Williams has unfinished business

Originally Published: October 8, 2003
By Mark Wangrin | Special to ESPN.com

Roy Williams likes to tease. When he announced at the Texas football banquet last December that he was coming back for his senior year he turned it into a triple reverse, making it sound like he was going to break the assembled orangebloods' hearts before saying, "that's why I'm going to take my game next year to ... The University of Texas."

Roy Williams
Roy Williams has torched Tulane, but can he solve Oklahoma?
Roy Williams is still teasing. Teasing with his talents, the size, speed and hands that have him rated by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. as the top prospect in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Through five games the 6-foot-3, 215-pound former Texas high school 100-meter bronze medallist has 26 catches, 396 yards, five touchdowns. Good stats, yes. The kind expected of Williams when he vowed to come back for one last go round after an injury plagued junior year? Not quite.

Williams didn't claim to come back for stats. He came because he liked the cocoon college life provides. And he came back for unfinished business

Like doing something, anything, to beat Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma-Texas game is renowned for it's legends, big-game performers like Marcus Dupree and Edwin Simmons and Roy Williams. That's Oklahoma safety Roy Williams, the player his namesake reverently calls "Superman."

But for UT Roy, for the guy nicknamed "The Legend" before he even started as a Longhorn freshman, there has been this to remember about the Red River Shootout:

"Freshman year I don't remember," said Texas' Williams. "I think I had four catches for 16 yards. (The score was) 63-14. Next year was Superman's year. Like the first four passes were to me. I got big gains off of 'em. Then, I don't know, lost 14-3. Last year one big catch. Hobbled with a hamstring. Had one big reverse that everybody said Tommie Harris caught me from behind. That's about it."

Not exactly the stuff of legends, to be kind.

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  • This time around Williams is healthy in body, and he concedes the failure of not beating OU in his career will sting. "You don't want to think about it, but it's a possibility," he said.

    "You treat this like the national championship because that is what this is," Williams said. "You lose this and it's Cotton Bowl, Holiday Bowl. You can think, Hopefully they would lose twice and we could backdoor our way in the BCS ... but you have to treat this as the national championship."

    Though that may be as close as Williams and the Longhorns get, they took a big step in keeping those dreams alive with a 24-20 comeback win over Kansas State on Saturday. They did that, uncharacteristically, without much help from Williams.

    "That was probably the worst game I played in my life, from Pop Warner to junior high to high school," Williams said. "That was the worst game ever, and I do mean ever.

    "When K-State scored its' last touchdown, I went over and told the defense, 'If you all can just shut them out the next 14 minutes I promise we'll win the ballgame. I went to the offensive line, threw my mouthpiece about 80 yards, said some harsh things to them. 'Give us a little time.' We got em turned around, falling down, they gave us some time and I dropped it. (The linemen) gave it right back to me on Sunday -- 'We can't have that.'"

    "From watching the game yesterday he looked frustrated,'' said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "But he's a big part of their offense, so I'm sure they'll try to get him on track. We're very conscious of him, let me put it that way. We won't lose track of him."

    Last year OU frequently double covered Williams, the bad hamstring notwithstanding. This year his effectiveness, coverage aside, will likely again be primarily out of his hands.

    When Chance Mock plays, the Longhorns must give him time to find Williams, flanker B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas deep. Kansas State pressured Mock so much that the Longhorns realized their only chance to win was to turn full-time to quarterback Vince Young.

    If the ankle Young sprained against KSU is healed enough to be as effective as he was against the Wildcats, he'll likely play the lion's share against the Sooners. And he presents a different problem, both to the Sooners and Williams' production.

    "When Vince is in, I pretty much run my route, he takes off and I've got some blocking to do,'' Williams deadpanned. "He might throw it. He has the run-pass option."

    "Roy Williams is a weapon," quarterback Chance Mock said. "You have to have big-time weapons like that to fight a defense with weapons like (linebacker) Teddy Lehman. It's all in being smart."

    Whoever's in there, Williams wants a chance to show it wasn't the real Roy Williams last year gimping around on one leg, getting pulled down by defensive tackles. He wants to show what he can do and he wants to win. He thinks he can do both, because his recipe for success is simple.

    "Throw it deep every once in a while,'' he said, a sly smile splitting his face.

    Mark Wangrin covers the Big 12 for the San Antonio Express-News.