Williams' grueling spring camp experience

He wasn't even a year removed from high school and wasn't old enough to vote, but Jamaal Williams played more like an upperclassman last season. Given his success, it seems like Williams has been a longstanding fixture within BYU's offense, when in fact this is his first spring camp ever as a Cougar.

With BYU's offense, there was a complete staff overhaul and a new scheme and philosophy being preached both in word and action from day one of spring camp. So what was it like for Jamaal Williams to participate in his first ever spring camp?

"Well, it was horrible," said Williams facetiously. "I was tired, I wanted to die and didn't want to play football anymore. No, but it was kind of hard to be honest with you, it really was."

While his introduction to spring camp might have been, well, not so pleasant, Williams has become acclimated to the higher demands now placed upon him as a running back.

"That first week was brutal on all of us because of how fast we had to go and it was just constant," Williams said. "Now it's in our mindset to go like that and so we're more used to it. When we do get tired we know now just to keep going to make that extra play, score that touchdown and help us win. I've learned that I have to keep going and that I can keep going, so it's a lot better now than it was during week one."

During the first week, players struggled to execute while running around in an effort to maintain the expected pace of the offense. One might say they resembled the Keystone Cops more than a synchronized unit.

So have the players been able to get the hang of all the changes?

"It depends, and there are some things that I think we're starting to now do well, but there are some new things that the coaches will put into the offense that we'll have to think about," said Williams. "Some of the new things that they put in are kind of like the old things, and so in our brains we just kind of go off of those. We are doing a lot better now and are starting to see some of the success of being able to do things better than we did before."

As the weeks have progressed, the level of offensive execution has begun to catch up with the expected tempo. The philosophy of go-as-fast-as-you-can-and-the-execution-will-eventually-catch-up has now started to take hold.

"With all the new stuff we added, I think we only messed up on three things, and that was a lot better than the first week where we messed up a lot," Williams said after last Friday's practice. "We're now starting to get the concepts and not thinking about things as much and just going."

Williams likes what's in store for the Cougar offense.

"I can see the vision that's being created for the offense, and I think it's exciting," said Williams. "I see how the coaches want to us the talent that we have and how that talent is being used together to make the entire offense one big, bad scoring machine. It's all coming together and it's exciting. Once we get everything worked out it's going to be hard to stop and a lot of fun "

It's also becoming more evident that sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill is emerging as the frontrunner to becoming the starting quarterback.

"He is emerging as that leader, but it's funny leadership. I can't take him serious but I have to take him serious," said Williams with a smile. "Like, before we go out there and get ready to hit someone and get hit, he tells jokes.

"I'm trying to be all serious and focus and prepare myself for what's coming, and then he'll say a joke or something funny that will make me laugh or smile. I'm trying to be serious, but I can't because of him. I know he's doing that to keep us loose and to go out there and have fun. By the time the ball is snapped everything changes and that seriousness and focus comes in."

In high school, Williams' fastest time in the 100 meters was an 11.28. His running back counterpart Adam Hine was a bit faster, having ran an 11.10. So, is Hine faster in the forty-yard dash than Williams?

"Let's run it right now because [Hine's] a little hurt," Williams said while laughing. "He sprained his ankle and so he has a little nagging injury that might help me win."

When one adds the speed and running threat of Taysom Hill to that of Williams, Hine and Michael Alisa, the big-play capability is definitely there. All have different running styles and form a multifaceted threat.

"Adam is starting to learn more about the vision side and seeing the backside of the plays to make the cuts and see the running lanes," said Williams. "He might have more top-end speed than I do, but I've got some things I can do really well too."

Last season, Williams ran hard and rarely went down after the first hit. It was common to see him drive the pile as he used his strong lower body. But according to Williams, Hine and Alisa are the more physical backs.

"They like to run over people and I don't know why," said Williams. "Every play the guys on our defense are like, ‘Hit me!' I'm like, ‘Hit you? With my helmet? Nah, I'm going to go around you.' But if it's a corner, then he's mine. I'll run over a corner all day."

Williams is wisely selective in deciding which defenders to lower the boom on. While he might look to lower the shoulder on faster cornerbacks, he's a little more discreet when it comes to other types of defenders.

"If it's Daniel Sorenson or Craig Bills, well, it depends," said Williams with a sheepish smile. "If I have an angle on him then I'll take him. For linebackers … I'll have to catch him slipping before I hit him. I'll wait for a lineman to come hit him first, then I'll come in and hit him after and make it look like I did it."

Last year Williams put his vision and field smarts to good use as Brandon Doman implemented more of a zone blocking scheme. Now that Anae has returned as BYU's offensive coordinator, he is using many of the same blocking schemes to allow his running backs to set up defenders.

"I like the unpredictable nature of it all," Williams said. "The linebackers have to choose which way to go, and once they commit you can take advantage of that. Sometimes they choose right and sometimes they choose wrong. It's a good way to always keep them guessing, and they can't always choose which hole I'm going to be at. They might think I'm going to be committed to one hole, and by the time they get there I'm going the other way. Mostly it's just me being patient with the blocking and waiting for them to make a move, then I just react to that. I'm looking forward to doing those things again this year."

And BYU fans are also looking forward to Williams doing those things again.

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