Leaders lead

Beyond his personal frustrations with how the season is turning out, in his role as team leader Shaud Williams has wondered what should he do? What should he say to his teammates to help get things turned around?

"I wonder that," Williams said Sunday following practice. "But it's one of those things. I went in and asked the coaches, and they told me to keep doing what I've been doing."

The Tide's season record stands at 3-6. With only four games left on the schedule, only a miracle finish will avoid a losing season. What can the senior do?

"Try to pull some other guys along with me," Williams replied. "We've got a bunch of leaders on this team. We've got to keep doing what the coaches ask. Eventually it'll start working out for us. We've got to just keep doing what they're asking."

With his teammates celebrating in the background, Shaud Williams scores a touchdown versus Ole Miss. (AP photo)

After nine consecutive games, Alabama was finally off last Saturday, meaning the Tide players got a much-needed weekend rest. "It's a long and strenuous season," Williams said. "Even if we were winning, I'd want guys to get away and relax. Go fishing. Go hunting. Do whatever it is you enjoy doing."

So how did he spend his Saturday?

"I laid around on the couch and watched TV," he said with a satisfied smile. "All I did was watch football."

For the first time in a long time, Williams had the luxury of "vegging out" in front of his television set, inhaling Saturday's day-long college coverage.

He commented, "It was awesome just to get to watch (ESPN's) GameDay, watch all the games, flipping back and forth. I had forgotten what it was like to actually watch a college football game. I forgot what it was like to be a fan. It was awesome."

With the apartment fridge nearby and his trusty remote control in hand, Williams lost himself in the fun. "I was flipping channels; every game that came on TV, I watched," he admitted proudly. "Miami/Virginia Tech, I watched that. Arkansas/Kentucky, Michigan/Michigan State. I watched Texas/Nebraska. It was fun just to sit back and watch college football. Be a football fan for a day."

Many of his teammates took the chance for a quick trip back home, but the Andrews, Texas native stayed in Tuscaloosa. "Driving back to Texas was way too far for a quick weekend," Williams said.

Even though he spent his Saturday watching football, as Williams explained it wasn't "Alabama football." Which meant he got some much-needed mental time off.

"During a season you get so tied into football that sometimes it's easier to close yourself off from what's going on outside," Williams explained. "It's always good for guys to get away. Forget about things for a couple of days. Enjoy life."

Did the time off help?

"The guys came back a lot more relaxed," Williams said after Sunday's practice. "We had a lot more pep in our steps on the practice field. The time off was good. Guys got some rest. You could see everybody was a lot more laid back and relaxed. Guys weren't as tired. It did us a lot of good to have the off week."

"To have the season go the way it's been going is just real frustrating," Williams continued, "especially with all the hard work we've put into it. Coming into the season expectations were real high, so it's been real frustrating."

With the possible exception of an awful road trip to Ole Miss, the Tide team has played hard all season. When faced with adversity like this year's squad has been, the only alternative is to keep on fighting.

All season long Williams has been a leader for the Tide, speaking up when needed and setting an example with his all-out effort on the field. (Barry Fikes photo)

"You just keep your mouth shut and keep doing whatever the coaches ask you to do," Williams said. "That's the best way I know how to get through tough times. Don't complain. Don't pout. That's the only way I know."

With the extra few days of practice last week, there have been rumors of some minor changes on the team. A few younger players are likely to get more playing time, and one or two athletes may even see action in new roles.

"It's real tough, especially when things aren't going your way as a player," Williams commented. "It's one of those things. You're part of a team. The coaches are going to do what's best for the team. Sometimes you might not realize that at the particular moment. But you've got to keep your mouth closed and do what they tell you to do."

For Williams and the rest of Alabama's seniors, only four precious games remain in their college careers.

"I've thought about it; it's been brought to my attention a couple of times," Williams acknowledged. "My career is winding down. As a senior you'd like things to go better. They haven't, but we've got four games left. You've got to go out there and make the most of them. Let it all hang out and go with what happens."

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