Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Ohio State

Williams ready to return for UT

Morgan Williams is living one of those good news-bad news predicaments where you never know which option to ask for first.

Let's start with the good news - the University of Toledo sophomore running back will have arguably the freshest legs of anybody when the Rockets kick off against No. 11 Ohio State at noon today at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The bad news? Williams still has to work himself into game shape after being suspended for the first two weeks of the season after an unspecified violation of team rules.

Williams declined to comment on the cause for his suspension - other than to say it was an "off-the-field situation that wasn't anything extreme" that occurred in the spring - but said he has learned a valuable lesson.

"[I] just need to do the right things [and] be at the right place at the right time," said Williams, who led UT with 1,010 rushing yards last season. "It was real tough [sitting out]. I just tried not to think about it and move on."

As for how many carries he will see against Buckeyes, Williams isn't certain. He's just ready to get back on the field.

"I'm real excited, just anxious to get out there," Williams said. "I have to slow it down a little bit actually. People think I'm moving too fast right now."

Senior running back DaJuane Collins, who saw the bulk of the carries in the rushing attack while Williams was sidelined, said the Canton native took the situation as a learning experience and has grown from it.

"He handled it well," Collins said. "It would've been easy for him to just hang his head and give up and quit. But he worked hard every day in practice. He was in the weight room every time we had to lift."

For fans that haven't seen Williams in almost a year, Collins said they might be in for a little bit of a surprise.

"He's still looking good," Collins said. "He's put on about 12 pounds, so he's gotten bigger and his pass protection is a lot better than it was last year. He's been working with the scout team these last two weeks and he's been out there doing a tremendous job."

How much Williams can help the Rockets against Ohio State remains to be seen, however.

"I think anytime that you haven't been playing for a couple weeks, you're not going to be up to full speed," UT coach Tim Beckman said. "He'll get some reps - probably not as many reps as we'd like to have him get right now - but he'll be out there on the field for us."

The Buckeyes enter with the nation's 79th-best run defense, allowing an average of 152 rushing yards per game. UT finished with 305 yards on the ground last week, including 160 from Collins, in a 54-38 rout of Colorado at the Glass Bowl.

The return of Williams should only bolster the Rockets' ground game and help them reach their goal of feasting on their second "Victory Meal" of the season - a steak dinner on Sunday nights after a win. If not, they'll be eating hot dogs again like they did after their loss at Purdue.

"I'll take all the running backs we can get," senior quarterback Aaron Opelt said. "Morgan had a great year for us last year. I thought DaJuane had one of his best games ever last week. We're definitely going to need both of them [today]."

Contact Zach Silka at:

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