FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams nearly doubled his season's receiving yards Saturday in the Razorbacks' 33-16 victory against South Carolina.
Williams had a career-best 137 receiving yards on seven catches after combining for 170 yards on 16 catches in the first eight games.
"It feels good, because it feels like you helped out the team a little bit more," Williams said when asked about his receptions. "But if I have a good block or a good catch, it feels about the same."
Williams, a junior from Little Rock, opened his postgame comments by talking about some missed blocks.
"Even though I had a big receiving game, there were a couple of blocks in that game that are just hanging over my head," he said. "I never would have thought ... I was going to worry about that.
"It's a little disappointing, but I think I'll make it through the night."
Williams said his concern about blocking is a sign that Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino "has done a great job trying to develop me as a complete tight end."
Williams' best days had been 129 receiving yards against Tulsa and Ole Miss last season, when he led the Razorbacks with 61 catches for 723 yards.
His drop in receiving numbers this season have been a topic of discussion among media and fans, but Williams said it has not bothered him. He said he realized the Razorbacks have a more balanced and productive offense with quarterback Ryan Mallett becoming the starter and wide receivers Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright maturing as sophomores.
"It's just funny when people say, 'Oh, they're not doing this, they must hate you. You and Mallett must get in fights every day,' " Williams said, laughing. "It's nothing like that.
"The balls haven't come my way as much, but it's nothing personal. It's just the way our offense works, and it's been working out great. I can't complain about anything."
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino noted that Williams' first catches came on plays where he was not the primary receiver.
"He actually was in protection and then a checkdown guy," Paul Petrino said. "That's how he got wide open a couple of times ... and he just kind of got in the flow of the game."
Williams became the fourth Razorback to lead the team in receiving yards this season. South Carolina was playing its safeties deep and leaving the middle of the field open.
"Mallett and I both saw the same thing," Williams said. "They were playing the safety about 12 yards off, and that's what I like to see.
"They were blitzing up the middle, so I had the outside and middle to work with. We just read it good and made some big third-down completions."
Three of Williams' catches came on third downs that produced first downs and kept alive two touchdown drives.
"He runs a lot of option routes on third-and-medium and making the sticks move," said Ellis Johnson, South Carolina's assistant head coach for defense. "He has caught some critical balls."
Williams' most critical catch came on a first-down play, but one that started from the Arkansas 24 with 22 seconds left in the second quarter.
Mallett hit Williams on a short route, and Williams ran for a 69-yard gain to the South Carolina 7, setting up Alex Tejada's 34-yard field goal that tied the game 10-10.
"That play before halftime ended up being as critical as there was," Petrino said. "They were dropping deep and Ryan did a nice job of being very patient ... getting the ball to D.J.
"We did call a number of plays for D.J., and he got open and made the plays."
It looked like Williams might score on his 69-yard gain, but he fell as he was cutting back to the middle of the field.
"We called a max protection, and I leaked out as a checkdown, not expecting to see the ball come my way," Williams said. "Then I caught it and turned around and thought it would be the world over here.
"But I saw a little space and started running. The DBs had some angles, and I don't know if something was wrong with their legs or my legs just felt good today, I kind of ran a little faster. A little too fast for myself and tripped up a little bit."