Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. break down all kinds of tape on the nation's top college players while evaluating prospects for the NFL draft. So every week we have them use their expertise to go back and forth on a key college football question. They're turning their attention this week to Ann Arbor.
Question: Should the Michigan Wolverines start Devin Gardner at quarterback next season?
MUENCH: First, let's be clear about what Denard Robinson has meant to Michigan. He's the heart and soul of the team, the face of the program and clearly the Wolverines' best offensive player. Robinson is an explosive athlete who can help Michigan win games.
However, saying all that is not the same as saying he's the best option at quarterback. The Wolverines have been getting backup Devin Gardner some snaps, and while it would be a mistake to make a complete quarterback change this late in the season, Michigan would do well to transition to Gardner as the full-time quarterback next season with Robinson contributing in other ways.
WEIDL: I agree that making the change to Gardner, who has some athleticism and needs experience to improve his decision-making, is unrealistic before the end of this season. The Wolverines are 8-2 and still have an outside chance to make the inaugural Big Ten title game, so coach Brady Hoke can't spring a quarterback change on his team with so much at stake and the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Ohio State Buckeyes remaining on the schedule. Now is not the time to make that move.
However, I also agree that making the switch before next season is the right move. Having the team's most explosive player touch the ball on every play is not necessarily a bad thing, but Robinson has limitations as a thrower. Yes, great coaches will tweak their systems to fit the skills of their best players, but the fact remains that Michigan cannot run its pro-style offense the way it wants given Robinson's strengths and weaknesses.