Michigan QB Devin Gardner (Toe) "Likely" Out
Michigan junior quarterback Devin Gardner is likely to miss Saturday's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Kansas State due to turf toe, the Detroit News reported Monday.
Freshman Shane Morris, who has played in three games and attempted nine college passes, is preparing to start.
“We’re going into it (thinking) that Shane will be the guy,” coach Brady Hoke said at a news conference Monday.
Gardner has not returned to practice as of Monday, and Hoke has self-imposed a deadline of Wednesday. The quarterback threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns Nov. 30 in a 42-41 loss against Ohio State. He threw just one interception in the final six games after a terrible start to the season, but some fans still called for the Wolverines to turn to the freshman.
At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Gardner has fought through several injuries this season and it's hard to imagine him missing a bowl due to turf toe, though he and his trainers are the ones who know the severity. Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs played with a similar injury in Saturday's New Mexico bowl, rushing for 169 yards and three touchdowns with a metal plate in his cleat. In the New Orleans Bowl, Terrance Broadway (broken forearm) helped Louisiana-Lafayette beat Tulane despite numerous reports that he would not play, so it's hard to assume Gardner absolutely won't play.
It's unlikely Gardner would get drafted in the early rounds, but it's possible he could consider foregoing his senior season in favor of the NFL, so that may play a factor in his availability as well.
But if Hoke sticks to his "Wednesday" deadline, time's winding down for Gardner's bowl game availability.
It's the perfect time to test out a freshman quarterback due to the volume of practice reps Morris has been able to get in the weeks before Saturday's game and the relative little meaning placed on the outcome. Morris was a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com and reportedly has a stronger arm than Gardner.