Kenny Williams could have some interesting practice weeks during his senior season.
The Texas Tech rushing leader-turned-outside linebacker has said he wants to be a two-way player, and Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is open to the idea.
Coaches generally think it vital, perhaps essential, that players have game-week preparation if they’re going to be used in games. So it’s likely the Red Raiders would find a way to include some offensive repetitions for Williams along with his practice time on defense.
“Yeah, no doubt,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We’re huge on walk-throughs and, like I’ve said all along, we feel like we could plug him in any time and he’d be ready to go as far as carrying the ball and picking up protections and things of that nature.
“We’d get in the walk-through and we’d probably call over and ask for him 10 plays on offense and then make it work. Coach Wally (defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt) would script to where he fit in and I’d script to where he fit in and just make it work.”
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the team’s heaviest practice days, so on the weeks Williams is included in the offense’s game plan, those are likely days to brush up.
“Yeah, that’s what we’re envisioning,” Kingsbury said.
The Red Raiders start preseason practice Monday. Williams, a 5-foot-11, 228-pound senior, is first-team at Raider outside linebacker after training at that spot nearly all spring. That was after he led the team in rushing each of the last two years.
Though his current deployment has been widely painted as a position switch, Williams and Kingsbury have portrayed it differently.
“I think he’ll play a lot on defense, and I think we’ll have a package for him on offense,” Kingsbury said, “depending on what these freshmen do that are coming in, these backs, and health concerns. He could come back to offense full-time.
“But I thought his progress was great, having never played defense before. He made some plays that we hadn’t seen at that position, just being instinctive. So once he gets the package down and really feels comfortable, I feel like he’ll just get better and better.”
Williams said the last time he played any defense was his sophomore year in high school at Pflugerville Hendrickson. He said after spring that covering receivers was the biggest adjustment.
“Probably my man-to-man coverage,” he said. “Guarding guys like (inside receivers) Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez, that’s a big transition. Those guys are really fast. They run great routes.
“It was good working with them as far as my man-to-man coverage, because Jakeem Grant’s probably the fastest guy I’m going to see all year.”
Williams admitted he might be at Kingsbury’s side if the offense has a third-and-2 in a key situation.
“If I feel like I can get that first down and we need it, I’m definitely going to be tugging on him,” Williams said. “I can get it. If he puts me in, I’ll be ready to go.”
Williams’ ability to spend all or most of his game time on defense depends on the play of a running back corps with only one other player who has more than 150 career rushing yards. That’s junior DeAndre Washington, the projected starter.
Beyond him, some combination of sophomore Quinton White, senior fullback Rodney Hall and freshman signees Justin Stockton and Demarcus Felton have to be adequate.
Kingsbury said he was encouraged by what he saw from Washington and White in the spring.
“I thought Q, the improvement he made in the mental approach to the game, was huge,” Kingsbury said. “He had very few busts in blitz protection. They both protected the ball well. I didn’t see the ball touch the ground much the entire spring, and so they’re both really, really good players that we trust.
“Rodney Hall’s a guy who really found a good role for us as far as in our two-back set. We feel like he can be physical either running the ball or blocking, and so he’s going to have a pretty big role on offense as well.”
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