Morris Departs: Miami's 2014 QB Competition
By Sam Super
The roller coaster career of Stephen Morris came to an end after the Hurricanes' losing effort against Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The game was emblematic of a career for Morris that had potential but never lived up to the hype.
Arriving at Coral Gables as an unheralded three-star prospect by Scout.com, Morris exceeded all expectations. By the time Morris left school, he was only the second quarterback in school history to record multiple 3,000-yard passing seasons.
Succeeding Morris will be a two-man race between senior Ryan Williams and redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen.
The South Florida native, Williams, is a former two-star Rivals athlete who transferred to Coral Gables after a productive freshman year as the starting quarterback for Memphis. Williams mostly has played mop-up duty the last two years, recording 456 passing yards and four touchdowns during his career.
Williams is viewed as a game manager, a stark contrast to Morris' tin-cup style of quarterbacking of which Canes fans have grown accustomed.
According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Bello, Williams will minimize mistakes, move the chains, get the ball to speedsters and hope some big plays ensue. This approach in quarterback play is not necessarily a problem, but the upsides have limits. Namely, it puts all risk and success on his teammates while he plays it safe.
His competition, Olsen, is more of a pro-style quarterback. He has all the talent in the world, but his maturity remains a big question mark.
During Olsen’s senior year of high school, the Miami Herald reported that Olsen was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident and careless driving after a May 25 incident in his hometown of Wayne, N.J. The four-star Rivals prospect has been a model citizen since arriving on campus.
Olsen boasts an impressive pedigree that might factor into Al Golden’s decision-making process. Olsen’s father is a legendary football coach in the state of New Jersey, and Olsen’s brother is former Hurricanes standout and Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.
Waiting in the rearview mirror are two recent quarterback additions to the Hurricanes 2014 class. Four-star Rivals prospect Brad Kaaya and three-star, two-sport prospect Malik Rosier each bring athleticism and unique skill sets. Both men are expected to be greater factors in the 2015 season after the departure of Williams.
This competition certainly will answer the age old question of youth versus experience. Should the Hurricanes go with the much older Williams to lead an offense, featuring returning stars Duke Johnson, Dallas Crawford, and Stacy Coley? Or does the recent success of freshman quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston prove that Miami should go with the younger Olsen?
Whoever wins the starting position will have to contend with a several years-long legacy of lackluster quarterbacks. The failures of past players such as Kyle Freeman, Jacory Harris, and now Stephen Morris only heighten the pressure.
It is now up to Williams or Olsen to shoulder the load in Coral Gables. Their play will determine the success of a program still looking to win its first ACC title. The torch has been passed. Now let’s see who grabs it first.