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Devin Gardner helps Michigan at QB now and later

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Devin Gardner helps Michigan at QB now and later

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has shown he can help the team under center, now and later.

The junior flourished in his first start at quarterback in Saturday's 35-13 win at Minnesota in place of injured Denard Robinson.

Gardner threw two touchdowns, had an interception and ran for a score, showing the Wolverines he can fill in as needed for the rest of the year and when Robinson is out of college eligibility next season.

``Devin did a nice job managing the offense,'' Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday. ``He made some plays, extended some plays and did a great job in that area. The one pick is one that he'd like back - we'd all like back - but I think he learned from it.''

The Wolverines (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) learned something, too.

Or, maybe just their fans and those who can't watch did.

``Y'all just saw it on Saturday,'' offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said.

Hoke, though, made it clear that if Robinson is healthy enough to play, he will start Saturday at home against Northwestern (7-2, 3-2) and Gardner will move back to wide receiver, a position he started playing this year just to get on the field more.

A week after Hoke said he expected Robinson to play against the Golden Gophers only to keep him out of the game, he was not making bold predictions about Robinson's status against the Wildcats in a matchup of unranked teams receiving votes in The Associated Press college football poll.

Hoke, though, did sound encouraged about how well Robinson is recovering from a nerve problem in his right elbow that affects how well he can grip and throw the football after seeing what he did in Sunday's practice.

``He was able to do everything,'' Hoke said.

After a rough start against Minnesota, Gardner did everything the Wolverines needed him to do with his right arm and feet when Robinson's 34-game starting streak was snapped.

Gardner was 12 of 18 for 234 yards, creating some passing plays by moving in the pocket such as on his 47-yard TD pass to Jeremy Gallon. He accounted for his third score with a 2-yard run to help Michigan pull away in the fourth quarter.

He led the Wolverines on 91- and 90-yard scoring drives in consecutive possessions - the first time college football's winningest program had ever done that - and also helped them drive 86 and 79 yards for two other TDs.

Not bad for a player who hadn't played an entire game at QB since he led Inkster High School to the Michigan Division II finals in 2009.

``You just have to be patient and wait your turn,'' Gardner said.

Gardner insisted he didn't think about transferring earlier in his career, when it was clear he wasn't going to beat out Robinson for playing time, and agreed to move to receiver this season with the understanding he would switch back to QB next year.

He has been one of Michigan's best receivers with 16 receptions for 266 yards and a team-high four receiving TDs. That, according to Hoke, has led to Gardner being a better QB.

``Playing receiver has helped him immensely because of how receivers practice,'' Hoke said. ``They're running 40 yards every snap, and they're running back. They're hitting the sled.''

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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