In hindsight, and this has nothing to do with an injury, should Devin Gardner have played earlier in the game on Saturday based on how Shane was playing?
And why not?
“Well, I think you’ve got to give a guy an opportunity to play. Shane prepared very well. We talked about it for several weeks, you know, his preparation leading up to the game. He deserved that opportunity to play and we were going to let him play.”
Doug, what was your perspective on the Shane Morris hit that’s kind of been a question after he had the hit to the head? It looked like you kind of saw him struggling on the field. What were you saying to him and what was your take on this?
“Well, I didn’t see the hit. You can’t see- everything was lost in the field of play and the guys upstairs, you know, it was third down and it was an incompletion so I was thinking- well, they say, ‘We got a roughing penalty. We’re up.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ So the first thing is okay, what are we doing now? It’s first-and-10 from a playcaller’s standpoint, and then I look up and I see Shane limping. ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ and he waved me off, [saying] ‘I’m fine.’ Okay. I didn’t know at that extent what had happened, really. You don’t really know because you couldn’t see from our vision on the field and Shane’s a tough, tough guy, man.”
Did you talk to him when he came off the field, and what was sort of his state of mind and clarity at that point?
“I don’t really recall having a conversation other than ‘Are you okay?’ and then you’ve got the flow of the game and everything else that was going on.”
Coach, is it going to be difficult for either quarterback or whatever quarterback you have in there until this offensive takes a few more steps forward in terms of pass protection and things like that?
“We’re all disappointed in our performance. We needed to perform better. We needed to play better. We needed to coach better. That’s across the board, not one position. Like I said, we’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously. The only thing we can do is go back to the practice field. We went and put some pads on yesterday and worked on some things, worked on some fundamental things to try and get better at every position.”
Do you know who will be the starter next weekend?
“We’ll go through the week and we’ll evaluate it.”
Is it a question of- if Shane were 100% and nothing had happened injury-wise would that still be the case this week, or…?
“We’re going to challenge and compete at every position, like we say every week and see where we’re at and evaluate every guy. We’ve talked about it numerous times, [we] want to create competition at every position. Both Shane and Devin have done some really good things and we look forward to watching them compete and allow each other to be pushed and get better.”
With how, from our perspective- with how long it took for the final decision to made going into last week’s game…first of all, when was that decision made that Shane was going to be the starter?
“Well, I don’t think that when that decision’s made is really relevant. What’s relevant is that our players are pushing each other every day to get better and that we’re putting the best players at each position out there every Saturday.”
[More on Shane Morris and the hit after THE JUMP]
News bullets and other items
Hoke didn’t know whether Shane Morris was concussed or not
He also didn’t see Morris struggling to get off the field after the hit
No injury updates were provided
Next week’s starting quarterback will be determined after reviewing the film and, presumably, after the next week of practice
Hoke is surprised some of the same issues keep cropping up considering how hard the team practices and how good they look during the week
“Number one, Minnesota – give them credit and give Jerry [Kill] credit but at the same time we didn't… we’re disappointed in how we played football today. I think when you look at different aspects of our game I don't think we played as well as we can. I don't think we executed as well and that always comes back to me first as a coach and what we can do better to help ourselves and help our team. Didn't tackle well and that was disappointing and that part of it. And part of that [is] we needed to leverage the runs a little better. There were too many times where the ball got outside the defense and that's never good for you when you're playing defense.
"I think from an offensive perspective we struggled in a lot of different areas. DeVeon had some nice runs early in the football game but we struggled just in various different areas at times. Either a negative play that puts you behind the sticks– you've heard that; probably heard it too many times and I've said it too many times – or just not consistent in what we are trying to get done and that’s something that we have to make sure we are getting to that point where it's going to be consistency and so that's a big part of it. I think field position was a part of the game. We've got to do a better job. A couple of punt returns went for way too much yardage. I thought Will made a couple good punts and a pooch punt and kind of drove the ball a little bit but we've got to get better coverage and do a better job there.
“From the standpoint of our team and their attitude, number one, they’re disappointed and they should be. We all are. Secondly, I think the guys in that locker room, and I've said this before and you may think I'm not telling you the truth but they work their tails off and that's the sad thing is they've got to keep working and we are going to keep working for each other. We are going to keep pushing ourselves to be the best Michigan team we can be and our goals are still out there. There’s a lot of football to play and we talked in the locker room [how] there's two things you can do: you can quit, you can shy away from it or you can be honest with it and go back to work and that's what we'll do is a football team.”
Brady, can you share with us what you saw in Shane this week that gave him the start that we didn't see you today?
“Yeah. I think, number one, I've said this before and I'm going to say it again is we've got two guys who we have a lot of faith in at quarterback. Shane had a good week of practice. He's had a good practices throughout fall camp. I think that I talked about earlier in the year and he had a good practice last week.”
What do you think was wrong today?
“Well, again, I think sometimes we want to point the finger at one guy because he's the quarterback and I don't think that's fair. I don't think that's fair. Obviously we've got to do a better job with some protection things he had to step up in. Pocket closed a couple times on him. I think, you know, the interception was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage that gets knocked up into the air. We've got to have better ball security. He’d be the first one to tell you that. A couple times the ball was on the ground but as far as how he practiced and what he did to deserve to start, he's been doing that throughout camp and fall.”
Is it still his job?
“We’ll evaluate it, like we do – like we did last week. We evaluate. For me to sit up here when you don't look at all the film yet, and believe me, you can't see everything from down there and we'll evaluate it.”
Brady, curious as to the decision to leave Shane in after he got hit. Might've had a concussion…
“Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know if he might’ve had a concussion or not. I don’t know that and that wasn’t something- Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid and Shane wanted to be the quarterback and so believe me, if he didn’t want to be he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down.”
Was it your decision then to leave him in after the late hit foul?
“The late hit foul…yes.”
[After THE JUMP: more on Morris’ potential concussion, finding a spark, and Hoke’s feelings on the “Fire Brady” chant]
I scrapped the original question because there's a burning one out there:
Gardner or Morris? Who should start, who will start?
Ace: Before the press conferences this week, I'd still have gone with Gardner—despite his awful performances against Notre Dame and Utah, I think he still gives Michigan the best chance to win. We've seen him at his best—and playing at his best while overcoming injury and a horrendous O-line—and that best is right up there with any college QB, while Morris has yet to show much other than similarly inconsistent, turnover-prone play in his short time on the field. If this team needs to win now, and to save Brady Hoke's job they clearly do, I think Gardner is the play unless he's so broken physically/mechanically that it's impossible for him to scrape his ceiling. (I'm about 80% there on thinking this is the case, by the way, but last year's Ohio State game lingers in my mind as a strong counterpoint—remember, that performance came out of nowhere, and he had a broken foot to boot.)
That said, the way this has been handled publicly makes me believe Morris will be the starter—why not dispel the speculation if there isn't going to be a change?*—and at this point I think they have to go with that. Most fans believe Morris will be the starter and most are ready for the change now whether or not they were on board; if they head into the Big House thinking that way and Gardner is announced as the starter, there are going to be boos directed at that decision—which is basically booing Gardner, probably the person associated with the football program who least deserves that treatment—and that's just not going to help anything. I understand the reasoning behind putting Morris in—he's the future, the present option isn't going so well at all, and he gets the chance to learn on the fly in a game setting and hopefully improve before our very eyes—but it's a huge risk for Hoke if he goes there, especially if he sticks to his word that he won't rotate QBs.
Playing Gardner comes with its own risks, of course, but the biggest risk is still playing a QB with this career stat line: 36/67, 340 yards (5.1 YPA), 0 passing TDs, 4 interceptions.
*Since the most common response I've seen to this is "so Minnesota has to prepare for Gardner," I'll note that there's no way in hell Minnesota isn't preparing for Gardner—and Morris, too—no matter what Brady Hoke says in a press conference.
[jump for the rest of us]
FORMATION NOTES: A lot of this kind of stuff.
Probably 50/50 between this and gun with more gun coming late as Michigan tried to make it look like they were trying to come back without actually doing so.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Everything as per usual, with the exception of Morris's late insertion and maybe a little more playing time for Jake Butt.
AGAIN APOLOGIES: Audio on the clips is messed up this week.
[After THE JUMP: a portal to another universe where Michigan doesn't suck (I DID IT FOR THE CLIIIIIIIIIICKS)]
News bullets and other items:
They have a plan for what they want to do at quarterback, and it won’t be revealed until the game.
Same goes for any other personnel changes.
“We ready? Alright. The team- we had a great practice yesterday. Came out and had a good day of work. It’s exciting to move forward, as you all would expect. We get to start the Big Ten season. The Brown Jug is a very big deal to us and keeping the Brown Jug here. We’ve talked about it as a team. We read the history of the Brown Jug and it’s something that has another part, not just being a Big Ten game but being a game that’s the oldest trophy game in Division I college football, so we’re excited about that. Obviously getting to conference play is exciting and we have to have another great day today, another great day on Thursday and Friday in our preparation and we will do that.”
Brady, any further developments on the quarterback situation?
“Well, you know, we’ll wait until game time with it. We’ve got an idea of what we want to do but for what’s best for us and the program and what we’re trying to get done, and that’d be the same at any other position.”
Coach, is Brad Berlin capable of being keeper of that little Brown Jug?
“Yeah, Brad does a great job and obviously some of you don’t know [but] Brad is our new equipment manager and he has big shoes to fit himself into [since] we’ve had Jon Falk for 40 years, but Brad on Sunday came up and said, ‘Okay, what do we do with the Jug’ so I had to educate him a little bit but he’s done a great job.”
What have you told the kids about the history of the Jug?
“Well, the inception of it and the games that have been those games that have been very exciting and down to the end. I think one of the messages is you don’t want them to come over and take the Jug off the sidelines. We want to keep it stored away here.”
[After THE JUMP: all the quarterback talk that’s fit to (electronically) print]
Coach, can you talk about the tempo of the offense? Is it where you want it to be at this point?
“Obviously we’d like it to play a little faster. Right now our focus is playing right. Execution. We’ll worry about tempo later, and I think like we’ve said before we want to control the tempo of the game on offense, whether that’s to slow the game down or speed the game up.”
Doug, Brady said he’ll have a decision tomorrow on the starting quarterback. What’s going into that decision?
“Well, I think there’s a lot that goes into the decision of who plays quarterback and both guys have done an outstanding job of preparing and practicing and competing. It’s what we’ve talked about all along at every position on our team; we want to have competition and we want to compete and challenge every day.”
Whichever one is in there, I assume the turnover message has to be reinforced.
“Definitely. I mean, you start from base premise of what we talked about fro day one that we continue to talk about every day and until we get it right we’re going to continue to struggle. It’s the turnover margin. You can’t win football games when you lose it. It’s the one telling statistic in all of football over time. You lose the turnover margin week in and week out and you’re going to struggle to have a good football team.”
Doug, I guess at this point not knowing who the quarterback’s going to be what positives do you see? What could you do differently if Shane Morris were your starter?
“Well, I don’t know that you say you start all over and change your offense. No. You do the things that play to Shane’s strengths and Shane’s obviously a talented guy. Got a lot of arm strength. He is a young player like a lot of our players and learning, and Devin does- they both are similar in a lot of their style. Both you can see can make plays with their feet. Both have really good arms, and we feel really good about either one of those guys.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]