Williams adds explosive element to Tide offense

As is normal most years, Alabama's defense got the better of things in Wednesday's first fall scrimmage. But the running and receiving of Shaud Williams was a bright spot. <br><br>Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione knew he was good coming out of high school, which is why he was so pleased when Williams transferred to Alabama last season. "One of the things that we've noticed as we've gone through camp is that good things happen when the ball is in Shaud's hands," Franchione said.

Sitting out last season after transferring in from Texas Tech, Williams is more than ready to play his first SEC game. "I'm looking forward to it; I can't wait," he said. "Sitting out last year was tough, but I'm through it now. I'm excited.

"I can't even explain how excited I am that I'll get to put on the Crimson jersey and play for The University of Alabama. I'm so happy."

Williams talks to the media following practice.

During the scrimmage Williams gained 60 yards on seven carries, also adding two receptions out of the backfield. "Shaud has proven to be a guy that can run the ball for us, catch the football and do a lot of things," Franchione said. "We certainly feel good about what he's giving this football team right now."

Listed at only 5-8 and 189 pounds, Williams plays above his head every single day. "I take it as a personal challenge every time that I'm out there," he related. "They say that every SEC running back is supposed to be 6-3, 225 pounds. I use that as motivation. It makes me run hard. I try to prove that little guys can get the job done.

"Just look at Warrick Dunn playing in the NFL. He's one of my favorite running backs, because we're built a lot alike. He's proved a lot of people wrong. Sometimes I feel like that's what I'm doing when I'm playing out there."

Ahmaad Galloway and Santonio Beard, Alabama's co-starters at tailback, both stand 6-1 and weigh 215 pounds plus. So Williams off the bench will present a decidedly different look to opposing defenders. Quarterback Brodie Croyle explained, "We can go from ‘AG' and Santonio pounding at the defense to Shaud, who it seems like nobody can touch him. He's definitely a change of pace."

A fourth-year junior, Williams provided a veteran's perspective on Wednesday's scrimmage. "I think we did pretty good today, but as Coach Fran said there are still some things that we need to work on. Like Coach Fran said, I'm pleased but I'm not happy. We're a long way from where we need to be.

Able to call on an extra burst of speed when he hits the line of scrimmage, Williams is explosive when carrying the football.

"If we had played our first game today, I don't know that we would have done what it takes to win. But luckily our game is still two weeks away, and we've got time to work on some things."

Williams averaged almost nine yards per carry and was the squad's leading rusher, but he deflects credit elsewhere. "The offensive line did a great job of blocking," he said. "When those guys get it set in their head that they're going to block… They took it as a personal challenge, and they blocked well. They made it real easy for me. I was pleased with my performance around the ball, but there is still a lot of work for me to do."

"I'm still a long ways from where I need to be," Williams continued. "There are a lot of things that I need to work on. I need to get better without the football in my hands. I need to work on blocking. I've still got a lot of work to do."

Williams was a proven star at Texas Tech before even coming to Alabama, and cynics might wonder if there will be enough carries to go around this season. But Williams isn't one of them. "Santonio and Ahmaad are going to have the bulk of the runs," he said. "They're one of the best running back tandems in the nation, so why would you not get those guys on the field and give them the ball? I'm sure that they will carry the load, and Ray and I will just be there to spell them when they get tired and give them a rest."

The Bama staff developed the A-Back position with the talents of Williams in mind.

Humble by nature, getting Williams to acknowledge his talent is frankly impossible. But his teammates know how good he is. "Shaud is one of the most explosive players on our team---if not the most explosive," Croyle said. "Every time he gets the football there is a chance he could go all the way. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do during the season."

Senior quarterback Tyler Watts especially appreciates having another reliable target in the passing game. "Shaud is a strong receiver coming out of the backfield," Watts said. "It's not going to be a problem at all finding a role for him. He can do so many things well. He'll be able to help our offense out."

"I can catch the football, coming out of the backfield," Williams acknowledged---almost reluctantly. "That's something I can bring to the offense. Of course Ray (Hudson) does a good job of that as well. We're going to do a good job of mixing it up this year and give defenses a lot to look at and a lot to prepare for."

Both Williams and Hudson have been working at the new A-Back position since spring. "It's so much farther along that it's not even funny," Williams said. "But then again it's far from where it needs to be. Ray and I have come a long way running our routes and learning our plays, but there is still a lot that we need to work on.

"That's why it's good that we still have two weeks before we open up."

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