GREENSBORO, NC -- Stephen Morris was surrounded by a steady flow of media members Sunday at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff. He was unfazed -- the same cool, calm, personable player he is on most days at the University of Miami.
He is not easily intimidated, if ever, thinking back over the past few years.
Morris talked about his recent experience at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La., where more than 40 college quarterbacks served as counselors, including Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, UNC QB Bryn Renner, Michigan QB Devin Gardner and Gators QB Jeff Driskel.
Driskel was a finalist in the camp's air-it-out quarterback challenge, along with Nevada QB Cody Fajardo and Morris. But it was Morris who won the competition.
He said the competition "changed a lot of things'' for him. "I think the biggest thing for me was just to get that exposure. It helped me tremendously.'' He also said he had a great time getting to know his fellow quarterbacks. Morris said he was "six for six'' in a competition that had the QBS zipping the ball at a moving golf cart with a target attached. "20, 30, 50 yards down the field,'' he said of his precise throws.
Morris' accuracy, poise and by now, mastery of the offense -- even if it is led by a new offensive coordinator in James Coley -- should give the already offensively loaded Canes a great advantage heading into the season.
He said he wants to focus on "staying in the pocket'' while "being active in the pocket'' and getting his feet planted correctly when he makes his throws. "I noticed I rushed a lot last season,'' he said.
Morris wouldn't divulge any specifics on the Coley offense. "I guess you guys have to find out. Not much has changed. We got some new aspects. He brought some new passing concepts, but other than that,'' he said, it's much of the same.
More Morris comments:
On the Florida game Sept. 7 at Sun Life Stadium: "It's definitely one of those games where you cannot go in the offseason and not talk about it. Everytime I'm out there working with my guys I'm telling them, 'Take this rep as if you're playing Florida.'"
How much was he recruited by Florida? "Not much. That's why I'm a Cane. I think this is the best decision of my life, coming to the University of Miami.''
"The Key to our whole offense is everybody on the offensive line is back.''
On Texas A&M QB and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel being sent home from the Manning Passing Academy: "At first I didn't know anything about it until campers started coming up to me and telling me about it. But whatever happened with that situation is between him and Texas A&M.
"Very cool guy, man. Very down to earth. He has all these accolades and he still is talking to everybody who was coming up to him.. All the fans. He spent time to sign autographs and take pictures with him. He's a very humble guy. He's a funny guy to be around. The media really wants to put it certain ways but Johnny is a great guy.''
On Coley being from Florida State: "Nothing surprises me in this world. It's truly a business.'' Coach Coley "is a player's coach.''
On his last 139 passes being throw without an interception, and the pressure that presents:
"You just have to go out and play and have fun. If you start thinking about throwing interceptions or second guessing this and that, then you're going to start playing slower and you're going to have to worry about interceptions. Those last four games I wasn't worried about anything. I knew my receivers were going to have my back. I knew my offensive line was protecting me every way they [could], my running backs were running great routes and my tight ends really emerged. Everything just clicked. We're going to pick up where we left off.''
On the still-pending NCAA case: "It's just a cloud that has been looming over the University of Miami. ...But any decision that is being made right now is completely out of our hands. ...Let that be their decision; Let that be their fight,'' he said of UM president Donna Shalala, coach Al Golden and the UM administration.'
On starting the season against FAU: "I think that's a great game. I know a couple of my [high school] teammates went there. They've already started trash-talking with me.''
On freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen: "Kevin Olsen is an amazing talent. He has a strong arm. Obviously he comes from a family that's very football oriented.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN