Dec. 26, 2013
Morris to Start at Quarterback | Practice Report | Bowl Game Media Day
Head coach Brady Hoke joined OL Taylor Lewan, WR Jeremy Gallon and QB Shane Morris for Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl media day on Thursday (Dec. 26), and Hoke announced that Morris will start at quarterback against Kansas State.
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "Number one, it's really a privilege to be here. It's a privilege for us to represent the University of Michigan. We're two days away from playing in a football game that's very important to us as a team, a university, and for our seniors. We've had a great week. The hospitality from the Buffalo Wild Wings (Bowl), all the people that are involved, the committee members, the volunteers, have been first class. We've had tremendous practices. I think the way our guys have come out every day to prepare for a great game with Kansas State, we're very excited about that. We look forward to the football game. We had a great Christmas last night. We'll have a great practice today. So we're excited about it. Really a pleasure to be here."
On whether Shane Morris will start at quarterback ... "Yes, he will start the football game. He's had a really good preparation. We tried to see if Devin (Gardner) could go, and it just wasn't possible."
On how prepared he thinks Shane Morris is
... "I think he's had some great preparation. Obviously we were trying to figure out if Devin was going to be able to go. Snap-wise Shane has taken a lot of the snaps between him and Russell Bellomy
. He's done a tremendous job. I know his teammates have supported him. So we're excited about that."
On Kansas State and what changes have been made to Michigan's offensive and defensive plans ... "When you look at Kansas State from an offensive perspective, they have a lot of good weapons. They have guys who, when they get the ball in their hands, they're very good. There's some similarities to Ohio (State), our last game, when you look at some of the spread things they do. I think the two-quarterback system they'll use at times is similar to Northwestern in some ways. There's some differences. There's a few different plays they'll run that we haven't seen as much of. But from the concept itself, we've seen it about three or four times in our league."
On Devin Gardner's
health and long-term prognosis ... "I think he's improving. That's just the way it has to heal up. He should be ready when we get to spring. But I'm not a doctor. We'll find out."
On Kansas State running a different defense than Northwestern and Ohio State ... "Yeah, they do. They're a quarters team with a cover six background to them. I think the interesting thing will be how much pressure, especially on those third downs, those early downs, with the new quarterback being in."
On close losses and emphasizing finishing games ... "No question, this football team is 11 points away from being 11-1. We haven't finished games and executed the way we needed to at the end of the games. If you look at Kansas State, they've been a dominant fourth-quarter team the last six football games. That's something that we've talked about. Our players understand that we need to do a better job of finishing football games. Also educating them about the success that Kansas State has had in the fourth quarter. They've scored 72 points and given up 31 in those last six games."
On whether he has scaled back the offense much for Shane Morris ... "On both sides of the ball, you could say that. You start off with a pretty good package. But then you also want to emphasize and do things that your kids can be successful with. We've scaled some things back. But there's a lot of offense in there still."
On the biggest development in Shane Morris from the times he played earlier in the year until now ... "I think his poise, I think his fundamentals with his feet. I think the play-action game with ball fakes and all that. He's always had a pretty good arm. Accuracy has been very good."
On Taylor Lewan's experience and growth ... "He's had a better year in football than he's ever had. He's played his best football. He took on a lot of responsibility as a captain and as a guy who felt entitled to help young offensive linemen grow. I think he did that in a very positive way. I think his maturity, all those things that go along with being a year older, really has helped."
On who will play at running back ... "De'Veon (Smith), Derrick (Green), then Fitz (Toussaint). There's a good place in there for him also."
On whether Devin Gardner is out totally for the game ... "He won't play."
On Gardner's injury being turf toe or possibly broken bones ... "I think that's what they're worried about, the slight fractures, that kind of stuff. I don't know. They've X-rayed it a couple different times. They MRI'ed it. It's probably just a little more than just the turf toe."
On the quarterback situation ... "Shane is our starter. Then Russell Bellomy, who was our second quarterback a year ago when Devin took over, is cleared to play. He hurt his knee in spring, got rehabbed back together. He'll be the second guy in."
On what makes Shane Morris so good ... "Number one, he's very athletic. He's a guy that can move around well in the pocket, can move up in the pocket. He's a guy who has a very strong arm. He can make all the throws. Obviously we recruited him at Michigan to be the quarterback at Michigan. This is a great opportunity. We have a lot of faith in how he goes about his business getting ready to play."
On what makes wide receiver Jeremy Gallon such a standout ... "I think instinct. He's a guy who works awfully hard, very tough as an individual, has great instinct when catching the ball, catching it with his hands. Has an innate ability to go up for balls over guys that are much taller than he is. He's probably one of the toughest guys on the football team. You watch him block and it's amazing to watch him get down the field and block."
On Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett ... We have great respect for Tyler Lockett. He's a guy who gets behind people in a lot of cases. Runs good routes. The comebacks they like, does a nice job of that. The timing between the quarterbacks and him, you can tell there's been a lot of work in it is off-season done."
On the Kansas State quarterbacks' styles presenting a challenge ... "It does. It does. (Jake) Waters is a guy who probably gets short-selled a little bit on the athlete that he is. He's a good athlete who can run with the football also. But he's a guy they seem to be more comfortable with throwing the football. And (Daniel) Sams is a guy who is very athletic. He's like a tailback in there and will throw the ball, but most of the time they like to run it with him."
U-M Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan
On Kansas State's defense ... "Their tendencies are pretty consistent. As a team, the most dangerous part about them is how they always work as a team. If they're going to be in the B gap, they're going to be in the B gap. If they're going to be in the C gap, they're going to be in the C gap."
On if Kansas State's defense is underrated ... "I don't know their exact rankings. I know the Big 12 has a lot of high-powered offenses. They might be a little bit. I know when this offense is playing well, they're playing on all cylinders, it's tough to beat us."
On if he expected Devin Gardner to have to miss the bowl game due to injury ... "No, I didn't. Shane (Morris) has been part of Michigan tradition for a while. He's a hard-working guy. I think you put him in a position to be successful, he'll do his job just fine."
On if he thinks Morris is ready ... "Absolutely."
On Morris' maturation and growth ... "It's almost been day and night. Since I was a freshman, he's been committed to the University. I've gotten the opportunity to be around him, and been like this guy that's worried about Twitter followers, to a guy who could truly care less."
On how he thinks Morris will handle the first time he gets sacked or pressured ... "I don't know. It's rough. But it's part of the job. Shane, when he gets hit, man, it comes with the territory. He's got to understand that. If it doesn't feel good, you have to move on. You have to understand you have the whole team counting on you. 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."
On the team's performance against Ohio State and telling the team it can do that again ... "That's exactly what it was. You're playing a team that at the time was ranked No. 3 in the nation. All of a sudden we come in and play the way we did. It shows a lot about the fight in this team. I said it after the Northwestern game, this team is always going to fight. We'll get hit in the face and hit right back."
On it being a different unit with a new quarterback ... "I think we're going to be successful. I think this team is probably more consistent, like you said. We'll definitely see on Saturday. I'm excited for that whole song and dance. It's going to be awesome. It's great. It's my last game."
On how much a win would mean for the senior class ... "It would be huge. It would be awesome. You want to win every game. Obviously that didn't happen. You want to be successful, do all these things. Going out with a win would feel phenomenal."
On Frank Clark's ability to be a leader ... "I think he's a great leader. He's done a lot of things that have really helped this team. I think one thing that this team has done, it's started from ground zero as far as leadership goes. I feel the next team can build off of what we started building. This class started from ground zero."
On the one message he wants people to remember about this team ... "It's been fun. No matter what the circumstance, what the game, whether it was a blowout or win, we fought till the end. It's tough to go out 7-5. My voice is hoarse from just yelling."
On his impressions of K-State defensive end Ryan Mueller ... "He's a great player. He works hard. That's his best quality. He consistently works till the whistle. You can't say enough good things about him because he doesn't do a lot of things wrong. If I get the opportunity to go up against him a bunch, I'd love that. I'm sure he'll have a good game, but my job is to make sure he doesn't have a good game."
On Kansas State's defensive front ... "They're extremely consistent, hard-working, fighting guys. That's what makes a great defensive line. They may not be the most athletic guys at the end of the day, but they work as hard as they can. They'll keep coming over and over and beat you into the ground."
On if he has seen improvement from K-State's defense ... "You can see in the last six games. Their turnover ratio is plus nine. They've scored 72 points in the fourth quarter and their opponents have only scored 31. Those things are through improvement. They have a defensive lineman Player of the Year, and all that stuff is improving week in, week out. We might have improved throughout the season till our last game, so we'll try to be as successful as possible on Saturday."
On Michigan's offense changing at all with Shane Morris at quarterback ... "Just because he's a lefthanded quarterback, we might run things a little bit different about how he feels it. Other than that, we're confident in him running the same offense that Devin ran, try to put him into a position to be successful."
On which Wolverine would win a wing-eating competition ... "Graham Glasgow. He can eat boneless wings. He's a thick man, a thick boy over there, he's No. 61, the center. There are a couple guys that are smaller than him that can probably put it down. But Graham is probably my choice if I was putting money on somebody."
On the importantance of finishing games in the fourth quarter ... "It's huge. This is a team that plays extremely well in the fourth quarter, Kansas State. We've done a good job throughout the year of getting consistently better. But we've fallen short a couple times."
On how big it would be to pick up a win ... "It's very important. It's not everything in the world. Obviously, you want to go out with a win. It's not detrimental to your program. But it's great for the seniors and putting the next team in position."
U-M Fifth-Year Senior Wide Receiver Jeremy Gallon
On whether the offense has changed much ... "I don't think so. Everything has been the same. Just because he's (Shane Morris) a younger quarterback doesn't mean he doesn't know his material. I feel like he's on point with his material. He knows what he has to do. He's good at reading the defense, checking out of things if he have to. He's a smart kid. So I don't feel like anything has changed."
On what Shane Morris' strengths are compared to Devin Gardner ... "I really haven't focused on it. I mean, just during this week I haven't focused on anything but my craft, just doing whatever I can for the team, helping this team to win this game. So I really haven't focused on his strengths or weaknesses. I can tell you he's been on point with everything so far."
On if he expects Morris to be a little nervous ... "Of course he will. But it's our job as a team, as seniors, to calm him down, to let him know that we got his back. I know everything is going to be all right. It's a football game. He's been doing it since he was young. It's nothing new. Faster tempo."
On working with Morris the last couple weeks ... "Yeah. He's been good. Everything has been great with him. He's been connecting with the receivers, the running backs, building a stronger chemistry with the O-line. There's nothing new about him. I feel like he's been here forever. He's built that kind of chemistry with us, so ..."
On having a little extra time with the bowl prep to get Morris ready ... "As a backup quarterback, your only chance is working with the twos. I never got a chance to work with him, like, with the team. The only time you'd get to work with him was outside football, your own time, putting in extra work. Now that I've had him working with the ones, the whole offense, he's been amazing. He's been great with everything. He's showing us that he's ready for this game. So I feel comfortable with him."
On Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett ... "I haven't watched that much film, but I've studied him. He's an explosive player. To me, he's a lot like (Darren) Sproles when he was there. He's quick. He's something our defense have to contain."
On whether he studies other receivers like Lockett ... "I watched him a little bit. I don't keep up with everybody. I don't study receivers as much as I do DBs. From what I do know, I know he's an explosive player, really quick, something our defense have to contain, like I said. You can expect him to give everything for his team. He's real quick and knows his routine. He's an offensive weapon for them, too."
On his impressions of Kansas State's secondary ... "They're tough. Ty Zimmerman is a guy that keeps them in line. He calls all the calls. He's their go-to guy to bring the energy. They're tough, always moving to the ball, not letting anything get past them."
On K-State's cornerbacks ... "Like I said, making the tackles, moving to the ball. They're tough and smart. ... Like I said, they're not going to get beat deep. They don't want to get beat deep. Trying to keep everything in front of them. Just trying to contain everything."
On Kansas State's similarities to anybody in the Big Ten ... "As far as the defense, they remind me of Nebraska, trying to keep everything in front of them, very physical, expecting 11 hands on the ball. Very smart, well-coached."
On his motivation for this week ... "Winning. It's our last game together as seniors. Winning to us is our motivation, is what drives us every day to come out and work hard and practice the way we do, give everything we got for each other. So I would say winning."
U-M Freshman Quarterback Shane Morris
On the challenges of preparing to start this weekend and going from high school to college ... "Biggest difference from high school to college is you got bigger guys, the game is faster. It's, how do you say, a lot different. Coach Hoke, all the coaches, the team has helped me prepare for this opportunity. I feel like I'm ready for it."
On whether he is running the same plays that in practice that Devin Gardner ran or if he will do different things ... "No, I mean, I'm getting the full game plan that Coach (Al) Borges gives. Coach Borges is preparing me for that. I prepared all year to be the starting quarterback this year, so ..."
On how much he has grown with his teammates through these last couple weeks of bowl practice ... "Last couple weeks of bowl practice I've grown because of my teammates and they've helped me a lot with this situation. They've helped me with everything, from film work to just playing with the ones. It's a lot different. They've done a great job helping me prepare for that."
On not playing much as a senior as a senior in high school ... "I got mono. I was out for pretty much the whole season except for four games."
On playing four games as a high school senior and a few games at Michigan ... "It's not really a big difference for me. I don't feel it's going to hurt my playing at all. I got a great team around me that's going to help me a lot. I have to get the ball in the play-makers' hands."
On when he found out he would be playing ... "Late last week Coach Hoke let me know I might be playing. I've been playing with the ones since about a week ago."
On starting the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl ... "It's been my dream since I was a little kid to start as quarterback for the University of Michigan. It's a huge bowl game. I'm excited. I grew up in Michigan. My family surrounded me in Michigan. I have baby pictures of me in Michigan jerseys. It's really cool."
On how different is it running with the first string ... "I've been with the twos most of the season. Obviously we have a great two line, great skill players. It's the stars. It's a lot more serious, a lot more reps. That's the biggest difference, yeah. Graham (Glasgow) and I work well together, the whole line."
On any words of encouragement or advice for the game from the coaches ... "Not really. Just to be myself, be a leader. Don't put a lot of pressure on myself because I have a great team surrounding me."
On preparing for this moment maybe longer than some of the media wants to believe or think ... "Definitely. Since the day I came in, I've been preparing to be a starting quarterback at the University of Michigan. That's been my goal. Having the opportunity now, it's surreal. But I've prepared for that."
On differences between him and Devin Gardner ... "We both play quarterback. With the team I have surrounding me, receivers, running backs, it's not going to be difficult for me. It's getting the ball in their hands."