ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The weather was perfect Saturday but the storm that hit Michigan Stadium a week ago reemerged on the football field, the Wolverines falling at home to Minnesota, 30-14.
The story and intrigue heading into this one though squarely focused on Michigan’s quarterback situation.
Sophomore Shane Morris got the start, the second of his career, managing the game in the first half as Michigan utilized a conservative approach offensively.
Morris completed 6-of-10 passes for 46-yards through the first two quarters and most importantly for this Michigan offense, ball security wasn’t an issue with zero turnovers.
In the second half, things got ugly.
Morris completed just one pass the rest of the way, finishing the game 7-of-19 with 49-yards passing to go along with one interception that went the other way for a Minnesota touchdown, and one lost fumble.
Still, Michigan coach Brady Hoke believes Morris had done enough to earn the starting nod Saturday.
“Number one and I said this before and I’m going to say this again, we have two guys that we have a lot of faith in at quarterback,” Hoke said.
“Shane had a good week of practice; he’s had good practices throughout fall camp and I think that I talked about earlier in the year. And he had a good practice last week.”
After the game Hoke was quick to defend both Morris and senior Devin Gardner who has taken quite a bit of criticism this season, noting not all the blame for this loss or the 2-3 start to the season falls on their shoulders.
“Sometimes we want to point the finger at one guy because he’s the quarterback,” Hoke said. “And I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s fair.
“Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job, there were some protection things he had to step up in, the pocket closed a couple times on him. The interception was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage that gets knocked up in the air. We’ve got to have better ball security and he’d be the first one to tell you that, a couple times the ball was on the ground.”
Morris would eventually be pulled from the game in the fourth quarter but not without a little controversy.
A late hit by Theiren Cockran that appeared to catch Morris right under the chin knocked him down momentarily before standing up and limping over to get the signal for the next play.
Walking next to right tackle Ben Braden, Morris momentarily collapsed before catching himself with the help of his teammate.
Still, Morris would stay in the game one more play before Gardner came onto the field to spell him.
Later on that drive, Gardner’s helmet came off at the end of a run, forced to sit out a play, and Morris was inserted back into the game as well.
Eventually, Morris was carted from the Michigan sideline into the locker room, unclear what the injuries are at this time.
“I don’t know if he might’ve had a concussion or not,” Hoke said. “I don’t know that and that was something; Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid and Shane wanted to be the quarterback.
“Believe me, if he didn’t want to be, he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down.”
Asked if there could be another change at quarterback for next week against Rutgers, assuming Morris will be healthy enough to go, Hoke left open the possibility of Gardner earning back his job.
“We’ll evaluate it like we did last week,” Hoke said. “We’ll 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.”
Gardner provided a little spark, finishing his day 3-for-6 with 39-yards and a rushing touchdown.