December 26, 2013

Morris talks about opportunity

Shane Morris' parents have baby pictures of him in a Michigan jersey. Now he's wearing a very real one, and he won't be babied a bit come Saturday night.

The true freshman Michigan quarterback gets to show his stuff for real when the Wolverines take the field at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe. Morris, subbing for the injured Devin Gardner, is welcoming the challenge.

"It's been my dream since I was a little kid to start as quarterback for the University of Michigan," Morris said. "It's a huge bowl game. I'm excited."

The rookie started only a handful of games as a senior in high school, stricken and sidelined with mononucleosis for much of the year. He appeared briefly in four games this season for the Wolverines, connecting on 5 of 9 throws in a backup role to starter Devin Gardner.

Michigan's struggles in expected blowout games limited Morris' action this season. But he waves off the notion that he might not be ready to go when the bright lights go on.

"I'm getting the full game plan that Coach [Al] Borges gives," Morris said. "Coach Borges is preparing me for that. I prepared all year to be the starting quarterback this year, so…"

The word around Michigan football has long been that you have to be a State Street quarterback before you're a Main Street quarterback. In other words, those behind center have to excel in practice before they're ready to take the big stage in The Big House.

Due to Gardner's injury, Morris' starting debut comes two time zones away from Michigan Stadium, with an offense that has been heavily Gardner dependent all season long. The rookie has gotten the starting repetitions throughout bowl practice and has made significant strides, according to U-M head coach Brady Hoke.

"I think he's had some great preparation," Hoke said. "Obviously we were trying to figure out if Devin was going to be able to go. Snap-wise, Shane has taken a lot of snaps … he's done a tremendous job. I know his teammates have supported him. So we're excited about that."

In fact, Morris cited that support as a big factor in getting him ready for taking on Kansas State.

"The last couple weeks of bowl practice I've grown because of my teammates and they've helped me a lot with this situation," Morris said. "They've helped me with everything, from film work to just playing with the ones. It's a lot different."

They've told him to be himself, to be a leader. Mostly, they've stressed that he has a team around him, Morris noted, so don't heap pressure on himself.

He'll try to avoid that. At the same time, this is the moment he's thought about for a long, long time.

"Since the day I came in, I've been preparing to be a starting quarterback at the University of Michigan," he said. "That's been my goal. Having the opportunity now, it's surreal. But I've prepared for that."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!