Michigan report: 'Devnard' gives opponents fits

THE DETROIT NEWSDecember 22, 2012 

The Game Speedy QBs Football

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, front, warms up beside fellow quarterback Devin Gardner

TONY DING — AP

  • Outback Bowl WHO: USC (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) WHEN: 1 p.m., Jan. 1 WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. TV: ESPN RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 LINE: South Carolina by 6

— A name would be nice, a tidy description to put a bow on an explosive quarterback duo at Michigan that combined for 449 of the team's 513 yards in the final home game this season.

How about "Devnard?"

Offensive coordinator Al Borges isn't about to get cute with naming the scheme Michigan unveiled against Iowa on Nov. 17, utilizing quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson, who has a nerve injury in his right elbow.

"We call it, 'Denard in the backfield,' " Borges said.

Later, Borges gave it another name: "Two quarterbacks in the backfield."

Maybe it's hard to actually limit it to one name because the scheme doesn't seem to have a limit.

Gardner accounted for six touchdowns against Iowa. Robinson had 98 rushing yards on 13 carries and two catches for 24 yards. He lined up for 10 plays at running back, eight at quarterback and three at receiver.

"I knew (Iowa) had no idea what was going to come," Gardner said. "They thought they knew and were always yelling, 'Denard's in the game!' but they didn't know what type of play we were going to run." And Borges isn't about to tell anyone.

Don't even try to ask Borges any details of how he devised the plays or his inspiration.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't want to answer it. I'm not addressing that issue. Irefuse to. As far as that package goes that's game plan stuff and I would never (divulge it)."

Michigan used some formations last year with Robinson and Gardner under the "Deuce" package umbrella.

Coach Brady Hoke said he and Borges had been considering for 18 months the kind of offense on the field.

But with Robinson coming off the injury, the two-quarterback game plan was revitalized in a sense.

"It kind of forced the issue," Borges said.

But never was the offense this season more unique, diverse and interesting than against Iowa.

Having the uniqueness of Robinson and Gardner around to create plays certainly has made life enjoyable for Borges.

"My creative juices are flowing all the time," Borges said. "Depending on the game, I'm considered creative or idiotic, but they're always flowing. That's what kind of makes this game fun for coordinators, defensive and offense, because there are so many things you can do with 11 guys. It's like no other game, you know what I mean? You can scribble so many different ways and half of them are good, half of them are bad."

Against Ohio State in the season finale, Gardner threw for 171 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another. Robinson had 122 yards on the ground and a score.

Borges believes too much is being made of the added wrinkles with Robinson and Gardner, but there's no doubt the Wolverines want to keep opponents thinking.

"You always want them to be forced to defend you," Borges said. "They create enough headaches defensively that they've got us doing the same thing. It's not like it's a one-way street. They cause some problems with their scheme, and we do, too.

"(Coaches) want to think we're George Patton orchestrating the battle. This game is won or lost by the players. Our job is to put them in the best position to succeed, knowing sometimes it's not going to work."

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