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Michigan coach under fire over player's health

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday he has never kept a player with a suspected concussion in a game, trying to address questions over his handling of quarterback Shane Morris last weekend as the Wolverines continue to struggle.

With Michigan down 30-7 to Minnesota early in the fourth quarter, Morris took a crunching hit from Theiren Cockran, who was called for roughing the passer. Morris briefly looked like he was having trouble standing, but the sophomore remained in for the next play and threw an incompletion before coming out of the game.

Devin Gardner replaced him, but later on that drive, Gardner’s helmet came off at the end of a play. While Gardner sat out for a play as required, Morris went back in and handed the ball off to a running back.

Asked Monday if Morris has been diagnosed with a concussion, Hoke said: “Everything that I know of, no.”

Hoke said there would be a statement from the team’s medical department, but by late Monday, the school still had not sent anything.

Hoke indicated that there was some confusion among the officials over whether Michigan could take a timeout to allow Gardner to stay in.

“By that time, I know Shane’s on the field, taking one more snap, handing the ball off, Devin gets his helmet back on,” Hoke said. “That’s how that sequence went. What I can tell you is we would never, ever put a guy on the field when there’s a possibility with head trauma, and we won’t do that.”

Hoke is facing plenty of scrutiny thanks to Michigan’s 2-3 start, and the incident involving Morris has become a major issue. Hoke said he hasn’t spoken with athletic director Dave Brandon recently about his handling of Morris or his job performance in general.

If there was one major point Hoke seemed to stress Monday, it was that he does not have input into whether a player is healthy enough to play. If a player shouldn’t be going back in the game, that’s the trainer’s call.

“I knew the kid had an ankle injury,” Hoke said. “That’s what I knew.”

Hoke confirmed that Michigan has people watching for possible injuries and checking them out. When asked if that happened in this case, Hoke said: “I would assume yes, because they do every other time. ... When a guy is out of the game, they tell me — and they have consistently for the last three years, when a guy has been ruled out.”

Hoke said Morris is dealing with a high ankle sprain.

“We practiced (Sunday) night, and Shane Morris would have practiced if not for a high ankle sprain,” Hoke said.