SEC Player of the Week Shines Vs. Home Folks

Auburn, Ala.--The University of South Carolina football program got one more large reminder of a major recruiting blunder from the Lou Holtz Era when Auburn senior Travis Williams was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

The 6-1, 213-pound middle linebacker from Spring Valley High in Columbia, S.C., grew up just a few miles away from the South Carolina campus as a major fan of the Gamecocks. It was his childhood dream to play for USC, but despite a record-setting career at Spring Valley he wasn't offered a scholarship by Holtz and his staff, who concluded the linebacker was too small.

There was nothing small about his performance on Saturday night as he led an aggressive Auburn defense that dominated the Gamecocks in a 48-7 victory that was even more of a mismatch than the score indicates.

Auburn's first year defensive coordinator, David Gibbs, was impressed with Williams, who had nine tackles at halftime and led the Tigers with 11 stops. He had five tackles behind the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble for the game's only turnover.

"I told our guys before the game, if we don't play as hard as we can for Travis Williams there is something wrong with us," Gibbs tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I think we did that. What a great person. What a great player. I wish nothing but the best for Travis Williams."

Travis Williams and Marquies Gunn make a tackle vs. South Carolina as the Tigers improved to 2-0 in the SEC.

Williams, who was All-SEC as a junior, bounced back from a turf toe injury to have his career high in tackles for losses and the second most overall tackles in a single game. With Williams leading the defensive charge, the Gamecocks ran three plays or less on nine of their 14 possessions and they didn't get into Auburn territory until less than seven minutes remained when Williams and the other starters were on the sidelines.

"That was a victory that I really wanted," Williams says with a smile. "It was a great game for us against an SEC team."

By allowing just seven points, the Tigers moved up to third nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 9.4 points per contest. Auburn finished number one in the country in that statistic last year and that is the goal in 2005, the senior notes.

"We don't want to be a good defense this year," he says. "We are interested in being a great defense."

Brad Lester has moved up the depth chart after opening the season as the fourth stringer. He was plagued by preseason hamstring problems.

Williams wasn't the only Tiger honored by the SEC. Backup tailback Brad Lester was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time. He scored two touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries and caught a pass for five yards.

Lester, who won praise for his blocking from head coach Tommy Tuberville, also returned a kickoff 43 yards for the 4-1 Tigers, who do not have a game this week. Auburn returns to action a week from Saturday at Arkansas.


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