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Notre Dame has ‘comprehensive plan’ to contain Devin Gardner

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Updated: September 2, 2014 11:21PM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Devin Gardner wasn’t perfect.

That might sound like nitpicking after the quarterback completed 13 of 14 passes and had three touchdowns in Week 1.

But it’s an evaluation Gardner made in the aftermath of the season-opening victory against Appalachian State.

“I threw a lot of balls and some of them could have been thrown better. I feel like if I got it on the left shoulder, I could have put it on the right shoulder. Just small things like that. I just want to try and be as perfect as possible and that’s going to help us win,” Gardner told reporters in Ann Arbor, Mich., Monday.

“… Everybody on the team is striving for perfection and just trying to be the best we can. If I can do better, I would like to do better.”

Notre Dame saw how good Gardner could be in last year’s contest at Michigan Stadium. Gardner threw four touchdown passes and rushed for another score in the Wolverines’ 41-30 victory. The teams meet again Saturday in South Bend.

“We’re going to have to have a comprehensive plan for him,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.

That plan will have to center on containing Gardner as a passer and a runner. He had 294 passing yards and rushed for 82 yards against the Irish.

“It’s not as easy as saying ‘what do we want to take away’ as much as we will have calls based upon formations, we will have calls based upon down and distance that will affect what we do in that particular circumstance,” Kelly said. “If there are two tight ends or there is a fullback in the game, that will adjust our calls accordingly vs. if they’re in a speed set and four‑wide, your calls are going to be different relative to his running and throwing the football.”

Gardner had big games at home last year – like against Notre Dame and throwing for 503 yards while beating Indiana and 451 yards in a loss to Ohio State. He also struggled to find a rhythm at times on the road such as vs. Connecticut (97 yards on 11 of 23 passing, 2 INTs) and Iowa (98 yards on 13 of 28 passing).

He said Michigan will be properly prepared for the trip to Notre Dame Stadium.

“The intensity we have at practice, it’s like we’re playing a road game at practice every day,” Gardner said. “They put a lot of stress on us and it’s really hard to communicate with loud music and things like that. That’s a big thing when you go on the road, communication.”

Notes: Kelly said there has not been a change in the status of the five players being held out of practices and games while the university looks into suspected academic dishonesty. … The Irish moved up one spot to No. 16 in The AP top 25 poll.

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