By Tom Hackett
As the 2016 regular season comes to a close, the Pac 12 has announced its annual All-Conference teams. This year, surprisingly enough, Joe Williams has been awarded ‘honorable mention’ despite finishing second in total rushing yards behind Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.
The four players selected ahead of Williams were Myles Gaskin, Christian McCaffrey, Ronald Jones III and Phillip Lindsay Jr. respectively. However, besides McCaffrey, Williams finished with more rushing yards (1185) than any of his fellow 1st or 2nd team selections. He also finished 2nd behind Ronald Jones III in rush yard average polling 6.4 yards per carry to Jones 6.5 ypc. How does this happen you may be asking yourself? The Pac 12 All-Conference teams are selected by Pac 12 coaches, which leads me to think, was Joe Williams 4 game absence from the team enough to hinder his hopes of being rewarded at the end of the season? It appears so.
The manner in which Williams quit was a shock to everyone, including opposing Pac-12 coaches and players. I question whether, despite his success since coming out of retirement, were the 4 games in which he missed too big a burden to allow him to be rewarded in the post season. It was only two weeks ago when FOX had him on there Heisman watch list!?
I also wonder how opposing head coaches felt about him, while the media were making storylines suggesting the remarkable ‘comeback kid’, I can almost guarantee opposing defenses were licking there chops, they don’t see the ‘comeback kid’ storylines. In fact, they see Joe Williams as weak, both mentally and physically, a running back that cannot handle being hit. Which you could argue was the case against Colorado, two fumbles lost, beaten and sore body, lack of explosion, inability to break tackles. Sounds like the Joe Williams from 2015 and the early weeks of the 2016 season doesn’t it?
I am curious to see how Williams career unfolds after the upcoming bowl game, is he a running back that excites NFL General Managers due to his ability to break games open? Or will they determine that because he quit on his team due to body soreness that he does not have the ability to withstand the rigors of a NFL season. Lets remember he ‘retired’ because it was in the best interest of his health and safety moving forward…the NFL is a whole new beast, a mans game. Only the bravest, most fierce athletes survive in the NFL (which is why I didn’t make it very long).
On a more positive note, I learned that Joe went and spent time with Devontae Booker in Denver for a few days to discuss whether he should come out of retirement. Interestingly enough, whatever Booker said worked; he was a man possessed.
Williams was the difference maker in multiple games for Utah this year (when playing), I myself would personally like to thank Joe for his decision to come back and help the University of Utah football program to another winning season. A sour 8-4 none the less…