Former Florida State DB Williams shines on offense
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — It might be time to give Florida State’s backfield a new nickname.
“Wild & Free” worked perfectly when it was a two-man show featuring James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman. But junior Karlos Williams, a safety who switched to running back after the season opener, had a breakout performance in Saturday’s 62-7 drubbing of Nevada and could be in the mix the rest of the year.
Williams ran eight times for 110 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run on his first career carry.
“When I got out, there was nothing but green grass,” Williams said.
The Seminoles (2-0) had a lot of open spaces against the Wolf Pack. They ran for 377 yards and had six different players score on the ground.
Williams’ outing was the most impressive, though.
With plenty of talent in the secondary and running back Mario Penders academically ineligible, coach Jimbo Fisher asked Williams to move to the offensive side of the ball following a 41-13 win at Pitt.
For Williams, the swamp made sense.
He played in 12 games, mostly on special teams, as a freshman and served as a backup safety and kick returner last season. Although he was widely regarded as one of the nation’s top safeties coming out of Ridge Community High School in Davenport, he had plenty of experience with the ball in his hands.
Williams ran 69 times for 564 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
So he was a little rusty, but far from lost.
“I’m not trying to say that I was rubbing a crystal ball, but that guy is a talented cat,” Fisher said. “He’s very dynamic with the ball. He’s big, strong and explosive. He’s natural. When he gets in space, he can hit home runs. ... Karlos will provide us with a very big piece of the puzzle in my opinion as the year goes on.”
If so, FSU might need another catchy moniker for its backfield trio.
Williams and Freeman (109 yards) became the first FSU teammates to rush for 100 yards in the same game since Chris Thompson (103) and quarterback EJ Manuel (102) did it against Clemson last season.
Wilder ran six times for 45 yards and a score, still dealing with a shoulder injury sustained in the opener.
After watching Williams in practice, Wilder had high expectations for his new backfield mate.
“If he gets a toss sweep and gets one little crease, I told him he was a track star and he was going to be gone,” Wilder said. “He just did it. That boy is fast.
“He has a nose for the end zone and he’s desperate to get there. I think I overheard somebody say his yards per carry was like 13 or 14 yards per carry, and that’s pretty scary because he still doesn’t know everything yet.”
Williams averaged 13.8 yards a carry, better than everyone except fourth-string tailback Ryan Green, who ran five times for 78 yards and a score against a worn-out Nevada defense.
“Of course I didn’t expect to have a first game like that,” Williams said. “It’s always our goal to move that chains and get chunks of yards to get a first-down, but it was a good first game.”