Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who started in relief of injured starter Denard Robinson, has led Michigan on two long scoring drives to give the Wolverines a 14-7 lead over Minnesota at halftime.
Gardner led a scoring drive of 91 yards and 90 yards for two touchdowns – the Wolverines first in nine quarters.
Drew Dileo, wide open in the end zone, caught a 45-yard pass from Gardner on third-and-17. The drive went 12 plays and used just more than seven minutes.
Gardner led Michigan on a 90-yard drive its next series. This time, the Wolverines needed 13 plays, and Thomas Rawls scored on a two-yard run.
After a slow start, Gardner appeared to settle in. Michigan had only nine yards of offense in the first quarter, but gained 183 in the second, mostly passing. Michigan has 119 yards passing.
Rawls is the Wolverines’ leading rusher with 27 yards on eight carries. Gardner is 8-of-12 for 119 yards, and he had a first-quarter interception.
Minnesota got on the board first with a 10-yard pass from freshman quarterback Philip Nelson to John Rabe. This is Nelson’s third consecutive start for the Gophers.
Gardner got the nod on Saturday because starter Denard Robinson, who missed the second half of last week’s loss to Nebraska after taking a hit late in the second quarter that aggravated a nerve injury in his right elbow, is still nursing the injury.
Robinson is here and on the sideline wearing a long white protective sleeve with padding over the elbow. He was limited in pre-game warm-ups and appeared to struggle on the few throws he did make before the game.
Gardner, Robinson’s backup the last two seasons who moved to receiver before this season to add depth, has said all season he plans to compete for the starting job at quarterback next year. Gardner, however, had not taken many snaps at quarterback this season.
He was given plenty of reps this week in preparation for playing time at quarterback today. Russell Bellomy, the redshirt freshman who struggled in relief of Robinson last week at Nebraska, also prepared this week.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said during the pre-game radio show that Gardner’s experience at receiver has made him a better quarterback.
Michiganis 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten, whileMinnesotais 5-3, 1-3. Both teams are one victory from bowl-eligibility.
Robinson’s injury was to the ulnar nerve, which travels from the elbow to the outside of the hand, mainly the ring and pinky fingers. Robinson complained of numbness and an inability to grip the ball, explaining why he couldn’t return to the Nebraska game. It was the second time in three games Robinson has suffered the injury, but he was able to return against Illinois.
Hoke said multiple times this week that Robinson is fine and should play.