Miami wraps up spring practice with eyes on QB
For the past year, Miami quarterback Ryan Williams has been watching, studying and waiting. Whether that will translate into actually starting for Hurricanes this fall remains unknown.
Williams completed 15 of 27 passes for 169 yards on Saturday in Miami's spring game, where the lone touchdown came on a 5-yard run by Mike James with 4:19 left in the Orange's 7-6 victory over Green. Williams set up the winning score with a 44-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett about a minute earlier, maybe the biggest play in a mistake-filled afternoon.
Williams sat out last season after transferring from Memphis, and assumed the role of go-to quarterback after Stephen Morris was ruled out for the spring after back surgery. Morris and Williams will resume their competition in training camp this summer, and Williams said he didn't think a shaky offensive showing in the spring game should be considered all that disappointing heading into 2012.
''It's more of what we do in the summer and fall,'' Williams said. ''It's not how we finished this. It's how we continue to improve heading into the season.''
There's clearly plenty of work left to do. Miami had five turnovers in the game, two interceptions from both Williams and Gray Crow, plus a lost fumble by receiver Rashawn Scott after a 36-yard reception.
The work-in-progress feel was expected. The Hurricanes were 6-6 last season, are still awaiting sanctions from the NCAA over the extra-benefits scandal that remains under investigation, and lost a slew of their best players from a year ago - including four-year quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, running back Lamar Miller and the top two receivers from 2011, Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin.
''I know it wasn't perfect today,'' Miami coach Al Golden said. ''It certainly wasn't spectacular from a fan standpoint or viewing standpoint. But we came out of it clean. We came out of it healthy. I'm as pleased about that as anything. I don't think we'll have anything lingering in terms of our team past June. I'm pleased with those young guys. ... Since Jan. 17, I think we've accomplished a lot.''
With Morris out, Williams had his chance to make a statement this spring.
Williams played high school football at nearby Miramar High, helping it win the 2009 state championship in Florida's biggest enrollment class. As a freshman at Memphis in 2010, Williams completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,075 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, before deciding to come back closer to home primarily for family reasons.
Miami unsuccessfully sought a waiver from the NCAA that would have allowed Williams to play last year. Instead, he could only wait for his opportunity, which has finally arrived. And this spring, instead of competing with Morris, he wound up taking tips from Morris - who's gotten significant playing time in seven games over his first two seasons, spot duty in four others.
''He was very much involved whether he was in pads or not,'' Williams said. ''He was like a coach out there. He was always helping me.''
Williams already knows this much: If he does win the starting job, even with Miami now more than a decade removed from its last national championship, the burden of expectation will be high.
''When you come from down here, the fans know you're from the area and they expect more of you,'' Williams said. ''South Florida's one of the hotspots for high school football players and they expect us to come in and carry the legacy knowing that we grew up watching the Hurricanes and all the people that came before us.''
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