SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Devin Funchess was asked to describe freshman quarterback Shane Morris, one of the words the sophomore tight end used was “nervous.”

Morris’ facial expressions naturally make him look worried, Funchess said, but not before quickly adding that the looks of uneasiness don’t translate to uncertain play on the field.

Morris doesn’t have any more time to look nervous, though.

At the Michigan football team’s media day Thursday morning, coach Brady Hoke officially announced what many have suspected for awhile — Morris will start his first collegiate game in place of redshirt junior Devin Gardner when the Wolverines take on Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday.

“Yes, he will start the football game,” Hoke said. “He’s had a really good preparation. We tried to see if Devin could go, and it just wasn’t possible.”

Gardner hasn’t practiced since the week of the Ohio State game at the end of November, and he’s still suffering the effects of what the team is calling turf toe. As a result, Hoke said that there is no possible situation in which the redshirt junior plays Saturday.

Hoke admitted the injury is “probably a little more than just the turf toe” and added that Gardner has undergone several X-rays and MRIs. Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports reported Thursday morning that the quarterback broke his left foot against the Buckeyes.

In the meantime, Gardner has spent the past few weeks helping Morris become even more familiar with the playbook.

“Devin’s been great,” Morris said. “He’s calling me every day, telling me what I need to do to get the team to follow me and get the team to respect me.”

But Morris doesn’t seem to need Gardner’s help garnering the Wolverines’ respect. Having seen how quickly the freshman has matured, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Graham Glasgow has a newfound appreciation for Morris.

“I’m not a quarterback expert,” Glasgow said. “I don’t know what good quarterback play really is, unless it’s not throwing interceptions. Shane commands the huddle, and he seems to be a natural leader. He just seems to slide right in.”

Morris has seen very little action this season, appearing in just three games: Central Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. But he’s picked up the intensity in the past weeks, devoting more time to film study and practice.

“The last couple weeks have been really confusing,” Morris said. “We didn’t know, really, what was going to happen with Devin, and the chances of me playing became more prominent.

“But I’ve prepared all year. For 12 weeks, I prepared like I was going to be the starting quarterback. They always say you’re one play away. Well, it’s true.”

The coaching staff has had to slightly scale back the offense to accommodate Morris’ learning curve. But the freshman said offensive coordinator Al Borges has done a lot over the past weeks to make sure he feels comfortable with all the receivers.

Funchess and fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon — Gardner’s two favorite targets — said they have just as much chemistry with Morris as they do with Gardner, and that they’re eager for him to get his chance to play.

Morris can’t wait for Saturday, either. And when he talks about starting his first game, there’s not a hint of nervousness.

“I’m excited. I really am,” Morris said. “With the team surrounding me, we have a great team and our offense, we’ve shown glimpses of greatness and I think we can do it.”

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