Brady Hoke: Michigan to stick with 2-quarterback offense in Outback Bowl
Denard Robinson might be able to throw. He might not. And the public likely won't know one way or the other until Jan. 1, or close to it.
But this is known: Michigan (8-4) plans to use Devin Gardner at quarterback against South Carolina (10-2) in the Outback Bowl, regardless of Robinson's health.
"There's no doubt about that," Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday during an interview with Jack Arute and Gino Torretta on SiriusXM radio.
Robinson damaged the ulnar nerve in his throwing elbow when a Nebraska player stepped on him during a loss on Oct. 27. He missed the next two games, then played the next two rotating between tailback, receiver and quarterback.
He hasn't thrown a pass in a game since the injury, and labored through the limited throws he did attempt during warmups for the final four games.
Robinson said recently the effects of the injury -- which include numbness in his throwing arm -- have subsided, but his passing remains impaired.
Gardner, meantime, blossomed as Robinson's replacement at quarterback. He went 3-1 as the primary signal-caller, and completed 57-of-90 passes (63.3 percent) for 1,005 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
He accounted for 15 touchdowns in the four games.
Michigan's offense adapted to suit Gardner's passing game, evolving to more of a pro-style look. Receivers became more active, with Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon posting more catches and yards in four games with Gardner (37 grabs for 744 yards) than they had in the previous eight with Robinson (31 grabs for 493 yards).
When Robinson returned in a utility role against Iowa, the offense spiked again. Michigan scored touchdowns on its first six possessions, and Gardner matched a school record by accounting for all six scores.
Robinson rushed for a team-high 98 yards.
The Gardner/Robinson dynamic worked in the first half against Ohio State as well, en route to a 21-20 lead, but Michigan moved away from it a bit in the second half as the offense stalled.
Coaches say they abandoned the two-quarterback offense because Michigan trailed, and needed to pass to mount a comeback. It didn't work, as the offense was shut out in the final two quarters of the 26-21 loss.
Hoke said the Wolverines plan to move forward with the two-quarterback look, and hopes to rediscover the touch that was so effective for its first three halves.
"With Denard getting beat up a little bit, it's kind of changed us more to a pro-style, which we would move to when Denard graduated," Hoke said during the interview. "Devin's come in and done a good job of leading us offensively. That has changed a little bit.
"I think having the ability to use Denard some at quarterback, some wide receiver, some running back, gives us a little bit more of a different dimension and getting the ball in his hands as much as we can."
Hoke said the flow of the game would dictate how Michigan uses the two quarterbacks, but that it would also have an established game plan for the pair heading into the matchup.
"(Offensive coordinator) Al Borges does such a great job and has really a great plan," Hoke said. "The flow of the game always is part of it, but at the same time, we'll have some ideal situations that we'll start the game with."
-- Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Follow Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Twitter
-- Like MLive's Michigan Wolverines Facebook page