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Robin Zielinski | Las Cruces Sun-News The New Mexico State defense tries to bring down Utah State's Kerwynn Williams during USU's final regular-season game against in Las Cruces, NM, December 3, 2011.
USU football: Williams aims to prove running game not a weakness
First Published Aug 27 2012 11:32 am • Last Updated Aug 28 2012 12:09 am

Logan • Kerwynn Williams has waited patiently.

When Robert Turbin missed the 2010 season and Derrvin Speight hurt himself in midseason of the same year, Williams transitioned from return specialist and carried Utah State’s offense for the last month of the schedule as a running back and slot receiver.

At a glance

Kerwynn Williams

» Ran for 542 yards on 81 carries in 2011

» Went for 451 yards on 81 carries in 2010

» Scored seven touchdowns in the past two years

» Had 19 catches in the past two seasons

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When Turbin returned with Michael Smith, Williams quietly turned in a solid season as the third back, getting limited carries in Dave Baldwin’s scheme.

Now, the waiting is over. Turbin and Smith are in the NFL, Speight has graduated and moved on. Williams, the kid from Las Vegas, is the man in the backfield. He’s out to prove that the biggest question — who would replace Turbin — isn’t that big after all. The opportunity is huge, as is his desire to take full advantage of it.

"The main thing for me is to try to do anything I can to help my team," Williams said. "Whether that be running or blocking or anything, I just want to win. We have a good team, we have a lot of motivation to [win]. I want to help my team reach its full potential."

For sure, Williams isn’t the same punishing runner Turbin is. He won’t receive 25 to 30 touches a game like Turbin did and isn’t the same kind of workhorse back either.

But Williams has definitive strengths. He has excellent vision and has long been one of Utah State’s best players at making people miss. He’s great catching passes out of the backfield, and can even line up at wideout in certain formations.

Williams has the breakaway speed to score in the open field. Indeed, one of his lasting impressions last season was his 43-yard touchdown run against Auburn, when he burned the entire Tigers secondary on his way to the end zone.

"He’s someone who has waited for his turn," USU coach Gary Andersen said. "He’s never whined. He’s never complained. He was too talented for the role he was in last season. The third back doesn’t usually get as many carries. He’s the man now, and obviously much of what we try to do will rest on him."

There is some pressure on Williams. He has to prove he can consistently churn out tough yards in key spots. But the offense is now more of a spread look, and that fits his strengths a bit more than the offense did a year ago.

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None of that, however, matters to the man who used to wear the Kid N’ Play flattop last season. His hair is cut now, his demeanor much more serious than it used to be. Being in a leadership position will accomplish that for a player.

His proving ground is now a mere few days away.

tjones@sltrib.comon twitter: @tonyaggieville

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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