Stephen Morris is good. Really good. I mean the kid is a true freshman who just led us to two victories in his first three starts, including a blowout victory against the reigning ACC champs. He led us to a comeback victory with a perfect pass in the final minute against Maryland. He is having fun, smiling, high fiving, and chest bumping. He is a kid having fun out there, getting hyped up when the Canes do well.
He could very well be the next Ken Dorsey, Jim Kelly, Vinny Testaverde, you name it. But if we don’t let our starter have a shot, Stephen Morris won’t get to be the next Jacory Harris.
Jacory has struggled. He’s had hard times, interceptions, injuries, bad decisions, and more interceptions. But he’s also had stellar games, beautiful passes, comeback victories, and miraculous fourth quarter drives. Have people forgotten last year when he was a Heisman contender after leading us to victory, injured, at FSU with that beautiful deep pass to Benjamin with a couple of minutes left? Or what about the comeback victories against Wake Forest, Duke and Virginia last year? How soon we forget.
I can talk all day about the good, and the bad, that Jacory has done, but I decided to let the numbers speak for themselves. I took a look at Stephen Morris’s numbers this year vs. Jacory’s numbers his freshman year and in his first few starts his sophomore year (not including the Virginia game).
Jacory freshman year: 60.8% completion rate (118/194), 1195 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INT, 125.7 RAT
Jacory’s first three starts sophomore year: 59.5% completion rate (50/84), 806 yards, 5 TDs, 152.6 RAT
Stephen Morris first three starts: 53.1% completion rate (43/81), 718 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INT, 127.4 RAT
As you can see, Jacory’s freshman numbers are similar to Morris’s in terms of passer rating. However, Jacory had a better completion rate, fewer INTs per attempt, and more TDs per attempt. I think the best comparison is the stats for each QB’s first three starts. With nearly the same number of passing attempts, you can clearly see that Jacory performed much better and against better competition (FSU, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech).
Another interesting comparison: Jacory averaged over 36 ATT/ game after the FAMU game this year, while Morris has only averaged 27 ATT/game in his starts. This is an absurd number of passing attempts for Jacory; Tom Brady doesn’t even throw that many passes in the pass-happy NFL. Whipple is simply asking Jacory to do too much, which is why his performance has suffered. We saw that with Morris in the fourth quarter last Saturday. Ask them to do too much, and the performance suffers. If we want to get even more mathematical, I plotted Jacory's passer rating against his pass attempts. You can clearly see over the past two years that as he attempts more passes, his passer rating falls. For example, against FSU he attempted 47 passes for a rating of 76.3; against UNC he attempted 32 passes (the fewest of the year except for FAMU) for a passer rating of 147.3. The conclusion is clear: fewer attempts means higher efficiency.
We’ve read and heard it on the fan sites, the message boards, the radio shows: “Shannon has hitched his wagon to Jacory’s success.” Shannon has decided to live and die by Jacory. But why? The kid is 21 years old, he can’t carry the team on his own. Dorsey didn’t. Give him the same shot Greg McElroy, Jordan Jefferson, Darron Thomas, Andy Dalton, and Kellen Moore have. None of them average more than 28 pass attempts per game, which is coincidentally right around what Morris has been averaging. Jacory averages 36 on a team that has rushed for over 200 yards in five of its past six games. It takes a lot of pressure off the QB when you rush for this many yards, and in the two games this year where Jacory started and this happened, he threw for 4 TDs, only 1 INT, a 59.3 completion rate, and a 130.6 RAT. We have rock-solid Damien Berry, stellar Lamar Miller, and Mike James. The kid with the third most all-purpose yards in Miami’s history, Graig Cooper, barely sees the field. That should tell you to use the running backs more.
I’m not saying Morris is bad. He’s not. He’s very, very good. What I’m saying is Jacory has proven himself to be our started by his numbers. And if we combine that with a better play-calling approach that every other top-ranked college uses, which is to pound the ball and throw less, the kid will be phenomenal. But give him the chance.