Opportunity arises for ECU's Williams|Injury to Lindsay opens door for Williams

Published 6:26 pm Thursday, September 17, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Lindsays injury moves RB up depth chart
Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — In football injuries create opportunities, and this Saturday East Carolina running back Jonathan Williams will get a chance to showcase the talent that he displayed during his tumultuous sophomore season.
Once again, Williams’ playing time will be bolstered by an injury to fellow rusher Dominique Lindsay. Last season, Lindsay was tops on the depth chart before tearing his ACL before the first game of the year.
This season, Lindsay once again rose to the top of the running back ranks, but the Pirates’ leading rusher (23-133) sustained a shoulder injury during ECU’s 35-20 loss to West Virginia.
Nobody is sure how much time Lindsay will miss, but one thing is clear, the door has been pushed open ever so slightly for Williams, who will make a bid to prove he should be in the starting lineup this Saturday when the Pirates battle in-state rival No. 24 UNC at Kenan Stadium at noon.
For Williams, who has eight carries for 31 yards on the season, the chance to earn more playing time is enticing, but the junior running back said that just getting another opportunity to be back with the team was all the motivation he needed to get on the right track.
“I was excited when I got back here, just to be back on that field,” Williams said. “We are going to miss Dominique and we pray for him to get back. I’m just going to go out and do what I have to do to help the team.”
Williams might appreciate being on the field more than any other Pirate out there, and that’s because there was a period of time that it was possible he might not ever see it again.
Williams has had a few run-ins with the law, and in October 2008 was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. At the time he was the Pirates’ leading rusher with 380 yards (5.1 per carry) and his five TDs in seven games were good enough to help him finish second on the team despite missing the rest of the season.
The 6-1, 200-pound running back is a bruiser, but also has bounce-out speed, making him a potential nightmare for opposing defenses.
“I feel like I got it all, I’m very versatile,” Williams said.
Pirates’ coach Skip Holtz said that while Williams brings a more physical approach to the game, he lacks the veteran savvy of the senior Lindsay.
“Dominique is a real good third-down back for us,” Holtz said. “If you look at Jon he is a bigger, more physical runner than Dominique is. But Dominique brings all that experience to the table, the experience of being a three-year player here. He can pick up on pass protection and run routes, he does a lot of the little things.”
One area where Williams excelled last year was in goal-line situations, as his slippery moves inside the five-yard line evoked memories of former NFL great and king of the one-yard plunge Marcus Allen.
The Pirates will need that kind of production this Saturday in Chapel Hill, and hope that Williams and a solid running game can help get the offense back on track in the late stages of the contest. ECU has been shutout in the second half of both its games this year, a trend the team would like to buck this weekend.
“We just have to go out there and work hard and not put our heads down,” Williams said. “We are in shape, we just have to go out there and give it our all on every play.”