Morris Likely Starting at QB for Wolverines

12/25/13 in NCAAF   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Nov 2, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shane Morris (7) warms up before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Wolverines 29-6. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsMichigan’s starting quarterback Devin Gardner has been in a walking boot the past few weeks after suffering a turf toe injury in the team’s season finale against Ohio State. Without the ability to practice since the tough 42-41 loss, Gardner is looking less and less likely to participate in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Northwestern on Saturday, December 28th.
 
That opens the door for the intriguing option of former 5-star recruit, true freshman Shane Morris.
 
Gardner’s 2013 campaign, his first as a starter, was up and down. The Wolverines went 7-5 overall and only 3-5 in conference games. At times, Gardner showed a dynamic arsenal offensively but at other times, he was turnover prone or ineffective. Yet against Ohio State, he had his best game with the Wolverines, completing 32 of his 45 pass attempts for 451 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions while rushing for another touchdown. He’s all but guaranteed the starting role next season, his senior year, but Morris is likely next in line for the gig and Wolverines fans have been highly anticipating the 6’3” hurler from Warren, Michigan for the last few years now.
 
As a junior at De La Salle High School, he passed for 1,684 yards and 19 touchdowns while leading the team to the 2011 Division 1 MHSAA state quarterfinals. He committed to Michigan as a 5-star recruit and was regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2013. Then midway through his senior year, he developed mononucleosis and had to sit out the remaining 5 games on the schedule. He made his comeback in January of 2013 at the Under Armour All-American Game but he struggled in practice leading up to the game and only completed 2 of 10 passes in the game itself. Overall, his name lost a lot of its original buzz.
 
This year as a true freshman, he saw the field in two games: in the season opener against Central Michigan, he completed 4 of 6 passes for 59 yards with an interception and at the end of the team’s 29-6 loss to Michigan State, he completed a pass for 6 yards on 3 attempts.
 
But with an opportunity to start and play meaningful minutes for the first time in his Michigan career, Morris has a chance to provide some optimism for the future of maize and blue football. Head coach Brady Hoke has received a lot of scrutiny for the team’s struggles this season, so if the team doesn’t start winning soon, Hoke’s seat will only get hotter and the Wolverines faithful will only grow more restless.
 
Gardner’s weakness this year was his pocket presence and decision-making, unable to anticipate blitz pressure and being too careless with the ball. Morris is a pro-style quarterback who could potentially give the team a strong, reliable leader that the team has been greatly lacking at the position for a number of years. Will the first chapter in his Michigan career be written this weekend?
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