Williams Thinks Spring Was Good

Already recognized as one of the SEC's top defensive ends and an NFL prospect, Alabama senior Jesse Williams had a rather interesting spring and renewed acquaintances with a practice rival at the same time. Williams, an athletic 6-4, 300-pounder, moved inside to nose guard this spring after the departure of veterans Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry.

"I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team," Jesse Williams said in his classic Australian accent after his White squad had claimed a 24-15 win the annual Alabama A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "Taking double-teams is a little bit different (than single-blocking at defensive end). The nose man's job is taking up space."

Williams took up enough space and fought off enough double-teams Saturday to register two assisted tackles, break up a pass by starting quarterback A.J. McCarron, and hurry another McCarron throw.

Williams said he had a good time playing before a spring crowd of over 78,000, and added that he felt the 2012 Alabama defense made some progress over the 15 spring workouts.

"It was a good spring," said Williams. "It's a little bit harder to get mentally prepared to play against your own team (in a spring game setting). It was fun, and it was good to get the win. We came together as a defense, and grew up. The older guys did a good job of leading the younger guys.

"We have a lot of speed, and good players coming off the edge, It will be interesting to see how this defense develops."

If any team chefs are reading this column, Williams has some cooking advice for whomever prepares his steak dinner (the award for players on the winning A-Day squad).

"I was a winner last year, as well, and I like my steaks well-done," he said. "Last year mine came out a bit rare. I may have to put in a special order this year, just to be sure."

Tide coach Nick Saban said his post-game remarks that he and his coaching staff were searching for new leadership from his 2012 team. Williams said he and fellow senior Damion Square tried to lead the defensive line. He noticed linebacker Nico Johnson doing that for his group, and safety Robert Lester stepping up to lead the secondary.

When he played defensive end last season, Williams got to face left tackle Barrett Jones on a regular basis in practice. With Williams' move to the nose and Jones' switch to center, the two are till going at it on a daily basis when practice plans call for the first offense to face the first defense. Williams said he's fine with that, as both men continue to make each other better players.

"It's great to play against a guy (like Jones) who knows what it takes to play in the SEC," Williams said.

Williams, like all his "mates," couldn't help but notice the explosive, 179 total yard performance by true freshman running back T.J. Yeldon, winner of the game's Most Valuable Player award.

"(Yeldon's) explosive," Williams said. "He runs fearlessly, and hit's the holes hard. He's a good, physical running back."

Now that both the grueling "Fourth Quarter Program" of Strength/Conditioning coach Scott Cochran and the 15 spring work-outs are done, Williams said he and his teammates will go about the business of getting better. He said goals will include, but not be limited to "growing mentally and physically, and getting into summer conditioning."

There is plenty of optimism by Williams and his teammates that that work could turn into another good Crimson Tide season. As receiver Kenny Bell put it, "This team can go as far as we want to. We just need to keep getting better.

"Our main weakness now is just not learning everything we need to know, yet."

Spoken like a man who has been in many a meeting room with one Nick Saban.

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