NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans VooDoo are preparing to play a quarterback who makes plays, not mistakes.
The playmaker is Bernard Morris, who has accounted for 21 touchdowns this season for the Jacksonville Sharks — 18 passing, three rushing and no interceptions. He’s a standout comfortable in his offense, one who has led the undefeated Sharks to three road wins to start the Arena Football League season.
Now, the VooDoo head to Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Friday night, eager to face Morris and the league’s fourth-ranked offense.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and can be heard on WRNO 99.5 FM and online at http://voodoo.arenafootball.com/allaccess/.
“Once he makes a play, we have to be in a position to make a play too,” said VooDoo defensive back Efe Osawemwenze, a former Southern standout.
Jacksonville has started the season 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. The VooDoo are coming off a bye last week. The preceding week, the VooDoo lost 48-38 to the Iowa Barnstormers.
“We’ve had another week to think about everything that went on in the (Iowa) game, have mental reps, things that could have helped us out,” Osawemwenze said. “We’ve had that loss on our mind for two weeks.”
Morris, in his fourth season in the league, is one of the league’s most versatile offensive players. He has thrown for 799 yards, completing 70.9 percent of his passes — second only to Spokane’s Erik Meyer (74.5). Morris also ranks fourth in the AFL in rushing with 73 yards (4.9 yards a carry).
“He’s off to a hot start,” VooDoo coach Pat O’Hara said. “He’s a dual-threat quarterback and he’s really come into his own this year. I think it’s his comfort level in the system. They do a lot of quick stuff, so the ball comes out of his hands quickly.”
The key, O’Hara added, is to be ready with a pass rush when the Sharks (3-0) opt for longer pass routes and Morris takes five-step drops in the backfield.
This season, VooDoo have three interceptions. Eddie Moten has two, and Osawemwenze returned a third for a score during a Week 1 win against Orlando.
Jacksonville is coming off a 66-49 win last week at the Cleveland Gladiators. Morris completed 23 of 35 passes for 282 yards and seven TDs. He also rushed four times for 20 yards.
Meanwhile, receiver Jeff Hughley accounted for four TDs, and fellow receiver Markee White had three scores, including a 16-yard TD with one minute remaining. White finished with 10 catches for 122 yards.
The VooDoo defense has had mixed success with curtailing quarterbacks. The unit has just three sacks — Jacksonville leads the AFL with 11 — but the VooDoo defense has also held its first two opponents to an average of 46.5 points per game, ranking second in the league. Only Jacksonville (46.3) ranks higher.
“It’s going to be a loud environment, so we’ve got to be ready,” O’Hara said.