As UM football continues to slog towards Chestnut Hill, we here at the 7th Floor will breakdown each position group on the team. Today we look at the quarterbacks, where the bar has been set so low, if you merely don't make us cringe when the ball leaves the TV screen, you're doing something right.
As much as we all refuse to believe it, Jacory Harris was actually pretty incredible last year. Granted, this is relative to his previous three years under center, but still, he had a very efficient season. 65% completion percentage, 20/9 TD to INT ratio, with a 150.6 QB rating. Unfortunately, he decided to save half his picks for the last
debacle game against BC. You know, just a little something for us to remember him! The eternal bright side is I think this Jedd Fisch guy knows what he's doing with QBs. Look at what he turned Harris into in just one off season. Mark "I coached Donovan McNabb!" Whipple couldn't keep (or facilitated, who knows) Harris from throwing UP TOP TO BENJAMIN on every third play. Point is people, it's time to get excited that our QBs will actually, you know, be developing? Getting better? Winning games by themselves? Is that enough question marks to show my hesitation to accept this fact after a decade since our last truly great signal caller?
So, how does this year's crop of quarterbacks stack up?
STEPHEN MORRIS / Junior / 6'2'' 214 lbs / Miami, Fla.
2011 stats: 26-37 / 283 yds / 0 TD / 2 INT / 123.7 rating
The first year of the post Jacory Harris regime begins in earnest less than three weeks from now up in west Boston. Stephen Morris, what with his 2010 starter experience and a full year in Jedd Fisch's offense, had the inside track plus a few running lanes to take over as starter. Then he hurt his back in the off season, had surgery, and opened up the door for competition. After an off season of back and forth with Ryan Williams, Morris has emerged as No. 1 on the depth chart for Boston College.
If you recall Morris was actually former OC Mark Whipple's "hand-picked" recruit, his rocket arm and mobility set to be molded in the McNabb and Roethlisberger style. Add in his surgery during the off season and it would not have come as a surprise to see Williams surpass Morris with a new OC setting a new set of expectations. But everyone across the board has been raving about Morris's new leadership skills, and his grasp of the playbook. Here's Coach Fisch on his off season growth:
"He learned how to be more demonstrative as a leader, learned how to be someone who is not afraid to communicate with the other guys and let them know what he thinks," Fisch said. "Physically, the fact he didn't throw at all in the spring made his arm more lively."
Obviously only time will tell just how much Morris has grown, but I think we could all be in for a positive surprise this year.
RYAN WILLIAMS / Sophomore (RS) / 6'6'' 223 lbs / Pembroke Pines, Fla.
2010 stats: 165-290 / 2075 yds / 13 TD / 10 INT / 124.9 rating (sat out 2011-stats from Memphis)
There is irony in Ryan Williams returning to his hometown school after one season starting at Memphis. The player he beat out as a true freshman in 2010 was Cannon Smith, former Miami back up who saw the Jacory Harris writing on the wall and got out while the getting was good. Well, that and he's the son of Fed Ex CEO Fred Smith. And seeing as he's now playing at DB, perhaps being the son of the CEO is gonna work out better for him.
Williams was not terribly accurate his one season at Memphis, throwing a 57% completion rate, pedestrian by collegiate standards. This off season in Coral Gables, however, you can't talk to anyone who isn't marveling at his accuracy.
"They’ve been really competitive," UM coach Al Golden said Saturday, citing Williams’ "phenomenal’’ accuracy – "He’s over 78 percent for camp."
Full disclosure here: Ryan Williams was my preferred choice. Not for any actual, you know, results related or coaching means, mind you. Purely on the fact he fits the prototypical Hurricanes signal caller of yesteryear. Tall, immobile, yet accurate to a fault. Just line 'em up and give it to the play makers. Alas, one day perhaps.
You never want two quarterbacks (unless one is the unstoppable Noah Brindise), it really means you have none, etc, etc. But Williams' full year starting at Memphis as a true freshman means all is not lost should an unfortunate situation befall Stephen Morris. One area of concern is the aforementioned lack of mobility. Williams took 30 sacks his year at the helm, a pretty high amount (Harris was sacked 17 times last year). This could just mean Memphis' O-Line
entire team was terrible, but that seems like a bad number regardless of the circumstances.
After Morris and Williams, there is a significant drop off, most likely due to the inexperience of the three true freshman coming in for 2012. And as of right now the #3 spot is still undecided. Given all we have is their high school stats, we've thrown in a blurb about each player from the HurricaneSports roster.
GRAY CROW / Freshman / 6'3'' 223 lbs / Clearwater, Fla.
He certainly shows the size, arm strength, toughness, and pocket awareness to become an outstanding pro-style QB. He reads defenses well and has a nice touch. Although not a burner, he shows the ability to escape the pass rush, buy time, and find the open receiver. He shows good zip on short to intermediate passes and consistently fits the ball between defenders in zone coverages. In his best game last season he was 27-of-30 for 310 yards and three TDs.
PRESTON DEWEY / Freshman / 6'2'' 208 lbs / Austin, Tex.
"The first time I saw him I knew he was something special. His fundamentals were strong. There were a few things to clean up with his feet, but you knew this was a player who wanted and would do what it took. He has an accurate arm and sense of the game. He has the velocity too. If a receiver is open, he is not going to miss him."-- (Dewey's HS coach) Ty Detmer
DAVID THOMPSON / Freshman / 6'2'' 207 lbs / Miami, Fla.
"I was blown away by his arm strength, smarts and ability to throw the ball down field. He throws the deep out with authority, can place the ball on the money just about every time and is exceptional while throwing the ball on the run. He could do a better job of setting his feet, but that's just about every high school quarterback. He has a productive, over the top delivery and shows solid mechanics." -- Recruiting guru Tom Lemming