No tears were shed by the Navy football team when Beau Morgan graduated from the Air Force Academy last spring.
The past two seasons, the multi-talented quarterback bedeviled Navy with his running and passing, even though the Midshipmen won last October's contest on a last-minute field goal.
And come Saturday in Annapolis, the Mids will think they are seeing a clone at quarterback when Blane Morgan, Beau's younger brother, starts barking signals for the Falcons.
In directing the Falcons' triple-option offense for two-plus seasons, Beau Morgan set a school record with 6,627 career yards.
Blane, a junior, realizes he will not match his brother's gaudy statistics, but he already has surpassed Beau in one vital category. He has led Air Force to a 6-0 start for the first time since 1989, earning the Falcons a No. 19 national ranking. With a relatively soft schedule remaining, there is added speculation of a perfect season and a berth in the Alliance bowl picture.
With such lofty aspirations comes added pressure on a young quarterback who saw limited action in four games last season. Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry has acted quickly to ease Blane Morgan's burden.
"I hope there won't be comparisons, but that's human nature," DeBerry said. "But it's totally unfair to compare Blane to his brother. Beau was one of the best option quarterbacks who ever lived.
"We've talked to Blane about being his own man. We're not going to put pressure on him to be like his brother. People forget, it took Beau almost three years of growing pain to effectively run our offense.
"All we're asking Blane to do is be Blane Morgan. He's improved every week at reading the defense. He's doing a better job than I could have anticipated."
DeBerry also simplified the game plan, rationing Morgan's passes and making greater use of stocky fullback Spanky Gilliam.
But Morgan, averaging a combined 167 yards a game, is still the focal point of the Falcons' offense, and does not blanch when compared to his brother, whom he considers his "best friend."
Advice and support is readily available with Beau patrolling the sidelines in his new role as a graduate assistant.
Beau said: "I'm enjoying every minute of it, and I'm really proud of what Blane's accomplished so far."
Around Colorado Springs, the most popular pastime is debating the merits of the two Morgans. But Blane won't get caught up in the sideshow.
"People will always be comparing us," Blane said. "I'm not trying to get out of Beau's shadow. The comparisons are just something the media built up and hyped in the preseason.
"I don't think I have to prove myself or put up big numbers. I just have to run the offense, put points on the scoreboard and win games. As soon as I get my own identity, the comparisons will end."
Beau and Blane. Blane and Beau. Inseparable siblings since they were football-toting tots going head-to-head in the family's front yard in Carrollton, Texas. Their father, Barry, is head coach at nearby Trinity Christian Academy and tutored both his sons.
"Every Christmas, we knew what to expect," Beau said. "It was always shoulder pads, helmets or a new football. We'd run right outside and test the new equipment. Every Sunday, we'd go one-on-one. And when football season started, we'd play twice to match our father's two-a-day practices."
It was the best of worlds for the Morgan boys when they played bTC high school football together one season under their father's guidance, Beau at quarterback and Blane as a strong safety.
"My father never gave us special treatment," Blane said. "He'd treat us just like any other member of the team, but he made it clear that we treated football as a game, not a religion."
Blane got his baptism at quarterback as a sophomore when Beau broke a finger on his throwing hand just prior to the season opener.
"We fell behind," Beau said, "so they taped up my hand and my dad made me a running back, with Blane handing off."
Ironically, Blane considered enrolling at the Naval Academy and visited Annapolis his senior year in high school.
"That was the year Charlie Weatherbie became Navy's new coach. He came through Texas on a recruiting trip, watched some tapes of our games and extended a scholarship offer. I enjoyed Annapolis and considered Navy for a while."
At least until Beau got his ear.
"I believe if it hadn't been for me playing at Air Force, he'd be playing for the other side Saturday," Beau said. "But I guess I'm a better recruiter than a quarterback."
Pub Date: 10/09/97