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November 5, 2012

Hoke: Denard Robinson starts if healthy

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was faced with a number of questions on his quarterbacks Monday after junior Devin Gardner's outstanding performance in a 35-13 win over Minnesota Saturday.

Yes, Hoke said, senior Denard Robinson practiced Sunday, and he's healing (albeit slowly). He'll split the reps with Gardner this week.

Gardner is now the back-up quarterback, there's no concern that Robinson's injury will hinder him the rest of the season, redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy is not in the picture (and Hoke's not sure if he will be this season) due to unspecified reasons, and Hoke will know for sure who's starting next Saturday against Northwestern just before the game.

He also has no regrets about the way the quarterback situation has played out to this point.

"We did what we did," he said. "We made that decision and felt really good about Russell."

What Gardner showed in the offense - more rolling out, keeping his eyes downfield and less designed runs - is more how the offense should look in the future, he added, nothing the plan has always been to move Gardner back to quarterback next season.

"It's more what we'll feature, let's put it that way," Hoke said.

The playbook will revert back if it's Robinson under center in the next few weeks.

"We were more under center with Devin," Hoke said. "Part of that is the play action out of the outside stretch, or the inside zone or the iso play. A lot of those come because of underneath center. We haven't been underneath as much with Denard in the football game because of the other elements he brings with the read play, the ride and those things."

Gardner, though, could incorporate more running plays if need be.

"He can do all of them if we want him to," he said. "We're going to do whatever it takes for us to win."

Notebook

  • Hoke said there had been confusion on applying for a redshirt for Gardner's first year. Gardner played a handful of snaps within the first few games of the season.

    "I've always been told the process was after the eligibility, but I don't know if that's completely correct," he said, adding they hadn't pursued it yet. "There's a process you go through. I was always told it was at the end of eligibility."

  • Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Keith Heitzman played significant minutes Saturday and played well.

    "It was good to see him make some plays," Heitzman said. "He's a young guy kind of learning his way, to be honest. Getting some live action is going to do nothing but help him.

    "He's got the right mentality and temperament you want in a defensive lineman. He's going to get bigger and stronger over the next three years. We're excited about it."

  • Redshirt junior receiver Jeremy Gallon, in a protective boot after the game, ran through some practice Sunday night and will play Saturday.

    "He's just nursing an ankle," Hoke said.

    Freshmen end Mario Ojeumida is closer to returning from an undisclosed injury and did some practicing Sunday, as well.

  • Receiver Jerald Robinson played more against Minnesota and came up with a big catch.

    "With Devin going over, that adds to some depth," Hoke said. "His knowledge is probably ahead of some of the other guys a bit being in the offense a little bit, Amara Darboh being on special teams and not much offense yet."

  • The defense still isn't doing its job on pass rush, Hoke said.

    "We haven't caused enough negative play defensively," he said. "We haven't forced enough tunrovers from a defensive standpoint - in all games, we're minus. Big Ten games we're a plus two, maybe. I don't pore over stats, believe me."

    The offensive line is officially a concern, he added.

    "We talked about options a little with Joey Burzynski, Jack Miller, a couple guys," he said. "Again, we've got to look at where we're at, because we've played well up there in games also. The one thing you can't do is you've got to give the other team a little credit. They are good coaches, and they're going to have a good plan."


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