South Carolina running back David Williams went through this already.
Against Mississippi State in September, he didn’t play, and followed up with a start against East Carolina and his best game since his freshman season. Then against Georgia, before South Carolina’s bye week, he again didn’t see the field.
So it wasn’t totally surprising he got a start Saturday against UMass or how he did.
“It feels good to me just to have the opportunity to go out there and do what I can,” WIlliams said. He didn’t even know he’d start until the morning of the game. All he did was run for 69 yards on 15 carries, the second-best output on the team against the Minutemen, while crossing the goal line twice, his first touchdowns since November of 2014 against South Alabama.
“Time flies,” Williams said. “It’s been quite a time, quite a minute.”
What stood out more was the way Williams ran. He went hard in spurts, pushing through contact. He also was used in a variety of play calls, more than the usual zone runs he has had this season.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said Williams had practiced well, and that helped push him past a banged up A.J. Turner.
“I thought David did some nice things,” Muschamp said. “I thought Rico (Dowdle) did some nice things. We got a little push on the inside zone. They’re a little bit of what I call a junk defense. ... they try to overload you and give you negative plays, but with that being said, they give up some plays.”
It’s another step in what’s been an up-and-down season for Williams. He spent the start of the offseason as a presumptive starter, but fell behind Turner and was called out by Muschamp in fall camp. He had a tough conversation with Muschamp between Mississippi State and East Carolina and then saw his workload slip again when Dowdle, a true freshman, came back from injury and joined the rotation.