Today’s game between the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes is the biggest ACC contest of the season, because both rivals come into this game as undefeated teams with extremely high aspirations. The ‘Noles are a bona fide championship contender, while the N0. 7-ranked ‘Canes would find themselves squarely in that discussion with a victory. They aren’t the favorites, though, following two lackluster performances against UNC and Wake Forest. While the ‘Canes were able to prevail in both instances, they won ugly and did so with an inconsistent passing attack.
Miami’s star QB Stephen Morris had as good of an offseason as anyone, and he was even being tossed around as a possible first-round pick in this year’s draft. Some people had Morris as their top senior QB coming into the season, but very few people regard him that highly now. Morris has already thrown eight interceptions this season, with half of them coming in that awful game against the Tar Heels. That can be viewed as a good or a bad thing, but Morris’s stock is indeed falling in the eyes of scouts.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported yesterday that Morris now has “serious questions about his accuracy” following the past two contests against subpar opponents, even though Morris avoided throwing a pick against Wake. Breer adds that “some” teams actually think of him as a “mid-round-type prospect” now, thanks to his inconsistent play this season.
I’m less worried than a lot of people are, because I’ve still seen positives in Morris’s play this season. He still has those “wow” moments, as we saw with his touchdown pass last week against the Deacs. He is also completing a higher percentage of his passes than he did last season, and the most remarkable thing is the fact that he is averaging significantly more yards per completion than he did last year. Morris hasn’t met expectations due to his interceptions and inconsistent play, so I would blame his decision-making more than his raw accuracy. What eases criticisms of his decision-making is the fact that he is highly regarded for his intangibles in the first place.
If you look at the raw data, Morris’s passer efficiency rating his higher this year than it was at any other point in his career. He’s not as consistent, but he’s actually putting up better numbers. If he can find his groove soon, then he’ll find himself in a position to be a potential first-round pick again. Personally, I view Morris as a mid-second, and I think the talk of him slipping into the middle rounds is a bit too reactionary. But if he plays like he did against UNC again, then that could be a different story. For now, though, Morris is in a fluid situation, and I wouldn’t go overboard in criticizing him; he’s having his issues, but he’ll be fine if he can make better decisions.
The spotlight is on Morris today, and we’ll see if he can shine against an incredibly talented, athletic, and deep Florida State defense. Jameis Winston is the guy most people are talking about, but the spotlight should really be on Morris due to the sheer magnitude of this game for his NFL Draft stock (and, just as importantly since it relates to his decision-making, his confidence).