It was the first play of the second quarter against Highland Park last Friday. was ahead 7-0. Quarterback Jordan Beck called the play in the huddle — 30 draw — a designed delay handoff out of the shotgun to Owen Williams.
As soon as the 5-foot-11, 220-pound back snatched the ball from Beck, he ran right up the middle, just as the play was designed to do.
Then he kicked it outside, scampering 74 yards to the end zone. It was a play you saw quite a bit from Williams last year — running inside — but what you may not have seen was speed to the edge.
“Last year I was a between the tackles (runner), trying to pound it in there,” said Williams after practice Wednesday. “Now, I can get outside the tackles and break one loose.”
Running backs are an evolving species, where a fraction of a second of gained speed can mean quantum leaps on the football field. Attrition to the offensive line meant the Scouts would not be able to overpower teams up front in 2011.
They would need Williams to change how he approached his craft to compensate for a smaller, less experienced line. Bottom line, he would have to learn to run differently.
So he embarked on an ambitious offseason training regimen. Along with teammates , and , they worked out at Core 6 in Deerfield. It was there Williams developed his fast-twitch muscles, those tiny fibers that, when fortified, allow you to separate from slower defensive backs.
“What we did was work on our explosiveness,” said Williams, who estimates his 40-yard dash time to be in the high 4.5s. “So if I need to break it out with an outside play with a toss or stretch, I’ll use my speed to get the edge.”
He demonstrated that explosiveness in his second long run of the night. The play was 38 Jet, with Williams running in motion pre-snap, then taking a pitch from Beck. This is a designed stretch play, and Williams got well outside the hash marks and galloped 70 yards for a touchdown, which extended the lead at the time to 34-0.
It was a play that, when combined with his earlier touchdown, personified the evolution of Williams as a running back. One inside, one outside.
“You saw those runs when he stretched it, turned it out and then turned it up,” said Scouts coach Chuck Spagnoli. “A year ago, he may have been less patient to hit the edge.”
Said Williams: “I can still pound it in there. I’ll come inside with all my strength.”
Friday’s opponent, Mundelein, has struggled over the years, with only two playoff appearances since 2002. They’ve started this year 0-2, losing their first two games by a combined score of 76-22, including a 47-2 trashing by state power Prairie Ridge last week.
The Mustangs have a speedy, experienced quarterback in L.D. Frison, who rushed for 144 yards in their Week 1 loss to Wheeling.
should be able to move the ball on offense, and last week’s 532-yard team effort could be matched.
“They play multiple stuff” on defense, Spagnoli said while coming off the practice field Wednesday. “What’s unusual is they’ve had a game where they come after people and the other where they sat back.”
Expect a big night from Williams and more snaps for backup quarterback Andrew Clifford. The junior threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Scott Power against Highland Park.
It will be a memorable Saturday for Michigan commit Bo Dever and his family.
Dever will travel to Ann Arbor, along with his sister, Morgan, a junior, who also has committed to Michigan to play field hockey.
Bo will attend Michigan’s first-ever night football game, when they host Notre Dame. Who will be starting for the Irish? None other than , Dever’s teammate during the 2009 season.
“There will definitely be some talking on the field,” said Dever.