SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There will be fresh faces everywhere when the Wolverines and Wildcats meet on Saturday in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Specifically at quarterback, as Michigan (7-5) is led by freshman Shane Morris, who will be making his first career collegiate start, as U-M will play Kansas State (7-5) for the first match-up ever between the two programs.
While Morris is drawing the headlines with his first career start, it’s the same ole’ story between Michigan coach Brady Hoke and KSU coach Bill Snyder – the winning formula is to establish the run and to stop the run, which leads to success on the field.
“We've continued to pound away at it, number one,” Hoke said. “In the Ohio (State) game, our offensive line did a nice job. I think the backs ran hard, had good vision. You just keep going in that direction. Hopefully all those guys are developing at the rate that you want them to in the last 14 practices.”
And while Michigan junior quarterback Devin Gardner is ruled out with a turf toe injury, Snyder says his game plan hasn't changed defensively.
“Well, I don't think that has changed, regardless of who the quarterback was,” Snyder said. “I think everybody feels the same way, or at least you hear people talk about it that way. You've got to be able to stop the run to have success on defense. You can't stop the run, then you're probably going to have a hard time stopping the pass, too. It can snowball on you.
“But, yes, our approach has never changed day in and day out, week in and week out. You have an extreme focus on trying to be successful against the running game on defense.”
Hoke says the Wolverines’ will split the carries between fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint and freshman Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, saying, “I think we'll play them all about the same.”
But Hoke also emphasized the running game being a priority to set-up some down the field passes for his newly named starting quarterback.
“We'd like to be able to run the ball and let the tailbacks get loose a little bit, try and control the line of scrimmage,” Hoke said. “Have Shane do a great job of managing the game, making the throws off the play action and that stuff that we think he can do a good job with.”