I still can’t get over how much of a hot mess the Syracuse Orange vs. Boston College game was on Saturday. That meant for the second game in a row, there wasn’t anyone that particularly stood out during my initial watch of the game. The plain box score didn’t help much as well, so once again we return to Pro Football Focus’ premium stats.
Once I got there, I found perhaps a somewhat surprising but unexpected name at the top of the list for Syracuse’s highest-graded player overall. Then it got me thinking - would SU appear to be that close to BC throughout the game if it wasn’t him starting? Not a bad question to ask for someone starting his first ever game under center.
Morgan got a 73.8 grade from PFF. The closest player to that grade that played over half the snaps in the game was Ifeatu Melifonwu with a 72.5. As I mentioned in my grades article, Morgan showed some great moments in the first half. There were multiple well placed throws as his accuracy was on point to start the game. What impressed fans the most was his movement and composure out of the pocket.
19-for-30 and 188 passing yards with a touchdown aren’t world-beating numbers, but they certainly aren’t indicative of a true freshman jumping straight into the frying pan. Were there still mistakes? Yes. Morgan’s decision making started to wane as more BC pressure came flying towards his face and his accuracy dipped when, as Andy said on TNIAAL, he tried to do his best Ryan Nassib impression and just fire balls at receivers with 100% power.
But let’s return to the question I asked above? Sure if Tommy DeVito was starting, perhaps he would put up similar or better numbers when compared to Morgan. Let’s not forget that DeVito’s numbers were improving before he got hurt. But if Rex Culpepper was starting? I don’t think Syracuse would’ve had nearly the offensive chances that Morgan created when he was under center if Culpepper got the nod to start if he was also healthy.
What’s important for Syracuse fans is that Morgan showed some intangibles that make people very excited about what comes next. But, with what seems to be a recurring theme this season, it all comes down to test No. 2. Louisville will have all the tape it needs to set up a suitable game plan against Morgan. How he responds to an ACC foe prepared to attack his weaknesses will be telling to see if Syracuse has a very viable option for the future.
Honorable Mentions: Taj Harris, Anthony Queeley, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Garrett Williams
Now it’s your turn. Who should SU’s player of the game be? Sound off in the comments below.