WACO, Texas -- The University of the Incarnate Word football Head Coach Eric Morris has been named a 2018 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Regional Coach of the Year, announced the AFCA on Tuesday.
“I’m very happy Eric is receiving this recognition,” said UIW Director of Athletics Dr. Brian Wickstrom. “He is an outstanding football coach, a great ambassador for this university, and an even better person. To see his hard work recognized by the AFCA is a great honor for him and for UIW.”
The AFCA recognizes five regional Coach of the Year winners in each of the Association's five divisions: Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and NAIA. The winners are selected by active members of the association who vote for coaches in their respective regions and divisions.
In just one season with the Cardinals, Morris -- also named the 2018 Southland Conference Coach of the Year on Nov. 20 -- guided UIW to one of the best turnarounds in the FCS. He took over a team with a 1-10 overall record (1-7 in SLC action) in 2017 and guided it to a 6-4 regular season record, a conference championship, and the program’s first FCS Playoff appearance in 2018.
Following the regular season, UIW had its first Southland Conference Freshman of the Year (QB Jon Copeland), four first team honorees (RB Ra'Quanne Dickens, WR Phillip Baptiste, OL Brandon Floores, and DL Justin Alexandre) and three second team selections (Copeland, OL Terence Hickman II, and LB Silas Stewart).
Morris was honored as an Eddie Robinson Award finalist, the award bestowed upon the STATS FCS national coach of the year.
The Shallowater, Texas, native helped the Cardinals break nearly every offensive record in program history. As a team, UIW set records in total offense (5,315), total points (357), and touchdowns (48).
2018 also saw multiple individual records fall. Dickens broke the program record for single season rushing yards (1,117 yards), rushing touchdowns (14), and 100-yard rushing games in a single season (5). The 14 rushing touchdowns was also a program record for total touchdowns in a season and led to a program-high 84 points scored.
Copeland shattered the single season passing record (2,984 yards) and set single season records for pass attempts (368), pass completions (208), passing touchdowns (22), passing efficiency (137.3), yards per pass (8.1), and yards per game (298.4). Copeland also set the record for total offensive yards (3,061) and touchdowns responsible for (25). Copeland’s 2,984 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns both rank second in career records at UIW.
Senior wide receivers Kody Edwards (932 yards) and Baptiste (905 yards) each set records on the outside this season. Baptiste broke single season program records in receptions (59), receiving touchdowns (9), and receptions per game (5.36), while Edwards set program bests with five 100-yard receiving outings and 1,389 all-purpose yards.
Edwards also broke the program record for career receiving yards (2,353) and receptions (140), and he tied the program record for receiving touchdowns (14).
Morris led the Cardinals to various single game records as well, both individually and as a team. Dickens had the longest run from scrimmage (90 yards, at UNM), Copeland had the most passes completed (39, at LU) and attempted (56, at LU) and Copeland tallied the most passing yards (515, at LU).
UIW also set program bests in its conference-championship clinching victory over UCA (Nov. 10), including most total offense plays (88), most yards of total offense (656) and most all-purpose yards gained (747), in addition to other top-five marks throughout the season.
Defensively, after the conclusion of the Cardinals’ regular season, UIW led the FCS with 29 turnovers gained. The UIW defense recorded four interceptions at Central Arkansas to set the UIW single-season record for both picks in a single game and picks in a single season (18). The previous record (16) was set back in 2011. The Cardinals recorded at least one turnover in every game played this season (playoffs included) for the first time in program history. The turnover streak now sits at 12 consecutive games, dating back to the final game of the 2017 season (Nov. 16 vs. Prairie View A&M)
The defensive highlight of the season came against Sam Houston State on Nov. 3, when UIW forced seven turnovers. Seven turnovers marked the most in a single game by any SLC team in 2018.
The AFCA National Coach of the Year award will be officially presented to the winner during the American Football Coaches Awards at the AFCA Convention in San Antonio on Jan. 8, 2018.
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