Miami Football: 4 Biggest Improvements Stephen Morris Has Made

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2013

Miami Football: 4 Biggest Improvements Stephen Morris Has Made

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    University of Miami quarterback Stephen Morris will climb up the school's record books this coming fall—barring injury, of course.

    Last season, he set an ACC single-game record with 566 passing yards against North Carolina State and a school record for pass attempts in a season. Morris is no stranger to launching the football 30-40 times in a game, but the most important factor is throwing it effectively.

    I believe Morris makes the Hurricanes a true ACC threat because his game has clearly progressed since last season.

    Morris dominated the beginning of the 2013 campaign as he finished with 256 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions on 13-of-23 passing in the spring game.

    Here are the four biggest improvements Morris has made so far this offseason.

Pocket Presence

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    From his freshman season, Morris has never been afraid to tuck the ball and run.

    This year, however, Morris will more than likely not match the 33 times he ran the ball last season (not including 18 sacks).

    As has been said many times, the entire Miami offensive line returns this season with another year of experience and familiarity with each other.

    Morris will not have to leave the pocket very often, and the spring game showed that, too. He stood tall behind behemoth right tackle Seantrel Henderson and fired on-target passes to his talented receiver group.

    Morris already showed this spring the increased confidence he has in his offensive linemen, and two starters—Brandon Linder and Shane McDermott—were not even on the field.

Back-Shoulder Throws

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    If you weren't able to watch the spring game, I'll just say you missed a clinic by Morris.

    Two of his four touchdown passes were among the most impressive of his throws I've seen throughout his collegiate career.

    Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters both caught a back-shoulder laser from the now-senior gunslinger, and both passes were perfectly placed. Cornerback Nate Dortch was the victim on both touchdowns, but there was simply nothing he could do about Morris' passes.

    Morris threw a back-shoulder touchdown to Allen Hurns against Virginia Tech in 2012, but the velocity Morris showed during the spring game was a huge improvement from last season.

    Video highlights of the spring game of Morris' touchdowns are available on YouTube.

Throwing on the Run

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    Talking about throwing on the run after mentioning Morris' improved pocket presence may sound a bit hypocritical, but they aren't mutually exclusive ideas.

    Morris had to leave the pocket quite a few times last season and was often inaccurate due to either improper foot placement or not squaring his shoulders.

    It was clearly evident in the spring game, however, Morris focused on getting his body turned and aimed at his target.

    Morris looked right, looked and rolled to his left and fired a beautiful ball into the end zone to Rashawn Scott. Much-heralded cornerback Tracy Howard had practically zero chance to defend that touchdown pass.

Calling Plays at the Line of Scrimmage

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    Jedd Fisch, Morris' offensive coordinator for his sophomore and junior seasons, ran a high-powered offense, but it wasn't always fast-paced.

    Fisch has since moved on to the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, and former Florida State OC James Coley has taken over in Coral Gables.

    Morris quarterbacked the orange team in the spring game, but a better word might be conducted. Morris made a strong majority of the calls at the line of scrimmage after receiving signals from Coley on the sideline.

    The Hurricanes will undoubtedly have a high-powered offense again in 2013, but it appears the offense will be a high-octane and up-tempo version that Morris is preparing to run, too.