COLLEGE STATION Texas — “A freshman has changed the way the Aggies play football.”
If that had been written a year ago, Kyler Murray would have been the player who came to mind, but this is now and the transformational freshman is Trayveon Williams.
Rewind to the beginning of the season: A brand new offensive coordinator from the Pac-12, a graduate transfer quarterback from the Big 12, a transfer running back from the Big 12 and a coach who was feeling the pressure. The odds were stacked against them, but here the Aggies stand undefeated in their bye week.
Williams has provided a new wrinkle for A&M because he’s an explosive playmaker out of the backfield. Last season, Tra Carson rushed for 1,165 yards, but he was realistically only a threat to score near the red zone, and then only in a straight line. Williams, though, has the quickness and lateral movement to get past defenders and still get up the field. Whether he gets the ball on a read option or a dump pass, Williams is shifty enough to make a huge play.
Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has hung his hat on the read option this season, and it has paid off. Trevor Knight has rushed for 502 yards and nine touchdowns, but Williams’ presence is a reason the read option works. Defenses must focus on him, and Knight has taken advantage.
Wide receivers Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds had been A&M’s primary playmakers. They remain dangerous, which helps Williams because opposing secondaries have to focus on the receivers. The flipside also is true: When defensive backs creep up to try to negate Williams, the receivers see single coverage.
The offensive line was a concern heading into the season, as well, but the unit has been a pleasant surprise. In some respects, Williams has helped the linemen as much as they have helped him. Quick screens, the use of the read option and misdirection plays to Williams have given the line relief; the linemen don’t need to hold their blocks as long because of Williams’ explosiveness.
Williams has been an absolute revelation for the Aggies. The offense has been transformed in every facet because of the threat he poses. Before the season, it was thought Knight’s play would be the deciding factor with the offense’s success; we’re increasingly finding that Williams is the guy who makes the offense go.
(You can follow Garrett Robertson on Twitter @Garrrrob)
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