Michigan fans are heading into the 2013 season with a lot of excitement surrounding the quarterback position.
Junior Devin Gardner will be the starter and has received plenty of hype after a very strong 2012 season. Many think Gardner can challenge Braxton Miller to be the best in the Big Ten and at the very least, he should be Michigan’s best passer since Chad Henne.
But the backup QB role is also one that should be receiving attention. After beating out walk-on Brian Cleary, true freshman Shane Morris will be the backup and will be very important for Michigan.
As good as Gardner is expected to be, he can only be effective when he is actually on the field. In every season since 2006, Michigan’s backup quarterback has appeared in at least nine games during the season. That was the result of a QB battle in some cases, but also proof that QBs get hurt and a dependable, competent backup is necessary.
If all goes well for Michigan, Morris won’t be seen (except for the end of a blowout win) because Gardner will be able to stay on the field and be effective. But as recent history has shown, it is likely Morris will see the field, whether it is for a series while Gardner is banged up or even for an extended period of time.
Just last year, the fact that then-backup QB Russell Bellomy was absolutely awful lost Michigan a game against Nebraska when Denard Robinson went down. So Michigan is going to need Morris to be good.
Morris being a true freshman means he obviously has no experience. Brady Hoke has complimented Morris, but it is hard to be too optimistic having never seen his young QB in a game.
Devin Gardner may be Michigan’s star QB heading into the season, but if anything happens to him, the most important player on the team will be true freshman Shane Morris. For Michigan’s sake, he better be ready if he’s called upon.
You can follow Alex Dale on Twitter at @alexdaleCFB