The Michigan Wolverines had been scouring the college football landscape, hoping to find a quarterback that was interested in a change of scenery. Brady Hoke found himself in need after Russell Bellomy tore his ACL during the spring and wanted to find an experienced signal caller to fill the backup role in case Devin Gardner happened to get dinged up. After a fruitless search, however, Hoke and the Wolverines will be rolling with what they have.
That means true freshman Shane Morris will slide into the No. 2 quarterback spot. The original plan was to bring in a graduate transfer to sit behind Gardner and allow Morris to develop for a year, possibly using his redshirt. The lack of viable options along with Morris’ impressive showing in workouts combined to convince Hoke to roll the dice with the quarterbacks already on his roster.
Gardner has already taken a medical redshirt season and battled through an ankle injury in 2012, so he doesn’t exactly have the reputation of an “iron man” under center. His athleticism has served him well in making plays with his feet, but it has also opened him up to bigger hits from defenses. Hoke plans on minimizing those shots in 2013 by using Gardner’s arm more as the Wolverines transition to more of a pro-style offense.
There’s still no guarantee, however, that Gardner can avoid the big hit all season. The pressure will be on him to play smart this season and avoid putting himself into vulnerable situations as often as possible. Throwing the ball away when under pressure or sliding to avoid a hit might not be his first instinct as a competitor, but they are skills the coaching staff will be hammering into him this fall to keep him in the huddle.
If he can’t stay healthy, the young Morris will be thrown into the deep end with the Big Ten title expectations around his neck. Nothing like living dangerously, I suppose.