Miami quarterback Stephen Morris kinda sorta won the starting job by default this month -- not that he doesn’t deserve to start the season opener against Maryland on Monday night.
Still, consider Miami’s quarterback competition far from over.
“We have two or three practices during the bye week there,” said coach Al Golden, whose team won’t play again until the Sept. 17 matchup against Ohio State. “We'll let them compete. Again, the competition was really close, obviously got skewed towards the stretch. It looked like one was going to be ineligible. We didn't know if he was going to be reinstated. That competition abruptly ended. We'll continue it after this game.”
Golden said the competition was literally dead-even when the eligibility of quarterback Jacory Harris came into question.
“We hadn't even had the second scrimmage and news started breaking and Jacory's name was mentioned,” Golden said. “At that point we basically had to abort the competition, if you will, and make sure that Stephen was ready. Stephen was certainly up to the challenge. … I think the bottom line was that Stephen really came on strong last four or five practices, certainly the last scrimmage, then really we turned the reins over to him last week and early this morning once the news came down.”
The good news for Miami is that Morris has been preparing all summer as if he were the starter, and he could have very well won the job on his own in spite of the NCAA investigation. The bigger concern for the Hurricanes at the position is the depth. Harris isn’t even traveling with the team, so Spencer Whipple is the next man up, followed by A.J. Highsmith, if anything happens to Morris.
Whipple has completed 6 of 12 career passes for 54 yards and two interceptions.
“Whip is steady. He's smart. A coach's son. Really bright,” Golden said. “He carries it over to the game. He's the kind of guy who, even though he doesn't get as many reps during the preseason, he's been getting a lot of reps over the last five or six practices. He can operate the offense despite not getting the reps because he knows it so well. He is a quick learner, and he is smart.”
Morris started the final four games of the 2010 season, and actually led the team with a 125.01 efficiency rating and 206.7 yards per game. Regardless of how well he fares against Maryland, though, he will have to win the job again in order to start against Ohio State.