1. He really loves Ann Arbor
Devin Gardner took over at quarterback with four games left in Michigan's 2012 regular season, replacing Denard Robinson under center. The 6'4, 210-lb. junior has a 4-2 record, and has gone a perfect 3-0 in the Big House with wins over Northwestern, Iowa, and Central Michigan.
Gardner averages 254 passing yards per game at home, 51 yards per game more than he recorded in three contests away from Ann Arbor. Of course, his three away or neutral-site games included contests against Ohio State and South Carolina, so a decrease in production is hardly unexpected. Saturday's game against Notre Dame is the first time an elite defense has faced Gardner in the Big House, and Michigan will be hoping its quarterback's home success carries through.
2. He's not perfect
Gardner has thrown at least one interception in all six games as a starting quarterback, including two in the first half last week against Central Michigan. His second pass attempt of the season against the Chippewas was intercepted deep in Michigan territory when he locked on a receiver too early, setting up CMU's first score. His second pick, a simple overthrow, also led to a Central Michigan field goal.
Michigan's defense is sound enough that any offense, including Notre Dame's, will have trouble sustaining a long scoring drive. Turnovers leave that defense vulnerable, though, and Gardner has yet to shake his habit of handing the ball to his opponents.
3. Watch the sneak
Gardner is not the running threat that his predecessor was, but he's hardly a statuesque pocket passer and has an uncanny knack for finding the end zone. In six games as a starter, Gardner has nine rushing touchdowns despite recording just 153 rushing yards. In five of those six games, Gardner has broken a run for 17 or more yards. He ran for three touchdowns against Iowa last season. His second touchdown run against Northwestern last season gave the Wolverines a 38-31 overtime win, and his two touchdown runs last week against Central Michigan set the tone for Michigan's run-heavy attack.