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December 26, 2013
Teammates have confidence in Shane Morris
No Devin Gardner, no chance for Michigan. That's the opinion many have shared heading into a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game, even against an underwhelming Kansas State team. Morris' teammates, though, insist he has what it takes to lead a Wolverines' win on Dec. 28.
Morris has been getting the snaps since bowl practices began just over a week ago. Fifth-year senior receiver Jeremy Gallon said nothing had changed, though he was focusing more on him and his group than his quarterback.
"Just because he's a younger quarterback doesn't mean he doesn't know his material," Gallon said. "I feel like he's on point with his material. He knows what he has to do. He's good at reading the defense, checking out of things if he has to. He's a smart kid, so I don't feel like anything has changed.
"I really haven't focused on his strengths or weakness. I can tell you he's been on point with everything so far."
He's grown over the last couple weeks, Morris said, because of his teammates and the trust they've put in him. From playing with the ones to added film work, he's gotten more acclimated to what it takes to be The Guy at Michigan, and they've all helped him prepare.
It's their job as seniors to make sure he's comfortable, Gallon added.
"It's our job as a team, as seniors, to calm him down, to let him know that we got his back," Gallon said. " I know everything is going to be all right. It's a football game. He's been doing it since he was young. It's nothing new. Faster tempo.
"He's been good. Everything has been great with him. He's been connecting with the receivers, the running backs, building a stronger chemistry with the O‑line. There's nothing new about him. I feel like he's been here forever. He's built that kind of chemistry with us."
The concern, though, is how much football Morris hasn't played in the last few years. Morris shrugs off the fact that he didn't play much in his senior year due to a bout with mono, and that he's only seen a few handfuls of snaps this year. Games that could have or should have been blowouts that instead went down to the wire deprived him of backup time while sapping more of Gardner's energy.
There's also the fact that he's a lefty. How the line is altered, if at all, remains to be seen.
"Just because he's a left‑handed quarterback, we might run things a little bit different about how he feels it," fifth-year senior tackle Taylor Lewan said. "Other than that, we're confident in him running the same offense that Devin ran, try to put him into a position to be successful."
Success is exactly what Morris has in mind. Confidence has never been an issue with him, from prep camps to his first year at Michigan. He's been training his whole life to be the Wolverines' starting quarterback, he noted, and Saturday he'll get his chance.
"Now that I've had him working with the ones, the whole offense, he's been amazing," Gallon said. "He's been great with everything. He's showing us that he's ready for this game, so I feel comfortable with him."