As one looks through the Miami Hurricanes football roster for 2013, you can’t help but notice the great mix of senior leadership alongside some talented youngsters.
The Hurricanes have 14 Red Shirt freshman and 26 sophomores with significant playing time under their cleats to go along with 22 juniors and 22 seniors. That’s a solid mix for a team that had its ups and downs in the learning process in 2012. And an ever better mix for a team that looks to build off a 7-5 record.
But that is all on paper. And despite the fact it looks like an old school Miami type group of athletes that can wreak havoc, the end result of the 2013 Hurricanes will lie the hands of one young man…
Senior QB Stephen Morris…
Morris enters his final season with 23 games and 17 starts under his belt. He has completed 353 passes for 4,858 yards and 28 touchdowns. No doubt solid, but Morris will have to be better for Miami to win its way into a BCS Bowl.
Yes, he has the pieces around him on offense in Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, just to name two of 20 explosive guys, to take the pressure off of him. But at the end of the day, it is going to be the world watching Morris. From the NFL scouts to Alex Collins mom (cause we all know she is still going to use those free tickets she got to Miami), all eyes will be on Morris and how he directs the talent on this team.
“We have a lot of guys on this team who are athletic and explosive,’’ Morris said. “My biggest thing is to get them the ball. That’s been a focus. I know my guys are going to make plays. It’s tempting once in awhile. When you see one-on-one matchups and see things on the field you’re like, you want to take advantage of it, but you’ve got to go with the flow of the game. Sometimes you just need a first down or some completions to get the team going and stay positive in yardage on first and second downs especially.’’
That was a major emphasis in Morris’ development under Head Coach Al Golden and one that will continue this season.
“He just has to trust those around him,’’ Golden said. “Stop looking for the big play. Just hit some singles. It’s a 1-yard completion that ends up being a 16-yard touchdown. Distribute the football. It doesn’t always have to be down the field. We have enough talent out there to get explosive plays without throwing it 50 yards.’’
That is what Morris will have to embody in 2013 for Miami to shine. It is also something the scouts will be looking at to see if he has the moxie of a Russell Wilson.
And if Morris does accomplish this task in his development, the sky’s the limit for the Hurricanes.
Morris’ Miami Career
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.