September 14, 2013

Williams lights up scoreboard in new role

Karlos Williams got some simple, pertinent advice from his new offensive teammates before his first carry Saturday night: Just run.

"(Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene) said, 'When you catch the ball bro, just run. Don't look back, don't cut, don't shake. Get the ball, aim to the sideline and just run."

Williams followed that script all the way to the end zone - 65 yards on his first carry of the game, blazing a trail through the Nevada defense and helping turn a 7-3 deficit into a 62-7 curb stomping Saturday afternoon.

The run, a simple toss and sprint, highlighted why Jimbo Fisher is so excited to see Williams on the offensive side of the ball after moving him from the secondary after FSU's season opener: The guy can fly. He didn't make any fancy jukes or cuts - his straight line was simply faster than Nevada's.

"I'm not trying to say that I was rubbing a crystal ball, but that guy is a talented cat," Fisher said. "He's very dynamic with the ball, he's big, he's strong and he's explosive."

Williams showcased all of that Saturday. His 65-yard sprint wasn't his only damage - he finished with eight carries for 110 yards to lead FSU in rushing yards. All of his yardage came in the second half when FSU blew the game open.

But the highlight reel run was his first carry, that showcased the speed and talent Williams has. Williams credited solid blocking on the play: Benjamin locking down the outside corner, Bobby Hart squeezed around to seal the linebacker, and fullback Chad Abram cut the cornerback. Before anyone could take a breath to realize it, Williams was 30 yards downfield and staring at the end zone.

"Don't stop, just keep running," Williams said he thought. "Don't fumble the ball, don't trip over your own shoelaces, just keep running and get to the end zone."

Williams path wasn't quite as clear as the hole he hit Saturday. He'd spent a whole year trying to break in on the defensive depth chart at linebacker and a whole offseason trying to do the same at safety. As a five-star recruit out of high school, Williams' inability to crack the starting lineup was frustrating.

Fisher said in previous years that he thought Williams would make a great running back, and Williams said when Fisher asked him to move to offense after the Pittsburgh game, there was no hesitation on his part.

"It was pretty much easy," Williams said. "I just said, 'Coach I'll do it."

Even the transition to running back wasn't a cakewalk: Williams had a crash course in learning the position in little more than two weeks, mid-season. As much as Fisher said that running back is an easy position to learn, Williams still had to pick up an entire playbook at the drop of a hat.

"He had some struggles with just learning the playbook, but with his athletic ability I knew he was able to accomplish anything," running back Devonta Freeman said. "I knew he had speed from watching him on kick return. I think he did pretty good."

That long-running struggle helps explain why when Williams took off on his first carry, the FSU sideline went nuts: it was full of his former defensive teammates watching one of their own show out.

"Karlos, he's a freak of nature," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "I knew it was going to come. He was running the same way in practice against us. I was like when this dude when he makes a move he is going to kill it. … I've never seen something that big move that fast."

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