gardner it is that he has been sacked or dropped for negative yardage on 19.0 percent of his career carries (15 of 79), including more than a quarter of his third and fourth down opportunities.