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Oct 1, 2014 7:26 PM

Michigan QB Gardner to start vs Rutgers

The Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) After leaving sophomore quarterback Shane Morris on the field following a hit to the head last weekend, Michigan coach Brady Hoke took responsibility for the program's breakdown in communication Wednesday and said Devin Gardner will start against Rutgers.

Hoke did not elaborate on discrepancies between his news conference Monday and athletic director Dave Brandon's statement on Morris' injuries early Tuesday. Brandon said Morris suffered a high-ankle sprain and "probable, mild concussion."

"From the start, when you're a leader, you always have to take responsibility," Hoke said. "I take responsibility for our student-athletes, and I would take it for their health and welfare. But I'll also make it clear I don't make decisions on the health and welfare, and that shouldn't be the coach's decision."

Fifth-year senior Gardner will start on the road in New Jersey for the Wolverines.

"We have great belief in what he has done," Hoke said. "I think the leadership that he has demonstrated with a lot of adversity, I think he's done a tremendous job."

The decision came two days after offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier opted not to commit to a quarterback, saying coaches would "evaluate the position."

Gardner played the remainder of the fourth quarter Saturday after Morris was ultimately removed. He finished 3 for 6 for 39 yards with a rushing touchdown in Michigan's 30-14 loss to Minnesota.

Both Brandon and school President Mark Schlissel issued statements in the aftermath of Morris' injuries, citing a "serious lack of communication" on the field. Hoke said he still would not wear a headset on the sideline.

"That's something I've explained a lot," Hoke said. "It allows me to coach guys on the sideline. I've got a guy right behind me who is telling me everything that I need to know. I think it helps when you want to be hands-on."

Brandon described plans for more medical personnel in the press box area and examination of sideline policies regarding communication. Brandon's statement acknowledged Morris' likely concussion after Hoke had said about 12 hours earlier that as far as he knew, the quarterback had not been diagnosed with one.

"(We) worked very hard getting it right in the statement," Hoke said. "When you talk about evaluating all the things we needed to evaluate, that was all handled in the statement."

Hoke says his relationship with Brandon remains "a relationship that's built on trust, that's built on integrity and built on character." There have been calls from students on campus for both Hoke and Brandon to be removed.


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