Miami waiting to see if Morris can play


Miami waiting to see if Morris can play

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Miami is willing to wait and see if Stephen Morris' sprained left ankle improves before the Hurricanes choose a quarterback to start on Saturday night against No. 12 Florida State.

Ryan Williams practiced Tuesday as Miami's presumptive starter, with Preston Dewey as his backup, while Morris spent the day in and out of treatment and unable to do anything on the field. And while plenty of signs point to Williams getting the call in the annual rivalry game with the Seminoles, Miami coach Al Golden said he's still giving Morris a chance.

``We've got a long way to go,'' Golden said. ``I would have to classify him as a game-time (decision) right now. ... So we'll see. Ryan did a great job today, threw the ball well, practiced really well, made all the throws so we're excited about him. We don't have really two separate game plans going in. And if Stephen's healthy, we'll give it a shot.''

Golden said the earliest he expects Morris would have any chance of being on the practice field is Thursday, and if he makes it out there then, he'd likely be limited to 7-on-7 work. Miami is obviously concerned, and obviously doesn't know if Morris will be ready, as proven by Golden sending a 5:30 a.m. text message to ask how his quarterback was feeling.

Small problem: Golden sent that text to the wrong Morris - he sent it to Jim Morris, Miami's longtime baseball coach.

``I'm feeling fine,'' Jim Morris said.

Either way, Florida State is ready for either Williams or Morris. Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said his staff might even study some tape of Williams' games at Memphis in 2010 - he transferred to Miami after that season - even though that wouldn't do them any good as far as breaking down what the Hurricanes might try against them on Saturday night.

``You have to prepare for both,'' Fisher said. ``And when you say prepare for both, though, how drastic are they going to change? I mean, in two or three days of practice, you could change your offense and do some different things, but the foundation is still going to be the same. One's a little more mobile, one's a little bigger and stronger, but they're both very good quarterbacks.''

Fisher's offense has no such who-will-start dilemma.

The Seminoles boast perhaps the ACC's hottest quarterback right now in EJ Manuel, who led Florida State past Miami last season and is coming off a career-best 439-yard, four-touchdown showing last weekend against Boston College.

Going back to last October, Manuel is 13-2 in his last 15 appearances. And he'll be facing a Miami defense that, in only seven games so far this season, has allowed at least 32 points five times and at least 498 yards of offense to opponents four times.

Still, the Miami defense that Manuel sees on film, he said, is fast and athletic.

``Those guys are still smart, I'm sure, too,'' Manuel said. ``So I think we have to go out there and execute. I don't really think it's necessarily about the defense that we're playing against. I think we have to go out there and do what we're supposed to do.''

Morris has thrown for 1,991 yards in seven games this season, including a school- and Atlantic Coast Conference-record 566 against North Carolina State. He's one of the biggest reasons why Miami, a team widely picked to finish near the bottom of the Coastal Division, is in the thick of the league race.

Golden indicated Morris has earned the chance to get back on the field this week.

``We all only get so many shots at this,'' Golden said. ``I'm not going to ask him to sit out the Florida State game or for any game, to be honest with you. If he's ready to go, he's ready to go. If you see him out there, it's because he is ready to go and he can execute in that game. If he's not, then that question is answered.''

For his part, Williams is taking the added responsibility of potentially making his first Miami start in stride, even though it would be on national television against an archrival before what's expected to be a jampacked crowd in Sun Life Stadium.

The way he sees it, games like this are why he came to Miami in the first place.

``The only thing different is getting more reps with the first team now,'' Williams said. ``I'm preparing the same. I do the same amount of film study every week. I've been preparing like I was the starter. I just wasn't with the (first-string) doing the actual reps that Stephen was taking.''

Quick Links

Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

Quick Links

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!