But experience is going to trump everything else in this situation. If Gardner’s final performance of the season -- in which he led scoring drive after scoring drive vs. Ohio State on a foot that needed a boot -- doesn’t tell fans that he’s willing to do whatever he can to win for this team, then they weren’t really watching the game.
It’s hard to imagine Gardner would do that and then allow any slip up that would give his job to a sophomore. This situation seems like it would be more of a “Gardner didn’t do this or that” in order for Morris to become the starter than it would for Gardner to play his best and for Morris to have surpassed that level. Morris is a talented player who could be a fantastic option for Michigan in the future, but it just seems like this season it’s more of Gardner’s job to lose than it is Morris’ to win.
Gardner was asked to do a lot through those early games when he was struggling. Fans want to focus on his interceptions and mistakes (and they should, I’m not saying his statistics need to be thrown out the window) but that must also be put up against the fact that his offensive line was subpar at best, the run game was nonexistent and every hit Gardner took got him one step closer to a season-ending injury.
This season, Gardner will still be asked to do a lot. He’ll need to make the right play calls and reads. He’ll need to be accurate on his throws, especially since his security blanket Jeremy Gallon is gone. He’ll need to stay in the pocket instead of running 20 yards backward. But he’ll have the help of a stronger interior line and a run game that should be much improved. He’s a year older, and after his performance against Ohio State -- really the last four games of the season -- he should be given the benefit of the doubt that he’ll come into next season prepared.