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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, center left, celebrates with teammates after an NCAA college football game against Northwestern, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan won 38-31 in overtime. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Michigan coach Brady Hoke sidestepped the Denard Robinson questions during his Monday news conference.
Robinson, Michigan's senior star quarterback, has been out since taking a hit on his right elbow and suffering nerve damage against Nebraska Oct. 27. The NCAA record holder for rushing yards in a season for a QB (1,702 in 2010) is likely out for the No. 23 Wolverines' game against Iowa (4-6, 2-4 Big Ten) Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
It'll be senior day at Michigan. The Wolverines (7-3, 5-1) trail Nebraska in the Big Ten Legends Division by virtue of the Huskers' head-to-head victory. Hoke doesn't want his team's attention to split any more than it already might be with a scoreboard watch and questions about Robinson, a captain and charismatic leader for the Wolverines the last three seasons.
Hoke called Robinson "day to day."
"He's obviously made a mark within Michigan football. He's done a tremendous job," Hoke said, adding that Robinson's availability will be based on his health and not the emotional pull of a final appearance at Michigan Stadium. Robinson won't be made available to the media this week, Hoke said.
So, Hoke will be forced to junior Devin Gardner. It's not exactly a sad story there.
Gardner was named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week for his performance in the Wolverines' 38-31 overtime in against Northwestern. In just his third game at QB this season, Gardner threw for two TD and ran for two. He completed a 53-yard pass to wide receiver Roy Roundtree in the final minute to set up Michigan's tying field goal to send the game into overtime.
Gardner's 1-yard run was the winning score in OT. He finished 16 of 29 for 286 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It was the most productive passing day by a Michigan quarterback this year.
"I just prepared all week and I had a good idea what they were going to try to do to me," Gardner said. "Of course I didn't know exactly what they were going to try to do because they've never played against me before, but from what I saw on film, they gave us what we saw. I just tried to execute and do my best."
In eight games at wide receiver, Gardner caught 16 passes for 266 yards and is tied for the team lead with four TD receptions. He caught TDs in UM's first three games. After Robinson's injury, Russell Bellomy replaced him and didn't move the ball against Nebraska. Gardner was rushed to prepare and has made the last two starts and is No. 42 in the nation in November with 260.0 yards a game.
Gardner spread the ball around last week. Junior receiver Jeremy Gallon caught a career-high seven passes. Roy Roundtree caught five passes for 139 yards, the most he's racked up since his sophomore season.
"I knew my time would come eventually, whether it was this year or next year," Gardner said. "It just happened to come a little earlier than expected."
In the wake of his success, there is a groundswell to put the ball in the hands of Gardner, a junior. But even he after the Northwestern victory, paid his respect to Robinson.
"This is Denard's team, and it's always going to be Denard's team until he's gone," Gardner said. "He's done way too much for two games to change that. I feel like I just have to do what I have to do to help the team."