University of Miami

Canes’ Stephen Morris hopeful to play against USF, backup Ryan Williams impresses

Miami quarterback Stephen Morris spoke Monday for the first time since he injured his right ankle in UM’s rout of Savannah State, saying “the ankle feels good” and indicating he is confident about playing Saturday against USF in Tampa.

“That’s the goal,” said Morris, who was diagnosed with a bone bruise and spent Monday on the sideline gently tossing the ball and helping the other players. “The only pain you really get is it’s just kind of stiff.

“Our job is trying to loosen it up and trying to get it back to normal, really.”

Just in case things don’t go as planned against the Bulls (0-3), or even if they do and Morris starts (as expected) for the No. 15 Canes (3-0), backup Ryan Williams will likely add to his playing time and attempt to improve on his already impressive season.

“Every week since I’ve been here, I’ve really tried to keep myself mentally prepared and ready for anything that happens,” said fourth-year junior Williams, a Miramar High alum who transferred to UM from Memphis in 2011. “This year, I really put it upon myself to make sure that I’m 100 percent in tune with Stephen … regardless of who is playing.”

Early injury

Williams entered the Savannah State game when Morris was injured just before midway of the first quarter.

“I was trying to get out of the pocket and then I saw a guy coming to me from the left and I had to go to the right instead,” Morris said. “My check-down was covered, and I threw the ball away and the defender basically just jumped on my ankle and knee.

“It’s just the game of football.”

Morris said players are always worried “about the big injury, whether it be your Achilles or your ACL or something with your knee. Once it was my ankle, I knew it would be OK. It didn’t feel as bad when I was walking off the field as when I got hurt [last season] in North Carolina, so I knew that was a positive thing.

Trusting Ryan

“I wasn’t concerned about the game. I knew Ryan could handle the game very well. He did an unbelievable job, so I was quite at ease at the moment.”

It was Williams’ seventh game at UM and second this season, and he led the offense efficiently and with confidence.

He completed 11 of 13 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns, to bring his season total to 14 of 17 for 216 yards and the two scores for an impressive 82 percent completion rate.

Overall at UM, he’s 29 of 37 (78.4 percent) for 303 yards and three touchdowns.

His numbers his freshman year at Memphis: 165 of 290 for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

He has yet to throw an interception at Miami.

Golden said that Williams entered Saturday “at a point in the game where we weren’t pulling the reins back. At that point he had to run the whole offense and he did. He made really good decisions.”

The coach described Williams as “really coachable” and said Monday that he is a better leader now and “has changed some mechanics that are really working in his favor — he’s getting his shoulder closed a lot and moving his feet better” and has gotten leaner “and quicker.”

Golden said Williams “is starting to understand who he is in terms of distributing the football and letting those guys make plays.”

Knowing his limits

When Morris got hurt, Williams said he “was just sitting there, like, ‘Is he getting up or not?’ I had to run over, get my helmet and figure out what the situation was, what the play was, and just go out and get the job done. … It wasn’t, I guess, an easy situation to be thrown into.”

He said he knows his strengths and limitations.

“I can’t throw as far as Stephen can. I can’t throw as hard as he can. But I pride myself on being really accurate and anticipating what I’m going to do and not thinking about it too much and letting it go.”

Williams threw some long passes Saturday, but his game is mostly to deliver easily catchable short- to mid-distance throws and let his playmakers do the rest.

“Look, he doesn’t have the arm of Stephen,” Golden said. “That doesn’t preclude him from being a very good and very accurate quarterback.”

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