"It's not just about Shane, it's about 11 guys. I know
there's going to be a lot of scrutiny, a lot of pressure
that the media puts on him. If he doesn't focus on that,
focuses on what he needs to focus on, he'll be fine."
-- Fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan on freshman
quarterback Shane Morris, who will make his first-career
start, replacing redshirt junior Devin Gardner, who injured
his left foot against Ohio State in the regular-season
By the Numbers
Snyder Talks Michigan: John Borton is in
Arizona, and he spoke with Kansas State coach Bill
Snyder about the Wolverines. Click here to see what he
had to say.
Matchups: TheWolverine.com takes a look at the
most important matchups on the field, the importance of
a stron game from U-M's offensive line.
Click here to read the rest.
Michigan games that has been played in the state of Arizona,
a 27-23 win over Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl at Sun
Devil Stadium, the same location as this year's Buffalo Wild
Wings Bowl. 2.6: Michigan's average margin of
victory in 42 bowl appearances. The Wolverines are 20-22 in
those games. 27: Teams Michigan has faced in bowl
games, including Kansas State. The Wolverines' most frequent
bowl opponent is USC. The two teams have played eight times
(all in the Rose Bowl), with USC holding a 6-2 advantage. 330: Combine starts by the senior class,
which the Wolverines will lose after Saturday night's game
against the Wildcats.
1. Shane Morris, freshman
quarterback: Michigan fans have been waiting years for
this moment, and now that it is here, most are pretty
nervous. With redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner
leading the offense, everyone figured the earliest Morris
would be thrust into the spotlight would be next season, if
Gardner exploded in 2013 and left early for the NFL Draft.
But Gardner is injured, and ready or not, Morris will be in
charge of the offense Saturday night. No one quite knows
what to expect - but whatever happens, it should make for an
intriguing subplot to the game.
2. The Michigan Interior
Offensive Line: The Wolverines got much better play
from their offensive line in a season-ending 42-41 loss to
Ohio State. But the Buckeyes still sacked Gardner three
times. In the month of November, Michigan surrendered 23
sacks - seven apiece to Michigan State and Nebraska, five to
Northwestern, one to Iowa, and three to OSU. And that is
with Gardner's mobility. Morris will not be able to evade
the rush quite so well - so the line will need to keep his
jersey clean as much as possible.
3. Daniel Sams and John
Hubert: Sams, a sophomore, is the run-heavy half of
Kansas State's one-two punch at quarterback. He has split
time with JUCO transfer Jake Waters, the bigger passer of
the two. Sams has racked up 784 yards and 11 touchdowns on
148 rushes this year, and he has blossomed into a serious
read-option threat, along with running back John Hubert (182
rushes, 968 yards and nine touchdowns). The Wolverines were
burned by the read-option big time against the Buckeyes.
Although KSU's scheme is more akin to Northwestern's or
Nebraska's, it still has to be a big concern.
4. Jeremy Gallon,
fifth-year senior wide receiver: Gallon is just 47
yards from history. If he gets there against the Wildcats,
he will own the Michigan single-season program record for
receiving yards, breaking Braylon Edwards' 2004 mark of
1,330 yards. That's incredible. But more importantly, Gallon
needs to provide a steady, consistent target for Morris.
Gallon's connection with Gardner has been talked about a lot
this season, but the receiver will need to get into a rhythm
with a new quarterback to help the offense get into gear
5. Blake Slaughter, senior
linebacker: Michigan ball carriers will be very
faimilar with Slaughter by the end of Saturday's game. The
Kansas State defense runs through the highly productive
senior, who is one of just 68 players in the country with
100 or more tackles on the season (he ranks fourth in the
Big 12 with 103 tackles in 2013). Slaughter has added six
tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception, three pass
breakups and one forced fumble.