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Michigan football underrated WR proves superior SEC speed is just a myth

HOUSTON — The Rose Bowl featured a collection of plays that, when put together, resulted in a Michigan football victory.

One such play was Tyler Morris’ 38-yard catch-and-run for a first-half touchdown. It was Morris’ first touchdown in college and it came at an absolutely crucial moment, allowing the Wolverines to take the lead against a vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide team.

When it happened, Morris didn’t really believe it. It was later in the evening after Michigan had won or perhaps the next day that he realized he had made a big play to help propel the maize and blue to the national championship game.

“Honestly, it was kind of just hard to believe in the moment. I was so excited, and it was so many emotions going on,” Morris told Wolverines Wire. “And just for it to happen at that time, I think it was perfect timing to do my first one and just how the game ended up — I have to say like that night and the next day, just looking back on it and understanding what really just happened, it was just amazing to realize that I just scored in the Rose Bowl.”

One thing about that play is that it somewhat negated the stereotypes of what each team participating in the Rose Bowl was.

For years, we’ve heard all about SEC speed and how most everyone who plays in what has been considered the premier conference in college football since 2006 is bigger, faster, and stronger than anyone else. Considering the stereotype that the Big Ten is full of big, but slow players, Morris let Alabama know in a hurry that Michigan has team speed, too.

To score his touchdown, Morris had to get past a former five-star linebacker in Deontae Lawson, who was known for his speed and tackling, and past safety Jaylen Key, who was playing over top. But Morris gained the corner, and once he turned on the jets, he managed to get to the pylon to put Michigan up six.

As for the so-called superior SEC speed, Morris claims that is now a myth.

“Yeah, we I mean, we don’t believe that. They fast, but we fast, too,” Morris said. “So that wasn’t really much of a thought going into the game.”

Morris and the Michigan receivers have one more opportunity to disprove narratives.

The Wolverines are thought of as a team that can run the ball, but even in games where J.J. McCarthy throws all over the field, the wide receivers (outside of Roman Wilson) get few accolades.

Washington has the opposite reputation. It is a high-flying passing offense that’s expected to move the ball, regardless of what the vaunted Michigan defense throws at it. But the defense for the Huskies? Not great.

With the pass defense coming in at No. 123 in the nation, the wideouts for the Wolverines have an opportunity to show out should Michigan decide to go through the air. That’s a challenge that Morris and his cadre are willing to step into, especially considering this is the one last shot at a championship.

“Any game we go into with the mentality we’ve got to have a big game to win,” Morris said. “And especially this game — I don’t think we’re looking so much as into the rankings, but just understanding what we can do and understand this is the last game no matter what, so we need to play our best.”

Michigan and Washington will kick off the 2024 national championship game at 7:30 p.m. EST from NRG Stadium in Houston.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire