When the Michigan Wolverines take on the Michigan State Spartans in a rivalry game for control of the Big Ten Leaders division on Saturday, the Maize and Blue will have to do so without sophomore tight end A.J. Williams.
According to Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com, Williams has been suspended one game for violating team rules. Williams was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and underage drinking after the 19-year-old ran a stop sign in Oxford, Ohio.
Is A.J. Williams' one-game suspension a fair punishment?
The loss isn't a huge one for Michigan from a statistical perspective as Williams has yet to register a catch this season, but the 6'6", 265-lb. product out of Cincinnati is capable blocker in both the passing and running games, so he'll be difficult to replace in that regard.
Sophomore Devin Funchess remains the Wolverines' primary receiving option at the position as he has already racked up 492 yards and four touchdowns on the year. Quarterback Devin Gardner and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will be on alert even more than usual without Williams clearing the way, though, especially against the Spartans' elite defense.
Following news of Williams' suspension, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke expressed disappointment, but said that he and the coaching staff would help Williams work through it.
"It's certainly disappointing when one of your kids makes a very poor decision," coach Brady Hoke said in the team's statement. "A.J. realizes he has let a lot of people down, including himself. As families do, we will help A.J. as he learns a valuable lesson from this."
Even though Williams' absence may not mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, it has to be eating away at the sophomore tight end. The Michigan State game is the second-biggest tilt of the year for Michigan aside from Ohio State, and having to miss out on it can't be easy.
Williams made a mistake as teenagers often do, but hopefully sitting this important game out is incentive enough for him to be far more careful and sensible moving forward.
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