"Coach Ced" emphasizing physicality on o-line

When the Gamecocks began preparations for the Outback Bowl, there was a new, but familiar face leading the offensive line. When John Hunt was fired at the end of the season after four years coaching the offensive line, Cedric Williams stepped up to the plate. Williams is well known at Carolina, playing from 1999-2002 and working as a graduate assistant the past three years.

Known as "Coach Ced" to the players, Williams' three years of experience working with the offensive line is helping to make the transition easier. He is familiar with the players he has to work with, and they already know and respect their new coach.

"I've been here," he said. "The guys know my mentality, and that's being physical. Obviously you have to know what you're doing, you have to take the right angles and right steps, but the main part is you have to be physical. Those guys know that is what I bring to the table. I emphasize that more because that's how I was when I played.

"It's not like some random person coming in to coach one game," said right tackle Justin Sorensen. "Everybody knows Coach Ced, he knows the system, and we know him and how he coaches. It's not going to be that big of a difference. It will be different with Coach Hunt not being there, but everybody knows what to expect and knows he can get the job done."

One of the first things Williams did after Hunt was fired was to meet with each of the offensive linemen. In those meetings, he laid out what the next month would be like and what he expected of them.

"We should be excited," he said. "Most 7-5 teams, they're not going to the Outback Bowl. More than anything, I want to make sure the guys have fun. If you put someone on their back, I want to see you get up and yell and enjoy it. Don't play hesitant."

After working under Hunt for three years, Williams still has a lot of respect for the former coach. Hunt gave Williams an opportunity to get into coaching, for which Williams remains grateful. Formerly, Williams' main responsibility was breaking down film for Hunt to use, and Hunt reminded Williams not to forget about the film now that he is the coach.

"He's a tremendous guy and I learned a lot from him," Williams said of Hunt. "He gave me an opportunity. He told me good luck, and make sure you watch film. I'm in charge now. The main thing I used to do was break down film, now it's breaking down the film and actually coming up with runs and different protections versus the opponent. My job increases a little bit, but I'm all for it. I'm all about being a team player and also trying to get these guys going in the right direction."

Williams is receiving assistance coaching the line from tight ends coach Ray Rychleski and another graduate assistant, Gurminder Thind. Thind was a tackle and guard for the Gamecocks from 2004-2007 before a back injury ended his career. Following the injury, he began helping out in the weight room. The trio is not installing anything new in terms of scheme, but Williams wants to create a more physical line.

"The scheme really hasn't changed much," said guard Lemuel Jeanpierre. "We still have the same plays. We might throw in [new] things here or there."

Nobody on the team, from Steve Spurrier, to the assistant coaches, to the players, wants to talk about an obvious aspect of naming Williams the interim coach. He has a month to prepare the line for the Outback Bowl, and if he does a good job, it will be quite a nice resume booster for Williams to become the full-time coach at South Carolina or somewhere else. However, he refused to call it an "audition."

"I don't know what's going to happen in January and February," Williams said. "I don't have any control about that. All I know is that Coach Spurrier believes in me to give me the opportunity to get these boys ready for this bowl game. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to get these guys ready to the best of my ability.

"Obviously, [Spurrier] has a lot of respect for me and he feels I can get these guys ready. I'm definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity."

In his playing career, Williams made First Team All-SEC in 2000, and was a member of both Lou Holtz's Outback Bowl teams. It would seem natural that Williams would fall back on that experience to help his players prepare, but that is not the case.

"Coach Ced never comes out and brags about what he's done, he just tries to coach to the best of his ability," said Jeanpierre.

Still, on a struggling line, it would be helpful to find one more game of eligibility for an All-SEC guard, right?

"Those days are over," Williams laughed. "I might put a little film on for those guys so they can see how I used to do it."

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