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Devin Gardner will operate a different style of Michigan offense

Tom Olmscheid / AP Photo
QB Devin Gardner gained some valuable experience filling in for injured Denard Robinson last season.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson was one of the nation's most explosive and entertaining players the past four seasons, but Robinson now is plying his trade -- at wide receiver -- with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Junior Devin Gardner has the unenviable task of replacing Robinson, but one thing in Gardner's favor is that he received a head start last season: He started four times late in the season after Robinson was injured.

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"With Denard obviously getting hurt, the opportunity for Devin to get experience ... meant a lot," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.

While not as athletic as Robinson, Gardner started five times as a wide receiver in his career. Still, Michigan will play a much more conventional pro-style offense this season with Gardner at the controls. Third-year offensive coordinator Al Borges is an advocate of the pro-style attack, and he never seemed all that comfortable trying to make Robinson fit into his offense.

One of the questions Hoke got Wednesday was about Gardner being a better pro-style quarterback than Robinson.

"I think typically when people talk about pro-style quarterbacks, a lot of times they talk about the heights [Gardner is 6-feet-4, Robinson 6-1]," Hoke said. "And they also talk about the running quarterbacks ... how they've performed in the gun, read zone, counter, whatever it might be.

"But I think Devin has a nice dual-threat capability because he probably spins the ball a little tighter. I think his height helps him [see] over the line of scrimmage. So I think those reasons."

Unlike last season, Michigan does not have an experienced backup quarterback. Hoke said that he and his staff "looked around to try and find maybe a guy who had graduated early and could transfer. We looked at some junior college prospects. And we just didn't feel comfortable enough."

Redshirt freshman Brian Cleary and true freshman Shane Morris are the players vying for the No. 2 job. Morris, from the Detroit area, was considered one of the nation's top-five pro-style quarterback prospects in the 2013 signing class.

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