Who Will Be Playing QB for Michigan This Season?
The Wolverines ended 2012 with losses to Ohio State and South Carolina, finishing with, by Wolverine standards, a pedestrian 8-5 record.
Last year, after a 6-1 start, Michigan lost 5 of its last 6, including another heartbreaking loss to the rival Buckeyes.
Quarterback Devin Gardner was the center of a lot of criticism after turning the ball over 10 times in the first four games of the season (which included near losses to Akron and Connecticut). Although he played better in the second half of the season, the losses started to pile, and Gardner couldn't escape the heat he received from his poor first-half performance.
Coach Hoke, who himself is no doubt feeling a bit of pressure after back-to-back disappointing seasons, raised a few eyebrows when he announced that the starting quarterback position would be up for grabs in spring practice.
Despite his struggles and his limitations this spring while still recovering from toe surgery, Gardner, a fifth-year senior, still figures to be the favorite to win the position given his experience. However, Shane Morris has other ideas.
Morris started for the injured Gardner in the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl against Kansas State last December. Even though the Wolverines lost, Morris was pretty impressive in his first start as a true freshman. As a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, Morris also has a lot of the Wolverine fan base backing him to be the starting QB in 2014.
In a somewhat unexpected twist, freshman Wilton Speight has emerged to make Hoke's QB competition a three-headed race. Speight, an early enrollee in Ann Arbor, has been splitting first-team reps all spring with Gardner and Morris, and is being given a very real shot to win over Hoke and new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
As April 5 (the date of Michigan's spring game) inches closer and closer, coach Hoke has yet to announce the winner of his open quarterback competition. But the race appears to be heating up by the day, and all three quarterbacks are gunning for a shot to be the leader of the 2014 Michigan Wolverines.
Whoever Hoke gives the nod to at quarterback will be crucial to the Wolverines bouncing back from a pair of disappointing seasons. His job status may very well depend on it.