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Running with an edge: Kyren Williams fuels offense in Virginia Tech victory

| Monday, October 11, 2021

Junior running back Kyren Williams is at the heart and soul of this year’s Notre Dame football team and that was on full display in Saturday’s 32-29 victory over Virginia Tech.

Williams finished the game with a rushing and receiving touchdown and had 74 yards on the ground off 19 carries and 26 receiving yards.

Before his ten-yard rushing touchdown, Williams knew that he could score if the ball was given to him.

“The play really was RPO. I wasn’t supposed to get the ball. It was supposed to be a fake to me, but I told [freshman quarterback Tyler] Buchner pre-snap to get me the ball. There was one backer in the box in the side I was running to, so I told Buchner ‘Give me the ball. Do not pull it. Do not throw it. Let me get this,’” Williams said. “I made it happen.”

Williams had plenty of room to run at first, but he evaded multiple defenders over the last four yards to force his way into the end zone.

Head coach Brian Kelly noticed Williams’ edge today, especially in his rushing touchdown.

“Kyren ran with an edge today,” Kelly said. “That run was beast mode for him.”

With the Irish down 29-21 late in the fourth quarter, Williams was targeted by linebacker Dax Hollifeld, which took him off the field for part of the game.

Although Williams missed some plays and had to get checked in the tunnel, he was ultimately able to make it back in for the game-winning drive that would set up senior kicker Jonathan Doerer’s 51-yard field goal.

“We were in the tunnel examining if I am going to be able to go back in or not,” Williams said. “I told him [the person doing his physical exam] ‘I am going back in’ and we made it happen.”

Williams did have to watch the two-point conversion that tied the game from the sidelines, which was a crazy experience for him.

“We originally had a two-point play planned, but they didn’t run it probably because I wasn’t in there. We have playmakers all around on the offense and you saw what happens. We threw the ball up and [senior wide receiver] Kevin [Austin] came down with it. It was like he flew in the air and caught that ball,” Williams said.

Williams discussed the play of freshman running back Logan Diggs, who received plenty of playing time with sophomore running back Chris Tyree out and Williams banged up at times.

“He showed up. We expected that from Logan. We always knew that he had that in him, and he came out tonight and proved himself when he needed to prove himself,” Williams said. “On the last drive when the crowd was going crazy on the two-minute drive, you could see how even-keeled he was. He caught that angle route and he proved himself.”

Williams credited much of his success on Saturday night to the offensive line that looked much improved in the run game compared to previous weeks.

“I feel like we are taking steps each and every game. That gel that we were always talking about was there,” Williams said. “I feel like we were averaging 4 or 5 yards every play. It wasn’t anything like two yards or any negatives. We found runs that were productive and we stuck to them. Shout out to the [offensive linemen] and the coaches for doing what they do best and giving me, as a running back, a chance.”

Williams discussed the quarterback situation and how the brotherhood nature of the team bonds everyone together.

“We are always ready when our time is called no matter what. We are always proud of our brothers who are in there. We just know [graduate student quarterback] Jack [Coan] is for the brotherhood. When Tyler Buchner got hurt, Jack was the first person out there. We all do this for each other,” Williams said. “That’s a common relationship with everybody on this team. We just got to keep playing ball and moving forward.”

Williams liked the physicality that his team played with on Saturday night.

“Being able to display our physicality on our opponent each and every down is going to wear and tear on them,” Williams said. “They’re going to fold eventually, and we know that. We are still getting there, and we are still getting to that.”

Williams discussed how much he feeds off the jabbering that goes back and forth among teams.

“I like to talk. That’s what gets me going. Whenever I’m locked in the zone and I know my boys are feeling that it’s just all-around football when we are playing like that and we have an edge to ourselves,” Williams said.

Williams plans to take a breather from football and relax in the team’s upcoming bye week.

“I’m definitely not doing anything football-wise. As soon as we get done Thursday, I am kicking my feet up, and I’m done. I’m chilling until Monday comes, and we are back it,” Williams said.

After an emotional, comeback road victory and difficult stretch of games, Williams is thankful for the timing of the bye week.

“This is the perfect time for a bye week because I’m hurting,” Williams said.

Williams and the Irish will be back in action at home in two weeks against the USC Trojans.

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

Contact Nate