Although Miami’s 77-7 win over Savannah State on Saturday was devoid of drama, the game did shed some light on a few of the relative unknowns on the Hurricanes’ roster, most notably backup quarterback Ryan Williams.
Stephen Morris’ injury in the first quarter was a reminder that the Canes are one play away from a 6-6 Plan B wearing No. 11.
With UM entering as nearly a 60-point favorite, there was no doubt that Williams would see a lot of playing time against the overmatched Tigers, but Al Golden’s staff would have preferred to have him enter at their discretion instead of in injury relief. Regardless of how it started, the opportunity gave Williams his most extensive playing time since transferring from Memphis in 2011.
The Canes’ offense didn’t miss a beat.
The opportunity provided some atonement for Williams’ appearance last year in an 18-14 loss against North Carolina, when Stephen Morris left the game with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Although Williams passed for 80 yards in that game, he was unable to complete the comeback and get the win.
“I had the same opportunity last year, and I didn’t get the job done,” Williams said. “It really ate me up inside to know that I let the team down, so I made sure I didn’t let that happen again.”
Williams’ first pass was a 20-yard completion to Allen Hurns, converting a third-and-8 . Savannah State offered little resistance as Williams completed nine of his first 10 attempts, with the only incompletion being a Clive Walford drop at the goal line. He went 11 of 13 for 176 yards and two touchdowns before freshman Gray Crow entered the game with 3:11 left in the first half.
Perhaps more important the passing statistics is the fact that UM scored a touchdown on each of Williams’ five drives under center.
Golden pointed out that Williams entered the game with UM up just 14.
“It came in at a point in the game where we weren’t pulling the reins back,” Golden said. “At that point he had to run the whole offense and he did. I thought he made really good decisions.”
It’s unclear, however, the significance of Williams’ dominance, given the level of competition. Morris was 3 of 4 for 82 yards, and Crow was perfect on six attempts, totaling 55 yards. But Williams did provide encouraging signs in his nearly flawless performance, specifically with his accuracy.
“He made catch-and-run throws,” Golden said. “He put the ball where it needed to be so that guys could run with the ball. They weren’t turning around and they weren’t waiting for it.”
The Pembroke Pines native is perhaps best known for his heralded high school career. After transferring from Plantation American Heritage, he led Miramar to its first state title, throwing for a record five touchdown passes in the championship game — a record previously held by Tim Tebow.
Williams started 10 games for Memphis in 2010 as a true freshman. He sat out 2011 after transferring to Miami, and spent most of 2012 sitting on the bench behind Morris, playing in five games and attempting only 20 passes all year.