DeAngelo's DeMan

The only thing fancy about the Memphis offense Tennessee will face Saturday is DeAngelo Williams's moves. They're about as fancy as you can get.

Otherwise, the Tiger offense is basic – Williams left, Williams right, Williams up the middle. Predictable? Sure, but when you have the NCAA's best horse, you ride him till he drops. And that's what Tommy West's team is doing this fall.

Williams, a 5-10, 217-pound senior from Wynne, Ark., is averaging 27 rushing attempts per game. That's impressive. He's also averaging 184.5 rushing yards per game. That's downright mind-boggling. Not surprisingly, Williams leads college football in that category.

"Offensively, Memphis centers around a really great running back," Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer says. "You don't lead the country in rushing by accident. He's a fast kid, an elusive guy, a strong young man."

He's also versatile. In addition to 216 rushes for 1,476 yards, he has caught 10 passes for another 51 yards.

"They ask him to do a lot of things, and he does a lot of things very well," Fulmer notes. "They get the ball to him in a lot of ways. He's really good with the ball in his hand, so our defense has a big-time challenge in stopping him."

NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper has projected Williams as a top-five selection in the 2006 Draft. Already a two-time Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, Williams is on watch lists for this year's Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and Doak Campbell Award.

Since rushing for 85 yards on 24 carries in the 2005 opener against Ole Miss, Williams has run for at least 136 yards in every game since. He's averaging a whopping 6.8 yards per carry. Here's a game-by-game recap:

20 for 205 yards vs. UT-Chattanooga

30 for 223 yards vs. Tulsa

35 for 236 yards vs. Texas-El Paso

14 for 136 yards vs. Central Florida

33 for 198 yards vs. Houston

39 for 226 vs. East Carolina

21 for 167 vs. Alabama-Birmingham

Tennessee limited Notre Dame to 48 rushing yards last weekend but the Vols' defensive coordinator says this week's challenge will be a lot sterner.

"It's a whole different animal," John Chavis notes. "Notre Dame didn't really want to run the football. It's obvious what they wanted to do: They wanted to throw the football because they had those receivers out there who could make plays."

Notre Dame had big-play receivers but it didn't have a big-play tailback the caliber of DeAngelo Williams. Then again, no one else in the NCAA does, either.

"We're playing a really, really fine back … a back that will be playing in the NFL," Chavis says. "Of course, we've seen quite a few of those this year. We just have to go out and execute."

The Vols have not allowed an opposing player to rush for 100 yards all season. That streak could be in serious jeopardy this Saturday, however. Keeping Williams below the century mark would be a major accomplishment.

"That's one of our goals," Chavis says, "but the first goal is to win."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories