Junior Aaron Williams, NU's 'quarterback on defens
LINCOLN — New Nebraska safeties<a href="http://www.coltsshopauthentic.com/shop-by-players-1-pat-mcafee-jersey-c-1_2.html">1 Pat Mcafee Jersey</a> coach Bob Elliott just talked to his wife about it the other day — they’ve moved 18 times to 12 locations in his football coaching career. That’s a lot of coaching jobs and defensive backs Elliott has overseen.
So it ought to mean something that Husker junior safety Aaron Williams sticks out — in a good way — to Elliott. Williams is apparently that sharp needle in a haystack of helmets and shoulder pads.
“Aaron Williams is as smart a player as I’ve ever been around,” Elliott told reporters Tuesday. “He’s grasping things that I never dreamed that a safety could grasp this quickly.”
That’s not necessarily surprising — Williams finished with 62 tackles and three interceptions last season and started as a true freshman in NU’s season opener — but, for a Husker team learning its third defense in four years, it’s important that at least one player — preferably a safety — knows the ins and outs of the scheme <a href="http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-antonio-gates-jersey-c-1_3.html">Antonio Gates Jersey</a> quickly. If former Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker and former Husker safety Nate Gerry never quite seemed to be on the same page, Williams, Elliott and new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco appear to be.
Elliott said Williams is good at “conceptualizing” the defense rather than memorizing assignments. The former is better because it helps with adjustments and teaching other players where they need to be.
And Williams, who played nickel and safety last season for NU, can do those things, Elliott said.
“He’s our quarterback on defense,” Elliott said.
Williams is essentially the replacement for Gerry, a third-team All-American who exhausted his eligibility and is waiting to see if he gets picked in the 2017 NFL draft. Beside Williams, it appears to be a two-man race between junior Antonio Reed and senior Kieron Williams. The latter started for much of last season — he led NU with five interceptions — before Reed got the starting nod in the Music City Bowl.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Reed is big enough to play linebacker but quick enough to be at safety; that’s part of the reason he’s with the first team right now. The other is he’s healthy; Reed missed last spring camp recovering from shoulder surgery, then spent part of last season getting into optimum playing shape. In the bowl game, Reed started but left the game with a undisclosed medical issue in the first half.
Elliott said he’s been working with Reed on being consistent. There<a href="http://www.authenticcowboyssale.com/shop-by-players-andrew-gachkar-jersey-c-2_62.html">http://www.authenticcowboyssale.com/shop-by-players-andrew-gachkar-jersey-c-2_62.html</a> hasn’t been enough hitting in practice, Elliott said, to see how physical Reed is, though he has a reputation as a good hitter.
“If his body doesn’t lie — if he’s not out of control — then he should be a physical player,” Elliott said. “And I like that about him. He’s got good range, good speed.”
Kieron Williams has “great movement skills,” Elliott said. “He has been really outstanding.”
Williams was a part of several big moments last season, including a last-second swat of the ball in the win over Oregon, a pick-six against Wyoming and a dramatic late-game interception — that Aaron Williams helped set up — against Minnesota.
Elliott isn’t opposed to playing more than two guys at safety if they earn the chance. Neither is Diaco, a longtime coaching colleague and friend of Elliott’s.
“Bob’s been big on that over the years,” Elliott said. “If there’s no drop-off, then we’re going to play guys. We’re going to play as many as we can if there’s no drop-off. It’s their job to make sure there’s no drop-off. Even if there’s a small drop-off, maybe we’d play one of them more than the other, but I’m not opposed to playing multiple guys.”
Other safeties include JoJo Domann, Tony Butler <a href="http://www.authenticcowboysstore.com/shop-by-players-andrew-gachkar-jersey-c-2_62.html">http://www.authenticcowboysstore.com/shop-by-players-andrew-gachkar-jersey-c-2_62.html</a> and Marquel Dismuke. Dismuke moved from cornerback to safety in the offseason. Domann was originally recruited as a linebacker before he moved to safety.
“He’s a very good athlete: He’s got loose hips, he’s athletic, he’s a smart player, a natural player,” Elliott said.
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