Posted: 12:17 am Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
By Matt Porter
Stephen Morris was criticized left and right for his up-and-down play as a senior.
He ended his Hurricanes career as one of the most prolific passers in program history, but added plenty of overthrows and interceptions to the yards and touchdowns on his dossier.
Speaking Tuesday evening on the Big O radio show, Morris addressed his critics directly:
“Just watch me now,” Morris said, following the second day of Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala. Morris is a quarterback for the North team.
“Watch what I’m doing right now, ’cause this is the real me. I’m finally healthy.”
We’ve heard that before, but Morris says he’s really healthy now (really; seriously). Following his Sept. 21 injury, which came during a meaningless game Savannah State, coach Al Golden and Morris said the quarterback was progressing. They never claimed he was 100 percent, only as close as he could possibly be (during football season).
Morris’ father, Colin, told the Post in an interview a few days before the Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl his son had a bone bruise and a “serious” strain of his Achilles’ tendon, but they preferred to keep that information quiet. As offensive coordinator James Coley noted in October, Morris had trouble planting on his back foot, which messed up his throws. Morris’ father said the physical inability was “very tough,” but the mental side was affecting him as well.
“When you lose the confidence to move out of the pocket whenever you sense pressure, it throws off your game,” Colin Morris said.
Morris finished the 2013 season with 3,028 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ranks third in UM history with 7,896 passing yards and 49 touchdowns.
On the radio Tuesday, he said he didn’t want the issue to be a season-long excuse. Having left UM, he — similar to ex-Cane and Senior Bowl teammate Seantrel Henderson — felt freer to discuss the full nature of his injury when the host of the show, Orlando “Big O” Alzugaray, inquired.
“It was very frustrating for me, because I’m one of those guys who is a perfectionist,” Morris said. “I did some good things for me and I did some bad things. The biggest thing I had to deal with was this injury, never let it be an excuse –”
AO: What was the injury? We’re out of UM now, we don’t have to go “lower leg, upper body,” whatever. What was the exact injury?
Morris: “Right. So, my exact injury was an Achilles’ strain, and a bone bruise. The Achilles’ strain is what took forever to heal. I was pretty close to tearing my Achilles’. It was just frustrating to walk on, and it was really tough to just plant and throw and trying to run off of it. That was just frustrating enough –”
You can tell. When balls were sailing over guys, you can tell that you’re not able to plant the way you would like, right?
And where was the bone bruise at?
“The bone bruise was on my lateral malleolus, so it’s that big bone right there on your ankle.”
Oh, wow. So what kind of treatment were you dealing with the whole time?
“Treatment was just trying to get ultrasounds, and trying to just heat it up before practice. But with an injury like that, you just need time for it to heal. That’s something that you really don’t have during the season.”
Other notes from the segment:
* Morris said scouts at the Senior Bowl have asked him about his inconsistency and inaccuracy, but he’s there to prove them wrong.
* Morris was invited to the Shrine Game, but said he wanted to help another quarterback get a spot. Why? “It’s hard out there” for a quarterback.
* Morris said the pressure of the Senior Bowl got to him Monday, the first day — not helping him was the fact that, of course, he had a new, unfamiliar group of receivers — but said he felt much better Tuesday. “Every single move I’m making, somebody’s writing it down,” he said. “It was nerve-wracking at first, but I got my feet under me today.”
Click here to listen to the whole nine-minute, 53-second interview.