Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Teammates rally around Williamson
By Kevin Gemmell
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jordan Williamson is going to wake up this morning, and it’s going to hurt. He’ll wake up Wednesday and Thursday and Friday morning, and it’s going to hurt. Then next week, it won’t hurt as much. And eventually the redshirt freshman kicker will get to the point where he can realize that while he didn’t win Tuesday night’s Fiesta Bowl, he certainly shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame for losing it.
Williamson had a rough night. Having only missed three field goals all season, he missed 3 of 4 attempts in a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State -- including a 35-yarder as time expired that would have given the Cardinal a victory. While Williamson did not address the media after the game, his teammates were quick to defend him.
“He’s made a million kicks for us in the past and kept us in games and won us games,” said tight end Coby Fleener. “We will never hang a guy out to dry, just like we don’t put one guy on this team on a pedestal. He’s still a hell of a kicker.”
Many of the defensive players say the blame is on them. Had they stopped Oklahoma State on fourth down on the previous drive, rather than allowing the Cowboys to convert a fourth-and-3 that went for 21 yards to Justin Blackmon, the field goal attempt wouldn’t even be an issue. Then there were Blackmon’s 186 receiving yards and three touchdowns. There were plenty of game-changing moments in the 59 minutes, 57 seconds of regulation that could have prevented it coming down to Williamson’s leg in the final three ticks.
“Put yourself in that situation and it’s tough,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “It’s very tough. I know guys will rally around him. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him. I know the media tends to want a scapegoat or a hero. But that’s just not the case in any football game.”
Williamson was 12-of-15 heading into the contest and was 6-of-7 on field goals between 30 and 39 yards this year. In addition to the kick at the end of regulation, he missed a 41-yard attempt on Stanford’s opening drive and a 43-yard attempt in Stanford’s only overtime possession.
“We trust him,” said linebacker A.J. Tarpley. “We’d put him out there if there was a game tomorrow. Sometimes they don’t go in and sometimes they do. We had a lot of chances to win this game so it’s definitely not his fault.”
In Stanford’s locker room after the game, the scene was very un-fiesta-like. Teammates would stop by Williamson’s locker as a show of support.
“We love him, man,” said defensive end Ben Gardner. “That doesn’t change. He’s been solid as a rock all year. We had no doubt he would make the kick. But shoot, it’s football. Things happen. We all had bad plays tonight. It shouldn’t have come down to just that.”