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April 4, 2013

QB situation doesn't worry coordinator Al Borges

Offensive coordinator Al Borges knows he likely has to get a true freshman (Shane Morris) ready to be Michigan's backup quarterback in the fall, but if he's worried, and he says he's not, he's hiding it really well.

"The numbers are what they are," Borges said Thursday before Michigan's 11th practice of the spring. "I won't lose any sleep over it. I've been in this situation before so it's not an entirely new concept."

Redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy was expected to win the No. 2 job but he suffered an ACL injury last week and will likely miss the entire 2013 season. But even before Bellomy went down, the coaches were planning on prepping Morris.

"He was going to come in and compete anyway," Borges said. "There is one less slot to go through now. That's all [Bellomy's injury] really impacted.

"Shane is studious. He'll work hard, and we'll catch him up. For some guys, the playbook is overwhelming. I don't know he'll be that way because he's been here so much."

The 6-3, 183-pound Morris, a Rivals.com four-star prospect and the No. 81 player nationally, will receive competition from redshirt freshman walk-on Brian Cleary.

"We were giving Brian reps from the beginning; it's not like we just tossed him in there recently," Borges said.

"He's real bright. He got into Michigan on his own. He's a very, very good student. His deal was to get football smart. Get him some reps, experience, learn a little bit through trial and error. But in terms of understanding, coachability, throwing ability -- if you watch Brian throw the ball you'd think he's a scholarship player."

While developing a backup quarterback has vaulted to priority No. 1 this spring, Borges has also been focused on his running backs as four returning players jockey for carries in the absence of injured senior starter Fitz Toussaint.

"I've seen flashes from all of them," Borges said. "[Redshirt sophomore] Justice Hayes has really done a nice job, and [junior] Thomas Rawls too. Thomas in the open field has a good burst and can punish tacklers.

"[Sophomore] Dennis Norfleet in spots has run nicely inside the tackles, which you wouldn't expect as much from a small guy. But he's done a good job.

"And [redshirt freshman] Drake Johnson is a physical runner. He's a little bit like Thomas, but he's a great run finisher. As soon as he hits the pile, the pile goes backwards."

The 5-10, 190-pound Hayes was singled out by head coach Brady Hoke earlier in the week for having a stand out spring. Hayes was thought to be a ideal third-down back but the coaches think he could do more than that.

"Depending on how big he got," Borges said. "He's 190+ pounds and there are guys that have played every down at that weight.

"We have to wait and see. How well does he hold up during the course of an entire football game? And you never really know with a guy like Justice, who hasn't really done that yet. Some guys get stronger. Some guys don't. But I wouldn't count him out of it."









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