VMI’s Seth Morgan looks to build on solid spring debut
Record-setting VMI QB Reece Udinski got the Keydets off to a 4-0 start in the spring. It was his backup, Seth Morgan, who took the team to the playoffs, after Udinski went down to a season-ending ACL injury.
With Udinski in College Park challenging Taulia Tagovailoa for the starting job at Maryland, Morgan is the QB1 for coach Scott Wachenheim in Lexington, as VMI looks to build on its historic spring 2020 campaign.
“Everyone talks about the short offseason, but to me, it’s felt like forever,” said Morgan, who, from a look at the numbers, actually outperformed Udinski in the spring.
Both started four games. Udinski attempted one more pass (172, to Morgan’s 171).
Morgan threw for 1,374 yards and 10 touchdowns, with a 71.4 percent completion rate, four INTs and a 153.4 passer rating.
Udinski threw for 1,087 yards and seven TDs, with a 72.1 percent completion rate, two INTs and a 136.3 rating.
Morgan also was more of a threat as a runner, gaining 221 yards on the ground, to Udinski’s 58.
In his first career start, a 36-31 come-from-behind win at Wofford on March 27, Morgan was 25-for-34 passing for 375 yards and four TDs, the final one a 14-yarder down the right sideline to Jake Herres with 35 seconds left that capped a seven-play, 79-yard drive in the final two minutes.
“Obviously losing Reece was a big blow for us. But Coach (Billy) Cosh and the coaching staff really had Seth prepared for when he did come in, and that first start versus Wofford, we just wanted him to be comfortable, and you know, just let the ball fly like he can,” said Herres, who put up big numbers with Morgan under center – with 47 catches, 502 yards and five TDs in the four games that Morgan started at the end of the spring season.
Count Herres among those looking forward to seeing what Morgan can do in the fall.
“I think those games, he definitely got some experience under his belt that he needed,” Herres said. “You know, versus JMU, things could have gone a little bit better for all of us, but we all learn from it, and I think we’re ready to get back out there again.”
The JMU game that Herres referenced there was VMI’s first-ever playoff appearance. The Dukes, on their way to an appearance in the national semifinals, held off the Keydets, 31-24, in a game that saw VMI fight back from 21-3 and 28-10 deficits to make it interesting late.
Morgan was 30-for-50 passing for 286 yards and two TDs, with three INTs, in the loss, another valuable learning experience for the redshirt sophomore.
“I’m a firm believer that the best way to learn is through experience and actually doing it, so this past spring was a great opportunity,” Morgan said. “You know, it’s obviously it’s terrible the way it happened with Reece going down. Reece is like my big brother. He was super supportive all the way through it. Once it was my time to kind of take that starting role, he was right there with me and coached me through it, and I had Coach Cosh with me to help me out.
“I think that exposure in the spring definitely helped me going into this season, just understanding the pace of the game,” Morgan said. “You know, it’s one thing to be playing when you’re up a lot, or you’re down a lot, but when you know any drive is crucial, and working through the flow of the game, it really helped with my maturity, I feel like, in preparing me for this season.”
Wachenheim has seen Morgan take a big step forward in fall camp.
“I think he’s had a great summer, and I think he’s way ahead of where he left off,” Wachenheim said. “He has a better understanding of the offense. He’s extremely confident. He’s had a great fall camp. He’s been a great leader. I expect big things this season.”
Morgan is looking forward to running out of the tunnel for the season opener on Sept. 4 against Davidson – the first test for a new-look, new-feel Keydets team entering a season for the first time in forever with high expectations.
“I just I love playing football so much, and we all love this so much. I think we’re all just going to be so excited to go out there and play,” Morgan said. “Davidson’s tough, and we’re just ready to compete. I think that’s really what it comes down to, is just getting excited to compete again.”
Story by Chris Graham