Junior running back Keon Williams seems to have finally come into his own at Chattanooga. No longer do fans look at the impressive physical specimen and wonder, ‘when will he break out?’
That time is now.
Williams, who teased fans as a true freshman in 2010 by racking up 500 yards and four rushing touchdowns, has left plenty to be desired the past two seasons. But fast forward to 2013, and Williams is finally running like a 6-foot, 215-pound battering ram of a back is supposed to run, and he’s got the stats to back it up, too.
Through four games, the Red Bank High School product has piled up 341 yards and five touchdowns, and boasts a SoCon-leading 7.0 yards per carry. The most impressive stat, though, is the fact that Williams has yet to be tackled for a loss on a single one of his 49 carries.
That’s both a credit to the offensive play calling and UTC’s offensive line.
“I think you have to give Jeff [Durden] and the offensive guys a lot of credit for that,” Mocs head coach Russ Huesman said. “Negative yardage plays happen a lot of times when a coach puts their team in a bad position — running a stretch play into a blitz; that’s a five-yard loss.
Above all else, though, that stat is a result of Williams’ refusal to be brought down.
“That’s incredible,” sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman said. “I know for sure there’s been a lot of opportunities for teams to get him in the backfield, but he’s not letting it happen. That just speaks to his toughness and his want-to. He’s breaking all of those first-level tackles and getting into the secondary.
“That’s something special.”
Last Saturday, though, Williams had the opportunity to showcase another special side to him — his speed.
On UTC’s opening drive of the second half, Jacob Huesman completed a short screen pass to Williams on the left side. It looked like a positive play from the start, but Williams turned it into more than that.
“Once Jacob threw it I was kind of looking upfield already,” Williams said of the 57-yard touchdown reception. “I saw a crease on the back side of the defense and I just pressed it. I put my foot in the ground, made some cuts and beat everybody to the end zone.”
“I think he showed a little bit of a different great that we haven’t seen,” added Jacob Huesman. “He looked good on that play.”
Williams didn’t have a ton of opportunities to tote the rock on Saturday, running for just 48 yards on 10 carries, including a second-quarter touchdown run from 4 yards out. But a lot of that had to do with UTC’s opponent. For the triple-option running Eagles, burning time off the clock is almost as important as churning out yards and points. As a result, the Mocs had just 52 offensive snaps in the game.
“I get the old ‘why didn’t Keon run the ball more’ question,” Russ Huesman said. “He had about a 5-yard per carry average and we only snapped it 52 times. Seven or eight of those plays were on the two-minute drive where we had to throw the football. Now you’re down to 45.
“What did [the Eagles] do? They kept the ball. That’s what they do.”
But even with the limited offensive opportunities, Williams still managed 107 all-purpose yards and two scores. Not a bad outing, especially for only touching the ball 12 times.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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