Williams key on returns

Badger senior set a record and gave UW a boost in the process

MADISON — Coming into the game against Bowling Green, Brandon Williams knew that he had a chance to break Nick Davis' kick return yardage record. He was just 46 yards shy of the mark coming into the contest.

But Bowling Green knew that the senior kick returner could be dangerous and kicked the ball away from him on all but one kickoff throughout the game. They ended up being sorry that they even gave him one chance.

That one kick return was all Williams would need. Early in the second quarter he took the ball 85 yards all the way down to the Bowling Green eight-yard-line, breaking the record and setting up one of eight Badger touchdowns on the day.

"It was real big, because I only got one shot," Williams said. "I had to make something happen and it doesn't happen like that often. It was very exciting."

Minutes later Williams showed his ability to return punts. On a short punt down the sideline, he ran into traffic, fielded the punt and tip-toed 19 yards upfield. Unfortunately, quarterback John Stocco threw an interception on the ensuing possession.

"I thought his kickoff return really gave us a lot of life. It gave us the momentum," head coach Barry Alvarez said. "Then, to give us another chance on a pretty gutsy punt return … Brandon made some plays and Brandon's going to make some plays."

On the punt return, Williams had to charge the ball in order to catch it. The play forced Williams to zone in on the ball and forget about everything else.

"I just said, ‘See the ball.' You only get so many chances on punt returns so you have to get all of it," Williams said. "So I just … I don't know … I guess I've got to see the film because I just ran up there and got it."

The senior is just happy to be getting a chance to return punts. He probably would have earlier in his career if Jim Leonhard had not been around.

"I've been looking forward to it for three years now," Williams said. "I'm very excited. I can return punts. The first thing is fielding them and I can get to any punt anywhere on the field."

Just having Williams back on kickoffs changed the game immensely. Bowling Green was forced to keep the ball out of his arms with short kickoffs often resulting in decent field position.

"We went to the sky kicks (after Williams' kickoff return) and we were OK with those but we still we gave up field position with those," said Gregg Brandon, Bowling Green's head coach.

Wisconsin's kick return game had been unsatisfactory the past three seasons. But the unit got off to a good start Saturday. If Williams can be a consistent threat, what could result is a catch 22 for opposing teams. If they kick to Williams there could be a chance that he will break it, and if they choose to stay away from him, they will be faced with surrendering field position by default.

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