Is it too early to be saying Devontae Who? Maybe, but Joe Williams–the newest running back discovery for the Utah Utes–literally willed his team to victory Saturday, gobbling up 187 yards on the ground en route to a 20-14 win over newly found rival Colorado.
Many thought the Buffaloes were a wannabe rival of these No. 23 Utes, who last week got all they could handle from UCLA, who literally punched the ball away from Williams to hang on for a 17-9 victory–ruining Utah’s Pac-12 South division title hopes.
What a difference a week makes then, because Williams apparently got the memo that he needed to hold onto the ball better. There was just as much bad blood between Colorado and the Utes as there was against UCLA.
Even still, the visiting Buffaloes punched at Williams, they grabbed him–they even got costly penalties trying to slow him and the rest of the Utah offense down. But early on, Williams made it known that the loss of Devontae Booker–costly though it was–will not deter him or his team one iota.
“It was more of an honor. We had a good week of practice and coach Whitt instilled into our minds on Monday that we really had to give this game our all because it was for the seniors,” said Williams, who did all of this work while Booker stood on the sidelines on crutches. “For me, it was just doing what I had to do – either running or helping out on pass protection.”
The junior transfer out of UConn and the JUCO ranks blasted down the right sideline in the first quarter, going for a 64-yard gain that nearly resulted in six points. In the second quarter, Williams did drop a ball on the turf, but the Utes were firmly in control, going up 10-0 before too long.
In other words, dawg, the Williams you saw last week was not the same dude this week. Because this dude was beast.
The Utes–as they’ve done hundreds of times when Booker is the guy–handed off to Williams and let the junior do the work. He responded to the call with 34 carries for that game-high and career high 187 yards rushing on Saturday, giving the Utes the ground game they needed to drive the rival Buffaloes into the ground. He also fell backwards into the end zone for his lone touchdown on the day. For the season, Williams finished with 386 rushing yards going into the Ute bowl game–to be determined in the next two weeks.
To be honest though, it was about time that the Utes got Williams going–just as it was about time that Utah and Colorado started acting like rivals. By the time this game hit the third quarter, it was very apparent that the two teams don’t like each other, resulting in an entertaining but narrow win for Utah, who go to 9-3 overall and sport a program-best 6-3 Pac-12 record. For Williams, his career is far from being over, and if he plays like he did today there may not be a ton of drop off from what Utah got from the one they call Devontae.