September 20, 2011

CoShik Williams works way into playing time

The Kentucky football team looked for leadership when trying to comeback against rival Louisville last Saturday, and despite losing, the Cats found a dose of it in the backfield.

Former walk-on CoShik Williams, a junior, wasn't anticipating a huge role this season. He wanted to just work hard in practice and make the other running backs better. But when starting running back Raymond Sanders underwent knee surgery last week, an opportunity presented itself to Williams.

"When (Sanders) went down, it was an opportunity for me so I just went harder each practice," Williams said. "With him down people were going to be worried about the running back core but I wanted the team to feel OK and know we have other running backs."

Williams' stats didn't overwhelm. He ran for 29 yards on six carries, while freshman Josh Clemons ran for 30 yards on 12 carries. He also added three catches for 15 yards. But when the clock was winding down, Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips wanted experience in the backfield.

"It got to be late in the game (against Louisville) and we had to get into a throwing situation and we felt more comfortable with CoShik who's been around here a long time and understands the protection," Phillips said.

Williams played more as the game went on. As the Wildcats fell behind by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Williams was called on more often in passing situations.

"CoShik understands who to block, we felt a lot better with CoShik and he's probably better in the backfield as a pass catcher (than Clemons), after he catches CoShik can find the running lanes," Phillips said.

Williams was a former walk-on who received a scholarship shortly after his freshman season. He anticipated the scholarship all along but noted his work ethic while practicing might have helped speed up the process.

In the meantime, he hopes his hard work rubs off on the other running backs.

"Each practice I tell myself no matter how tired I get, just keep pushing, even if I go 10 plays straight, I give it full speed until I fall on my face," Williams said. "I'm the person that will go all out and you'll never see me slacking in practice, that's what I try to show the rest of the running back core, I try to get them to have that mentality too."

He believes his leadership and work ethic has sparked the opportunity for more playing time.

"I feel like a leader, I've been around here for four years so I've been around the system long enough to handle different situations in the game," Williams said.

Williams doesn't mind coming off the bench. Even though he isn't starting, he leaves a big impact on Clemons. The two roomed together in the team hotel before Saturday's game.

"He's always going to help me out when I need it (and that's important to development)," Clemons said.

The Cats will need all the help they can get when they face No.15 Florida (3-0) this weekend.

Florida has only allowed 110 rushing yards on the season, fewer than 37 yards per game. Running backs coach Steve Pardue doesn't know what to expect.

"I'm not big on saying who will play, you can't control the flow of a game and what kind of game it is," Pardue said. "Both (Clemons and Williams) have different strengths. CoShik is smaller and quicker and Josh is bigger and stronger."

Regardless of who gets more carries, Williams plans on doing the same thing he's always done in practice.

"We are practicing hard, trying to get the job done and are expecting to win like we do every week," Williams said.

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