If the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl were today, Michigan would probably be without its starting quarterback Devin Gardner.
The junior was seen Monday during the Wolverines’ arrival in Phoenix wearing a walking boot. He hasn’t practiced since injuring his foot in Michigan’s regular-season finale against Ohio State on Nov. 30.
If Gardner can’t go on Saturday when Michigan faces Kansas State at Sun Devil Stadium, Wolverines’ head coach Brady Hoke will hand the keys to the offense to true-freshman Shane Morris.
“Devin Gardner met with the doctors on Friday — he’s still in a boot and we don’t know how he is going to be,” Hoke said Monday when he met with reporters at Sky Harbor Airport, “It was a setback a little bit. He was coming along. But we also have great faith in Shane Morris and how he’s prepared and the snaps he’s taken.”
Replacing Gardner won’t be easy, though. The entire Wolverines’ offense runs through the dynamic quarterback, who has passed for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 500 more yards and another 11 scores.
Morris has only played in three games — going 4 of 9 for 65 yards and an interception.
K-State head coach Bill Snyder said he doesn’t foresee Michigan’s offense changing what it does at this point in the season, even with a new quarterback leading the charge.
“I would imagine there may be some differences between Gardner and Morris, but I think both of them prepare in virtually the same offense, which is extremely complex,” Snyder said Monday. “If you prepare for their offense, you’re virtually preparing for everything.
“They can do an awful lot of things. Regardless of who the quarterback is, our preparation has been more along the lines of the offense in its entirety. Gardner is a tremendously talented young guy, but there is a lot of talent on that offense that you have to prepare for, it’s not just the quarterback.”
There are still five days before the bowl game — beginning at 9:15 p.m. (CST) on ESPN — so there’s still a chance Gardner gets cleared to play. But Hoke said Gardner would have to practice by Wednesday to be considered for the bowl game.
“It’s kind of day-to-day,” he saud. “He’s been throwing some balls the last couple practices. But right now, if we were playing tonight, he would not play.
“(Garnder) has done a lot of alternate conditioning — he’s been in every meeting and he’s played a lot of snaps this year. It’s a possibility. We’re going into it that Shane will be the guy.”