Doug Nussmeier is quick to point out that, when it comes to quarterbacks, he's coached a wide array of different skill sets. During his two seasons at Alabama, Michigan's new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach tutored a drop back pocket passer in A.J. McCarron -- who ended his senior season as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Prior to that, Nussmeier worked with more quicker-footed quarterbacks in Keith Price, Jake Locker and Drew Stanton. Devin Gardner, though, might be the most unique signal-caller Nussmeier's been around in college -- especially from a size, speed, agility and arm strength standpoint. "(I'm) very, very excited (to coach) Devin, (he) is a special, special player with unlimited athletic ability," Nussmeier said during an interview with MGoBlue.com last week. "I really think he's on the cusp of some big things." Gardner's first season as Michigan's full-time starter provided mixed results with high levels of both positive and negative. From a statistical standpoint, Gardner's season was terrific. He threw for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns with a completion percentage at an even 60 percent. He also rushed for 483 yards and 11 more touchdowns. However, he also threw 11 interceptions. He fumbled the ball six times and ended up losing a total of 346 yards in negative rushing totals -- something that wasn't all his fault, but also a stat he can't be completely absolved from either. Either way, Nussmeier says it'll be his job to adjust his current offensive system to fit Gardner's strengths -- should he win the starting job next season. But, it'll also be Gardner's job to adjust to what Michigan wants to do on offense. "If you look at the way A.J. McCarron played, and you look back and see (ex-Washington quarterback) Keith Price and then you put (ex-Washington quarterback) Keith Price in the middle, you've got all different styles of players," Nussmeier said. "The system has to evolve to the players' strengths … we've got to adjust to the players' strengths. Devin's athletic ability and the things he can do with his feet, you want to play to that strength at times. We're not going to take that strength away from him. "(But) the system is the system, you adjust the system to fit your personnel. You don't want to get boxed in. It's a little bit of both. You want to have a philosophy and a way to do things, but you have to be willing to be flexible within that philosophy to adjust to the players you have." While Nussmeier continues to evaluate Gardner's strengths and weaknesses from a year ago, he does have a bit more familiarity with two other quarterbacks on Michigan's roster. Alabama recruited both Shane Morris -- a sophomore -- and Wilton Speight -- a freshman -- while Nussmeier was on staff, so he seems to at least have some semblance of an idea as to who both Morris and Speight are as players. But, at the same time, most of the game film on record is from Gardner -- who will be limited when spring ball starts later this month.
Nussmeier talks Devin Gardner's athleticism, familiarity with Shane Morris, Wilton Speight
Michigan Live | Feb 12