Stephen Morris Has to Be Brilliant for Miami Hurricanes Upset

By B.L. Lippert

Considering they are the No. 7 team in the country, the Miami Hurricanes aren’t receiving much respect heading into a primetime showdown with Florida State on Saturday.

Some of that has to do with their need for late-game heroics to beat lesser teams like North Carolina and Wake Forest, but it’s also a referendum on the play of quarterback Stephen Morris.

To put it simply, Morris has struggled during this, his senior year.

Coming into 2013, the major question mark for the Canes was thought to be their much-maligned defense. However, to date, the Miami defense has played well; it’s been the offense that has underwhelmed. The primary reason for the sluggish offensive production has been the erratic play of Morris.

Some analysts thought Morris was one of the top quarterbacks in the country, but he hasn’t played like one this season. Despite a few injuries, the Canes are still loaded on offense. Duke Johnson is one of the most talented running backs in the country, and though there aren’t any stars, the receiving corps has great depth.

It’s been a lack of consistency from Morris that has hampered their progress offensively. His footwork looks sloppy, he seems out of sync with some of the Hurricane read routes and as a result, he’s thrown the ball poorly for long stretches.

The low point of his season was on the road at North Carolina a few weeks ago when the Tar Heels almost pulled off the shocking upset. Although he threw for 300-plus yards that Thursday night, he also tossed four costly interceptions that gave the Tar Heels a real chance to beat the Canes.

For the year he’s thrown just 10 touchdowns while tossing eight interceptions. He’s shown flashes of his potential, but it isn’t consistent. He undoubtedly has one of the strongest arms in the country, but he’s been inaccurate on intermediate throws this year.

If the Hurricanes want to pull off an upset of their own this weekend, they’ll need Morris to be outstanding. The Seminoles’ defense will be geared up to slow down Johnson, and that should give Morris a few opportunities in the pass game. The Seminoles have dialed up some exotic blitzes under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, so Morris’ ability to recognize those blitzes will be critical.

With Jameis Winston on the other sideline, Miami has to come into this rivalry game thinking they’re going to need to score a boatload of points in order to stay close.

Morris is the key to that.

If he plays well, doesn’t turn the ball over and throws the ball away to avoid sacks, the Canes have a chance. If Pruitt can get him off the spot and force him into some bad decisions, the talented Seminoles’ secondary could feast on his mistakes.

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