NCF Nation: Jacquian Williams

Jacquian Williams was the Big East's defensive player of the week for his performance in last Wednesday's win over Rutgers. He had 11 tackles and a key sack late to seal the victory. The senior linebacker also pressured Cincinnati quarterback Chazz Anderson into a game-saving incompletion in the Bulls' previous win. I caught up with the former junior college transfer earlier this week.

You seem to have really elevated your play of late. What has been the key for you?

Jacquian Williams: It was just my coaches talking to me about life and stuff. That got me re-focused and helped my motivation. They were just talking about life after football, whether you go to the next level or don't, life is tough. That really kind of hit me somewhere and got me real emotional.

When did this talk happen?

[+] EnlargeJacquian Williams
Kim Klement/US PresswireJacquian Williams (57) is one reason USF is still alive in the Big East race.
JW: It was the week of the Cincinnati game, and that kind of just got me into another zone. It helped me out. It helped us all out.

This is your first year of starting. What has allowed you to take on a bigger role this season?

JW: It was just, how long would it take me to adapt to the speed and everything. I worked hard in the offseason and had a lot of older guys tell me what to expect, but I was a little nervous the first couple of games. I just started getting used to it and playing my game.

The new coaching staff talked you up in the spring. Was the coaching change in some ways good for you?

JW: I liked it because they were new and they didn't know anybody. Nobody had any edge. It was a free man's game.

You're a Tampa native who went to Fort Scott junior college in Kansas. How did that work out?

JW: [Former USF assistant] Rich Rachel was the guy who recruited me and said he'd come get me in two years if I went to Fort Scott. I told him, if you come back for me in two years, I'll be back at USF no matter what.

Did you get other offers from schools after Fort Scott?

JW: Yeah. Mostly like Midwest schools, but I was ready to get out of the Midwest. Playing at home was something I always wanted, to let my family see me play. A lot of them couldn't see me play in high school because they were kind of busy. But now they all come to see me and I like that.

You said earlier you knew about life being tough. What did you mean by that?

JW: I think the toughest part of my life was going to Fort Scott and being on my own, having to grow up a little bit. At first when I got out there, a lot of guys who were from out of town started dropping out. It was crazy because they were crying and wanting to go home. It was already tough, and to see those other guys wanting to quit was tough for me. But I made it through and I'm happy I made it through.

What are the challenges of facing this Louisville offense on Saturday?

JW: The coaches told me they've got a running back who's a shifty guy, but if we shut down the run we have a pretty good chance. They said if I can cover down on the tight ends and stuff, it should be a good game.

You guys are still alive in the Big East hunt. Have you talked about that?

JW: Coach [Skip] Holtz calls it a circus, because everybody is waiting for this team to lose or this team to win. He just tells us to play each game. I'm praying we can get what we deserve.

Seniors like you and Mo Plancher have been making big plays lately. Did you guys feel like you had to step things up here in the home stretch?

JW: That was another key point coach made to us. He said that in order for us to make it all the way, seniors have to take a big role in each game. Me and [cornerback] Mistral Raymond, as captains, we had some one-on-one talks. Guys who've been here for four years said that's one thing they never had with the seniors; they never really communicated. So I took it upon myself make to make sure me and "Skinny" [Raymond] talked. He helped me out in the Cincinnati game by having a big game and a couple of pass breakups. That motivated me even more.
1. South Florida is on the rise: The Bulls looked bad in losing their first two Big East games with pathetic offensive production. Since then, quarterback B.J. Daniels has cut down on his turnovers and made better decisions, and South Florida has won two straight while averaging 33 points. Seniors like Mo Plancher, Jacquain Williams and Terrell McClain are leading the way. Skip Holtz's 5-3 team is sitting pretty for a bowl game now and is still alive in the Big East hunt.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Wright
AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli Coach Charlie Strong has Jeremy Wright and Louisville racing toward a bowl bid.
2. Louisville is on the rise, too: The Cardinals stopped their 11-game conference road losing streak and stopped Syracuse's momentum with a 28-20 win at the Carrier Dome. They did what most teams haven't been able to do in picking up the Orange pressure and scoring multiple touchdowns. They also did it with backups starting at quarterback and running back. Charlie Strong might overtake Doug Marrone for Big East coach of the year honors, and he's got his 5-4 Louisville team on the verge of returning to a bowl for the first time since the 2006 season. The Cardinals actually have a case as the league's second-best team.

3. Pitt is really in the driver's seat: The Panthers didn't play this week, but have to be smiling after the results. With Syracuse's loss, every team in the Big East has two conference losses except for Pitt, which is 3-0. While Dave Wannstedt's team still has to play three of its final four games on the road, starting this Thursday at Connecticut, it has an enviable cushion with which to work.

Big East helmet stickers: Week 10

November, 6, 2010
Mo Plancher, RB, South Florida: The sixth-year senior carried 21 times for 135 yards in the Bulls' 28-27 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday night. Plancher also had three catches for 45 yards.

Jacquain Williams, LB, South Florida: The senior had 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks against Rutgers.

Jeremy Wright, RB, Louisville: The redshirt freshman stepped in for Bilal Powell and career highs of 19 carries, 98 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-20 win over Syracuse.
Posted by's Brian Bennett

TAMPA -- Kion Wilson is aiming high for 2009.

"I want to break Tyrone McKenzie's record for tackles," Wilson said.

  Kim Klement/US PRESSWIRE
  Kion Wilson has high expectations for himself in 2009.

McKenzie set the South Florida mark with 121 stops in 2007, then added another 116 as a senior last year. With McKenzie gone, Wilson knows that he's the team's top linebacker and that he's got to pick up that production.

"I'm going to be the starter in the middle, so I feel like I should make one out of every three plays," he said.

If the season started today, the Bulls might need Wilson to make plays even more frequently than that. While he's an anchor at middle linebacker, the team has question marks at the other spots.

Inexperience and inconsistency have plagued the outside linebacker candidates this spring, and the starters there might not be determined until some newcomers arrive this summer.

"We're a ways away from having what you'd say are three really solid starters there," co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach David Blackwell said. "I think there will be an awful lot of competition going into the fall."

Even Wilson, a senior, is not all that experienced himself. A junior-college transfer, he had to play a larger role than expected last season when Brouce Mompremier got hurt early in the year. Wilson finished with 66 tackles, which ranked third on the team.

Like many junior-college imports, it took him several games to adjust to FBS-level competition, but he said he gained more confidence as the year went on. Now he finds himself as one of the leaders on defense.

"I try to mentor the guys and tell them how it is," Wilson said. "I'm more of a lead-by-example guy. But I have to step outside my boundaries for the betterment of the team."

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