2014 Michigan Football Preview: The Quarterbacks

Offense: Offensive Line, Running Backs, Receivers/TE's
Defense: Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs

There are some folks out there who think Michigan has a quarterback controversy. Maybe they're just tired of what they've seen from Gardner, or unimpressed, or think that maybe some new blood can rejuvenate the offense. Either way, those folks were pretty happy to see Shane Morris replace an injured Devin Gardner in the BWW Bowl, and have used that performance as a catalyst for fueling the speculation that it may be a real possibility we'll see Morris again.

I, however, am sorry to tell those folks that there is simply no way Shane Morris will start over Devin Gardner this season...baring an injury of course. A one-legged Gardner almost single-handedly beat the #3 team in the country last year. Despite the struggles of 2013, I think Gardner is the best option for Michigan.

You go with the senior wearing Tom Harmon's 98.

Back in February, I said:
IMO, you stick with Gardner but keep Morris and Bellomy ready to go. Devin is a senior, probably going to be a captain, and you can't really put a price on that. He's been in the program forever, out-lasting his first head coach and two offensive coordinators. He's played two positions, both pretty well. He's got a good arm. He's tall and he can move well outside of the pocket when not injured. I think Nussmeier knows what he's got, and will work with it.

But the future is Shane Morris, and that shouldn't be neglected no matter how well Devin performs.
As far as the position itself goes, Michigan is in pretty great shape. No quarterbacks graduated or left the program after last season. Russell Bellomy is back from his injured ACL a year ago, Shane Morris has grown into his backup role and learned a lot from the bowl game. Highly touted true freshman Wilton Speight arrived last winter to get a jump on spring ball. And Michigan also has Alex Swieca and Brian Cleary on the depth chart as well.

But the full weight of expectations for Team 135 rests on the shoulders of Devin Gardner. Never the outspoken team leader, Gardner put the blame for every loss last season on himself even though he really didn't have to.

In an offense devoid of seniors, Devin is the de facto leader. He simply has no choice.

He just needs an offense that can work for him. He can't be the entire gameplan all the time. He needs a line that can run and pass block effectively. He needs backs who can run and block. He's blessed with receivers like Devin Funchess, Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh and tight end Jake Butt. So potential is there for much improvement from a year ago. Michigan has the talent, it just has to come together. Which is hopefully where Doug Nussmeier comes in.

What if Devin gets hurt?
Injuries happen. And QBs are a big target. Say Devin goes down for a while, what then?

Obviously all eyes will turn to Shane Morris. He looked pretty decent in his first start in the BWW Bowl. Shane went 24 of 38 for 196 yards and 1 INT. He didn't really do anything to win the game, but he didn't really lose it either which surpassed everyone's already low expectations. By that point in the season, not many Michigan fans were impressed by anything, but I gave him credit for stepping up when it was his time.

After Morris, its probably Bellomy then Cleary/Swieca then Speight. But all that could change between now and August 30th. Hopefully, we'll never get to find out.

Factoid: Among the 7 QB's on the roster, Devin Gardner is the only one with a touchdown pass in a game. So yeah.

Give Gardner some semblance of a running game and some desperately needed pass protection, and he may just have the breakout year he should've had a year ago. If he gets those things, it could be a great year for Michigan...I mean a great year. If not, you're shares of Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork will surely spike by mid-September.

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