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Will freshman QB Stephen Morris be UM's savior?

Monsignor Pace football coach Alvin Slaughter got a call Monday he wasn't expecting. On the other side of the phone was Lamar Thomas.

The former Hurricanes' message to Slaughter: "'The whole program rests on your boys' shoulders," Slaughter said Thomas told him. "I was like 'Oh God, this is more pressure than I need.' "

Stephen Morris The boy Thomas was referring to was freshman quarterback Stephen Morris, whom Slaughter coached for four seasons at Pace. Barring a miraculous recovery from a concussion by starter Jacory Harris (we should learn how long he'll be out Tuesday), Morris, a 6-2, 185-pound freshman, will make his first collegiate start for the Hurricanes (5-3, 3-2 ACC) Saturday when Maryland (6-2, 3-1) visits Sun Life Stadium for a noon kickoff.

Slaughter plans to be there, where figures he will be more nervous than Morris was in the second half last Saturday when he went from fourth string (and a potential redshirt season) to nearly rallying the Hurricanes from a 24-0 deficit in the fourth quarter at Virginia. 

"He called me right after the game and asked me 'How did I look coach? I was like 'Honestly? You looked nervous as hell.'" Slaughter said Monday of his former quarterback, who threw two interceptions, then settled down and led UM to 19 points with two touchdowns passes and a nine-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

"He asked me, 'Well, What did you expect from me?' I said, 'I expected you to lead this team to victory, nothing less.' 

"I actually believe if they would have had another possession that he would have gotten it done. They would have won. I know he's one of my guys. But if you look at the turn of events, the last two possessions he scored touchdowns. You could see he was having success, guys were starting to rally around him. Those guys were smiling, patting him on the head. That was building confidence. Once you get confidence in a player and a football team, you could pretty much do anything."

For Morris, anything could potentially include trying to saving the Hurricanes' season and coach Randy Shannon's job. That's a pretty significant upgrade in role from a week ago when Morris was under the impression he was going to redshirt this season. It wasn't until recently when backup A.J. Highsmith injured his wrist that Slaughter said Morris started working a little bit less with the scout team -- just in case.

"To be honest with you I think he was only getting scout team reps last week," Slaughter said. "So, the only plays he knew were plays he knew from earlier on in the season. Those were the only reps he did -- and the individual reps with coach Whipple they do every week. [Spencer] Whipple and Jacory and Highsmith were getting those other reps. If you put that into the equation, the kid probably played good to great under those circumstances. I mean it was basic stuff they were running for him. It was like they just hoped they executed well and prayed for the best."

"When he gets more reps  this week, I feel more comfortable he can do even better. They just have to limit the play selection and let the guys around him make the plays, not make Stephen Morris win with his big arm. But I don't coach the University of Miami. I'm just saying what I would do."

When Slaughter said he spoke to Morris Monday, he told him he was very happy and very excited for him. But Slaughter said he also warned Morris to not get too giddy about his new opportunity because .

"I just told him whatever happens you better go back to being humble because that's what always kills football players -- the success and not being able to handle it," Slaughter said. "It's like marrying Halle Berry, Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. You wouldn't know how to act.

"I told Stephen, 'You better eat a big piece of that humble pie and lead this football team in the right direction. Because that's what they need, they need a leader.' I don't like throwing stones. I live in a glass house too. I just think he needs to go out there and let the team know he's not going to force anything and let the game come to him. Once he has the support of his teammates, he'll be just fine."

As a junior in 2008, Morris led Pace to the Class 3A state semifinals where they lost on a last-second field goal to eventual state champion Cocoa. In a shotgun-based spread offense, Morris completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,005 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. But a year later when his three talented receivers (Sterling Griffin, Kayvon Webster and Derrick Hopkins) left for the University of South Florida, Morris went under center and ran a pro-style offense. Pace didn't have a great season, missing the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. But Morris did well, completing 96 of his 179 passes (53.6 percent) for 1,531 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Stephen Morris2 Along the way, he caught the eye of Canes offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who monitored him closely before hand-picking him to be his future quarterback.

"It pretty much came down Stephen and a kid from California," Slaughter said of UM's recruiting efforts. "I think in the beginning Whipple didn't know Stephen had a big arm. If you saw Stephen throw the long out to Benjamin for the touchdown [Saturday], that's why he's there. When Whipple realized Stephen had a big arm and could throw that 18 to 20-yard out pattern -- something Whipple talked about wanting in his offense -- he absolutely loved him. Plus, when he heard Stephen was a good student with a 4.0 GPA, 1000 on his SAT, was graduating early and could get in the system, all that just made Stephen that even more appealing. Whipple got a kid who was football smart, very intelligent with a high IQ. That's what you want in your quarterback."

And essentially, Slaughter said, what Whipple also liked was that Morris was a quarterback who fit his system. Harris, who went 30-0 as a starter at Miami Northwestern, ran the shotgun spread offense for two years in high school.

Slaughter said Morris has told him he feels comfortable in UM's offense because most of it requires him to be under center, something he did frequently as a senior.

"What Miami does isn't Oregon's offense, four, five wide -- it's not fun on the turf," Slaughter said. "It's playaction, misdirection, use your tight end.

"What Stephen has told me is that Whipple has a lot of different formations, sets and things that he does. But Stephen said one thing that he took from what we did  that has helped him is running the fast pace, hurry-up offense. We did a lot of that from under center. The cadences are similar too. That's helped out a lot, too. Honestly, that's why I go to coaching clinics so I can adjust it and my kids aren't that far behind when they go into college systems."

Slaughter said another reason he believes Morris will be a success under Whipple is his arm strength. Unlike Harris who floats the ball downfield on deep passes, Slaughter said Morris can "throw the ball on a rope 72 yards."

If there is an area Slaughter said Morris might need to work on, it's being more of a vocal leader. But he doesn't necessarily consider that a weakness either.

"He's a lead by example guy," Slaughter said. "When I had him, I would tell him, 'You got to setup the cones, you got to do this or that.' Stephen would do it it at 100 miles per hour. He would be the first one on the field, last one off after practice. He'd tell his receivers, 'Let's go, I need to throw 100 passes, you need to catch 100 passes. Let's do it.' He isn't rah-rah. He's all business.

"The bottomline is he just wants to win. I know when he threw those interceptions, he went to his teammates and said 'Sorry guys, but you can count me. I won't throw another one.' He seeks perfection. He knows those mistakes are terrible and he doesn't accept it."

One way or another, Slaughter believes what Hurricanes fans saw in the fourth quarter last Saturday in Charlottesville was just the beginning for Morris.

"I really believe that they've got themselves the future with Stephen," Slaughter said. "And if not this year, they've finally got themselves a damn good backup. He's a tough kid. Sometimes quarterbacks don't get labeled tough. But they got themselves a tough kid with thick skin. I mean I rip him, lay into him. I've let him have it. I won't share any stories. But I've ripped that boy to shreds and he'll just let it roll off. He's thick skinned. You can coach him hard. As a quarterback, you're going to get it from all angles. You have to take the good and the bad. Stephen can do that."

"Hopefully it works out with the University of Miami. Sometimes, you just need an opportunity, a blessing from the skies and this could be one for The U."


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He did increase the level of talent, but after the performance of this team, there's not much support for him to continue as head coach.

This isn't a new thing, it's been building up since the middle of last season.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | November 02, 2010 at 02:49 PM

We will know for sure by this time in the season next year whether the program is heading on with or without him. He will be back in 2011. No doubt. Gonna be a long, grumbling Winter, Spring and Summer of 2011.

5-3 or 6-4 come November 2011, we will have us Zook situation that will explode.

can we all PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop saying we should hire mike leach!? that guy is a whack-job beyond all belief. if you make that hire you lose out on the plethora of super talented runningbacks down here in the miami area. plus its not good for developing NFL quarterbacks. which we have a good history of with vinny, kosar, and kelly. i dont want a gimmick spread offense. i want something that gets players to the league. same with john gruden. the guy just is a moron. those are probably two of the worst possible hires The U could make. almost bad enough to the point where i'd rather have shannon stay as HC.

can we all PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE mention and consider Mark Stoops D-Cord. FSU ?

no need for mocking... lol

The H... with Randy Fire him now same the canes...all of u who think shannon is the man for the job is smoking good dope... ur a looser just like he is. real MIAMI fans, the ones who know what national titles are all about will not support a coach who gets beat by a sorry UVA team...FIRE RANDY SHANNON NOW!!!DONT GO TO THE GAMES SAVE UR MONEY

Atlanta Cane4life KUDOS to you!! Hit the nail on the head!!

Morris will be a stud!!

Sit J12 for now and maybe next year too!!

Wasted Storms Johnson's redshirt!!

Linebacking needs serious recruiting!!

Run the G*dd*mn ball Whipple till they collapse!!

Lamar Miller return all kickoffs!! Coop on punts!!

What happened to all of our great receivers? A Johnson, K Thompkins, T Streeter?


andy, no one wanted the job at that time because the cupboard was left empty. off and on-field incidents, no talented players on the roster, no funding being put forth for the program, etc. now there is a huge amount of talent and no incidents. still no funding... but i dont think a prospective coach would be THAT opposed to taking the job now.

Posted by: ooster


One of the biggest knocks on Coker by some Hurricanes fans was Butch left the team overflowing with NFL talent...you can't have it both ways.

Even when Butch took the job nobody of any real stature was knocking the doors down to coach here. Yes, I know the probation challenge, but a real coach with vision could have seen the potential. Yet, no one wanted the job.

Just remember, Shalala has a very strong, family like relationship with Barry Alvarez and wanted him to take the head coaching job. Alvarez refused the offer and the whisper was he did so due to the treatment of Coker by our fan base and his belief tha if he didn't win a national championship his legacy would be destoryed by the UM fans and the local media.

The bottom-line? No coach with a real resume is going to dive into this hornets nest with absurd expectations...simply not going to happen. Furthermore, no up and coming young coach is going to get involved either as he will know his reputation will be demolished when coaching for this unrealistic, spoiled fan base

ESPN has the 2011 recruiting class 23rd, Rivals at 35th. Yea, Shanonn is one hell of a recruiter. He should resign!

I think Shannon should be fired now because he can no longer recruit.

He used to be able to recruit, but now he's lost too much credibility. Shannon is on the hot seat and everyone knows it.

If we don't see him in this job after next year then just fire him now. Start the coach search right now and try to rescue some sort of recruiting class.

Shannon can't recruit? Are you menatlly challenged? Do you just dream this garbage up while on acid or is the goal to throw out any stupid thing that might possibly harm the program and Randy?

Seantrel Henedrson might possibly be the best offensive linemen in the country as a Freshmen-Randy Shannon recruit!

Allen Bailey projected to be the overall 11th selection in the upcoming NFL draft and listed as a candidate for all major linemen awards...Randy Shannon recruit!

Lamar Miller a sure fire All American and will star for the UM before becoming a first round NFL draft pick...Randy Shannon Recruit!

The list goes on and on, but trying to educate a moron with a hate agenda is futile and more importantly you bore me with your total lack of knowledge.

I am so sick of idiots posting garbage that they have no idea as to what they are talking about and only create negatives.

Howard Shnellenberger FOUR YEARS at Miami: 41-16

Jimmy Johnson FIVE YEARS at Miami: 52-9

Dennis Erickson SIX YEARS at Miami: 63-9

Butch Davis SIX YEARS at Miami: 51-20 *ON PROBATION*

Larry Coker SIX YEARS at Miami: 60-15

Randy Shannon THREE & HALF YEARS at Miami 26-20

Another loss by Randy Shannon and he will have had the MOST losses of any Miami head coach *IN MODERN* history………DESPITE being here the least number of years…..

Shannon is a straight up two-faced coward. He was the epitome of what made Miami, Miami. And we all thought he was going to bring some of that magic back when he got hired. Well, it sure didn’t quite turn out that way. Instead, he became a b!tch.

Donna has this guy by the sack. "Don’t do this Randy, or bad things will happen", "They can celebrate but not too much Randy, or bad things will happen", "If you graduate your players Randy, you will have my support, but watch out because I is a watchin'".

I'm not even sure if Donna gave him full reign, that things would even be different.

As one poster earlier stated, this was an affirmative action hire. It certainly was. For crying out loud guys, Shannon can't even speak English properly! And I'm not certain that he was even that great of a defensive coordinator. I think our team and coaches overall were so superior back then that all the assistance coaches appeared as though they were gods at their respective coaching positions. Maybe Shannon was a good defensive coordinator at best.

He certainly in my mind, especially after seeing what we've seen these past 4 years, wasn't the right guy for this job.

I guess we're all so much in denial thinking that if we hire a former Cane, especially one who can relate to the inner-city kids, that we'll have this entire blueprint on lock down--that nobody will be able to walk in and steal our kids and beat us at our own game. Well, that simply isn't true.

You have to be smart. And being a smart head coach who makes smart football/business decisions is entirely underrated these days. And it takes a football minded university to understand this. It has to trickle down from the top.

Until Miami decides that their money is worth spending on a top quality coach (ala Howard, Jimmy, Butch, even Dennis) then this will continue to happen.

For now, Miami will continue to stay relevant in its academics but its football program, no more.

I hate to say this, but I hope Miami gets destroyed this weekend so the higher up can wake up from their wet dream and realize this guy ain't the one (black or white).

I think Randy shannon needs a girlfriend. Cuz he needs love right about now. Someone to love someone to kiss! lol

Howard Shnellenberger FOUR YEARS at Miami: 41-16

Jimmy Johnson FIVE YEARS at Miami: 52-9

Dennis Erickson SIX YEARS at Miami: 63-9

Butch Davis SIX YEARS at Miami: 51-20 *ON PROBATION*

Larry Coker SIX YEARS at Miami: 60-15

Randy Shannon THREE & HALF YEARS at Miami 26-20

Another loss by Randy Shannon and he will have had the MOST losses of any Miami head coach *IN MODERN* history………DESPITE being here the least number of years…..

Posted by: Tru | November 02, 2010 at 05:42 PM

Well, all Randy has the do is go 25 - 0 from here on out.

Who needs Butch.

Also factor in that Miami, under those other Coaches, was an Independant and in the Big East... Miami, under Shannon, has to play in the A.C... nevermind

Posted by: caneoil | November 02, 2010 at 05:51 PM


I agree w/ most of what Atlanta for Life said, but not all of it. J12 is not playing well. Morris is the real deal, he doesn't play scared and plays smart. The problem is up front with the DL and OL. Those coaches have to check themselves, at least from what i saw last game.

Miller must play more; storm, too. receivers must get better. But, besides Spence, we have no true linebackers, stoppers. But RS graduates players and I actually like his discipline. But he's got to remember that a head coach is many things.

One thing: I can see it now. Ken Dorsey the coach and Spencer Whipple the star QB!

Maryland will be tough test. I say make Dorsey HC and spencer Whillpe the starting QB.

OK, i agree with most of what Atlanta for Life said. But we gotta focus on DL and OL. that's where we get beat. And, J12 is mistake prone. Not a leader. Play Morris more.

can we all PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop saying we should hire mike leach!?

Posted by: ooster | November 02, 2010 at 03:20 PM

Thank you! The only coach crazier than this fool is USF's ex-coach Jim Levitt!

It's a moot point anyway, Shannon is here until at least the end of next season.

And caneoil, if you hope UM gets destroyed this weekend then maybe U should stay away from the stadium this weekend...and while you're at it, just stay away forever! What a piece of shyt!

Why wont someone get in Shaneh neh's face and do a reAl hardball interview? These are the questions:

1) Do you reallt mean when you say youre ok with 8 wins every year as long as kids graduate?

2) Does that mean that youre ok with a mediocre football program, and not a potential national championship?

3) is that how all of the other college presidents feel?

4) Why wont you put more money into the football program/ Why wont you fundraise for the U?

5) Do you have any ide what this program means not only to UM students and alumni but to the entire Dade-Broward-Monroe Palm Beach population? Do you even realize that the canes have meant the world to many of us who have grown up here, student or not? Do you realize that to many of us the U meant more than Dan Marino and the Dolphins?

6)What did you te ll coach Shannon about celebrating?

7) What was so bad about the U program of the 80s and 90s that scares you so much?

I said Shannon was able to recruit in the past, but he won't be able to in the future.

Yes, Lamar Miller is a great player.

Allen Bailey is NFL Combine great...football OK.

Accepting that Shannon can recruit is accepting that he can't coach.

You're basically saying we have great talent, but we can't convert it into a winning football team.

There's lots of talent on this team which is what makes them so frustrating to watch.

Ron Zook could recruit too but can't coach either, see what that got him a Florida. FIRED
Shannon has recruited pretty well at every position but the most important one, Quarterback. OH I forgot he did recruit some good ones but run all the good ones away. Thank god WHipple picked Morris himself.

Right on Junk, After the way Bailey was handled and thrown around by Virginia, that draft stock shall slide quite a bit. Miller does look like a great player, maybe we can get some real coaches in here to develop him before this group screws him up too.

Howdy Pards,

The D needs to step up, make more plays. Colin needs to stay disciplined,he needs to slow down so he can go faster to where ball is going. Our QB whoever must run at least 5 times a game to keep their D honest. Go Canes beat the Turtles

Chad, Shannon coached like he wanted to for going on 4 years and hasn't done nothing but be outcoached everygame he has coached. He even struggled to beat Duke. Face the facts he is worse than Coker as a Head Coach because he actually has a talented team. Don't get me wrong Coker was terrible too. And Jacory Harris is worse than Frank Costa if that tells U anything. 4 years and we are as bad now as we were then. Its time for a change.

Accepting that Shannon can recruit is accepting that he can't coach.

You're basically saying we have great talent, but we can't convert it into a winning football team.

There's lots of talent on this team which is what makes them so frustrating to watch.

Posted by: Canesjunkie


No...you are saying Randy Shannon cannot coach--I would not say something so monumentally dumb, which again is one of your too many to count absurd observations.

I am not happy with this year's results, which might say more about Randy having not yet grown into the position of being a manger of the football team versus his coaching abilities. Of course that assumption drives a stake in your thousands of hate driven conclusions...sorry!

PS: Your alter ego (championships is all that matters) always posting to support your stupidity or you his has grown tired and predictable.

I feel like us Canes fans owe Brock Berlin a huge apology. He went 19-5 and 5-0 against UF and FSU all with Coker as his coach and he still heard the boos. If we booed him we should have kicked Jacory to the curb a long time ago.

So Brock, if you're out there, I apologize for us all. I would take you back in a heartbeat right now. You showed more heart and talent than 95% of this current Canes team will ever display. And while I'm at it, a sincere sorry to you Larry Coker. It may have been Butch's players but at least you didn't screw it up and you actually won something with a loaded talented team. Randy can't even finish 2nd in the ACC and his team is supposed to be "loaded with talent."

Seriously fans. We treated those two like garbage. I'd accept a few of Coker's last seasons from Randy if he had delivered a 10 and 11 win season every now and then. As Canes fans we need to remember next time to treat coaches well when they deliver those 2 loss seasons because it could always be way worse...like it is now.

Cane 4 Life.

btw Atlanta Cane4life didnt write that story. it clearly states gary ferman. lets stop giving him credit for writing something he didnt.

SAVIOR..are you kidding with me?

The ONLY THING that is going to save UM's football program is:

1)Firing Shannon

2)Running Shalala out of town

3)Firing Whipple

4)Trying to get back our oral recruits who are SMART ENOUGH TO SEE THAT RANDY & CO are not the "way to go"

5)Regaining the media (Shannon is a smug SOB to people...his interview with Joe Rose on Monday was UNBELIEVABLE...he got p*ssed off at JR for asking him too many "tough" questions)

6)Allowing former UM greats access to the present day players - these former players have always been an inspiration to UM's present players...but, Shannon thinks he's a drill sargeant and acts accordingly.

Just go back over the past thirty years back to the 80's. We have atleast one national championship every decade throughout that time. No other school has done that. Guess what we are in now as of this year, a new decade. That is how I have been keeping my sanity the past 9 years. All it has ever took was some good south florida talent like we have and have been getting and a great hard nosed head coach. So I am saying all that to say this while I truely have a hard time stomaching the fact that we still cannot get into the ACC Championship game and VA Tech does every year even when we beat them, we have never ever bragged about conference championships because we have always been able to get the one that matters the most and it will happen again people not this year and maybe not the next but when they make the right move at head coach again we will be right there back in it. Just sharing my perspective on things please let me know what you guys tell yourselves to ease the pain.

If he cannot enjoy the game and actually coach because fans are talking negatively about him then you have just proved everyones point that is calling for him to be fired.

miami will not win another game this year!thanks randy!

Posted by: A Gator Fan | November 02, 2010 at 02:39 PM

You have to be the nicest Gator fan in the history of Gator fans...I hate the Gators (mostly because they're too scared to play us on a yearly basis and dropped us off their schedule so that they could play 7 home games and only 4 true road games every year) but you, sir, are a class act. Thanks for your comment.

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