Much of the discussion following the Bethune Cookman game was in how different the offense looked under both Freshman Mason Fine and Senior Alec Morris. I grabbed two sequences of each at the helm that highlights the major points of discussion.
On the podcast I said Mason Fine was good throwing horizontally but not so great throwing vertically. In the clip below we see on his first drive we can see he is decisive on the PA WR screen to begin, but later overthrows badly into the end zone. He misses on a quick out near the end of the drive, however. This is why Greg said he was ‘okay’. It looks like WR Wilson slips, and that throws the timing off.
The aspect of his game that stands out is his decisiveness. Fine is not firing rockets nor is he picking apart the defense with precise throws in between defensive backs. He is getting the ball out of his hands — or pulling it down and running. Alec Morris does not have that same decisiveness partly because he cannot simply pull the ball down and take off for 7 yards. He does not want to take a sack so he waits a tic longer, or forces a pass that he should not.
Mason Fine’s first drive
Morris did have one or two good throws, but these fades were all anyone wanted to talk about. The WRs did not do a good job of getting vertical but the passes did not look good at all. Upon second inspection, I want to say the fade failures had more to do with Wilson and Smiley running poor routes. I reinvestigated fade routes to figure out what happened here. I still am not sure.
Our Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell is one of the best at tossing this route and so I suspect he will have plenty to say about it in the team’s film sessions this week.1 The best I can tell is that this was a combination of a bad route and a bad throw. Look at NFL Crabtree yesterday running this same route.
Alec Morris fades and INT
Crabtree gif in case you did not click the above link:
Obviously, the above clips do not encapsulate the totality of each individual’s play. I left out Morris’ throw to Bussey that displayed some of that arm talent that Harrell mentioned. He followed that up with the pick (above) on Mesh where the WR tipped it. It was high, but it hit his hands.
Morris has thrown four interceptions in two games. None were the result of poor decision making — as in, he misread the defense — but poor execution. In the case of the final pick, it was bad luck mostly. My guess is that these are the results of the way he plays — he relies on his arm to help him out, Aaron Rodgers style.
Fine does not have the size or the arm (from what I can tell) that Morris does, but as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, he can run it. We may be looking at Riley Dodge 2.0 here: a highly regarded HS quarterback that may be undersized for this position at this level. Dodge was hurt often and he put up some decent numbers all things considered.2 I have seen more than one or two mentions of concern for Fine getting hurt but right now? Littrell likes the way the ball moves when Fine is at the controls.
Also he does this:
This offense will rely on Jeffrey Wilson and our stable of backs to do the heavy lifting. Fine and Morris will benefit from the WR corps running crisper routes and catching passes that hit their hands. The NT offense is a long way away from the Texas Tech and TCU situations but it is also far better than it was last year.