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Morris aims to play when Miami visits USF

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - When Miami quarterback Stephen Morris felt the initial pangs of sharp pain shooting through his leg this past weekend, the worst-case scenarios like a knee or an Achilles' problem started going through his mind.

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Within moments, he knew it wasn't serious.

And in the end, it may have only cost him a few plays.

Morris is working through a bone bruise around his right ankle and plans to be in the lineup Saturday when No. 15 Miami (3-0) visits South Florida (0-3), the Hurricanes' final contest before their slate of Atlantic Coast Conference games begins.

``The ankle feels good,'' Morris said. ``The ankle feels fine. ... I feel pretty good about playing on Saturday, so that's the goal.''

Morris left with 8:51 left in the first quarter of Miami's 77-7 win over Savannah State. He was on the field while his teammates were practicing Monday, tossing a football around - albeit while wearing a baseball cap instead of a helmet, but moving without much of a noticeable limp.

Morris dealt with a much more severe ankle problem last season, and didn't miss any games. Miami began substituting liberally after the first quarter against Savannah State, so Morris likely wasn't going to get many more plays against the overmatched Tigers anyway last weekend.

``I think he looks good,'' Miami coach Al Golden said Monday.

Hurricanes trainer Vinny Scavo and the team's medical staff will continue evaluating Morris before any decision is made about his availability for practice on Tuesday.

``Day to day,'' Morris said.

Morris got hurt on a play where he faked a handoff, rolled a bit right, then stepped up in the pocket under some Savannah State pressure. Immediately after releasing a pass toward the right sideline, Morris got hit from his blind side and appeared to have his right ankle drag along the turf awkwardly because of the impact.

``When I threw the ball away, the defender basically just jumped on my ankles and my knee,'' Morris said. ``That's just the game of football.''

Morris remained down briefly, then walked to the sideline and eventually - after backup Ryan Williams took over on a third-down and wound up leading what became Miami's third touchdown drive of the night - made his way toward the Hurricanes' locker room for further testing and evaluation.

But by then, even some of Morris' teammates felt relief.

``They're scary moments for teams when you don't believe in your backup,'' Miami running back Duke Johnson said. ``But we believe in Ryan and everything he does. It's always a scare when your starting quarterback goes down, but we knew from the way he was talking even when he was down that he was going to be all right. It wasn't an antsy situation.''

Well, maybe it was for some people, if only for a few moments.

Golden said he was anxious out on the field while waiting for someone to tell him Morris' X-ray results, but when they came in, the decision was made to start treatment right away.

By halftime, Morris was interacting with teammates in the training room, reassuring them there was no major reason for worry.

``It wasn't surprising,'' South Florida coach Willie Taggart said Monday, asked about the news that Morris was expected to play. ``Stephen's a tough kid. He didn't have to go back in that ball game, in that they were playing Savannah State.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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