Alabama vs. LSU: TE Michael Williams Could Be Wild-Card Hero

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IIJanuary 1, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Eric Reid #1 of the LSU Tigers against Michael Williams #89 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On that fateful day when Alabama hosted LSU, many players on both teams had opportunity knock and they came up short.  Michael Williams may hold the most regret of all.

He had the ball wrestled from his hands by a player around 70 lbs. (lighter than himself) in a play that still involves heated debate.  A catch would have put Alabama at LSU's 1-yard line, which would have undoubtedly won the game.  

Was it an interception?  Was he already down?  

But any argument about it is a moot point.  The game is over and the interception stood.  

On January 9, 2012, Michael Williams—along with the rest of his team—will have a chance to redeem himself.  

Williams is a monster of a tight end, standing at 6'6" and weighing 270 lbs.  He's bigger than most NFL tight ends, but he doesn't play like an NFL tight end.

He is one of the best run-blocking tight ends in college football, but his hands are about as soft as his helmet.  

He has almost the same physical build as New Orleans' Jimmy Graham and New England's Rob Gronkowski, both of whom have over 1,200 receiving yards this year.  Williams could take lessons from both of them.

But it would be unfair to expect that from Williams as Alabama doesn't run a pass-happy offense like that of the NFL's Saints and Patriots.  He is a designated run-blocker, rarely called upon to catch. When his name is called it's usually in plays involving some trickery.

The attention Brad Smelley will get could leave Michael Williams in a position to make a play.
The attention Brad Smelley will get could leave Michael Williams in a position to make a play.Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

He catches the ball just fine when he has no pressure on him and when he's wide open.  It's the catches in traffic that give him trouble.  

He has improved on his catching ability since he became a starter in 2010, and his hard work could pay dividends in this year's National Championship Game.  

It can be expected that Michael Williams will hold onto the ball harder than anyone in that game, and that he's too big of a target for A.J. McCarron to pass up.  

He also may not get a lot of attention.  After the 2011 Iron Bowl, fellow TE Brad Smelley threw a wrench in LSU's game preparations.  He made it clear he is a force in the passing game not to be underestimated.  Both tight ends will be on the field together for most of the game. 

In addition, Alabama has some dangerous receivers.  Marquis Maze will remain the go-to receiver and the deep threat, commanding a lot of attention, and Darius Hanks has a knack for coming up with impossible short-catches in traffic.  

What could really make Michael Williams a wild-card hero is his primary strength:  Run blocking.  

Trent Richardson had a great game in the first outing compared to the other players of both offenses. But he only had 89 yards on the ground with a 3.9 yard average.  Michael Williams could change that.

If Trent Richardson goes into beast mode on January 9, then you can bet Michael Williams is in some sort of frenzy himself.  

Michael Williams has more potential than many of his fellow teammates, he just needs to live up to it.

I fully expect him to, and LSU will have to go home to their single BCS title from their two-loss season in 2007.