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Monday, April 13, 2009
Virginia Tech's Williams gives offense a boost

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Ryan Williams is exactly what Virginia Tech needs -- somebody whose play and personality could give an otherwise dreary offense a caffeinated boost.

Williams did that in the Hokies' scrimmage on Friday, not only with his 122 yards and bedazzling 80-yard touchdown on eight carries, but also with his enthusiasm. He can't stop smiling, and it's contagious. Just as important was the fact the offensive line paved the way for him. Granted, much of the rushing yards came against the second- and third-team defenses, but the Hokies' offense needed some life breathed into it, and Williams did that.

If Virginia Tech truly is going to contend for a national championship this season, odds are he's going to have to do it again. The 103rd best total offense isn't going to cut it against the likes of Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.

So much attention is placed on Florida quarterback Tim Tebow that the Gators' defense, which ranked fourth in the country in scoring defense and ninth in total defense, often doesn't get enough credit. The Gators are the blueprint for a national champion, and for too long, Virginia Tech has only had half of the equation -- Bud Foster's defense. Williams' performance in the first scrimmage was reason to believe the Hokies' offense is capable of much more this fall -- and he's fighting for the No. 2 spot at tailback behind Darren Evans.

While it wasn't an easy decision -- those on staff will tell you Williams was good enough to play last year -- redshirting Williams in 2008 not only gave him a year to prepare and learn the offense, but it also made him hungry to get on the field and show what he can do. That, in turn, will make the players around Williams better -- including the record-setting back in front of him.

Sure, it's still early -- very early -- but 80 yards on the first carry is indicative that Virginia Tech's offense got an upgrade this spring, and he comes with a smile.