The Michigan Wolverines (7-5) will be taking on the Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) on Saturday in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. While both teams and fan bases will be the first to tell you that this has been a disappointing season, this should still be a good game between two evenly matched teams. Let’s take a look at the top five things to watch for Saturday night
Shane Morris starting at quarterback
Brady Hoke ended weeks of speculation about the health of Devin Gardner and what that would mean for the Wolverines. He confirmed today that true freshman and former 5 star recruit Shane Morris will be making his first career start in the BWW Bowl.
It’ll be interesting to see how Morris performs. Keep in mind that he missed most of his senior season in high school due to a bad case of mono, so this will be Morris’s first start at full health in quite some time.
With a full 15 practices leading up to the bowl game, you’d hope that the playbook didn’t have to be cut down too much, but if the offense is more vanilla than usual on Saturday, nobody should be surprised. However, this development might give us fans a glimpse as to what Michigan football will look like under Brady Hoke in the near future.
The running back rotation
Early in the season, senior Fitzgerald Toussaint was virtually the only running back to get carries in games. As of late however, the two true freshmen, Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, have been getting consistent carries. It’ll be interesting to see the distribution of playing time between these three players. I would imagine that Derrick Green gets the start and the bulk of the carries based on his production, but I’m sure the other two backs will see significant playing time.
Jeremy Gallon’s place in history
Senior receiver Jeremy Gallon has had a remarkable season for the Wolverines. He is very close to solidifying himself among the all-time great receivers in school history. With one reception on Saturday, Gallon would become the program leader in consecutive games with a reception at 39 straight games. With six receptions, Gallon would move past Jason Avant to rank third in career receptions. With seven receptions, Gallon would jump from 5th to 2nd on the list of receivers with the most receptions in a season. With 43 receiving yards, Gallon would move past Amani Toomer to rank third on the list of career receiving yards. With 47 yards, Gallon would also move into first on the list of receiving yards in a season, moving past Braylon Edwards.
The performance of the secondary
With Jarrod Wilson being out against Ohio State, the performance of the secondary suffered. It’ll be interesting to see how healthy he is against Kansas State.
Thomas Gordon and Courtney Avery are going to have to play well. Regardless of who is out there, this unit is going to have to make some big plays in the game to give the defense a boost.
Speaking of big plays, Blake Countess will be looking to add on to the six interceptions he has on the season, which has him tied for first in the Big Ten.
Brendan Gibbons did not make the trip, so Matt Wile will have kicking duties once again. While he hasn’t done terribly in the limited number of opportunities he’s had this season, the fact that Coach Hoke chose to go for a 4th down conversion instead of letting Wile handle a 33-yard field goal is telling. We may just see some aggressive play calling in 4-down territory as well as some well-timed trick plays.
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