It’s hard to tell what was a better move for Ty’Son Williams: the cutback or the cut.
The play for the South Carolina running back in the fourth quarter Saturday night was going left, a counter run behind a pulling guard and tight end. But the Missouri defense overplayed in a big way, in part chasing Deebo Samuel on a sweep. Williams suddenly saw the massive hole and reversed field in the middle of a crowd.
Only then, with defenders on both his hips and a defender and blocker in front of him, did he shuffle his feet and head outside, clearing almost all of the final 13 yards between him and the goal line.
“Those guys opened it up,” Williams said. “I’ve just go to do my part, as far as getting through it and trying to finish it.”
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A few bad angles probably cost him a touchdown, but the 32-yard scamper was USC’s longest of the season and a long time coming for Williams.
“It felt good,” Williams said. “I just want to thank my coaches and team for believing in me. Just a good night for me.”
Williams came home to Columbia, a four-star Sumter product who started his career at North Carolina and played his first game against the Gamecocks. He came back as a one-year walk-on, waited out his redshirt season and hoped to put his name in the mix as a starter.
In the opener against N.C. State, he played only six of the team’s 50 snaps. He didn’t get a carry and Rico Dowdle handled most of the load.
But against Missouri, he found his spot.
At halftime, he had a pair of carries but looked solid on them. On the first drive of the third quarter, his three carries netted 23 yards.
Then the USC coaching staff went with him, giving him eight of the team’s 10 carries in the final stanza. He turned them into 48 yards, giving him a total of 79, enough to more than double his career output.
“He’s a hard runner,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that, again, we’ve got three really good backs and Mon Denson as a fourth who’s a really good player, too. Whoever has the hot hand, we’re going to go with, and it felt like he was getting some positive yardage, he was getting some bull yardage after contact.”
By game’s end, Williams and Dowdle had 14 carries apiece. How things are split going forward probably relies on that hot hand Muschamp mentioned, or game situation.
But Saturday night, Williams was just happy to have a big role with his new team, even it left him a bit more drained.
“I’ll feel a lot more tomorrow, when I wake up,” Williams said afterwrd. “Right now I’m kind off the high. So I’ll be good.”