Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Bulldog Back Breaks Down His 2015 Play to Win Larger Role in 2016

Let’s hope his professors grade on a softer scale than Aeris Williams assigns himself. Proof? Ask the Bulldog back how he rates his first varsity regular season.

“Ahhhh, it wouldn’t be that high,” Williams said. Then, considering it another moment, “I wouldn’t even give myself probably a C…I wouldn’t even give myself a C, or a D.”

Whoa, wait. Is Williams calling his freshman year a, well, a failure? Williams won’t downgrade himself that far. But neither is he about to show-off the personal report card from fall 2015 to anyone.

“I don’t know, I think I could do way better than I did this season.”

If Williams won’t cut himself any slack, others can. 2015 was not going to be a year for a freshman to jump the depth-chart order. Though, as things played-out, the veterans ahead of Williams were not exactly world or SEC beaters.

Working behind a pair of juniors, he settled for 37 rushes and 167 net-yards. That’s a 4.5 average, and he did score touchdowns against Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech. Williams also caught six short passes for 18 yards. Considering he was third man in the pecking order, and playing for an offense that lived and at times died by the passing game, those are not bad numbers at all.

Just, not something to satisfy an ambitious young Bulldog back. Thus the lowly self-assigned grade. “Yeah, I set high standards for myself.”

Williams ought be encouraged that from those ’15 flashes there are many others setting their expectations higher for his future. In fact for a while it looked as if the younger back was about to catch, even surpass his elders in action.

That was the three-game stretch of Tech, Kentucky, and Missouri where he had 20 of his 37 attempts and 89 of the yards. Then in November the offense reverted to using lightweight speedster Brandon Holloway almost exclusively on run plays while prioritizing the pass.

Still campus bowl practices have given Williams that many more opportunities to show his stuff with the first offense, perhaps a hint of spring things ahead. As far as Williams is concerned this camp is when he tries to correct items that there’s just not in-season time to address.

“Yes, I know exactly what to work on. I’ve got to work on my cuts, my vision, stuff like that. My blocking technique.”

That is the advantage to a winter practice period. A year ago in bowl camp Williams got plenty of snaps of course. Now that he has played other SEC defenses though he sees things differently. He can compare camp theory against on-field reality, know what works and what doesn’t.

“I watch myself on film I know exactly what to do and exactly how to handle the changes. So you just go out here and execute.”

So, back to his sharp self-assessments. What does Williams think that he did well this past season. A pause.

“Nothing, really.” Alright then, how about just one thing? Just something that Williams didn’t consider a flunking grade? “In general?” he said. “My blocking. It was pretty straight.”

Good, that’s a real positive to point at. Considering how much Mississippi State demands out of backs as blockers, it shows Williams knows how jobs get earned around here. To be fair blocking was not on his to-do list as West Point High’s every-down pounder. Others blocked for him.

Making the college transition was, yeah, a real test itself. “It was tough, now, I ain’t going to lie!” Williams said. “It was tough. But when you get back and adjust to things it’s great.”

Currently Williams and every other varsity Dog is adjusting to Belk Bowl preparations, from Wednesday through Saturday before their Christmas break. Up to now he’s been addressing those technical items. “Working on my vision, my cuts, making them quicker.” A few such fixes and who knows, maybe Williams can put on a Belk Bowl show?

“Yes, I’m looking for a big role in the bowl game,” he said. But the really big role is there for the winning come spring. That’s when Williams resumes competition with at least five fellow Bulldog backs, never mind newcomers. In 2015 he was willing to take a smaller rotation role.

2016? The grading curve gets even higher. “And I’m going to show everybody.”

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