Michigan Football: Shane Morris Spring Practice Update

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIMarch 4, 2014

Michigan Football: Shane Morris Spring Practice Update

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    The role of Michigan's starting quarterback may be Devin Gardner's to lose, but that won't keep Shane Morris from fighting for No. 1 reps. 

    The road to the top of the depth chart starts in spring, and monitoring the sophomore's progress is a must.

    If anything else, coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier are looking to mold Morris into a suitable backup, not necessarily Gardner's replacement. 

    But stranger things have happened, and it may not take much for the former 247Sports 4-star pro-styler to leap his senior predecessor during spring rounds.

Uh Oh...It's Spring Break

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    Legendary stories begin with, "OK, so I was in college, and it was spring break..."

    On the flip side, unfortunate tales can start the same way.

    Michigan can't afford for its star sophomore to become a casualty of spring break.  

    Moral of the story: Spend your free time wisely or just pretend you're having a blast, Morris-style. 

    I'm living my spring break vicariously through other peoples snapchat stories.

    — Shane Morris (@ShaneMorris_7) March 2, 2014

    The mini vacation doesn't last long. For coaches, that's a good thing; for players, not so much.

    It means they'll have to put fun on hold and get back to practice.

    Spring is valuable, and every minute influences the upcoming season. 

    Judging by his Twitter feed, Morris remains on the wagon.

    Felt great to get a lift in at De La Salle today!

    — Shane Morris (@ShaneMorris_7) March 3, 2014

    A lot of quarterbacks have had outdoor throwing sessions with receivers. Due to Mother Nature, Morris hasn't been so lucky. 

    At least he has the Al Glick Fieldhouse. 

    Weather is no factor when u have one of these... #LeadersAndBestIndoor #NoBadDays #MLife #AlGlick #BabyBigHouse 〽️💯 pic.twitter.com/PsuwgVuaNZ

    — Roy 〽️anning (@CoachRoyM) February 21, 2014

Getting Reps, Earning Respect

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    He's no wallflower—Morris is fully engaged and is neck-and-neck with Gardner when it comes to getting No. 1 reps. 

    Nussmeier says at presser that Shane Morris and Devin Gardner sharing no 1 snaps in practice. Don't want to rush Devin off injury

    — angelique (@chengelis) February 27, 2014

    During the late stages of 2013, the "old" Gardner—the Gardner from late 2012—crept back into the picture. Instead of being the interception-prone, oft-sacked rag doll whom he was earlier in the year, the senior regained bearings and finished with respectable numbers. 

    That being said, due to injury, he didn't make it to the bowl game.

    That was Morris, who did better than "OK," he did quite well for a first-timer thrown into the fire.

    Appearing comfortable amid turmoil, Morris completed 24 of 36 passes for 196 yards during the 31-14 shelling from Kansas State. He threw a pick, but the game was well out of reach. 

    If anything, he showed his competitive side with the risky throw. It was a wash, might as well go down swinging, right? 

    Nussmeier said the big thing he saw from Shane Morris in the bowl game was that he didn't shrink from the pressure/bigger stage.

    — Matt Pargoff (@MaizeBlueNews) February 27, 2014

    According to Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News, Nussmeier said the following comment when asked about Morris' showing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: 

    When you play a young player like that (in a bowl game), the thing you’re looking for, ‘Is the game too big? Is the moment too big?’ It wasn’t for him. He performed. Obviously, there’s a lot of things he would have liked to have done better.

    The biggest thing for Shane, there still is a large learning curve, and he’s worked extremely hard with the system and he’s got to get better each and every time.

    Learning curves and improvement is exactly the type of talk expected from coordinators and coaches during this time of year.

Real Competition?

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    Travis Haney of ESPN isn't sold on Gardner vs. Morris. 

    It's more like Gardner vs. Gardner for him, as he wrote (subscription required) on Feb. 19, via Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com

    I’m not buying it. I’m not buying that this competition is nearly as open as coach Brady Hoke recently hinted that it would be.

    Pay careful attention to when Hoke made mention that Gardner, a fifth-year senior, would have to fight for his job. He was lighting a fire under Gardner, one that could get even hotter if his injured foot limits him during the spring.

    Morris wasn’t very good in the bowl loss to Kansas State, but no one in maize and blue was any good in that game. It was a low point in a season that often seemed to drag.

    Since Hoke's taken over, it seems as if everyone has a chance to make the grade come fall. Just a few years ago, freshmen Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes were supposedly challenging for the No. 1 running back job. 

    This past January, Rawls, a senior with junior athletic eligibility, was granted release from the program. Hayes remains buried on the depth chart. 

    A similar story has been true for several position battles. 

    Taking each one of Hoke's words at face value isn't exactly the most logical approach. He's a coach, and he's not going to publicly say, "Hey, we got nothing here" or admit that he has anything less than full confidence in his personnel. 

    Everyone competes at a high level, every day. 

    However, with Morris, it's a little different.

    Haney may have not been impressed with Morris, but plenty of other people were. The Gardner vs. Morris discussion is real. 

    Nussmeier seems impressed, and right now, that's about as good as endorsements get at this stage of the game. 


    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81