The Texas A&M football coaches did not properly use their running backs during the 2013 season. Unless the Aggie football coaches change the way they utilize junior running back Brandon Williams, he is in danger of becoming a very talented footnote to the Kevin Sumlin era in Aggieland.
Williams was one of the top running backs in the country when he came out of high school and signed with Oklahoma. He rushed for 219 yards as a freshman at OU, then transferred to A&M in order to be closer to his daughter.
Williams participated in spring practice at A&M in 2012 and wowed fans and coaches alike with his speed and game-breaking ability. He was forced to sit out the 2012 season because of NCAA transfer rules.
A Lost Season
Aggie fans expected 2013 to be the breakout year for Williams. With Aggie running backs coach Clarence McKinney calling the plays and four talented backs on the roster, the running game figured to be a featured part of the offense.
Unfortunately, McKinney went away from the running game and at times ignored it altogether in a frustrating season for Aggie fans. It is ironic that a position coach would not want to give his players the ball, but that was the case with McKinney. Williams was the fourth-string running back and rarely got on the field.
When he did get the ball, Williams appeared tentative and unable to get through the hole quick enough. It became readily apparent that Williams was a better runner and receiver in space than between the tackles. He only ran for 269 yards in 12 games in 2013.
Williams is more fast than quick and needs to get the ball out in space. Asking him to take a handoff seven yards deep and to make a cut is not playing to his strengths.
McKinney was replaced as the play-caller before the Aggies' bowl game. Aggie quarterback coach Jake Spavital was given the play-calling duties by head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Spavital appears more willing to spread the ball around than to put the weight of the entire offense on the shoulders of the quarterback. Aggie fans should expect Spavital to play to Williams' strengths.
Let Your Thoroughbred Run
Williams has great long speed, which means that the coaches need to get him outside the tackle box and matched up with safeties and linebackers. Spavital needs to put Williams in a position to succeed.
He may not be as good of a pure running back as Tra Carson or Trey Williams, but Brandon Williams can be an effective weapon in this offense. Spavital needs to throw him the ball out of the backfield and use him on sweeps to get him on the edge.
How many touches will Brandon Williams get in each game in 2014?
Brandon Williams has legitimate 4.4 speed. He will be a tremendous mismatch for a linebacker or safety in space. The coaches need to plan to get him at least five touches per game in space where he is matched up one-on-one with a defender.
The fundamental concept of the spread offense is to spread a defense out in order to create one-on-one matchups between the offense's skill player and a defender. Spavital needs to do this with Brandon Williams in 2014 instead of slamming him into the line a few times per game.
Part of coaching is identifying the strengths of your players and then putting them in a position to be successful. McKinney did not do that much in 2013. Aggie fans need Spavital to focus on that aspect of the game in 2014.