Michigan coach Brady Hoke gave out plenty of votes of confidence Monday, coming to the defense of Devin Gardner, his offensive line and offensive coordinator following Saturday’s four-overtime loss to Penn State.
Gardner completed 15 of 28 passes for 240 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, and rushed 24 times for 121 yards with two fumbles (one lost). But Fitzgerald Toussaint gained just 27 yards on as many carries, a damning indication of an interior offensive line that hasn’t been up to par. Losing star tackle Taylor Lewan to an injury for the second half of Saturday’s game similarly muted Michigan’s effectiveness.
With 50 seconds left and the ball on Penn State’s 35, Michigan elected to punt and force Penn State to drive 80 yards to tie the game — which the Nittany Lions did, and ultimately won 43-40 in the fourth overtime period.
Michigan fell to 5-1 on the season, but hasn’t looked like a top 25 team since beating Notre Dame on Sept. 7 in Ann Arbor. Gardner, after beginning the season on such a high note, has thrown 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, although Hoke said Monday he has no plans to switch quarterbacks.
“If I didn’t have confidence in our quarterback, with our interceptions that we’ve had, he wouldn’t be our quarterback,” Hoke said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Devin Gardner. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in our offensive linemen getting better. I have a ton of confidence in Devin.”