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Friday, September 11, 2009

Catching Up With... Andrew Williams

We've chatted a good bit this week about special teams at Georgia, and we're also just a couple days away from the first Sunday of the NFL season. So for this installment of "Catching Up With…" I figured we needed to find someone who could speak eloquently -- or at least entertainingly -- on both subjects. The result: Andrew Williams, Georgia's reigning special teams permanent captain and current roommate of former tailback Knowshon Moreno of the Denver Broncos. I chatted with Williams earlier this week while he was sitting on the couch in Knowshon's basement doing absolutely nothing. Suffice it to say, I was jealous.

David Hale: You started as a walk-on at Georgia but made your mark at Georgia on special teams before working your way up to getting a lot of playing time on defense last year. I hear from a lot of fans who don't like the idea of so many walk-ons getting special teams playing time. They'd rather see the scholarship guys on coverage units. From your experience, what's the advantage to having walk-ons playing and what can it do for a player's career?

Andrew Williams: The guys that get recruited into Georgia are big recruits. They don't typically want to see themselves running down on kickoffs or kickoff returns. They see themselves playing a position on defense or offense or whatever they got recruited for. A lot of times you'll find that a walk-on just wants to get on the field and will bust his tail to sell out and make a lot more plays because he wants it more. I think that's where a lot of the guys can see their way onto the field. Not every scholarship guy is like that. There's several guys that want to get out on the field and play, want to contribute. The coaches aren't going to play you on defense unless you play on at least two special teams, that's what Coach Martinez always preaches, and that's how a lot of guys launched their careers is going out to play on special teams. You make plays in space, they know you can make plays at your position on defense.

DH: I think the fact that Georgia does play so many walk-ons and because there isn't a full-time special-teams coach, there are a lot of fans who assume that the coaching staff doesn't consider special teams a top priority. As someone who was there day in and day out, how much do the coaches really care about what goes on with you guys?

AW: Obviously it's a third of the game, and it's equally important. Coach Fab always says the game will be won by the field-position battle and it's going to come down to the kicking game. So they put great emphasis on special teams. You look at the game last Saturday and take back the 74-yard kickoff return and take back Prince's return all the way to the 1-yard line, take away that block in the back, and obviously special teams are just as vital as offense or defense and sometimes, the way the coaches at Georgia preach, sometimes they're more important.

DH: Georgia's game against Oklahoma State last weekend was the first time in seven years that you haven't been a part of the team on game day. What was that like for you?

AW: It was agony. It was awful. I love seeing my boys, but I wanted to be out there so bad. Me and Knowshon sat down in his basement and we couldn't watch it sitting down because we were going crazy with all our boys out there. Obviously we wanted a better turnout, but the guys played hard and that's all you can ask for.

DH: You know Joe Cox pretty well. Watching the offense struggle last week, were you as upset for Joe as he probably was?

AW: Definitely. I love Joe. He's a great competitor and a great guy, and I know how much he wants it. I know how hard he's worked. He's waited for his time for four years and I just felt awful for him because, he's a great athlete, a great player, a great quarterback. We can all have our bad games, but you have to think, the kid hadn't started at quarterback since Ole Miss in 2006 and before that since his senior year in high school. So you're going to have your first-game jitters, and it's just a shame that he had to get his out of the way vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State instead of, let's say a Georgia Southern or App State or something like that.

DH: Well, you weren't happy with the end results of the game, but as a former safety, I'm sure you were pretty pleased to see the big hits dished out by Bryan Evans and Reshad Jones, despite the flag that Reshad got, right?

AW: Hell, yeah. Those boys were bringing the wood. That's the way a Georgia safety hits, period. People know you're there, and old Dez Bryant was running his mouth, and that's what happened to him. Yeah, he caught two little dinky touchdown passes, but you're going to know those boys are there. That one with Reshad, what a joke. I don't even know what unnecessary roughness means anymore. It means you can't hit hard? It seems like they're trying to take the game of football away, trying to soften it up. That was a great play, and he hit with his shoulder, didn't lead with his head. That's the way you're supposed to hit. Ask Thomas Davis. Ask Greg Blue. That's the way a Georgia safety is supposed to hit, so I was definitely proud of my boys for coming and bringing the wood like they're supposed to.

DH: Let's talk about what you're up to now. You're living out in Denver, hanging out with Knowshon and living the dream. How'd that happen?

AW: Well, we've been really good friends for a couple years and he got this awesome opportunity that comes along to not very many people, and I just wanted to be a part of it. With us being such good friends, he was like, 'Yeah, man, come out here.' We're just trying to build his legacy from the ground up. As of right now, nothing's really happening, but we've just got to wait for him to get out on the field and do his thing like everybody knows he's going to. So as of right now, I'm a spectator. I'm just out here hanging out with my boy, doing some job searching myself. But hopefully whenever this thing gets kicked off and Knowshon starts doing his thing and a lot of people are knocking at his door, hopefully I can work with him. As of right now, I'm just a buddy.

DH: So you're essentially Turtle from "Entourage"?

AW: That's me, man. That's me.

DH: Awesome. I'm completely jealous. How is Knowshon doing?

AW: He's good. He's working hard and getting out there every day. He gets up every day is out by 8 o'clock and isn't back home until around six, so it's a full-time job for sure. He just wants to get up to 100 percent so he can do his thing like everybody knows he's going to. He's just taking it in stride, soaking it up and enjoying the experience so far.

DH: Yeah he missed a lot of the preseason because of a small knee injury. Is he getting excited to finally get out on the field for some real games?

AW: Oh yeah, definitely. He's appreciating the game. It's an unbelievable experience and he can't wait to see what it's like when it counts. He's definitely going about his business. Also, Tom Brandstater, the third-string quarterback, also lives here with us so those guys get together and watch film in the basement while I play video games and act like a fool. Other than that, he's just doing his thing.

DH: Well, I drafted him for my fantasy team this year, so I'm counting on him to put up some big numbers.

AW: I'm sure you know as well as everybody else does, he's not going to disappoint.

DH: That's good to know. So what's life like for you living with an NFL celebrity in Denver?

AW: It's definitely different. We've gotten to do some cool things. We went to go watch that Cirque de Soleil thing and after the show they let us backstage to meet all the circus people. Those people are crazy. They had these three girls, these contortionists that could just bend their body any way you could imagine. The whole time you see it from the stands, and then you get to meet them, it's the opposite of when you're playing football and the fans get to meet you, so it's cool to know what that's like. But it's cool. We go out to restaurants and stuff. Those two guys get recognized and everybody wants to know who the bald guy is they're hanging with. But it's been awesome so far. But it was actually a lot crazier in Athens, actually. Right now, I'd just call it normal.

DH: So does that mean you're itching to get back to Athens? Will you make it back for a few games?

AW: Oh, for sure. I'm thinking about coming for South Carolina this weekend. Definitely LSU, 100 percent. Then probably Florida. That's not in Athens but I'd like to get the fan experience from the Georgia-Florida game.

DH: Well next season you won't have to make the trip because the Dawgs come to see you with a game in Boulder against Colorado. Do you already have that date circled on your calendar?

AW: Absolutely. It's kind of funny, one of my buddies, Scotty McKnight, is a receiver up there and we all went to the game against CSU on Sunday night. Unfortunately they lost, and we got to watch from the sidelines, meet the players and the coaching staff. So that was pretty cool. That place is pretty fun. The Dawgs are going to have fun playing there. It gets pretty crazy, and I'll definitely be there for sure.


Anonymous said...


Joe Schad is poaching your beat.

I don't think this would be happening if you were from NJ instead of Delaware.

In all seriousness, there are some interesting quotes from Cox on his sickness and injury.

Anonymous said...

"So you're essentially Turtle from "Entourage"?"

LOL, that's exactly what I was thinking as I read the interview.

Nothing wrong with being Turtle-he got hooked up with Meadow Soprano.