Florida State vs. Miami: Losing Stephen Morris Would Crush Canes' Upset Hopes

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 13: Stephen Morris #17 of the Miami Hurricanes throws the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels on October 13, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Pulling off an upset against the No. 14 Florida State Seminoles was going to be tough enough for Al Golden's Miami Hurricanes.

Doing it without starting quarterback Stephen Morris, who has led the Hurricanes to the 24th most potent passing attack in the nation, averaging nearly 300 yards through the air per game, would prove to be a near-impossible feat.

Morris, Miami's junior signal-caller, sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter against North Carolina during the team's Week 7 loss to the Tar Heels and was forced to leave the game.

Golden said x-rays on QB Stephen Morris are negative for a fracture; it's a sprain (not a high ankle) #UM

— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) October 14, 2012

He's officially listed as doubtful for this week's game against Florida State, meaning that sophomore Ryan Williams, who filled in admirably for Morris at the end of the North Carolina game, completing 9-of-13 passes for 80 yards, would be the man under center for the Hurricanes.

Miami QB Stephen Morris officially listed as doubtful

— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 18, 2012

While Morris returned to practice earlier this week, questions will abound as to whether he will be ready to go against the third-best defense in the nation on Saturday, one that allows only 222 yards per game to opposing offenses.

Watching #UM #Canes QB Stephen Morris drop back & throw & he looks fine. Zipping the ball.

— Susan Miller Degnan (@smillerdegnan) October 17, 2012

If Morris is able to go, the question becomes not how he'll perform, but can he stay in the game long enough to make a difference?

Florida State has 17 sacks on the season, the 34th-highest total in the country.

While Miami's offensive line has improved steadily since allowing six sacks in the first two games of the year, cutting that number in half over its past five games, it will have its hands full against a formidable Seminoles' pass rush.

With all due respect to Williams, who is a far better quarterback than I, it's difficult to see him succeeding against a Seminoles defense that is capable of shutting down even the most explosive offenses in the country.

Stephen Morris under center gives the Hurricanes a fighter's chance—a relatively inexperienced Ryan Williams does not.

Miami needs Stephen Morris to pull this upset off.