When Michigan football coach Brady Hoke toys with redshirting freshmen quarterback Shane Morris, he shouldn’t look past last year's Nebraska loss to influence his decision.
Who could forget backup quarterback Russell Bellomy's disappointing performance when he replaced injured Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at Nebraska. Bellomy, who redshirted the previous season, completed just 3-of-16 passes with three interceptions and two sacks while the Cornhuskers pulled away from the Wolverines, 23-9.
Truth is, Bellomy wasn't ready for prime time.
Before the quarterback from Arlington,Texas was tossed into the fray, he had thrown only five passes for Michigan. No matter how much work you put in on a scout team, or how many reps you might get in practice, there's no substitute for game-time experience against quality competition.
The question of redshirting the highly-regarded Morris might be a moot point this fall considering Michigan's inventory of quarterbacks.
Besides Morris, there’s little experience behind probable starter Devin Gardner.
First there's Bellomy, who gets a shot at retooling his arsenal when spring practice begins March 16. Then there's Brian Cleary, a 6'3”, 204-pound redshirt freshman who won All-Catholic League honors at Detroit Jesuit.
Remember that Cleary, who played in the same league as Morris, hasn't thrown a competitive pass for Michigan. Neither has redshirt sophomore Alex Swieca or redshirt freshman Shaun Austin.
Before the thought of Gardner suffering an injury comes to mind, Hoke should get Morris a few minutes of game-time experience. That doesn't mean inserting him in the final minute against Central Michigan just to hand the ball off. Instead, send him in for a first-half series or two against Notre Dame.
Another topic to consider is Morris's 2012 season. The Scout.com 5-star recruit was forced to miss three games due to a bout with mono before coming up with an unimpressive performance in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
Waiting to play competitively until September 2014 wouldn't necessarily be a confidence builder.
Then there's the competition. Should Morris redshirt, he'll be greeted at next year's spring practice by 6'6" 230-pound commit Wilton Speight, who will be graduating in December.
For anyone questioning Speight’s credentials, consider that he’s already been invited to 2014’s Under Armour All-America Game.
Seeing action in three or four games this fall gives Morris a huge advantage over Speight both psychologically and on the stat sheet.
Redshirting might be an excellent route to take for players who need more time to learn the playbook, grow physically or are blessed with veterans starting ahead of them.
But in Morris' case, it shouldn't even be considered.