Two-time All-Big Sky defensive tackle thinks preparation is the key to success for tomorrow's playoff game against Southeast Missouri at 1:05 p.m., in the Inferno at Roos Field
By Krystal Deyo, EWU Sports Information
Renard Williams of the Eastern Washington University football team will step on the field Saturday (Dec. 4) looking for another Eagle victory in the Inferno. To do this, the Eagles will need to stop Southeast Missouri's running game, led by Walter Payton Award candidate Henry Harris.
Williams earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors for the second year in a row, and has 33 tackles for the season. Eight of his tackles are for loss, including 3 1/2 sacks. He also has three forced fumbles, three quarterback hurries and a pair of fumble recoveries.
He had his first sack of the season against Weber State on Oct. 2, then added another versus Southern Utah on Nov. 13 and Idaho State on Nov. 20. Earlier in the season, teammate Jerry Ceja forced a fumble on a sack on the final play of the game that was returned 34 yards for a score by Williams and secured EWU’s 36-27 victory over the sixth-ranked Grizzlies on Oct. 18.
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Williams had nine sacks a year ago to earn first team All-BSC honors as well. He now has 14.5 sacks in his career as he nears Eastern’s all-time leaders list. Currently 12th, with 15.5 sacks, is Brandon Moore (1999-02). Constantly drawing double teams from opposing teams, Williams has 95 tackles in his 34-game career (25 as a starter), including 29 for losses totaling 167 yards.
Q: Southeast Missouri averages 271 yards per game on the ground and 107 in passing. Have you had to change your preparation at all to be able to stop this?
A: “They definitely like to run the ball. It doesn't really change our preparation at all. We just have to be ready for the run and we have to be physical. They're going to try to get more physical than us with their offensive linemen. It's nothing that we haven't seen before, especially the upperclassmen who have played against bigger-bodied players. I don't think that should be a problem.”
Q: The team has had two weeks to prepare for this game, opposed to only one week. Does this change the way the team has prepared?
A: “We just had more time to work on things. It also gives guys who are banged up more time to heal their injuries and get fresh again. You have more time to go over your defensive strategies and offensive strategies.”
Q: Southeast Missouri has a Walter Payton Award candidate in running back Henry Harris. Does practicing against someone like your candidate, Taiwan Jones, help you prepare to stop this threat?
A: “Well, for the most part we don't really get to practice against Taiwan because we usually go against our scouts. But when we do get to, it helps. It's hard to compare those guys because they have such different running games. But it does help us practice against the speed.”
Q: Southeast Missouri has never been to a playoff game and the Eagles have had their share of showings. Do you think your experience will provide any leverage over the Redhawks?
A: “We're still pretty young. When you look at our team, not many have been to the playoffs. To be honest, I just treat it as any other game, or else I tend to over-think things or try to change things up. So, I try not to think too much about it, but in the back of my mind, the reality is there.”
Q: What has been your most memorable moment this season?
A: “It would have to be when we beat Montana, when I scored the last touchdown. That would have to be my moment.”
Q: Have ever played football in the snow before? Do you think it will affect the game?
A: “I have played in the snow before. But some of the guys on the team haven't, so it's funny to see how they react to it. It doesn't bother me much. I just hope it isn't too cold. When the temperature drops to freezing, that's what I don't like.”
Q: What are your personal goals for this upcoming game?
A: “I want to leave it all out on the field. If we lose, we won't get to play anymore. I want to go out and get that win. I think a lot of the guys will step up. I want to be one of the vocal leaders this weekend. I also want to inspire my teammates by making strong plays. I just want to step up and play hard to get the win, so this isn't it for us.”
Q: What do have to say for the senior class?
A: “They have done a great job. It's been an honor to play with them. I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys to play with. I just hope this isn't it, and we can go out and continue to make history.”