Aussie Williams Puts On Game Face
To begin with, Jesse Williams is 6-4, 319 pounds. Even with Alabama football having several big men, they tend to stand out. Moreover, Williams was sometimes spotted on long walks wearing shorts and sandals in brisk conditions. This week he has been in something of disguise, long pants and long sleeve shirts – both to hide the many tattoos that adorn his body – and even a hoodie to cover up some more. He's cut his hair, but that, he said, was because his helmet was too tight. He kept the little pigtail to remind him of what had been.
And on game day he adds a unique touch. Football players frequently have a little black smudge under their eyes to help against glare. Williams takes it to a new level. He smears extra black from his eyes down his face. "I've been doing that since I started playing back in Australia," he said.
He said he hopes that intimidates people. "It it doesn't, I don't know what does," he said.
Williams said his teammates don't say anything about it. Senior tight end Brad Smelley said, "You can't help but notice it. He daubs it on pretty good. I think it's a good look for him."
This Saturday night LSU will get the look.
Alabama hosts LSU in the premier game in college football this season. Both teams are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Southeastern Conference games. The visiting Tigers are ranked first in the nation, Bama number two. CBS will televise the game from Bryant-Denny Stadium with kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT.
That's the reason for his daily disguise. "I kind of put my headphones on and walk around real fast without being rude," he said. Williams doesn't want to talk about the game, but he's naturally polite.
Williams, who has started all eight games at defensive end for Bama this year, has been in on 12 tackles, including three-and-a-half for loss, and has broken up a pass and been credited with two quarterback pressures.
Williams has been watching film of LSU and said "They're big and strong, but we've played against a lot of big and strong teams. We're just going to have to do what we do and play our kind of football; be more physical than they are."
He said an advantage of preparing for good opponents is the Alabama scout team. "We have pretty high quality athletes on the scout team here," he said. "It's hard to keep up with a lot of them. They do a lot of good stuff and it definitely helps having them mimicking how other teams play." He particularly mentioned quarterback Phillip Ely, who has played the role of LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee, and wide receiver Duron Carter, who has played both a wide receiver and the part of quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
Williams gets high marks from Coach Nick Saban and from his teammates.
Saban said, "I think Jesse has been one of our most consistent players up front in terms of doing the things that we're asking him to do. He's a very conscientious guy. He's smart, he's bright. I think the thing that probably surprised me the most is we saw a lot of talent and ability in a big guy that can move and has some really good athletic ability, but hadn't really played much football as maybe some other guys and maybe wasn't quite as instinctive. But because he was smart and conscientious the progress he made from spring practice to this season was phenomenal. He's continued to make that improvement throughout the year and do a really good job."
Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw isn't in position to watch Williams during the game, but he has seen him on videotape. "Jesse Williams is extremely good," Upshaw said. "He dominates. It's good to see him execute."
Inside linebacker Nico Johnson reaps the benefit of Williams work against the defensive line. "He's keeping linemen off me," Johnson said. "He has come a long way from cap, when he first got here. He's getting comfortable with what he's doing."
Williams will have his parents and brother at Saturday's game. Other family and friends will be watching back in Brisbane. Oddly, the Williams family won't be the only Australians in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.
Brad Wing, the LSU punter, is from Melbourne. Williams said he doesn't know Wing personally, but that he keeps up with his fellow Aussie.
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