VMI offense adjusting to change at QB with injury to Udinski
The torn ACL suffered by VMI senior quarterback Reece Udinski in the OT win at Samford two weeks ago was a gut punch.
Udinski, who had announced before the season that he intended to transfer to Maryland for his grad-senior season, will miss at least the remainder of the spring season at VMI, and the recovery from an ACL tear probably means his fall is accounted for as well.
That this happened as VMI is off to its best start since 1960, 5-0 in the SoCon, ranked 10th in FCS, makes the news tougher to swallow.
Which gets us to Seth Morgan. The redshirt freshman had thrown nine passes in mop-up duty ahead of getting the call to start at QB for Udinski last week at Wofford.
Stepping in for the record-setting Udinski, Morgan and the VMI offense didn’t miss a beat in the 36-31 win.
Morgan, a Pittsburgh native, completed 25 of his 34 pass attempts for 375 yards and four touchdowns, and led the Keydets on a 79-yard drive in the final 1:44, the winning points coming on a 14-yard TD pass to Jacob Herres with 35 seconds left.
VMI coach Scott Wachenheim didn’t doubt for a moment that Morgan could come in and perform.
“Seth’s got a strong arm, he can run, and he’s got moxie. He believes in himself. He knows he can play,” said Wachenheim, crediting offensive coordinator Billy Cosh for his work in helping develop Morgan since the QB arrived at The Post in the fall of 2019.
“I thought he put together a great game plan for Seth, and Seth went out there and executed,” Wachenheim said. “Seth plays with no fear of failure, which is what you need in a quarterback, a young man that’s going to throw it, and he threw it sometimes in some tight windows and trusted his receivers to make the play, and he took off and ran was supposed to, slide when he wasn’t supposed to get hit. I love the way he played the game, and he’ll get nothing but better.”
It helps that the Keydets have been able to sustain growth in the run game that had been evident in the 5-7 season in 2019, which saw Alex Ramsey put up 1,326 yards and 22 TDs on the ground.
Ramsey decided last spring to enter the transfer portal, meaning Cosh and Wachenheim would have to rebuild a bit – but the three-headed monster of Korey Bridy, Rashad Raymond and Grant Swinehart has done more than pick up the slack.
VMI averaged 120.7 yards per game on the ground in 2019. The 2021 Keydets are averaging 137.2 yards per.
“The Air Raid closely resembles a wishbone in that you spread people out, make them play all 53 and a third yards, and you get the ball in space, hopefully to your best player matched up to their worst player. That’s the key to football, and we’ve been able to do that. Our offensive line is taking advantage of some light boxes to provide holes for our running backs,” Wachenheim said.
“All three of them, Korey, Rashad and Grant, have hit the holes hard and ran hard and been tough to tackle, and we’re going to continue to do so. If you’re going to load up the box, we’re going to throw the ball 100 times. If you lighten the box, we’re going to run it 100 times. We don’t care how we move the football. We just want to move football down the field,” Wachenheim said.
A good, efficient ground game makes your quarterback that much better.
And Morgan is actually a threat to run – he had 47 yards on five carries in the 41-14 win over Mercer on March 11, and 76 yards on 14 carries in the win at Wofford this past weekend.
The scheme calls for a QB who can be a threat with his feet and his arm, and that won’t change with Morgan taking the snaps.
“No, we are who we are. We do what we do. Nothing changes,” Wachenheim said. “We always modify what we do offensively based on the abilities of our football players, most importantly, the quarterback, because he touches the ball every play. But the base offense has been there since Brian Sheppard came here for two years, and Billy Cosh took over. Of course, each offensive coordinator puts their own little spin on it.
“I’ve been very impressed with Billy Cosh as a first-year play caller. I thought he did an awesome job on the last drive, actually last two drives, but the last drive against Wofford, the sudden change of that, to come back and call plays and give our kids a chance to win the game, I thought was a plus,” Wachenheim said.
Story by Chris Graham