Plenty of attention has been placed on Michigan’s quarterback position in recent weeks. Senior Devin Gardner is now entrenched as the Wolverines’ starting quarterback. The good and bad Gardner showed up against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Michigan trails Penn State 13-10 at halftime, but Gardner was a big part of both team’s success.
The embattled signal-caller started the game by showing some accuracy and efficient play. The senior finished the half 11-of-13 passing. Gardner’s 43-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devin Funchess was the game’s top highlight through two quarters.
However, one of Gardner’s two incomplete passes was actually an interception thrown directly to Penn State defensive lineman Anthony Zettel.
Four plays later, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg found wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton open in the end zone for the Nittany Lions’ only touchdown.
Hackenberg also pieced together a strong first-half performance. The sophomore signal-caller was 11-of-15 passing for 94 yards and the aforementioned touchdown pass. Hamilton, meanwhile, caught six passes for 61 yards.
As the teams prepare for the second half, Michigan needs to help Gardner by establishing a running game. The Wolverines only managed four yards on 11 carries. Gardner has previously shown he can’t be relied upon as the team’s only offensive threat. By running the football effectively, the Wolverines’ passing game will become even more potent with Funchess and Amara Darboh winning one-on-one battles on the outside.
Penn State, on the other hand, should make adjustments with their pass protection in an attempt to keep Hackenberg upright after Michigan’s defense hit the quarterback multiple times.