Boobee Whitlow had one message for D.J. Williams before Auburn’s trip to Baton Rouge: “Just do your thing.”
From Auburn’s second drive of the intense showdown against now-No. 1 LSU, the true freshman Williams did exactly that. Averaging 10 yards per carry, Williams had a 130 yards on 13 carries and two receptions for 21 yards.
He was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his production.
On his first three drives, Williams accounted for four carries and 13 yards on the ground, and through the air had one reception for eight yards. After a recovered fumble on a kickoff return at LSU’s 22-yard line, Williams helped push quarterback Bo Nix into the end zone to put Auburn up 10-7 with 3:06 left in the first half.
Then, Williams turned it up a notch. With the game tied at 10-10 and only 26 seconds left in the first half, Williams took the handoff from Nix, exploding through a hole in the offensive line and coming out the other side like a bullet.
Williams carried the ball into LSU territory, barreling into LSU cornerback Kary Vincent, Jr. and continuing to push through to LSU’s 32-yard line.
“They just opened it up. Our line did a good job by opening it up and it just happened," Williams said of the draw play before the half.
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However, the 41-yard run was not be his most impressive feat of the day.
In Auburn’s first drive of the second half, Williams again took the handoff from Nix, finding another hole and running from Auburn’s 21-yard line to the end zone, but it was ruled he was pushed out at LSU's 9-yard line.
After the game Williams was asked about that moment, and whether he thought he had a touchdown: “Oh, yes sir, I did.”
With Whitlow benched most of the game, Williams had his chance to take the field in a hostile environment against an elite defense and show the world what he’s made of, but he didn’t come into the game banking on being such a large part of the offense.
“Not really,” Williams said of knowing if he was going to have a big role. "We just always did our job in practice and my name was called.”
Gus Malzahn especially seemed to be pleased with Williams’ performance.
“D.J. Williams is coming into his own," Malzahn said. "I think everybody saw that. I really think he’s got a chance to be an outstanding back.”
Going forward, Williams will have to compete for field time with an increasingly healthy Whitlow, but that doesn’t bother him.
“I don’t really think that matters," Williams said. "I’m just going to show up every day like we have been, grinding together with my brothers. Just get better.”
Considering Malzahn said Whitlow's role will increase as he gets healthier, but Williams is still expected to be the lead back come this Saturday against Ole Miss in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
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