Williams & Masthay last line of defense

Kentucky's last line of defense was very suspect during the 2005 season. For UK's defense to improve in any appreciable way, strong safety Roger Williams and punter Tim Masthay will have to provide a strong last line of defense.

Last season when free safety Marcus McClinton went down with a season ending knee injury Roger Williams had to step up as a starter as safety. Muhammad Abdullah, who was at the strong safety moved over to the free safety position and Williams went to the strong safety spot. Williams amassed at least five tackles every game over the last five games of the season, and the coaches voted Williams as the most improved player on the team for the 2005 season.

It appears that now Williams has earned his metal at the strong safety position and along with a recovered Marcus McClinton at free safety, they should provide a strong last line of defense. One day during the 2004 season and during practice in Nutter Field House, it was discovered that Williams at then 190-pounds had some unsuspected speed. In the throes of a bad season the coaches, to lighten the load and for team morale, had the skill position players to race against each other in 40-yard jaunts. While the players frolicked, Williams won several of those races.

"In high school coming out I was only 170-pounds and I'm now 200," Williams explained about his speed. "I was pretty fast in high school and I placed (ran second) in the 100 meters in the class 2AA in the state of Georgia. I feel like I've maintained my speed – I'm getting a little older but I'm still as fast. I think that's what helps me with my tackles, getting around a lot of tackles – covering a lot of ground."

Williams said that coach Steve Brown has pushed hard but he's been more calm letting the older players like Karl Booker and Williams coach the younger players into doing the right things. He said it works real well with him not doing all the coaching and allowing them to help out.

Coach Brown said what's fun as a college coach is to see these young men grow up right in front of your eyes. "Roger, when he first came in here was goofy and wild and full of life but not focused," Brown said. "Once the light came on and once he realized that he could be an important member of the defense, his focus got better, he became more mature, he became a manager of his time and he became a guy the coaches could rely on and his teammates respect."

On the discovered speed, Brown said-- "Well that's just it, that was light for the coaches to see, we knew and now know when he's dogging it. We know what he can do and what I'm trying to get him to do now is practice with that speed every play. Now if we see a great change of speed, it tells me he wasn't running full speed. I heard coach Mack Brown (Texas head coach) speak one time talking about their defense, if they see a great change of pace that's how they can tell if a guys loafing or not. That's what we are trying to get the guys to do and unfortunately he – Williams - set the bar too high for himself."

Special teams coach Steve Ortmayer said that it seems that this camp, it took Masthay a while to get in a groove. "He seems to be much more in a groove in the last week," the coach explained. "He's back to living up to much of our expectations. We've also started to use him on kick-offs some and it looks like he may end up being that guy for us, too." What's made the difference, Masthay said, is one of his professors said to him, you have two choices - 1) change what you're doing or - 2) change your mind about what you're doing. Ortmayer said he likes the way all of his kickers are kicking are they doing better than they thought they would have thought.

The vital elements of punters, kickers and safeties have to shine for this to be a good football team and this bottom line is the last line of defense.

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