SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In all 134 years of the program’s history, Michigan football has never played against Kansas State.
That will end when the Wolverines and Wildcats kick off Saturday in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Nor has Michigan faced a team with such a prominent dual-quarterback threat. But that will also end Saturday.
One of them, Jake Waters, is prone to passing. The other, Daniel Sams, “throws enough to keep you honest,” according to Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, but is more a running threat than anything.
“We’ve faced some really good quarterbacks in the Big Ten,” Mattison said. “I don’t know that you go into a game in the Big Ten where the quarterback doesn’t have the ability to make it hard on you.”
As far as similarities to quarterbacks the Wolverines have faced this season, Mattison draws parallels between Sams and Northwestern’s Kain Colter.
But more than anything else, Mattison sees flashes of former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson’s speed in the Wildcats’ tandem — which is why he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the ground threat.
“You don’t fear (the duo),” Mattison said. “We were lucky enough to play for two years against the best there is.”
BACKUPS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: It still appears very likely that freshman quarterback Shane Morris will start for Michigan in the bowl game in lieu of redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner.
“As it becomes more apparent that (Morris) could be starting, we have to be very judicious about how we go about reping him in terms of plays to run,” offensive coordinator Al Borges said.
Morris’s expected shift up to starter means that redshirt junior Russell Bellomy will move into the No. 2 position having recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained during spring practice. The last and only time Bellomy saw game action was in 2012 against Nebraska.
Though Borges couldn’t say when, if ever, Gardner will be able to practice again this year — he spent Tuesday’s practice watching from the sidelines — the coach will not officially rule out Gardner starting until game day.
“(Gardner) just assumes he’s going to play,” Borges said. “If for some reason he doesn’t, he doesn’t, but we don’t think any other way. Even if he was the backup, he has to approach it like he’d be the starter.”
MOTHER AND SON, REUNITED: Mattison explained that much of the increased tenacity freshman defensive back Channing Stribling has shown during the bowl practices is due in part to the return of his mother from her work in the armed forces.
“His mom was serving in the service,” Mattison said. “She was gone, he didn’t hear from her and now she’s back home. He’s real close to his mom, she’s a great lady and you don’t know that unless you’re a close team.”
NOTES: Both Borges and Mattison noted the chippiness in Tuesday’s practice but said that it has to do with the team getting tired of playing against itself. … Borges doesn’t plan to switch fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan and right tackle Michael Schofield to accommodate Morris at quarterback.