Shane Morris was thrown into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl as Michigan’s quarterback out of necessity.

As the default option behind injured Devin Gardner, he performed well.

But earning the starting job now that Gardner is back as a fifth-year senior with 1½ playing years on the field and healthy may be more of a challenge for Morris.

Through three practices, the hierarchy remains with Gardner in the lead and Morris still finding his way.

“He’s doing okay, he’s not ready to be the starter at Michigan,” U-M coach Brady Hoke said today at a press conference. “Devin’s got the most experience. I wouldn’t temper anything (about competition.) If we were starting today, (Morris) wouldn’t be the guy out there. Two weeks from now? We’ll see.”

Two weeks ago, U-M offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said Morris was facing a steep learning curve embracing the new offense.

Hoke backed that up today, saying a number of players are challenged to adjust with new terminology.

“Physically he’s as god as there is,” Hoke said. “Mechanically is he as good as he should be? Probably not. There’s things in drops, there’s things in ball exchange, there’s things got to pay a little more attention to.”

Gardner was on crutches, in a boot and did nothing for more than two months as Morris filled in. But Gardner has showed no ill effects of the toe injury and is doing everything in practice.

For now, Gardner and Morris are alternating, taking four consecutive snaps each with Russell Bellomy and Wilton Speight taking less, four on occasion and two on occasion.

“From that standpoint, we’ve got really good competition,” Hoke said.

■ BUTT BACK?: Tight end Jake Butt just had surgery to repair his ACL tear on Feb. 28 after suffering the injury in winter conditioning. But there’s already hope he can return and have an impact this season, midway through.

Following the plan of linebacker Jake Ryan from last year, Butt’s surgery was nearly a month earlier than Ryan’s so he may return even sooner than Ryan, who came back in Week 6.

“It’s probably the same timeline,” Hoke said. “I haven’t really sat down and talked to the doctors because he just had it done. He’ll work hard, just like Jake did…. To really have him back where you’d want him, it probably would be game three or four. So it is similar in some ways. We’ll have to see. Everybody heals differently.”

Hoke said U-M has looked at the rash of ACL tears – at least six in the past year – but hasn’t found a correlation.

“You can do studies all over the country and everybody will tell you that,” he said. “There are no common denominators.”