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ment to Michigan even after
Tate Forcier had a dominant
freshman season and later,
when Denard Robinson became
a national name.
Gardner thought about
transferring after former
Michigan coach Rich Rodri-
guez was fired, especially after
new coach Brady Hoke arrived
and brought in a new pro-style
offense that would seemingly
take away the dual-threat part
of the dual-threat quarterback.
When Rodriguez was hired
by Arizona the following sea-
son, Gardner had conversa-
tions with Carter about leaving
Michigan to follow the man
who originally recruited him.
That inner faith kicked in,
though. If any dual-threat quar-
terback could make a pro-style
offense work, it was Gardner. So
he stayed.
He's a hyper athlete capable
of doing almost anything he
wants on the field, but he knows
that. He's Michigan's best offen-
sive player, but he also leads the
nation in turnovers. He has the
ability to change the game in a
snap, but sometimes that's for
the worse and not for the better.
From Carter to Hoke to for-
mer high-school teammates -
they all say he just needs more
time and experience to figure
out the turnover issue.
Still, at what point do Steu-
benville and Notre Dame stop
melding into what Gardner still
is today? At what point does he
forget how easy he made it look
at Inkster as the No. 1 dual-
threat quarterback prospect in
the country?
When does Devin Gardner's
future escape his past?
Carter, who is now the athlet-
ic director and football coach at
Oak Park High School in metro
Detroit, started as an assistant
coach at Detroit St. Martin de
Porres, where he spent 17 years
before becoming the head coach
there for another 10. He won
three state championships. The
school closed in 2005, so he
went to Inkster, a program that
had never made the playoffs.
During his first year as the
head coach, Inkster made the
playoffs and reached three state
championships before Carter
left in 2011.
He's been successful not just
because of the Xs and Os, but
because he has a system that

requires even the toughest kids
to buy into it.
Players in Carter's program
rent jerseys from him weekly.
Every week he washes them,
and every week, the players are
required to give him progress
reports from their teachers,
complete with grades and com-
ments. If the reports aren't up
to Carter's standards, then the
players don't get a jersey that
When Gardner's coach at
University of Detroit Jesuit
High School left the program,
Gardner's grades plummeted.
He had wanted to go to St. Mar-
tin de Porres, but the school
closed down the year before he
graduated from middle school.
So in November of his sopho-
more year, Gardner transferred
to Inkster. A year older, Gor-
don came in at the same time.
As soon as they arrived in his
office, Carter sent both of them
to the academic counselor to
see if they were even eligible to
graduate in four years. He knew
they were going to be incredible
football players, but he didn't
want football to overtake the
They both bought into the
system right away.
Gardner, who declined mul-
tiple interview requests for this
story, told CBSSports.com last
month, "My grades were really,
really bad at U of D. I wouldn't
have been able to go to college
had I not straightened up. Iowe
a lot to coach Carter."
He wasn't eligible to finish
the football season or play bas-
ketball in the winter, so Gard-
ner did nothing but schoolwork
for the first couple months of
his Inkster career. Carter had a
vision that Gardner was a much
better student than his grades
at Detroit Jesuit implied and
that he should be able to choose
what college he wanted to
attend regardless of admissions
"He came over, and we pro-
vided him some direction in
terms of what he needed to
do academically," Carter said.
"We always taught the kids that
we want them to use football.
We don't want football to use
Gardner reached two state
championships in his two years
as quarterback for the Vikings.
Both times, they lost. Both
times, he was injured in the
semifinal game and wasn't at
100 percent.

But it was about more than
that - it still is about more than
that, more than just the foot-
ball field. Gardner always knew
what he was doing as an athlete,
but that wasn't important for
Carter. .
Last spring, Gardner gradu-
ated inthreeyearswith adegree
in Afro-American and African
studies and is now a first-year
Masters in Social Work student.
"(Gardner and Gordon) grad-
uated together last spring, and
that was one of my proudest
days," Carter said. "Notso much
their ability to play football, but
to see them develop into young
men and be able to handle all
the rigors of that kind of sched-
ule. Every one of the coaches
I've worked with in the past are
so proud of those guys.
"To have a chance to com-
plete his Masters by the time he
graduated ... you never would
have thought that when he
popped his head into Inkster as
a sophomore."
Without a doubt, Gardner
and Carter had a strong bond.
Jnkster still meant something.
In January of his senior year
of high school, Gardner was
set to graduate early from Ink-
ster and begin practicing in the
spring with Michigan. It was all
set up with the previous school
administration, everything
good to go.
But in a period of transition
for Inkster - which is a big rea-
son why Carter left the school -
there were two interim district
superintendents in two years.
Carter can't count how many
principals were there in his six
years, and it got to be too much
to handle.
Carter left Inkster in 2011,
and the entire Inkster school
district closed two years later.
The high school had less than
300 kids when Carter first
started. He left a school with an
enrollment of over 1,300 kids.
Inkster - like so many other
high schools in metro Detroit -
closed because of budget cuts.
Almost 1,000 students thought
they were going one place in
June 2013 but were forced to
relocate in August.
The rise was fast and power-
ful, but so was the demise.
"I don't want to trash any-
one because it serves no pur-
pose right now," Carter said.
"Everyone knew I wanted to
be there, it just didn't work out.
I was hopeful that I could end
my career there, but I took this

What to Watch for: Minnesota

Daily Sports Editor
Four games through
the 2013 season, the No. 19
Michigan football team is
still the same riddle it was
when it began the year. The
Wolverines, it seems, are not
as good as they showed in
impressive early wins over
Central Michigan and Notre
Dame. Two subsequent ugly
wins proved that.
But, they're also not quite
as bad as their performances
against Akron and Connecti-
cut would suggest, either.
That leaves them somewhere
in between.
Michigan is still unde-
feated and, in a wide-open
Legends Division, remains
a viable contender. Whether
it can push for the division
title largely depends on just
a few moving pieces, mostly
on the offensive side of the
ball. An early test against an
improved Minnesota team
should provide some more
Here's what to watch for
on Saturday:
1. Can Devin Gardner pro-
tect the ball?
This, of course, is the
most important question for
Michigan entering Big Ten
play. When Gardner doesn't
turn the ball over, he is one
of the best offensive weap-
ons in the conference.
When he does, he is the
Wolverines' biggest liability.
The turnover bug has been
maddening - last season,
Gardner never threw more
than one interception in his
six games as the starter. This
year, he has thrown multiple
interceptions in three out of
four games. In three straight
games, he has had a turnover
returned for a touchdown.
The frustrating part for
Gardner and his coaches is
that he hasn't repeated his
mistakes. He- has found new
ways to give the ball away. At
first, he found trouble when
he tried to throw the ball
rather than accept a sack.
But since, he has exhibited
poor reads, or even throws
lacking his typical accuracy.

The interior of the Michigan offensive line has been reshuffled during the two-week off period. Previously, it had struggled to establish the line of scrimmage in two close wins

Whether because of the
run of turnovers or some-
thing else, Gardner's throws
were off against UConn. For
the first time, he completed
fewer than half his passes.
The good news for Michi-
gan is that he has performed
up to his ability in the past.
Last year, Gardner threw for
1,319 yards, completed 59.5
percent of his passes and
scored 16 total touchdowns.
It all started with a start
against Minnesota with
just one week to prepare at
quarterback. In that game,
Gardner was 12-for-18 for
234 yards and three total
touchdowns. If he can use
this year's game to right the
ship, the Wolverines will be
just fine.
If not, it could be a long
Big Ten season.
2. Will changes on the
offensive line make a differ-
Behind Gardner, the
offensive line has been the
most troubling part of the
Michigan offense. The tack-
les have been as advertised.

But inside of fifth-year
seniors Michael Schofield
and Taylor Lewan, the inte-
rior has been overpowered
by weaker opponents.
That prompted Michigan
coach Brady Hoke to make a
change duringthe two weeks
in between games. Red-
shirt sophomore Jack Miller
has been pulled at center,
replaced by redshirt sopho-
more Graham Glasgow, who
shifts over from left guard.
Chris Bryant, another red-
shirt sophomore, will take
Glasgow's place at guard.
Before the game against
UConn, fifth-year senior
Fitzgerald Toussaint strug-
gled on the ground. When he
finally broke out two weeks
ago, he found room only on
the outside of the line.
Some of Gardner's strug-
gles, too, can be linked to the
line. He has been sacked nine
times and hurried another 11
At 6-foot-4, 314 pounds,
Bryant has the size and
strength but has been bat-
teredbyleginjuries. Glasgow
worked at the center position
during camp and has played.

significantly better than the
other two interior linemen
so far. And Kalis has been
unspectacular but shows the
most potential.
This week will be a useful
barometer for the re-tooled
interior. Ra'Shede Hageman
is arguably the best nose
tackle in the conference.
3. Which offense will we
A long four weeks ago,
against Notre Dame, the
Michigan offense looked
like it had finally fulfilled
the vision of offensive coor-
dinator Al Borges. Michi-
gan totaled 460 yards in
that game. The offense had
25 first downs and scored
41 points against the feared
Notre Dame defense.
Series after series, the
Wolverines showed new,
dangerous looks: the tradi-
tional power-I formation,
shotgun, pistol, read option,
quick pitches, stretch runs,
defense-stretching throws
over the top.
Gardner was precise
enough with his arm to keep

the secondary back. But he
was dangerous enough with
his legs to force the defense
to respect. the quarterback
run. In the red zone, Michi-
gan was near unstoppable.
But there were cracks
in the offense, even if they
weren't apparent at the
time. Notre Dame shut down
the interior run, so Borg-
es attacked the edge. The
offense required Gardner to
make the correct decisions.
Later, against Akron and
UConn, those problems bit
the Wolverines. Without
effective inside rushing,
the ground game became
one-dimensional. Gardner
faltered. Suddenly, Michi-
gan looked flat. At times,
it looked helpless. Borges,
who found a rhythm against
Notre Dame, couldn't against
Akron or UConn.
When Michigan's offense
clicks, it has the talent to
run Minnesota off the field.
But when it's off, the result
is ugly.
4. Will Michigan need the
defense to save it again?

For all the problems on the
offensive side of the ball, the
defense has been encourag-
ingly steady. Against UConn,
the defense allowed just one
touchdown on a full drive.
(UConn's offense scored
once more after a turnover in
the red zone.)
The Gophers shouldn't
provide much more of a test.
They rank 10th in the Big
Ten in total offense, ahead
of lowly Michigan State and
Michigan's defense has
been vulnerable in the area
behind the linebackers and
in front of the safeties, but
Minnesota hasn't shown an
ability to throw the ball: it
ranks last in the conference
in passing yards.
The Wolverines need-
ed the- defense to bail out
the offense against Akron,
with a late goal-line stand.
Against UConn, junior line-
backer Desmond Morgan's
one-handed interception
helped save the game.
The defense should be
able to smother Minnesota.
But Michigan can't rely on it
to save the day every game.

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