USC FOOTBALL

Williams relishes first opportunity to shine for Gamecocks

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COLUMBIA - Ty'Son Williams' first football game with the University of South Carolina wasn't quite what he anticipated.

Yes, the Gamecocks defeated North Carolina State 35-28, but Williams, the former Crestwood High School standout running back who had transferred from North Carolina after his freshman season, was in for just a few plays and didn't get a carry.

Game 2 was more like it.

Williams rushed for 78 yards on 14 carries and broke off a 32-yard run that was just a few inches short of being a 33-yard touchdown run in USC's 31-13 road victory against Missouri.

"(It was) very satisfying," said Williams, who saw his first significant action in a live game since his senior year at Crestwood in 2014. "Just for me, my family, my coaches, my teammates, just the encouragement I've gotten throughout, even from the last week, just to stay ready, cause you never know when your time is coming.

"You have to stay ready and make the most of your opportunities."

All of the talk during the preseason was how Williams would be sharing carries with returnees Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner during the season. In the opener though, Williams was in for just a handful of plays and didn't have a carry. He did catch one pass for five yards.

Instead of feeling slighted or anything of the sort, Williams said he just wanted to make sure he was ready for the next contest.

"It's a different game, different game plan, different opportunity," Williams said. "Like that game, I stayed ready; I got in there and I did the best I could. That's how I approach every game."

USC head coach Will Muschamp said the flow of the N.C. State game is why Williams didn't get any carries in that contest.

"Ty'son is a guy we have a lot of confidence in," Muschamp said. "He ran the ball extremely well the other night.

"The first ball game (against N.C. State), we only played 51 (offensive snaps), I believe. We had a kickoff return for a touchdown. We had two touchdown drives of two or three plays or less, and we couldn't get off the field on defense. We played over 100 snaps. There was a limited number of opportunities, really for Rico, Ty'Son and A.J. to get carries in the first ball game."

Dowdle has rushed for 75 yards on 26 carries and Turner has 18 yards on six carries.

"That's three guys we have a lot of confidence in, and when we get into a game situation the guys that are running the ball best are who we're going to go with," Muschamp said.

Williams, who rushed only 19 times for 57 yards in 2015 at UNC and sat out last season, while transferring, said he and his backfield mates have no problem with alternating.

"Each one of us rotating in, we all have fresh legs coming in," he said. "As far as the defense, they have to keep most of the same guys out there. That's an advantage for us.

"We've got to stay loose, stay ready, and when we get in the game go out there and perform. One of us starts it and one of us finishes it."

Williams wished he had been able to get those few extra inches for the touchdown on his long run. He stretched out his right arm with the ball, trying to get the touchdown. After a long review, the officials decided he came up just short.

"Kind of sad I didn't score," said Williams, who upon his further review thought he did break the plain of the goal line with his stretch. "I'll have to dive in there next time and hit that pylon."

Williams and the Gamecocks are preparing for their first home game on Saturday, playing host to 2-0 Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. With that, Williams is having to deal with getting family and friends in Williams-Brice Stadium.

"Trying to get as many as I can," Williams said. "A lot of them are coming up; I'm just trying to get stuff arranged so everybody can make it in."