Williams loved time with Spurrier

Eli Williams already knew Steve Spurrier was a great coach. What he did during the 1996 SEC Championship game against Alabama took it to another level.

On the practice field the week before the game, Spurrier put in a play designed to get Eli Williams the ball through the air. He motioned out from his spot in the backfield and lined up as the only receiver to the right of the offensive line.

After the snap, Danny Wuerffel was supposed to fake an end around to Jacquez Green and throw to an open Williams. When the ball was snapped, Williams was instructed to run seven yards before cutting across the middle of the field.

It was the perfect play design for what Spurrier saw on the film, the best way to break the Alabama defense. He was so excited about the play that he ran it by himself to show the small details of the play whenever it went wrong in practice.

“He stood there in front of practice and ran it in front of everybody,” Williams said with a laugh.

When the game came around, Spurrier found the perfect time for the play. Florida was up 14-7 in the first half at the Alabama 45-yard line. Spurrier wanted to make it a two-touchdown game, so he went to the play designed for Williams.

And just like Williams expected, it worked perfectly, even after Wuerffel bobbled the snap.

“He was right. Sure enough, we got in the game and into field position where he knew what they were going to be in,” Williams said. “He called the play, I motioned on out, ran up, did a good move and ran across the field. Danny hit me, I turned up the sideline for a touchdown.

“That changed the momentum of the game.”

For Williams, it’s only one example of a big game against a stout defense where Spurrier was simply ahead of the opposition. He knew exactly what was coming and the perfect way to attack it.

“He did that stuff all the time,” Williams said. “He knew exactly what they were going to be in, and if we executed as players, it was successful. A lot of people think he’s successful because of the plays. It’s not the plays as much as it was when he called them.

“I loved playing for Coach Spurrier. He’s just a great guy. He would always tell you what’s on his mind and where you stood with him. You never had to guess or wonder where you stood. He let you know. I liked that. I use that with my kids now. I learned so much from Spurrier and his staff.”

Now a coach at Oakridge High School in Orlando, Williams remains close to the Florida program. He has relationships with multiple Florida assistants, including time spent with head coach Will Muschamp on multiple occasions.

It’s much easier for him and other Florida alumni to spend time with the program’s head coach in recent years. That wasn’t the case when Urban Meyer ran the program, and Williams said many of the alumni are happy with the openness of the program.

“He is different than Urban,” Williams said of Muschamp. “What I like about Muschamp is that he embraced all different players. He didn’t just embrace stars or guys that went to the NFL as first round picks. He embraced all former players. I think that was missing in the last few years (before Muschamp). He wants everybody to come and everybody to be involved.”

Even after last year’s 4-8 season, Williams still believes that Muschamp is the man for the job at Florida.

“He’s a great motivator, great defensive-minded coach,” Williams said. “This is his first stint as a head coach, so you’re going to have bumps in the road. Everybody does. Charlie Weis was probably not a great decision to come in and change our offense, but I think he learned from that. He made a great hire with Roper. I think Roper is going to do a great job. I like his scheme. We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

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