Morgan becoming more than just a “game manager”

first_imgMorgan becoming more than just a “game manager”Morgan is 6-2 heading into the Georgia Southern game.Kamaan RichardsQuarterback Tanner Morgan throws the ball at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 29. Minnesota defeated South Dakota State 28-21. John MillerSeptember 12, 2019Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintGophers fans are all too familiar with inconsistent quarterback play. With quarterbacks like Max Shortell, Conor Rhoda, MarQueis Gray, Mitch Leidner and Philip Nelson, the list can go on for a while. And while it seems the program hasn’t had a productive quarterback in quite some time, it may have stumbled upon one in redshirt sophomore Tanner Morgan. Morgan, who might be the best quarterback since Asad Abdul-Khaliq in 2003, has had his share of doubters. Morgan, standing at 6’2″ and 215 pounds, isn’t the biggest body. His arm lacks elite strength, and coaches often referred to him as a “game manager.” No matter the label he is given, or what people say about him, he is proving that he is a winner.Since taking over for injured Zack Annexstad midway through last season, then winning the job this year, Morgan is 6-2 as a starter. After the win against Fresno, Head Coach P.J. Fleck highlighted Morgan’s play.“Something bad could happen, the next play he’s going to make it good,” Fleck told the media. “He’s got a short memory. He’s going to forget it and move on. That’s what he does. He’s a tremendous leader, and he’s tough.”After a solid finish to his redshirt freshman season, Morgan has only continued to improve. Through two games this year, he is completing 70.7% of his passes to go along with 410 yards passing and three touchdown passes.“He’s progressing,” Offensive Coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca said. “It’s part of the maturation process of a quarterback, and you never know how good somebody can be, but you usually can tell once they’ve reached their ceiling. As long as he keeps improving, we’re excited.” Down a touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game against Fresno State, Morgan threw a ball that none of the aforementioned quarterbacks could have made. It was a perfect ball that whizzed by the defensive back’s helmet and into the hands of wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game.“It had to be perfect, and it was perfect,” Ciarrocca said about the pass. “A couple inches either way it could have been incomplete, but the thing that I saw was just how composed he was and confident he was in the decision to make the throw.”Despite the highlight reel throw, after the game, Morgan deflected positive attention away from himself and gave all the credit to his teammates.“Chris [Autman-Bell] just made a big-time play,” Morgan told the media about the throw. “All I did was give him a chance to make a play, and Chris made an elite play. The catch first and dragging his toe, good protection up front giving me time to get the ball off. Just unbelievable trust from the coaching staff.”Morgan’s personality is a big reason why he fits in with a team that focuses on selflessness.“That’s why I’ve said I really like coaching the guys, is because they don’t care who gets the credit,” said P.J. Fleck. Morgan is the cousin of former NFL No. 1 overall pick Tim Couch, who despite an up-and-down career in the NFL, was a prolific college quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist for the University of Kentucky. If Morgan’s tenure with the Gophers can come anywhere close to his cousin’s, then the Gophers can expect many more wins to pile up.last_img

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