Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Morris must cut down on picks for Miami
By Sharon Katz
With the news that quarterback Jacory Harris will be suspended for Monday's game against Maryland, Stephen Morris will get the start with a chance to prove he should remain the starter for the duration of the season.
If Miami wants to make noise in a wide-open ACC, Morris must perform better than he did in six appearances last season. The Hurricanes went 2-4 in the games in which Morris appeared, including a 33-17 loss to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl.
Cutting down on interceptions will be the greatest challenge for Morris heading into College Park. Miami led the FBS with 27 interceptions thrown last season. Morris threw nine, including two against Maryland on November 6.
His nine interceptions in 153 attempts was the fourth-highest interception rate (interceptions thrown/attempts) among quarterbacks with 100 attempts, and it was the highest among all quarterbacks in AQ conferences.
Morris struggled most when throwing the ball downfield. Seven of his nine interceptions came on passes thrown 10 yards or more, and he completed just 41.9 percent of his passes thrown that distance.
Morris also was asked to throw the ball downfield more often than the average FBS quarterback; almost half of his passes were thrown 10 or more yards, while the average FBS quarterback throws approximately 37 percent of his passes this far downfield.
In Al Golden’s new system, Morris might not be asked to attempt as many downfield passes. Golden ran a conservative, run-heavy offense at Temple -- the Owls attempted the eighth-fewest passes in FBS and averaged only 6.91 yards per pass attempt (70th in FBS) in his five years there.
Morris could thrive in Golden’s conservative offense. On short and intermediate throws, Morris completed 64.6 percent of his passes and threw only two interceptions in 79 attempts. Four of his seven touchdowns came after on play-action, which will be even more effective in a run-heavy offense.
(For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN’s “Year of the Quarterback” page.)