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Kentucky coach Joker Phillips announce today that starting tailback CoShik Williams, who is a fifth-year senior, would miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury.
“CoShik Williams is done for the season,” Phillips said. “He had a torn labrum in his hip after getting the MRI back. We will have that repaired as soon as possible. He is out after playing a game (vs. Louisville) and 14 plays (vs. WKU). Again, next man up. That is the attitude that you have to take and those guys have done a good job that have been in there with Jon-Jon (Jonathan George) and Raymond (Sanders). That means now that the young fellow (Dyshawn Mobley) is getting closer to getting more reps. I know the question will be about Justin Taylor, if something should happen to one of those guys and we think we can get him the type of reps that we thing we can get (Patrick) Towles than he will play, otherwise he won’t play.”
Williams, who came to Kentucky as a walk-on, played in 25 games as a Wildcat, including seven starts. He rushed for 738 yards, averaging 4.3 per carry, with seven touchdowns. He had a career-high 148 yards last season in the win over Jacksonville State, along with 111 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Ole Miss. He also scored what proved to the game-winning touchdown in the historic triumph over Tennessee.
As a sophomore, his top game came in the win over Charleston Southern, when he ran for 95 yards and a career-best three TDs.
“I feel heartbroken for him because the guy has worked so hard,” Phillips said. “Everybody knows his story. The guy came here as a non-scholarship guy and worked his tail off to be a starter and is now out for the rest of the season. The reason why he was the starter is because the starter was already out in Josh Clemons. The next guy has to be up.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Senior Coshik Williams has gone from a walk-on running back that few Kentucky fans knew about to the scheduled starter Sept. 2 when the Wildcats open the season at Louisville.
“I feel good about how our offense is going and feel that we have bonded way better than last year. We are feeling strong, feeling good,” said Williams. “I feel like at any point in time, a running back can be in and doing the same thing the back that’s out can do. We are all fast, we are all strong and we all know what is going on. We can read our blocks good, so when the blitz comes we know we have to pick them up. It feels good to have good depth at running back.”
Williams, who is back at full speed after being limited briefly by a sprained foot, offered these other insights on UK’s season and his play.
Question: Do you like having so much depth at running back to push you?
Williams: “Yes. It’s always good to have a group of guys pushing you. If you don’t, you are just going to knock off after practice or not going to go full speed all the time if you don’t feel that pressure. That just motivates you to go harder, go faster, make your blocks better.”
Question: Why do all the running backs get along so well despite the competition for playing time?
Williams: “Even outside of football, me, Jonathan (George) Ray-Ray (Sanders), (Dyshawn) Mobley and even Justin Taylor, we all have a good friendship. If we go out to a party, we are all going to be together. We are calling each other. If somebody is not waking up to go to practice, one of us is going to be the one to go to the house and pick them up. We all try to be close and have a good friendship.”
Question: With so much hype about Mobley and Taylor, do you feel a bit under appreciated going into the season as the starter and feel like you have to prove yourself again?
Williams: “It’s always going to be like that. I feel like that I have to prove a lot of things. That is why I go so hard and why I don’t want to wear a red jersey (because he’s injured) in practice. I try to get out of that red jersey as quick as I can and try to get back on the field. I don’t like sitting out and not practicing. As quick as I can, I will heal and try to get out there. I know there are a lot of things I have to prove, so I try to work hard and learn all my plays and my responsibilities on the field that I have to do because there are always going to be pressure behind my back.
“But that motivates me. I love having the pressure because it makes me work harder. It makes my job harder, but if the job was easy it would not be a good job. I like working hard because I know the young guys behind me are working. I don’t like sitting around and not working.”
Question: Because you got your chance when others were hurt, does that motivate you not to miss practice now?
Williams: “Somebody could be taking somebody’s position at all times. When guys go down, somebody has to step up. When somebody is in a red jersey, somebody has to step up. That’s why I want to get back quick and be with my team.”
Question: Do you think much about going from an unknown walk-on player to starting tailback?
Williams: “To me, it is just a huge accomplishment for me and my family to come here as a walk-on and work so hard and get so much accomplished. I am blessed to say I got an opportunity to play here at the University of Kentucky and opportunity to be a starting running back. It has been great chance for me to show people what I can do.
“I like it when people say I am too small because that makes me want to go out there and play like Brandon Jacobs (of the New York Giants) and try to run harder than what I am.”
Question: Are you trying to be more of a vocal leader this season?
Williams: “Yes. At practice and before practice, I try to keep our guys motivated. A lot of guys listen to me, especially being a fifth-year senior. I have seen this program go from up to down and I know how everything works. I try to tell those guys what it takes for us to be good and how hard we have to run in practice for us to be fast in games. I try to keep everybody motivated and going when I get an opportunity to talk to everybody.”
Question: Who has enjoyed you being No. 1 on the depth chart more, you or your mom?
Williams: “I think my family is more excited than I am. It still hasn’t really hit me how I came up. I am still kind of in shock, but I am going to keep on working for my family, the team, this university and the faculty and staff. I want to prove to everybody I can be No. 1.”
Question: Would you agree that your mom and sister both had a little swagger just watching you run No. 1 in the scrimmage?
Williams: “They are pretty proud. I am the baby boy and being the only boy to go to college out of family, they get to see me play SEC football and get an opportunity to start. My mom is real excited and happy and she praises me as much as she can when she’s at work. She loves it.”
By Keith Taylor, The Winchester Sun
Coshik Williams is ready to build on his finish last year. The Kentucky senior running back took over as the team’s primary rusher seven games into the season and made an impact at the end to his junior campaign.
The senior running back started the last five games and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 486 yards and three touchdowns. Williams rushed for a career-high 148 yards against Jacksonville State, and added 111, complete with a pair of touchdowns, against Ole Miss. Williams scored the decisive touchdown and collected 68 yards in the Wildcats’ 10-7 victory over Tennessee, snapping a 26-game losing streak to the Volunteers.
“It helped with my experience and (increased) my knowledge of the game,” he said. “It was the first time I had really gotten my feet wet and I feel like I can build on that, learn and watch film from those couple of games.”
Like most of the rest of his teammates, Williams spent most of his time in the film room in preparation for the upcoming season.
“I watched a lot of film,” he said. “I worked out 10 times harder than I did last year, because I know what it takes to play in the Southeastern Conference. I tried to work out as hard as I could and watched as much film as I could.”
Although most of his career at Kentucky has been hindered by various nagging injuries, Williams insists that he’s healthy again and ready to regain the top spot on the depth chart.
“I’m 100 percent now,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of recovery and that took time, but I’m ready to go. My body feels good. I feel like I’m back in high school now. I’ve gained weight and I feel strong. Along with the other running backs, we’re all ready to go.”
Williams knows once fall camp gets into full swing, regaining his starting job will be a challenge from the team’s stable of running backs.
“It’s always tough and there’s always going to be competition, especially at running back,” he said. “That’s a good skill (position) and we have a group of guys who are talented. There’s going to be a lot of competition.”
Williams insists he’s ready to compete against his teammates during fall workouts.
“I feel like I can be the top tailback,” he said. “You to just know everything. You have to know your assignments, make your blocks and do what it takes in order to be the top running back.”
Williams also hopes the Wildcats can build on the team’s win over Tennessee and “accomplish a lot of good things.”
“We don’t pay that much attention to he said or she said information, we just know what’s going on with our team, how hard we work in the summer and what we’re doing everyday (to get better),” he said. “With the expectations and everything, at the end of the day, we’re going to determine what our record is going to be.”
In his first three years with the team, Kentucky competed in the postseason, but missed out a year ago. Williams wants to end his career with another bowl berth and would like nothing better than a chance to compete for a conference title.
“We would loved to have went to a bowl game last year and that would have helped us out,” he said. “But, we ended the season pretty good last year — we beat Tennessee. That was a big accomplishment for us, but we want to go to a bowl game (again) most definitely and the SEC championship game. That’s our goal for this year.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s brightest offensive performer early last season was freshman running back Josh Clemons — and then he tore his meniscus in game six at South Carolina and had the knee injury end his season.
He was leading the team with 279 yards rushing and both of his touchdowns were game-winning plays, a 14-yard run against Western Kentucky and 87-yarder against Central Michigan. That 87-yard run was the longest by a UK player since 1979.
Clemons established himself as a legitimate threat when he ran for 69 yards against LSU, which used its defense to reach the national title game.
“(Trainer) Jim (Madeleno) thinks he will be ready for training camp. He will be one of those guys that goes two days, off a day, then goes two more days, then off,” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said during the Southeastern Conference Media Days. “We are just hoping that everything that goes well for him because he is such a good kid and such a good player for us. He is one of the leaders of this football team and we need him on the field for us.”
If Clemons is not 100 percent early in the season, Phillips says the coaching staff might have to at least consider redshirting him rather than having him available for only part of the year.
“That is in the back of our mind that we will have to consider if he is not ready, but we and Jim think he will have a chance to be ready for us,” Phillips said.
One reason Phillips might even be able to consider a redshirt for Clemons if he’s not ready early is the depth the Cats have at running back.
Junior Raymond Sanders is healthy and has rushed for 409 yards. Senior CoShik Williams led the team with 486 yards and three scores last season after injuries to Clemons and Sanders gave him a chance to play.
“We have four running backs (Clemons, Raymond Sanders, CoShik Williams, Jonathan George) who have already played and are bringing in two quality backs (Dyshawn Mobley, Justin Taylor),” Phillips said. “Now we are going to have two 220-pound running backs (Mobley, Taylor) in the program.
“This is a grown man’s league. If you have 185-, 190-pound backs, it takes five or six of them to get through a season. Now we have bigger backs. That gives us a chance to have guys who can play every down. Dyshawn Mobley dead lifted 630 pounds three times. That is pretty dang good for a freshman coming in who has not been in the program but for a few weeks.
“Again, the quarterback position and the running back position I think will be the two positions that will have the most competition. Mobley and Taylor add quality depth to a position that already has some experience.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
One year ago, Coshik Williams was buried on the Kentucky depth chart and seemed destined to be a player who looked good in spring practice but seldom got a chance to play during the regular season.
He had just 38 carries in two seasons after coming to UKâ€ˆfrom Georgia as a walk-on tailback where he ran for over 1,000 yards both of his final two seasons. However, it took injuries to UKâ€™s top three tailbacks for Williams to get his chance last season and when he did, he made the most of it. He ran for 148 yards in a win over Jacksonville State. He amassed 111 yards and two scores against Mississippi. Even better, he got 68 yard and scored the game-winning touchdown against Tennessee.
Thatâ€™s why he went into spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart â€” a spot he plans to keep.
â€œIt has been real good. Getting that starting role you have to know your assignments and everything like that. It is a lot different from last year looking up and seeing what Iâ€ˆhad to do to get to that No. 1 spot. Now that I am at the spot, doing everything perfect, itâ€™s different,â€ said Williams Friday.
He succeeded last year with a reckless, all-out style. He didnâ€™t hesitate when hitting a hole in the line and seldom ran sideways, a philosophy that resulted in him making big plays but also taking big hits at times.
â€œIt is still the same mentality just like if I am not at the No. 1 spot. I am still chasing for No. 1. I try to stay hungry for every opportunity Iâ€ˆget,â€ Williams said. â€œI know the guys who are the bottom are always pushing to be No. 1 just like I was. You have to know that and know you have to do extra to keep everyone off you because of what people will do to be No 1. Guys below me are just waiting for a perfect opportunity like I was. When that opportunity comes, they will step up and be ready.
â€œThe coaches never say anything about my running style, so hopefully that is a good thing. I am going to keep on running wild and hopefully it will turn out for the best.â€
Williams doesnâ€™t plan to give up the spot. He added 13 pounds in the offseason thanks to a smarter diet that often included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
â€œI was a little small last year, so I wanted to gain weight and did,â€ Williams, who ran for 486 yards and three scores and caught 19 passes for 70 yards in 2011, said. â€œI tried to eat a good calorie diet. I ate like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and stuff like that. It wonâ€™t put too much fat on me, just more protein and muscle so I wonâ€™t lose my speed. I had to learn to like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wasnâ€™t that crazy about it. It was something new for me, but it was good for me.
â€œIt will help me out with the linebackers you have to deal with in the SEC and the physical play. The coaching staff thinks it will help me out a lot.â€
Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is a believer that the added weight and strength will help.
â€œI thought last year when he played he did very well.â€ˆHe was a good pass receiver last year but was not the weapon we need him to be as a pass receiver. He does a good job running the ball, did a good job picking up blitzes and things like that. I think there is more opportunities for him in the passing game than what we got out of him last season,â€ Sanders said.
â€œIt is amazing for running backs. I have always said they have to be genetically superior because anybody else that gets hit low from behind, they call clipping. Running back gets hit low from behind, they call it a tackle. Somebody grabs them high and hits them low, everybody else on field that is a chop block. For running back, that is a tackle. You have to be genetically superior just to hold up. After guys play and they play week in, week out and they understand the pounding the body takes, they understand how they have to condition their body to get ready for a season.
â€œI think Coshik, after playing last year, understands that he had to take his conditioning level to a much higher level than what it was. You canâ€™t survive at that position being in the same shape as everybody else. You have to be beyond that. He understands that now.â€
Williams says a year ago he had to think about how to do things like picking up blitzes. Now he says he knows immediately what to do.
â€œBeing the No. 1 guy is not easy. You have a lot of responsibility, so it is a lot different than last year for me,â€ he said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t say the coaches treat me different. I would just say they look at me more as a leader, somebody that is supposed to know what to do, know their job, know the opportunity ahead.â€
He says a lot of teammates now consider him a team leader.
â€œEspecially a lot of theÂ young guys coming in. Some of those guys Iâ€ˆtry to lead them and show them around and stuff like that. I think a lot of my players and teammates look at me as a leader like that this year that didnâ€™t last year,â€ Williams said. â€œI would not say I feel a lot more pressure, but I do feel some pressure. There is always going to be some.â€ˆI do feel some pressure, but itâ€™s not a whole bunch. I am not a guy that worries about numbers. I am just trying to play and enjoy and do what is best for the team.â€
However, the former walk-on wonâ€™t deny it would be a team come true if heâ€™s still No. 1 and gets to start the season-opening game against Louisville
â€œI always had the dream of starting at a big-time schoolÂ and this be my first opportunity to start an opening game if it comes and Louisville on top of that would be great. I give nothing but 100 percent for this opportunity.â€ˆI am blessed for the opportunity I am receiving and everything that goes with it,â€ Williams said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
After his first 100-yard rushing game against Jacksonville State, Kentucky junior CoShik Williams ran to the front row seats at Commonwealth Stadium to hug his mother, Lawonna. He did the same last week after another 100-yard effort in UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s win over Mississippi.
However, that gesture was nothing new for the Hiram, Ga., product.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She is always here. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†had to go give her a hug. I have been doing that since park ball after every game going up and hugging my mom,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Williams. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am her Spiderman and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am going to come hug her. She is very happy and really proud of me and the way the offensive line is blocking for me, and I am proud of them, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
His mother likes and expects the hug.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has always hugged me, win or lose. He has always done that and always ran the ball with pride,Ã¢â‚¬Â his mother, Lawonna Williams, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It comes straight from the heart.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Williams has had a long, patient journey from Hiram, Ga., to starting tailback for the Wildcats going into SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game at Vanderbilt. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s averaged 107.7 yards per game rushing in the last three games for a suddenly revitalized UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†offense.
Williams rushed for almost 1,000 yards his final high school season despite missing four games because of an injury after gaining 1,600 yards as a junior. He was offered a chance to become a walk-on at Kentucky on the recommendation of former high school teammate Trevard Lindley, an all-SEC cornerback at UK. He redshirted in 2008, played in four games in 2009 when he got only 14 carries and then played in 10 games in 2010, including his breakout game against Charleston Southern when he had 13 carries for 95 yards and three touchdowns.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am very proud of him,Ã¢â‚¬Â his mother said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always knew if he got the opportunity, he would do it. He just kept praying. I told him to consistently pray and keep the faith as well as be patient and humble. He was raised like that in our church and has always been that way.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also always had that infectious personality that makes him so popular with teammates.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everybody in high school always liked CoShik. He just always had that personality people loved. He always smiled. If you are around him, you are going to smile,Ã¢â‚¬Â his mother said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a loveable person, even with his sister and brother and family members. Everybody just loves CoShik. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get mad at him. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never seen anything like it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†junior started this season behind Raymond Sanders and Josh Clemons on the UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†depth chart. Clemons is out for the year with a knee injury and Sanders has been hobbled by knee and ankle injuries that gave Williams his chance to shine.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†knew one day it would come. I just had to stay humble and stay patient for my time to come,Ã¢â‚¬Â Williams said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not surprised IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been successful. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am just thankful the o-line (offensive line) has made such big holes for me. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†feel good about everything IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am doing from picking up blitzes to running and catching the ball. I feel good.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why there was no way he was going to miss last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game despite nursing a sore foot in practice.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It would take a lot for me not to be out there trying to help my team. I would have to be in a wheelchair or own crutches not to go out there and play,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had a foot problem and shoulder problem but I came in early to get treatment (last week) and did extra things and it paid off. It will take a lot for me not to be out there helping my team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nice to carry the ball 25 times like I did against Mississippi. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s motivation. When you get the ball that many times, you get rolling and it makes you work harder. When my team needs big first downs, that is motivation for me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
WilliamsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ parents always make the six-hour drive to games and were doing that before he recently got extensive playing time.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never worried when he came to Kentucky as a walk-on,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lawonna Williams said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had confidence in him and knew what he was capable of doing. He always had confidence in himself, too. He was raised up to believe if you loved something, keep the confidence that you can do it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He loves football. He told me he was going to always play until he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t any more. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been playing since he was 5 years old. His father bought him his first football uniform when he was about a year old. He had older brothers playing and that is what he wanted to do. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been playing all his life and loving it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I knew he would play last week. He wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come out. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have never seen any kid that loves it more than him. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†had three boys that were all die-hard football boys, but he wakes up, lays downs thinking and talking football.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Williams pretended he was NFL star running back Jamaal Anderson when he was little and playing football. However, he also liked the Power Rangers, or at least one Power Ranger accessory Ã¢â‚¬â€ a pillow.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“His father got him that Power Ranger pillow when he was 3 or 4 years old. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still sleeping on it because he says heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more comfortable sleeping when he has it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lawonna Williams said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It surprised me when he took it to Kentucky. He said it was also his good luck pillow, but IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†told him the players might give him a hard time about sleeping on a Power Ranger pillow.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If that is not enough, he carries a Spiderman backpack.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I’ve been called Spiderman since I was born,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Kentucky running back said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He would be turning flips on the walls in the house just like Spiderman,Ã¢â‚¬Â his mother laughed and said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I gave him that nickname. His whole bedroom is Spiderman. His comforter, pictures on his wall, his wallpaper. All Spiderman.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A win this week would put UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†in position to be bowl eligible again and set up an even bigger sort of homecoming game for Williams Nov. 19 when the Cats play at Georgia.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to mean so much to see him play at Georgia,Ã¢â‚¬Â his mother said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has been wanting that since he has been there (at UK). I will love seeing it. He grew up as a Georgia fan, but he never wanted to go to Georgia or anywhere in Georgia. He always wanted to get away. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loved it at Kentucky and knew he had to be patient to get the opportunity he finally has got to show he can help the team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Williams says thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no pressure on him, either, after his long wait to play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Finally getting my chance was a real blessing for me. I would like to thank God for giving me this opportunity to get my chance. I am a really thankful guy and just trying to take advantage of the opportunity IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have now because not everybody gets this chance no matter how hard you work for it,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
LEXINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ Not only does Kentucky have an effective quarterback, but suddenly it has a hard-running productive running back and not one, but two, big-play receivers.
It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always perfect, but the struggling Wildcats finally won a Southeastern Conference game here Saturday by coming from behind to beat Mississippi 30-13. And for a change, Kentucky coach Joker Phillips could even smile and joke after the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Got to figure out who will be the starter next … No, I am just kidding,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Phillips after true freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith completed 19 of 36 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Smith started because Morgan Newton, who had been ineffective throwing most of the season, hurt an ankle a week earlier in a loss to Mississippi State. But as good as Smith was Ã¢â‚¬â€ and he threw with both touch and accuracy Ã¢â‚¬â€ he was not a one-man show.
Suddenly an offense that had produced just three touchdowns in four previous SEC games had not only a productive quarterback, but two 100-yard receivers (Matt Roark seven catches for 116 yards and LaRod King three catches for 102 yards) and a 100-yard rusher (CoShik Williams 25 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns).
Did Smith inspire the others or did improved play by the others help Smith? Actually, Phillips thinks a healthy offensive line had more to do with the offensive production that produced UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s highest point total and most yards (398) of the season against a SEC foe.
The offensive line was hit hard by preseason injuries and just as it began to heal to where the five starters were back playing, UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†lost running backs and receivers to injuries and then had Newton hurt.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now we have started making plays,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“CoShik is seeing things. Once you can do one of the things good, it helps the other phase. If you run the ball, it helps you throw more because they have more men in the box to stop the run. Then we throw the ball and get more one-on-one (coverage) and we have to beat that. Once you start throwing and doing that, you have a chance to run the football.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It helped that Smith had five receivers with catches of 13 yards or more, something the Cats have not had all season. But Williams also averaged 4.4 yards per carry.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We also did some special things on offense and defense. One was how we protected our quarterback. Our deal was to make sure we kept him clean (from getting hit),Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Defeated man coverage, which we did a good job of. We actually got behind people today. In the first half we had a chance for some big ones (completions), but they came out as foul balls. In the second half we hit a couple of home runs, which you have to have when people play man coverage.Ã¢â‚¬Â
And what did the offensive stars think about the game.
He never expected to throw 36 passes in his first collegiate start.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect it, but I was ready to throw it that many times if IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†had to,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was ready to do what was needed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He had no complaints about the hits he took, either.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My teammates take more shots than me. I probably take the least on the team. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to take them. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even get hit in practice. I deserved my hits at times,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“To me, a big-time quarterback takes it right in the lips and stands in there and delivers,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said in praising the toughness Smith displayed.
Smith was more thrilled that his father came from California to see him play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am sure he was excited. He told me he was coming and I told him not to, but I was glad he got to see me,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said.
In his first 30 first games at UK, he had 30 catches for 275 yards. In the last two, he has 20 for 232 yards.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I set an expectation for myself and I push myself to meet it every week. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really do anything different in practice or anything. I just caught he ball,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Roark, who even ran for 7 yards on a reverse.
The former walk-on continues to sizzle and add both speed and elusiveness to an offense that had been missing that. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s playing because Josh Clemons and Raymond Sanders are both out with injuries, but one has to wonder why he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get a chance sooner considering the way he runs with such reckless abandon.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel like an underdog or anything. I waited for my chance and grabbed it,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
He missed part of practice last week with a foot injury but never thought of not playing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Unless IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am in a wheelchair, I am going to play. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am not going to miss out on my chance to show what I can do,Ã¢â‚¬Â Williams, who has run for 323 yards in the last three games, said.
He had been UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only go-to receiver before Roark emerged against Mississippi State with 13 catches and he had just four for 13 yards. But Saturday he had three catches for 102 yards, including one 55-yard grab late in the game.
King credited Smith for putting letting the offense shine.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You expect a quarterback to be rattled, but he was actually confident,Ã¢â‚¬Â King said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He kept his composure and he played the game. We knew that he was capable of making plays not only with his feet, but his arm as well. He is a smart kid, and he made smart decisions. He did a good job. He took control of the offense, and he was poised. Everything was good.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But not perfect.
Phillips said the offense was far from being fixed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did we score every series? No. That is when your offense is fixed,Ã¢â‚¬Â the coach said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We only scored 10 (points) in the first half. No, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not fixed. It is far from being fixed. It is being repaired. It is in the repair mode.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But at least the repairs are working and a season that looked all but lose a few weeks ago now just might be revived by a cast of Smith, Roark and Williams Ã¢â‚¬â€ and who would have ever thought that.