Cornerback P.J. Williams returns to Florida State as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation on a defense that was No.1 in the Defensive F+ rankings last season. He was rated as one of the top-40 players in college football by ESPN and the top cornerback eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft by CBS Sports. He was tied for second on the team last year with three interceptions, including a game changer in the National Championship game, returning one of those for a touchdown.
This season the defense faces new challenges starting with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Williams says the secondary is looking forward to the challenge.
“They do a lot of four wide and we like teams that pass. They have some pretty good receivers. We’re looking for the challenge. We’re looking to play against great players and have a chance to lock them down. To have a chance to contain them.”
The Oklahoma State offense has been one of the best in the nation since head coach Mike Gundy took over. They have scored at least 20 points in 52 straight games, which is second in FBS history. Williams had plenty to say about what the Oklahoma State offense does well.
“They run a lot of quick plays to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. They try to let their wide receivers get down field off the short passes. They run screens a lot of screens and execute well. “
Florida State comes into the game as the defending National Champions and the preseason No.1 team in the country, with the secondary as one of the main reasons for that. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has preached to his players about maintaining the hunter’s mentality and staying aggressive. Williams believes the team enjoys having the target on their backs.
“We like that. We know we have the target on our backs. We know we have to compete hard. We’re going to get everyone’s best game. That’s the way we have to take everything. We know we have to play hard and work hard in practice and go extra hard during the games. We know we have to step it up and not slack off.”
Williams isn’t the only highly rated player in the secondary. The other cornerback, Ronald Darby, is rated as the No.5 cornerback available in the 2015 NFL Draft by CBS Sports. Williams says there is a great amount of competition between, not just the two of them, but also the entire secondary.
“It’s a big competition. We love making plays. Everyone’s trying to see who is going to have the most picks on the year. When one person makes a play the others are like ‘Man, I’ve got to get one’ and stuff like that. At the same time we have to do our jobs and not try to do too much. Just let the plays come to us.”
Florida State has had a great tradition of defensive backs over the years and recent years haven’t proven any different. They have set the bar high for the current Seminole players, but Williams says this secondary could be the best.
“We’ve had some great defensive backs come through here. We look up to those guys. Even the guys that just left like Terrance Brooks, Lemarcus Joyner, Xavier Rhodes. We look up to those guys and they taught us a lot while they were here. Also knowing the old guys, like Deion Sanders and Terrell Buckley. We know that we can be the best secondary and we work hard to try to be that. We go hard every day and try to make as many plays as we can.”
Florida State will need Williams to be as good as he was last season if they want to repeat that No.1 defensive ranking from last season, but one thing is certain. The Seminole corner doesn’t lack confidence.