Williams rolls with the Tide

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2003

While the rest of the Crimson Tide offense is sweating out the details of mastering a new offensive system, senior running back Shaud Williams stays cool.

“I’m thinking about writing a book when I get done about offense,” Williams joked during SEC Media Days Wednesday in Birmingham. “I thought about calling it ‘Whatever offense you want to run, I can write about it.'”

In his five-year college career at Texas Tech and Alabama, Williams has had five coaches and five offensive systems.

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“It’s been easier to learn (with) each offense because I know how to start out,” he said. “I know what to look for now.”

Without the benefit of a spring practice, Alabama will have a crash course in Mike Shula’s scheme this fall.

Shula said he has reduced the size of the play book and will add piece by piece as the players get ready.

“Our mindset has been to do whatever we could for out players so when we kick off Aug. 30, they’re just reacting,” Shula said. “By the second or third week, (we’ll) add more and more things. Our approach has been to start with not as much volume, but (it) might be a wide variety.”

Whatever the variety, Shula should be sure to get the ball in the hands of his 5-foot-8 running back.

In his junior year, Williams rushed the ball 130 times for 921 yards, a robust 7.1 yards per carry average.

“I’m very excited to learn coach Shula’s system,” Williams said. “It will not be as difficult as all the things we have been through as a team over the last few months.”

Those last few months have been tough for Williams and his Tide teammates.

The team struggled with the surprise departure of Dennis Franchione.

They learned a new system under replacement coach Mike Price and went through spring practice with that system.

Then Price was fired before ever coaching a game at Alabama for alleged actions deemed inappropriate by the university.

Williams and other players went before the media and offered an emotional plea to try and save coach Price’s job. Price was let go anyway, a move that was hard on Williams and his family.

“I think this last one really affected my parents.

Before they were like it’s part of life,” he said. “After this last one, I think they realized (we’ve) been through a lot.”

Though he didn’t want Price to leave, Williams said he welcomed Shula’s arrival.

“It hasn’t been hard to accept coach Shula because he played here. He’s been through it just as much, if not more than we’ve been through it,” Williams said. “He knows what it’s like to play here and that didn’t make it hard to welcome him with open arms.”

Shula said Williams and the other players showed loyalty by sticking up for Price.

“The thing I did in our first meeting, I tried to put myself in their shoes,” he said. “Some of these seniors are on their fourth head coach, three this year.”

Even with the players experience at learning a new system, Alabama will still suffer some growing pains as players struggle to get everything straight.

“Sometimes we’ll get out there and we’ll be running a play and somebody will say ‘oh that’s such and such’ and we’re like ‘we don’t run that anymore,'” Williams said. “I think that’s kind of the case for everybody, it’s all kind of jumbled up. We’ve just got to separate it out.”

Williams is confident Shula and the Tide will get things straight.

“He’s a good coach, I mean I’ve enjoyed the conversations we’ve had and getting to know him,” the senior from Andrews, Texas said. “We’re still learning. It takes time, we’ve just got to be patient.”

Though his college career hasn’t been what he expected coming out of high school, Williams still wants to leave his mark on the game.

“I’m looking forward to trying leaving the same mark as Shaun Alexander and some of those guys,” he said.