Maybe the QB competition between Stephen Morris and Ryan Williams was real. Then again, maybe there are little green men on Mars too. There should not have been any doubt in anyone's mind, back injury aside, that Stephen Morris was going to be the starting QB in 2012.
Morris, the third-year player out of Pace, has a career .565 completion percentage with 7 TDs and 11 INTs. He was forced in to action as a freshman, and saw time last year, in Jacory's absence due to suspension. I'm not entirely convinced that Morris is the savior at QB. In this case, I'm leaning towards the lesser of two evils. What I am convinced of, however, is his leadership abilities, which in a year where the team may go south on and off the field, is vitally important.
"The starting QB; you have to be the leader of the team,” Morris said Tuesday morning--a day after getting the starting nod. “I felt that was very important.”
Coach Golden was emphatic when asked about the pick of Morris to lead the team. “He had a great off-season and a great summer,” Golden said. “He's the unquestioned leader right now and his performance is backing that up. “
Ryan Williams may be physically gifted as a QB, although I'm pretty sure he would have ended up at somewhere better than Memphis if there truly was a ton of talent there. What I gathered from talking to players though, is that as soon as the off-season started, Stephen Morris took over this team.
“My job as the leader on this team is to make sure everyone is ready to play,” Morris said. “We're not trying to have another 6-6 or 7-6 season. It's just not what this program was built on. We can't be happy with a mediocre season.”
While talk is cheap, and I'll believe it when I see it, the fact that Morris was willing to make that kind of bold statement goes a long way with me. In this day and age, when athletes are more and more spitting out cliches, it's nice to finally get someone who is willing to lay something on the line, even if in the end, it may be wrong.
One thing that I think separates Morris from his predecessor is his humbleness. I always thought Jacory was more into Jacory than into upholding the tradition of the QB position at The U. Morris knows exactly what position he is playing and what school he is playing it at.
“Even when coach Fisch and coach Golden told me [I was the starter], I got goose bumps,” Morris said after I asked him what it meant to be the starting QB at The U. I'm pretty sure Ken Dorsey was the last guy to give me a quote like that. I'm pretty sure I had hair then.
So what did it take for Morris to earn the starting job, other than just clearly being better than Ryan Williams?
“He showed us that he was 100 % healthy,” OC Jedd Fisch said. “He showed us that he had a tremendous command of the offense. He showed us that he was mentally prepared and physically prepared.”
In other words, there was no question about who was going to be under center when the team rolled into Chesnut Hill.
“The most celebrated question around here is: who's the starting quarterback and Stephen earned it,” coach Golden exclaimed.
I'm glad the question is celebrated because we haven't been doing much celebrating around here recently. I'm not sure Stephen Morris changes that on the field, but given the options, he's the best man for the job, on and off the field.