Hogs: RB Williams enjoys heavy load; more notes
Sr WR KEON HATCHER
As 2-0 Arkansas prepares for Saturday night’s 6:30 game against Texas State, Williams has netted 96 yards on 24 totes in the 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech and 137 yards in the 41-38 double-overtime victory over TCU.
That’s down from his Dallas high school days at Bishop Lynch, but way up from last year’s 56 carries in seven games in the season cut short by the broken neck.
“I enjoy it (averaging 26 carries a game)," Williams said Wednesday. "It’s great for Coach B (Arkansas coach Bret Bielema) to trust me to give me the ball that much, but at the same time my body feels great and I am looking forward to many more carries this season.”
Feels great? After taking that kind of pounding?
“We have the best training staff in the country,” Williams said. "They get me back to 100 percent. My body doesn’t feel stiff or sore or anything. I came back to practice yesterday (Tuesday) and felt great. I felt good today (Wednesday).”
COMMISERATING WITH KEON
Williams and fifth-year senior receiver Keon Hatcher, hardshipped in 2015 upon missing the season’s last 11 games with a broken foot, have been Arkansas’ comeback kids for 2016.
Hatcher caught six passes for 86 yards against Louisiana Tech. He caught a 16-yard TD from quarterback Austin Allen, and off a double reverse flea-flicker threw the 2-point conversion pass to Allen that tied it 28-28 to achieve overtime.
“Keon is my big brother, man,” Williams said. “After we went through what we went through last year and coming back stronger is a testament to his character and the type of person that he is. He works hard every day and he is one of the leaders on this team.”
Did Hatcher help Williams as they convalesced while the Hogs played on last fall?
“Definitely,” Williams said. “He kind of helped me get through what I got through and vice-versa. He came back this year wanting to be even better than he was last year and he has shown that he is.”
REDUCING RAWLEIGH’S RUNS
Arkansas running backs coach Reggie Mitchell was asked if it’s realistic for Williams to continue toting a heavy load?
"No, not at all,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “We discussed that earlier in the week. I've got to do a better job of distributing the ball around a little bit. The games we've been in he was in a pretty good flow so we just felt comfortable with him being in there. But we've just got to force the issue of getting some other guys involved."
Of course with both games so close, and Williams in a flow, it was obvious why Mitchell and Bielema seldom used true freshman Devwah Whaley and freshman running back T.J. Hammonds.
“He (Williams) made a huge improvement from the first game to the second game,” Mitchell said. “He's been physical running the ball. He got more yards after contact this week. He has really improved with the way he's developed so far."
The Razorbacks have marveled at Williams’ comeback from the broken neck, yet say they aren’t surprised.
“The kid is a great kid and absolutely an animal in the weight room,” Arkansas senior left offensive tackle Dan Skipper said. “Seeing him come back makes us all feel good, but then again, it’s not really a big surprise to us.”
A true surprise is fullback, almost unmanned last spring but now boasting freshman Hayden Johnson and sophomore Kendrick Jackson, the linebacker moved to fullback last season and moved again to fullback during the August preseason.
“Now we definitely have two,” Williams said. “That’s a good thing for us. They are getting a lot thrown at them each game, and I think they are handling it really well.”
Arkansas has been favored by more than 30 points against Texas State of the Sun Belt. The Razorbacks were favored by 26 and won by one over Louisiana Tech, and last year they were heavily favored over Toledo but lost 16-12 in Little Rock.
“It’s a new year and a new team,” Williams said of remembering Toledo. “But it’s definitely something we don’t want to let happen again.”
Especially as a trap game on the SEC Alternate channel between the big win at TCU and the SEC season-opener against Texas A&M.
“I don’t know about a trap game,” Williams said. “But I do know this Texas State game is all that matters right now. So we are going to go out there and give 100 percent.”