From a football perspective, No. 17 Michigan's 59-9 rout of Central Michigan on Saturday wasn’t too exciting. But for those who’ve waited through the Rich Rodriguez’s spread era and the Denard Robinson deuce package days, it was the first glance at where offensive coordinator Al Borges could take this offense.
By no means was it only a pro-style, smash-mouth brand of football like some anticipated it would be, but, with redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner at the helm, it probably never completely will be.
Fans even might have been a bit worried when the Wolverines decided not to put Gardner under center until the ninth offensive play of the game. However, according to Michigan coach Brady Hoke, that was by design.
“We started the game in a little bit of NASCAR, quick tempo,” Hoke said. “We come back out the second series and drive it down. Those were more of the throwing situations. I thought when we started to run the ball there was movement at the line of scrimmage.”
Following the quick-tempo start, Michigan slowed down a bit and put Gardner under center more throughout the rest of the game. All together, Gardner was in for 49 plays.
Of those 49 plays, 33 were under center, 14 were in the shotgun formation and just two were out of the pistol formation. However, despite being in the shotgun just 29 percent of the time, the Wolverines were slightly more effective in it, garnering 8.6 yards per play as opposed 7.3 yards per play from under center and just 3 yards per play in the pistol.
BREAKING DOWN THE OFFENSE UNDER GARDNER
Total yardage out of 33 plays: 242 yards | three touchdowns
Average yards per pass: 16 | Average yards per rush: 6.2
Gardner passing: 5-for-7 | 80 yards | zero touchdowns | one interceptions
Gardner rushing: one carry | 12 yards
Team rushing: 25 carries | 149 yards | three touchdowns
Total yardage out of two plays: 6 yards | zero touchdowns
Average yards per pass: 0 | Average yards per rush: 6
Gardner passing: 0-for-1 | 0 yards
Gardner rushing: no carries
Team rushing: one carry | 6 yards
Total yardage from 14 plays: 121 yards | two touchdowns
Average yards per pass: 16.4 | Average yards per rush: 6.3
Gardner passing: 5-for-7 | 82 yards | one touchdown | one interception
Gardner rushing: six carries | 40 yards | two touchdowns
Team rushing: one carry | four yards | one touchdown
BREAKING DOWN GARDNER’S INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE:
Gardner was one of the best QBs of the weekend according to ESPN.com’s Total Quarterback Rating (QBR). Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel finished his half with an 84.6 rating whereas Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ended his day with a 97.7 rating.
Gardner achieved a QBR rating of 90.0, which might surprise some considering he threw two interceptions. However, the 10 completions he did make boosted his QBR total as he was 4-of-4 on third down. He converted all four of those third-down passes into first downs while picking up 73 passing yards, meaning 45 percent of his passing yardage came on third-down situations. But had he passed only his QBR ranking would’ve been a very average 60.2.
But it was his performance with his feet that really pushed him ahead in the QBR. His two rushing touchdowns and 52 rushing yards (as well as a 12-yard run on fourth-and-1) added nearly 30 points to his QBR total.