How to use Shane Morris

Submitted by oakapple on May 27th, 2013 at 10:09 AM

On various message boards, I've seen two widely divergent strategies for how to use Shane Morris in 2013.

One school of thought is that his potential fifth year has far more value than occasional spot duty as a freshman. Therefore, it would be better to hold him out of action unless they're forced to play him — i.e., Gardner is out with the game on the line, and Brian Cleary can't get it done.

The other school of thought, is that as starting QBs seldom make it through a full season without being knocked out of a game (or games), the coaches ought to assume that'll happen, and therefore get Morris into the action as soon as possible. This strategy assumes that Cleary could never play acceptably against a serious opponent, and that a prepared Morris is bound to be better.

For example, suppose Michigan is up on Central Michigan 34-6 after 3 quarters. If they're pursuing the first strategy, the coaches would play Brian Cleary for the 4th. If they're pursuing the second, they'd play Morris, or perhaps a mixture of the two.

Devin Gardner is the textbook example of what can happen when you burn a promising QB's redshirt. He saw only meaningless action as a true freshman, but fortunately was able to get that year of eligibility back, due to a back injury. Of course, Michigan had Tate Forcier that year, so they never really had to use Gardner; burning his redshirt was elective.

The real question, then, is whether you think of burning Morris's redshirt as inevitable (therefore, you might as well burn it immediately), or possibly avoidable (therefore, you should avoid it as long as you can).



May 27th, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

Is to play the QB position, dressed in a Michigan uniform and Winged Helmet, in the year 2014 or beyond.

Given his interesting senior year and hence his need to develop substantially, stepping on the field this year would be a bad thing, not a good thing.

I'm no insider, but from what I've read, he ain't even remotely close to ready.


May 27th, 2013 at 11:30 AM ^

My opinion would be to burn Morris' redshirt and use him as the # 2 from day 1. Get him as much playing time as possible when games are in hand, and let him learn as he goes. Then we can redshirt Speight (a very capable qb), and look to land a stud QB in 2015. The coaching staff is already trying to land stud QB's in the 2015 class, and my guess is they plan to not redshirt Morris. Why go after stud starting QB caliber players in 3 straight classes if you plan on redshirting Morris? We need Morris this year, as I don't think Cleary is a capable starter. If something happens and Gardner is forced to miss multiple games we would almost be forced to ride Cleary due to Morris having 0 in game experience. If it happens mid season Cleary will have some game action under his belt, and Morris would not. Morris' redshirt senior year would be 2017-2018. If we land a stud QB in 2015 then this would mean Speight would get 1 year as a starter and a stud 2015 QB would be given 2 years as a starter..Our QB situation would be very weak with Cleary as the #2, and would be incredibly strong come 2017-2018 if we had Morris, Speight, a stud 2015 QB (Campbell or Rosen) and my guess would be a top ranked 2017 QB on roster.

Mr. Yost

May 27th, 2013 at 6:30 PM ^

I never understood how people can think mop up duty against an inferior team's 2nd team is "valuable game experience." It makes no sense. Shane shouldn't play a down in a game next year if we can help it. HOWEVER! He should take every snap as the #2 QB in practice, THAT is where he'll get meaningful reps. Against OUR #1 and #2 defense each and every day.

So basically he's the #2 QB, but he just doesn't play in games unless he has to. A lot of times when you have a redshirt, that kid goes to the bottom of the depth chart...I wouldn't do that in this case.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

It you need to burn it, then burn it. If not, then don't. I think you've got to play it by ear. This will also all depend on Morris' progression during the fall, and if he can grasp the O.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:16 AM ^

I think they will play Morris now that Bellomy is out. I think the coaches know with so little depth there that they will play the best available, which would be Morris (behind Gardner). If Gardner goes through the whole season healthy and they use Cleary to redshirt Morris I wouldn't be mad. But I don't think the coaches will take that chance that Gardner will be healthy the whole year.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:18 AM ^

The two options you discuss aren't really that different...maybe a few minutes. Really, how much substantial throw-away time is there in a full season? Maybe 1-3 quarters. Definitely NOT worth burning a redshirt to get him a few snaps with all the 2's/3's. If he is the listed #2 behind DG, and his redshirt will get burned  no matter what, then maybe it's worth it, but I'd think Cleary could hold down the fort in those blowout situations. Redshirt and hope for the best.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

The more pressing issue is this though: if DG were to get injured and Morris had been held out of those blowout situations to preserve his redshirt, then he's got no game experience at all, so you almost have to ride Cleary. We saw how well that worked out in the Nebraska game last year. So if they throw Morris into those garbage time situations, it's to prepare him with game experience in case he needs to step in for DG.


May 27th, 2013 at 6:41 PM ^

I never claimed garbage time will properly prepare him for playing in a competitive game, but it sure as hell beats having zero experience with 110,000 people watching you.

And while I'd love to have an extra year of eligibility for Morris, it isn't worth tanking this season if DG gets injured. Especially the way we're recruiting right now; I have no doubt there will be a talented QB ready to step in when Morris leave.

Of course, this all assumes that by the end of fall camp, Morris is a clearly better option than Cleary. If he's not, then it's all moot and redshirt away.

Avon Barksdale

May 27th, 2013 at 10:21 AM ^

Why does everyone think Bellomy won't be ready? He's a QB - not a a WR. Has there been a medical opinion given by coaches on how long he is out?

My point is: Robert Marve played 9 games last year with a torn ACL, and he did it in week 2... I think? I would just think Russ would be back by September if he did it in April.

Space Coyote

May 27th, 2013 at 11:14 AM ^

Bellomy will be in his third year on campus. Morris has more potential, but Morris is far from a polished player right now even with that potential. People are writing off Bellomy way too quickly based off of one away game in a hostile environment. I don't think Bellomy will ever be a star, but he can be a solid back-up IMO.

IMO, if Bellomy was healthy, Morris would get a redshirt no doubt. Without him, you can't go out there with Cleary as your number 2 option, particularly if DG is out multiple games.


May 27th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

I don't think it's fair to write anybody off with a poor perfomance in a first real-game experience. It was a night game at Nebraska, with their second highest attendance figure ever (their highest attendance being more of a gimmick to fill seats for their 300th consecutive sell out vs Louisiana Lafayette). Don't get me wrong, it was a horrific performance, but it would be nice to see what the kid can do when he has a bit of experience, there is a rushing threat, and a less hostile crowd.  


May 27th, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

But I really think fans are so impatient these days. IIRC, Brady's first ever game action was in a blowout over Washington and his first pass was a pick 6 at home. He looked, score and talent aside, about as ready as Bellomy looked in that game. What if UM had "written him off" due to one game? Different situations, I know, but similar in thought. I don't get it how a QB has to look better than bad when getting his first real time as a RS FR to be in the equation for future success? He looked BAD! I watched it, too! Yet, Bellomy is not a bad QB. He was tossed into an already lost game (IMO), at night in Nebraska, as a RS FR running an offense he is NOT made to run. The entire offense was used to Denard and our still mostly spread offense and suddenly here comes Bellomy. The kid had only been throwing to the true Freshman and walk-ons until then and suddenly is asked to be in sync with plays & WRs he isn't comfortable with. If Denard doesn't go down and Gardner took over this year I'd bet that we'd see a pretty darn good upper classmen Bellomy at QB running a pro-style system behind a better OL and the luxury of better HBs and WRs he also happened to have a season or two to sync with. Bellomy is not a bad QB as far as talent goes. Not a star but think Griese in terms of physical tools. Only question to date is his mentality and, sadly, due to fan mindset that may need more mending than his body.

snarling wolverine

May 27th, 2013 at 3:07 PM ^

I'm not sure we want to follow the Purdue medical staff's example, given the huge number of ligament injuries their guys seem to have.  

Recovery time after ACL surgery is getting shorter, but still, it's pretty uncommon for a guy to  come back in less than 6-8 months.  I think we could see Bellomy return before the end of the season, but almost certainly not for the beginning of fall camp, and probably not by opening day.




May 27th, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

Can't convince me that burning his RS this year for any reason is a good idea.  DG will be here another year regardless and all indications are that he is the QB with the most experience, gives us the best shot to win, and (right now) has the highest ceiling at the position.  He has to be used until he graduates which means Shane should be sitting and waiting, practicing, learning, and come out guns blazing down the road.


May 27th, 2013 at 6:42 PM ^

Honestly, no.

It's burning a redshirt unncessarily.  We all think he has sky-high potential, I'm not sending him in for one drive at the cost of an entire future season.  Not to mention if we have a backup with ANY college experience whatsoever, he will have a leg up on Morris. 

Shane's time will definitely come but I just can't imagine a situation where that time is this fall.  Give him at least one year to learn and go from there.  He could be great.


May 27th, 2013 at 6:59 PM ^

I admire your conviction, but would you still stand by your position if that scenario happens...Shane Morris drives us into field goal position...we win...go to the national championship and win?

If that were to happen, would you still say that Hoke made the poor choice?


I agree that we should avoid using him, but I can think of scenarios where I am fine buring the red shirt.


May 27th, 2013 at 9:39 PM ^

You said "Can't convince me that burning his RS this year for any reason is a good idea."

Yet if Gardner went out in the national title game on the final drive with all of the marbles on the line, would you not want the best possible QB to go in over a walk on?  You would want Morris in, would you not?  In this team sport, would you not risk a year of eligibility for the very real chance of a national title now?  Since if it works out and we win the title, you would not complain about the decision to burn the red shirt...seems to indicate that you value a title over an extra year of Morris, so you should be fine with the risk and the burning of the red shirt in this scenario.

I would like to red shirt Morris, but if there is a national title on the line or a chance to win the B1G title and appear in the title game then...I am burning the red shirt.

Hypothetical results of decisions are what Hoke has to consider when the circumstances arise.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:25 AM ^

We need to to prepare for the possibility that Gardner will be NFL ready after this year. If Gardner goes pro, it would be much better if Morris had a little game experience going into the following year. He is also the most talented backup, so he likely gives us the best chance to win this year if we need him.


May 27th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

While I don't want to sit here and assume Gardner plays like an AA this year, you have to believe a guy with his upside has at least a chance to play his way into a first or second round pick.  If Morris shows up in the fall looking like he is probably going to be better next year than Bellomy and Cleary (not an exact science, but I'll bet the coaches will have some idea,) then wouldn't you rather have an experienced sophomore playing next year instead of an inexperienced redshirt freshman?  And if you think Speight is gonna be a good one, is it worth sacrificing a win or two in 2014 in exchange for a 5th year senior Morris starting in front of a senior/redshirt junior Speight?  And what if Morris turns out to be really good and doesn't stick around for five years?  The redshirt is only worthwhile if he stays five, of course.  Sitting him this season does absolutely nothing for us unless he sticks around through 2017.  So if he shows up in August looking the part, I think you've gotta play him.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:27 AM ^

I'd like to see formations with Morris and Gardner in together. I like Morris in the wild cat as well. He's too fast not to be on the field. I wouldn't mind him returning punts or kicks either. Red shirting him until absolutely needed makes no sense.


May 27th, 2013 at 10:27 AM ^

What about the scenario where you burn his redshirt this year and then redshirt him next year when Gardner is a senior?

Why does nobody talk about this as an option?  What am I missing?

Space Coyote

May 27th, 2013 at 11:11 AM ^

It's not like the video game, usually kids aren't happy being told they won't see any time after seeing time the first year. Your also potentially hurting Morris more by holding him out during the year you would expect to see the greatest development from him. Lastly, if he starts getting more polished, that's around the time you expect him to start pulling away from the other back-up QBs, so you want him available in that case.