A few words with… Nino Williams

Contributing on defense usually means making a big tackle or stripping the ball from a weary opponent. Rarely does the opportunity present itself for a member of the secondary to gain big yards on his own, but it has happened in each of the Tigers' past two games. Senior S Nino Williams had his first interception of the season against Texas and followed it with a long return.

Nino Williams just couldn't wait. He needed to make a play, to feel more of a part of what is becoming one of the Big 12's best defenses.

Through five games, the Tigers had exceeded their 2003 interception total, recording 10 picks to last season's nine. Senior CB Shirdonya Mitchell has been the main recipient, already having made five picks.

Still, through five games, the senior safety from Oklahoma City had not made a potential game-changing play. Williams had been a consistent contributor to a strong safety corps, but the numbers could not show how well he was playing. Until Texas, when he returned an interception to the Texas 32-yard line, setting up the Tigers to take the lead.

They couldn't, of course, but Williams' play was still important. InsideMizzou spoke with him Monday afternoon…

On how long he had been waiting for his interception at Texas: "Shoot, since the first game of the season. It's cool, though. I'm glad it came in a big game. That's when I like to get them. It's cool to get interceptions against teams that we're supposed to beat, (but) when the competition's heavy, I think it sticks out a little bit more."

On the defense's performance against Texas being its best this season: "Probably so. A team is only as good as you let it be. If Texas would have thrown the ball for 200 or 300 yards, everybody would have been saying they're a good passing team. We just did our job. We didn't let them become two-dimensional and being able to bring out the pass. When they did, we were pretty good against them."

On making a team one-dimensional: "It's like a boxing match against somebody. That right hand, you want to stay away from that and counter off it. If a team is good at running the football, you want to stop the run and counter when they pass the ball. It goes hand in hand, whatever their strength is."

On if staying atop the conference in defense is a matter of pride: "It's nothing that stands out better than you're No. 1 or No. 2. That shows that you're playing good football in a good conference. So, of course, it is pride and trying to stay at the top. We're just gonna thrive on that and try to keep it."

On the development of Shirdonya Mitchell: "Y'all see it now, but we've been seeing it since last year. That's what happens when you have depth at positions; good players have to sit and wait their turn. We had some good players that played last year that left; now another good player is going to have to step up. He's done more than his share. I think he's rubbing off on everybody."

On similarities in offensive style between Texas and Oklahoma State: "Smash-mouth football, man. We gotta go in and stop the run. We just go in to play Missouri football. Do that and everything will take care of itself."

On the importance of Homecoming: "I don't really care what it is. Homecoming, Awaycoming, it don't really matter. It's a football game, one that we have to go out there and get. I ain't one of those guys to let extra stuff juice a game up. After all the fans, after all the blowing the horns, all the cheerleading outfits and smoke blowing, you still have to get on that gridiron and play football. Homecoming, it's cool to say it, but none of that stuff really matters. We just have a football game."


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