Quarterback competition, not controversy, in 2014

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football
Photo Credit: USA Today

Entering the 2014 season, the Michigan football team is set with a unique situation at the quarterback position. Senior Devin Gardner, the experienced veteran returning from a broken foot and sophomore Shane Morris, the promising young quarterback looking to take over for the rest of his college career will be duking it out to see who gets the starting nod.

I’m not a betting man, but you can find betting info at Superbowl360.com, Gardner has a pretty good shot.

After Morris’ BWW Bowl performance, a quarterback controversy in Ann Arbor is a bit of a stretch.  This will be Gardner’s team coming into this season. Though one thing is for certain, competition at the quarterback position will be healthy during spring and summer camps.

Calls for a quarterback change came frequently and often during the first half of the season. Gardner, who seemingly regressed after the Notre Dame victory, struggled mightily against bottom feeder teams such as Akron and UCONN. After Indiana, he seemingly took off save for one game against Iowa where he failed to reach 100 yards passing.
A lot of the struggles with Gardner start with the offensive line. Many times you would see Gardner struggling to find appropriate time to get the ball off due to the sheer lack of contain from the line. He was sacked a total of 34 times last year, good for sixth in the NCAA. Not a good statistic.
Even with a putrid offensive effort as a whole, Gardner finished with one of the best statistical performances in Michigan quarterback history, not to mention one of the gutsiest performance in The Game history while playing the entire second half with a broken foot. Gardner finished the season with 2,960 yards and 21 TD’s. To put it in perspective, the school record for passing yardage in a single season is 3,331 and the record for most touchdowns in a single season is 25. Realistically, if Gardner played in the bowl game, he might have at least flirted with these records.
That type of success with a bad offensive gameplan is enough to warrant another year for Gardner to start. Not to mention Michigan hiring an offensive coordinator who knows how to work with quarterbacks in Doug Nussmeier, Gardner’s statistics could be even better this year. This all depends on how his foot heals up, of course.
Photo Credit: USA Today
Enter Shane Morris.
When Morris was announced as the starter for the bowl game, Michigan was getting a glimpse into the future. A 5* recruit coming out of high school, Morris faced extreme hype entering Michigan. Whether he lives up to the hype remains to be seen, but he did more than hold his own against Kansas State. He didn’t have the flashy numbers, finishing with 196 yards and zero touchdowns, but he showed a solid command of the offense and did not seem overwhelmed with the speed of the game at the college level.
Much like Gardner, having Nussmeier on board to tutor Morris is an absolute win for the quarterbacks at the University of Michigan. Being a lefty himself, Nussmeier will turn Morris into a solid starting quarterback at Michigan.
Next year might not be the start of the Morris era just yet.
The quarterback position is a good problem to have for Michigan. You have two solid quarterbacks who could lead Michigan to a better record than last year. But, if you’re taking last season at face value, Gardner did enough to warrant a second season starting at quarterback.
Besides, having a near 3000 yard passing season is nothing to scoff at. Michigan is in good hands.
Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.