Williams might start for injured Morris vs. FSU
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — While growing up in South Florida, Ryan Williams had one game each year he just had to watch.
Come Saturday night, it looks as if he’ll be playing in it.
Williams is Miami’s backup quarterback. But he will start at Sun Life Stadium against Florida State if Stephen Morris isn’t recovered from a sprained left ankle suffered last Saturday against North Carolina.
“This is kind of what I grew up watching,’’ Williams said of the Hurricanes about to face the Seminoles. “I always wanted to play in a Florida State-Miami matchup. It’s really the biggest game on our schedule, based on rivalry.’’
Williams graduated from Miramar High School, just up the road from Sun Life Stadium. He started at Memphis as a freshman in 2010 before transferring to Miami, where he redshirted last season and was ineligible to play.
On Saturday, Williams replaced Morris midway through the fourth quarter of an 18-14 loss to the Tar Heels. Although Hurricanes coach Al Golden didn’t completely rule Morris out against the Seminoles, he said Sunday he anticipates Williams will get the nod.
“We’ll access Stephen as the week kind of unfolds, but right now we’re going in thinking that Ryan is going to be the guy,’’ Golden said.
X-rays were negative on Morris. Even if he can't play Saturday, Morris will have plenty of time to heal after that: Miami's next game isn't until Nov. 1 against Virginia Tech.
“It’s not a high-ankle sprain,’’ Golden said. “It’s the better of the sprains you can get on your ankle.’’
After Morris landed wrong and went down in a heap, Williams came in to complete 9 of 13 passes for 80 yards against the Tar Heels. He almost rallied the Hurricanes to a come-from-behind win.
Williams claimed he wasn’t nervous. He sure doesn’t sound as if he would be if he gets the start against Florida State.
“UNC was a great defense, very fast,’’ Williams said. “I feel like they’re a lot like Florida State. They get a lot of South Florida kids — lot of them from Miami, like we are. So it’s going to be a fast. It’s going to be a big show. It’s going to be a great game. If I play, I’m excited.’’
Williams hardly will be the only one feeling that way in the game against the BCS 14th-ranked Seminoles, which will be televised by ABC. The Hurricanes are tired of getting kicked around by Florida State, which has won two straight games in the series and five of the past seven.
Interestingly, Miami’s past two wins vs. Florida State have come in Tallahassee. The Hurricanes have lost three straight at home to Florida State, not having won at home since 2004, when they were still playing at the Orange Bowl.
“I can’t wait,’’ senior running back Mike James said about getting a final shot at the Seminoles. “I just can’t wait. Any time it’s Florida State and Miami, the animosity is big. So you owe them all the time.’’
Not only is it a rival game, but the Hurricanes (4-3, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are trying to avoid their first three-game regular-season losing streak since 2007. And they’re now just a half game ahead of 2-1 Virginia Tech, their biggest threat in the ACC Coastal Division.
“We got a big game coming up,’’ said wide receiver Allen Hurns.
Hurns expressed confidence in Williams. After all, Williams threw for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns at Memphis in 2010 and he looked good as Miami’s starting quarterback in spring drills while Morris sat out because of back surgery.
“Ryan is a good leader, as well,’’ Hurns said. “He was very poised (against the Tar Heels). . . . I think Ryan will be ready (Saturday) because even in the offseason there was competing (for the starting job). I’m comfortable with whoever’s back there at quarterback.’’
It looks as if it will be Williams. He might not have played yet in any Miami-Florida State games, but he sure knows all about them.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson