Column: It wasn't always easy for Shane Morris, but he has left his mark at CMU
Regardless of what the subject is, doing something new doesn't just come to you right away, but rather you learn it and become gradually better at it over time.
Whether it's picking your major for school, the first day on a job you've always dreamed of or if you're like me, starting on a new beat.
This has been my first year on the Central Michigan football beat, never covering the sport before in my career.
It has been a great ride, with plenty of beneficial experiences. But, I had to learn how to do it the right way and I am still learning how to become better at my job every day.
For transfer quarterback Shane Morris, I can only imagine how hard it is to forget everything you knew and accept a completely different environment.
“I haven’t had to look over my shoulder for someone else. Being the guy the entire season, it’s all different,” Morris said. “It has taken a lot for these (teammates) and coaches to trust me with the ball in my hand to win the game, but I think they do now.”
And why wouldn't they?
The former University of Michigan quarterback roamed the sidelines of the Big House for three seasons and didn't throw a touchdown.
This season alone, the left-handed quarterback has 26 of them.
“It’s been a lot of fun to actually be able to play and not just sit on the bench,” Morris said. “I have nothing but respect for (Jim) Harbaugh and all of my coaches at Michigan, but I can’t thank the staff enough here at Central Michigan for giving me an opportunity to play.”
While Morris has really come on strong to end the season, things haven't been riding as high as they are now.
After throwing for six touchdowns and just one interceptions through the first two weeks, Morris began to struggle.
In week’s 3-7, the senior threw for six touchdowns, but countered with nine interceptions while his team went 1-4 over that span of games, bringing the Chippewas' record to 3-4
With the number of games running out and the season beginning to look purposeless, fans and outsiders started to think it was possibly time for a change at quarterback.
It came with good reason since this was Morris’ final and only season with the team and freshman quarterback Tony Poljan has been called “the future” of this program by head coach John Bonamego.
Nevertheless, Bonamego stuck with Morris, and in my mind, it was the right decision then and it surely is the right one now.
One thing many people forget about during the stretch of games Morris was struggling was the loss of sophomore and senior wide receivers Brandon Childress and Corey Willis, along with not having senior tight end Tyler Conklin until Week 6.
Childress was ruled out for the season, but when Conklin and Willis retuned to full strength, Morris’ confidence came back.
In the final five games of the 2017-18 campaign, Morris has thrown for 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. With it came the Michigan MAC trophy, a bowl bid and CMU’s best season since 2009.
A new life was brought to the fan base, and while people who once put him down began to jump on his bandwagon, Morris didn't change what he focused on all year — winning games.
“I’ve had to mature myself and as I’ve got more playing time I have,” Morris said. “Reading the defense and making better decisions has come with it. Having guys like Corey (Willis) and Tyler (Conklin) back along with Mark (Chapman) and everyone else has made the game easier.
“I don’t want to say ‘I told you so’ or anything like that, I’d rather just win football games and let that show how we’ve done as a team.”
It’s shown pretty well, considering the fact that some of Morris’ wins have been come-from-behind victories.
Against Western Michigan he led the team to 21 unanswered points in the final nine minutes of play for a win, and to end the season he led his team from 17 points down at halftime to a 31-24 victory over Northern Illinois.
The improvement has been clear, and without Morris, this team wouldn't be where its at without him manning the ship.
So for Morris to forget a playbook he once knew inside and out with Michigan, move on to CMU and operate the offense the way he has says a lot about the player he is to me.
“It wasn't easy, I can tell you that much,” Morris said. “It took awhile to get used to everything here, but we’ve got it all together at the right time and the results have come with it.”
It takes awhile to get used to anything anywhere, but for Morris, the time he’s given CMU football has been more than helpful for a program that needed this season.