FIU senior quarterback James Morgan describes expectations for this season
Pro Football Focus has released its rankings for college football quarterbacks, and FIU’s James Morgan is ranked 38th nationally and second in the state, trailing only No. 35 James Blackmon of Florida State in the latter category.
Among other quarterback’s in the state, here are the rankings: Florida’s Feleipe Franks (No. 43); South Florida’s Blake Barnett (44); UCF’s Brandon Wimbush (64); Miami’s Jarren Williams (77); and FAU’s Chris Robison (81).
“James is phenomenal quarterback — super smart with a great arm and work ethic,” FIU coach Butch Davis said. “He can make every throw, and guys respond to him.”
PFF’s report stated that Morgan, who was intercepted seven times last season, threw seven other passes that were “turnover worthy”, a figure he would need to decrease to improve.
Morgan, who threw one interception in a 42-14 season-opening loss to host Tulane on Thursday, said he doesn’t pay much attention to outside opinions.
“With rankings, I know people work hard at coming up with those, but I don’t put any merit in them,” he said. “But it is cool to be recognized.”
In addition, PFF stated that Morgan is in a group of passers competing for No. 2 in Conference USA, all but conceding the top spot to North Texas’ Mason Fine, who is ranked fifth nationally.
Aside from Fine, the other Conference USA passers ranked ahead of Morgan are Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith (34) and UAB’s Tyler Johnston (14).
Fine, by the way, is described as a “wizard with the ball” who hits “highlight-reel passes” into tight windows.
Morgan has yet to play against Fine — perhaps that will happen in this year’s Conference USA title game. But last month, at the league’s media day in Frisco, Texas, Morgan met Fine at a conference event/bowling party.
“He seems like a good guy,” Morgan said. “I’ve only seen him play on tape, but he’s a great player.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ FIU middle linebacker Sage Lewis, who made a school-record 132 tackles last year and ranked 10th nationally in solo stops, didn’t have big numbers against Tulane. The preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year was credited with just four stops, including three solo tackles. He did, however, recover a fumble.
▪ FIU used two punters. Redshirt freshman Thomas Leo averaged 46.5 yards on two punts. Junior college transfer Tommy Heatherly started and averaged just 36.3 yards on four punts. Davis was unhappy with his special teams overall, saying: “We gave up field position.”
▪ At least three players made their first FBS starts on Thursday: freshman tight end Kamareon Williams; former Georgia Tech defensive tackle Jordan Woods and outside linebacker Daniel Jackson. In other heated position battles, senior Shacquille Williams won out at right guard over sophomore Mershawn Miller; and junior Richard Dames won out over sophomore Dorian Hall at free safety.
▪ FIU senior cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver’s stock continues to rise as he made a career-high nine tackles.
▪ Junior defensive end Kevin Oliver had FIU’s only sack. It was his 10th career start and his fourth sack.