The Michigan quarterback situation in 2013 was really tough to grade or breakdown.
Even the best quarterback, behind a poor offensive line and without a run game, won’t be able to do too much. And that was the case for Devin Gardner for most of the season.
But with Shane Morris’ performance in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and the early enrollment of Wilton Speight, the QB spot is going to heat up over the next few months as the Wolverines' coaching staff tries to diagnose the quarterback problems, solve the issues and move forward.
THE GOOD: Considering what Gardner went through most of the season -- an inept O-line and Fitzgerald Toussaint never being much of a threat -- the redshirt junior had a decent season overall. The best part came in the final four games of the regular season when he completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 971 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. In those four games, he really did handle himself well. And although Michigan went 1-3 in those four games, it was not because of Gardner. The other good part of Michigan’s quarterback situation is that Morris handled himself pretty well when his name was called. It shows he developed through the fall, and that should continue this spring and into fall camp.
THE BAD: When it was bad this season, it was very bad. From the Notre Dame on Sept. 7 until Penn State on Oct. 12, Gardner averaged about two interceptions a game and looked terrified and scattered in his decision-making at times. The play-calling didn’t make sense and the shots downfield -- both from Gardner in the regular season and in the few chances Morris got in the bowl game -- didn't give fans much confidence when watching this offense. The legacy of these coaches -- four years in -- is that they have yet to have a solid and consistent QB. Denard Robinson was fun to watch and the same can be said for Gardner at times. Morris might provide hope for the future, but Michigan is still looking for more from its QBs.
THE FUTURE: This spring will have an interesting question for the coaching staff: Is it ready to become a pro-style offense? Are they ready to put a guy in the pocket who really stays in the pocket? If so, Morris or Speight might be the best option and Gardner might get shuffled to wide receiver yet again. This might be the best option for all parties involved, as Gardner’s athleticism may serve him best at the next level as a receiver rather than a quarterback. And Morris and Speight pushing one another in a competition could be a good thing. Morris has the advantage of experience, which should give him confidence. However, Speight has the advantage in height (he's three inches taller) and he is enrolling early so he won’t have too much to catch up on.