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Notre Dame Football

Rugged Williams spurs Notre Dame ground game

October 11, 2020

It hardly appeared as though a career-best performance was in the offing.

On his first carry Saturday night, Notre Dame tailback Kyren Williams coughed up the ball, and Florida State recovered.

Four plays later, the Seminoles held a 3-0 lead against the three-touchdown-favorite Fighting Irish.

Williams held onto the ball the rest of the evening, and he squeezed Florida State's defense in the process.

With 19 of his team's 42 rushing attempts, Williams gashed the porous FSU defense for 185 yards --- part of Notre Dame's prodigious 353-yard rushing attack.

“I just had to tell myself, just push the reset and just play how I always play the game of football,” Williams said. “I told myself all day (Saturday) it's been the same game since second grade. So I just kept that mindset after I fumbled and I was able to bounce back and help the team.”

So good was Williams, in fact, that he eclipsed 100 rushing yards on just two of his first-quarter carries. Williams had a 65-yard run on Notre Dame's second possession and a 46-yarder on its third.

“He's a great competitor and he bounced back,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Great competitors put that play behind them and they move on. That's the kind of competitor he is. He moved on from a mistake he made.”

What aided Williams' immediate redemption was, in part, his mental makeup. Among the smaller of the Irish's stable of running backs, Williams has not shirked contact if a situation demands it.

Fact is, Williams would rather be doling out the punishment.

“I just think that growing up I've always played defense; my first love is defense,” Williams said. “So I don't ever shy away from, I embrace contact. So when I'm running the ball if I have to, and I have to run somebody over, I'll do that, and I have to make them miss, I'll do that as well. It's just part of my game and I'm just going to keep evolving.”

Williams' 65-yard gallop on a counter was so open that tight end Tommy Tremble ran alongside Williams more as an escort than a blocker; the edge had been entirely sealed off from the FSU defense.

Additionally, several yards downfield along the sideline Irish wideout Javon McKinley completely dominated defender Asante Samuel Jr. to further spring Williams.

It was same song second verse on Williams' long scoring run.

“Yeah, that's a play that I know. I trust Tommy,” said Williams, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound sophomore. “I trust our tight ends, Mike (Mayer) or Brock (Wright) or Kevin (Bauman) coming across and kicking out whoever that is.

“As you saw today on the run, when Tommy was pulling, he was able to get a block for me and I was able to hit the hole and explode through for a touchdown.”

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