UK Football

UK football: Undisciplined runs drawing coaches' scorn

Free-lancing on plays by Kentucky freshman Stanley  "Boom"  Williams has made Williams "his own worst enemy," running backs coach Chad Scott says.
Free-lancing on plays by Kentucky freshman Stanley "Boom" Williams has made Williams "his own worst enemy," running backs coach Chad Scott says. Herald-Leader

One of Kentucky's top playmakers learned early this season that he could create a happy ending by going off script.

And it has been a problem for Stanley "Boom" Williams ever since.

That 25-yard reverse-field touchdown he had to open overtime at Florida might have been the worst best thing to happen to the freshman running back.

"He has a special kind of skill set, a special talent, and right now, he's his own worst enemy," UK running backs coach Chad Scott said Tuesday.

Williams wasn't supposed to reverse field the way he did, running 25 yards out of the way before finding the end zone on the opposite side of the field, but because it ended in a touchdown — because good things happened — he continued to free-lance.

He's one of several running back options for Kentucky who aren't doing the little things right, and it has proven costly for the Cats' offense, the coaches said this week.

They could be the poster players for Mark Stoops' monologue Monday about players without discipline. Without naming names, the head coach discussed how it applied to the UK running backs.

"If you're supposed to follow the guard on a run play, follow the guard, not just run anywhere you want to run," Stoops said. "We're just extremely — that's what I mean by 'untrained.'"

For Williams, it's little things, such as not having his eyes where he's supposed to have them, aiming points, his position coach explained. They help the blocking scheme form; they bring the defender to the blocker so the running back can turn on the jets.

"He gets the ball and just takes off, and his blocker has no chance on the defender and the defender makes a play on the ball, and it looks like a bad play," Scott said.

Part of the problem for Williams is he has missed some reps, first while suspended for his part in an on-campus air-gun incident, then after suffering a concussion in the Louisiana State game.

Part of it also is his lack of patience, said Williams, who will face off against Georgia, a team he committed to verbally in 2011 as a freshman at George Walton Academy in Monroe, Ga.

"These past couple of weeks, we've been kind of quick and we end up missing the hole," Williams said. "So (coach) wants us to be a little bit more patient and let things develop, let the O-line get who they need to get and then hit the holes and make plays from there."

Undisciplined running will work sometimes, especially when you've been timed at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, as Williams has.

It worked on that one play versus Florida.

Undisciplined running can help you get to a career-high 104 rushing yards against a team like Louisiana-Monroe, but against a run defense like Georgia — which until its loss to Florida last week had been holding teams to 105.1 yards a game rushing — it won't be successful.

The big yards for the Gators, who racked up 418 yards rushing, in that game came on the edge, Bulldogs Coach Mark Richt said this week.

"It was a little disappointing because we've been pretty disciplined against the run," he said, noting that Kentucky might "get excited about the thought" of Georgia allowing players to bounce to the outside for big gains.

It's a thing Williams should be excited about.

He excels on the edge.

But he has to give Kentucky time to set it up.

"At the end of the day, he's had opportunities where if he just did what he's supposed to do, he'd make a big play," Scott said. "He just thinks, give me the ball and I'll make a big play, regardless of what the play is."

It's not that simple.

"He has so much growth potential, so much growth potential," Scott said. "When he understands doing the little things right, he'll take off."

Kentucky's run game has to improve if the Cats want to have a chance in their final three games of the season, needing just one more win to get to a post-season bowl.

In the Cats' five victories this season, they have averaged 204.8 yards a game on the ground. In their four losses, it was 88.8 yards.

"Our running backs need to play better, and we've struggled the last few weeks," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "We need to play better. They're capable of playing better.

"We're going to get that fixed and hopefully come out and play a lot more consistent and with a lot more discipline at that position."

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