Shane Morris to Start for Michigan in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but Is He Ready?

Andrew CoppensContributor IDecember 26, 2013

EAST HARTFORD, CT - SEPTEMBER 21:  Brady Hoke, coach of the Michigan Wolverines, talks with Devin Gardner #98 and Shane Morris #7 before a game with the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field on September 21, 2013 in East Hartford, Connecticut.   (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The mystery of Michigan's starting quarterback for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is no more, as head coach Brady Hoke announced on Thursday that freshman Shane Morris will lead Michigan's offense for the first time ever. 

Devin Gardner's injured foot, reported to be a turf-toe issue at first, appears to be a lot worse than first thought. Gardner will not play in the game at all this weekend.

For some in the Michigan fanbase, seeing Morris as the starting quarterback is exactly what they've hoped for, ever since the Akron and UConn debacles earlier in the season. 

Gardner finished the year with 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 60.3 percent of his passes. 

Despite those numbers and zero interceptions in the final four games, the memories of completing under 50 percent and throwing for under 100 yards against UConn and Iowa were hard to shake. 

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 30: Quarterback Devin Gardner #98 of the Michigan Wolverines passes against the Ohio State Buckeyes during a game at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Come Saturday, Michigan fans will have a chance to do just that by getting a glimpse of the future at the quarterback position.

Morris, a former 4-star and the No. 4 quarterback, per Rivals, has had big-time hype and expectations surrounding him since the day he committed to the home-state Wolverines. 

Since his arrival on campus, he's thrown just nine passes for 65 yards and an interception in mop-up duty this year.

This will be his first start ever, and mop-up duty against Central Michigan is a far cry from starting against Kansas State. 

We simply have no way of knowing just how Morris will look on Saturday. He could be the next big thing for Michigan or he could fall flat on his face.

Yet a lot will be on the line for Morris in the spotlight of a bowl game. Just ask Devin Gardner what it can do for expectations. 

Play well and the Wolverines may have a very tough battle on their hands at quarterback heading into next season. 

Play poorly and Morris could set back his ability to chase the starting-quarterback spot for the 2014 season. 

The reaction by some Michigan fans has been pure jubilation, adding to the hype surrounding Morris' start: 

However, one would be wise to remember these words: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. 

For every Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston out there, there are plenty of young quarterbacks who struggle before putting it all together. 

Morris has a lot of hype and expectation to live up to and just one game to prove himself in. Fair or not, his 2014 prospects will be tied to how he performs on Saturday in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. 


*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.