‘Big game’ is coming out party for CMU’s Shane Morris
Shane Morris showed what he is capable of as an FBS quarterback Saturday, leading Central Michigan to a victory over a Power Five conference opponent.
Morris turned in one of the best individual performances in all of college football this season in the Chippewas’ 45-27 win at Kansas.
CMU is used to beating Power Five opponents, including a win over Purdue in 2014 and one over a top-25 team in Oklahoma State last season. But Morris’ showing in the rout of Kansas was nothing short of special.
Morris, a former five-star recruit out of Warren De La Salle and transfer from Michigan, completed 28-of-37 passes and had career highs in passing yardage (467) and TD passes (five).
Morris had more passing yards and TD passes in the win over Kansas than he did in his career (434, 0) with the Wolverines, when he played in 11 games over three years, including a pair of starts, one in 2014 when he suffered a concussion.
Now, Morris and the Chippewas (2-0) will get another opportunity to knock off a Power Five team when they play at Syracuse Saturday at 3:30 p.m. They could go 3-0 for the first time since 2002 with a victory over the Orange.
Morris, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior left-hander, did an outstanding job of spreading the ball around, finding seven different receivers, including Mark Chapman (eight receptions, 168 yards, 3 TDs) and Corey Willis (eight receptions, 140 yards, TD).
No doubt, Morris made great strides from Week 1 to the second game after struggling during the opening week (25-49, 226, TD, INT) in a 30-27 triple-OT win over a mediocre FCS opponent in Rhode Island.
CMU third-year coach John Bonamego was thrilled with the performance of Morris, who was named MAC West Division Player of the Week.
“I thought Shane Morris in his second start here at CMU had a big game,” Bonamego said Monday on the MAC coaches’ conference call. “We had seven different receivers have catches in the game and we had five running backs touch the ball (including Morris) in the running game, so I thought we did a good job of spreading the ball around.
“I thought Shane did a really good job of getting the ball out against a very good defensive front. I thought he was very accurate. I thought he was smart and made good decisions in terms of where he tried to put the football. I think having the ability to run the ball a little bit helps that. His ability to run when needed also aids in that.”
CMU has turned to the spread offense this season with Chris Ostrowsky taking over as offensive coordinator, replacing Morris Watts, who retired, and the style looks to work to Morris’ strengths.
Morris found his rhythm during the second quarter when the Chippewas outscored Kansas 24-0 to take control with a 24-6 halftime lead.
In that pivotal quarter, Morris completed 12-of-17 for 215 yards and 3 TDs, finding five different receivers.
“It’s a very emotional win for me,” Morris told cmuchippewas.com. “For where I came from and everything that has happened in college, coming out here and having these guys trust me to be their quarterback, and coach Bono trusting me to be the quarterback. It means a lot to me to be able to go out there and get a win and be able to have a good day.”
The Chippewas used four running backs with Kumehnnu Gwilly (Utica) and Romello Ross (Detroit Western) getting some playing time. Ross rushed for 100 yards as a true freshman in the 2015 Quick Lane Bowl loss to Minnesota before missing the entire 2016 season due to a knee injury.