Williams Says Summer Is A Time For Learning

Senior linebacker Travis Williams talks about the importance of the summer for a football team.

Auburn, Ala.–-Coming off a highly productive junior season that saw him earn All-SEC honors at linebacker, Travis Williams has a lot of reasons to smile as the Tigers prepare to defend their SEC title in 2005.

As a leader of the defense and one of the players counted on to carry the torch for Auburn, Williams says that the summer has gone well for the team as it gets ready for Georgia Tech on Sept. 3 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

One part of the summer that is important for any team is the meetings that occur within the different positions on the field. That is a time when younger players have a chance to learn the X's and O's while the older players take on the role as almost an extra coach at times. With new coordinator David Gibbs' defense getting ready for its first season, Williams says the summer has been very important for the Tigers as they try to make sure they know how he does things on Saturdays.

"It helps a lot," Williams says. "With me not getting the reps (in spring practice), even though I have been in the system for a long time there are a couple of new things that we threw in. I would normally be rusty at that, but being here this summer and talking through it with Coach Gibbs and Coach (Joe) Whitt it keeps me on top of everything. It's great during the summer to have the coaches here. They are in and out doing recruiting, but the time they're with us they talk with us."

Williams chases the quarterback during last season's win at Mississippi State.

When the linebackers get to get for their voluntary summer workouts, the group gets down to business because the linebackers play a position that requires an intimate knowledge of the defense and the game of football in general.

"We meet and we talk football," he says. "Sometimes we'll go over schemes, but it's basically just talking football. It helps to get the feel of him (Gibbs) and how he works and what he's feeling in certain situations. A couple of times I have met with him it's been about what he would do in certain situations. That way both of us can be on the same page. When it boils down to it I'm the player and he's the coach. He's going to make the calls and from the looks of things he's got some great schemes."

Williams, along with fellow starters Antarrious Williams and Kevin Sears, returns to give Auburn what should be one of the top linebacker groups in the nation. That's a far cry from the preseason expectations of last fall when the group was questioned by nearly everyone for being too small and inexperienced.

Now a year older and proven, Williams says the linebackers are not resting on their laurels because they know how hard they worked last season to get where they are and they're not going to give that up without a fight.

"We expect to be right at the top," Williams says. "We know there are some great defenses out there. Our rival has a great defense, but our linebackers are supposed to be the best in the SEC. We think we are and it's easy to say we are, but we're going to have to show it. Going into last year there was a different school that was thought to be better and we ended up being better than them. They took a step back by not working hard and we were working. Now there's a group out there that's working hard and we're going to need the whole linebacker corps. It's not going to take me or Antarrious, but it's going to take Kevin and Dede and Merrill Johnson and the young guys to step up. The linebackers have got to be strong."

Williams heads into his final season with plenty of respect. He is a consensus preseason All-SEC pick with the latest honor a selection on the team announced on Wednesday by the league's head coaches.

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