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Michigan’s Doug Nussmeier grades his coaching after shutout: ‘Not very good’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor – Michigan first-year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier directed an offense that was unable to score points at Notre Dame.

The Wolverines were gutted in 31-0 loss in Notre Dame Stadium Saturday night in all phases of the game, but it’s always glaring when no points are scored. It was, in fact, Michigan’s first shutout since 1984, snapping an NCAA-record streak of 365 games without one.

There were plenty of factors, but the second half was marred by four turnovers – three interceptions and a fumble by quarterback Devin Gardner.

The Wolverines, perfect in red-zone attempts in the season opener, failed to reach their 40-yard line on six of 12 drives. The Wolverines never got deeper in Notre Dame territory than the Irish 29 on their first possession of the game.

Nussmeier, after his road experience directing the Michigan offense, was asked to grade himself during Monday’s weekly news conference.

“Not very good,” Nussmeier said. “Obviously, when you don’t score, and you’re the offensive coordinator, it’s not good. It’s been a lot of reflection: What could we have done differently? What should we have done differently? Obviously, (I) take big ownership in this. When you don’t score points it falls on everybody, and it starts on the offensive coordinator.”

Gardner after the game said his first interception was the result of miscommunication. He also admitted that sometimes when the hole is so deep, there’s a tendency to try to do too much.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke spoke with Gardner on the sideline after the second turnover. The message was clear.

“It certainly is that we believe in him, and it certainly is go through your progressions,” Hoke said. “That’s one thing that’s great about having Nuss on the field (rather than in the press box).

“(Gardner) understands and realizes when he’s going to run the ball, we’ve got to have better ball security. He understands as the pre-snap read, there’s also a progression from there that he has to do a better job with. But he also made about five throws in there that were pretty special.”

The turnovers, a big part of Gardner’s performance the first half of last season, were glaring.

Gardner was 19-of-32 for 189 yards against Notre Dame.

“Devin did some things neither of us wanted, but that happens,” Nussmeier said. “It’s all about the process of learning, of going through reads, going through progressions. What did you see? Where do your eyes and feet need to be?

“He’s growing, and we’re growing together. It’s his second game I’ve been with him, so there are things I need to do better for sure.”

This is Gardner’s second full season as a starter. He started five games at the end of the 2012 season when Denard Robinson was injured.

Nussmeier was asked Monday why, as a fifth-year senior who has been a starter, Gardner is still in the process of learning.

“He’s in a new system,” Nussmeier said firmly. “Second game in a new system.”

Hoke after the game was asked if he thought about taking Gardner out of the game, and he said that was not a consideration.

Sophomore Shane Morris, who played in the bowl game while Gardner was nursing a foot injury suffered in the final regular-season game last fall, is the backup quarterback. Nussmeier praised Morris but said it was not his intention to take Gardner out of Saturday's game.

“I thought Shane had a great week in practice, (and) we feel very comfortable with Shane playing,” Nussmeier said. “The way the game unfolded and the way the game played out felt like it was the best thing to leave Devin in the game.”