More importantly however, Morris limped off the field, nearly collapsing following a hard hit directly underneath the chin. Even worse, Morris was accidently inserted back into the football game for one snap despite later being diagnosed with a probable mild concussion.
But with controversy now away from the Michigan football program and new head coach Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, Saturday’s spring football game was the first opportunity for Morris to take the field at the big house since September.
Starting for Team Blue and coming away with a 7-0 win, Morris finished the day completing 11-of-24 passes for 135-yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Learning under the tutelage of Harbaugh and passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, Morris feels a difference in his game based largely on a different approach.
“I would say I’m studying the game of football more,” Morris said. “And knowing how to study the game of football more. When I’m watching film I’m not just watching it, I know what to look for.
“I’m just spending a lot of time in the film room by myself or with the coaches just studying the game of football, watching plays, watching a lot of NFL cut ups. That’s really big for me right now, just watching NFL quarterbacks and how they do it. We have a lot of similar plays so just watching how they read it out and how they do it.”
Morris pointed out his propensity to watch several clips of New England Patriots and former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady. The junior quarterback also added he’s focused a great deal on eyeing the movements and performance from Indianapolis Colts back-up Matt Hasselbeck.
“I watch a lot of him because I didn’t really grow up with him playing but I look back at a lot of stuff we do on offense simulates what he did,” Morris said.
“I like watching him. He’s a great quarterback and he throws from all angles.”
Part of quarterbacking is understanding the fact that at some point hits are going to come. Appearing to have some happy feet in the pocket a year ago, Morris looked more comfortable in Saturday’s spring scrimmage.
“That’s probably one of the biggest parts of being a quarterback, just being able to stay in the pocket and not get flustered and being able to throw under pressure,” Morris said.
“That’s something I‘ve worked on a lot this past year, being as some guys say economical in the pocket. Short movements, short steps; keep my eyes down field and not looking at the rush. All the great quarterbacks do it and it helps a lot.”
On one particular play, a third down and short, Morris hung in as long as possible finding fullback Joe Kerridge out of the backfield for a first down.
After being knocked down, Harbaugh greeted Morris with a high five.
“That was a good throw,” Harbaugh said. “I remember going over and patting him on the back on that one. That was an impressive play. A good courage throw.”
Following the spring game, Harbaugh said Morris is ahead in the quarterback competition right now. With Iowa transfer Jake Rudock and true freshman Zach Gentry set to arrive in the summer, the pecking order could change.
Either way, Morris is ready.
“The competition is going to be great,” Morris said. ”You can bring in 100 quarterbacks, it’s not going to matter to me.”
Morris’ teammates are seeing a difference in his approach this off-season as well.
“Each day Shane is getting better,” wide out Jaron Dukes said. “Seeing him in the film room after practice and before practice, seeing him just getting extra work in, it motivates me to be better too.”