Williams Focusing On Being Ready

Jesse Williams

It's easy to go from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham. Brisbane, Australia, not so much. Alabama football players whose homes are close to The University are enjoying time with friends and family in those homes before returning to practice after Christmas.



For Jesse Williams, a quick dash to home was out of the question. "I don't have that sort of money to throw around," he said. Fortunately, a bit of Brisbane came to Tuscaloosa.

"I usually work out with my roommate, but a friend of mine and my dad are here from Australia," Williams said before Alabama began its short break following Saturday's practice.

The Crimson Tide has had five days of work that simulates to some extent fall camp. Practices have concentrated on fundamentals and technique and on conditioning following a couple of weeks off before bowl work began last week.

When the team reassembles for a Wednesday night practice, the focus will shift to preparing for the national championship game. Bama meets Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 7.

Williams, who has started 25 of Bama's past 26 games – defensive end in 2011 and nose tackle this season – was a second team All-Southeastern Conference performer this year. As a nose tackle, Williams job is primarily to take on blockers so that linebackers can make the tackles. Nevertheless, he was in on 36 tackles this season, including three for losses, and also had a sack. He had two pass break-ups, four quarterback pressures, and blocked a kick.

Williams, 6-4, 320, has also been rehabilitating a knee that was injured in the Crimson Tide's 32-28 victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 1.

"It's good," was Williams' report. "Still connected to my body. The break (from practice) helped a lot."

He said the knee was sprained against Georgia, but was also "kind of sore from the season; just kind of built up over time. But it's fine."

Actually, he said, he was "lucky." He said he had moved his foot just as contact was made by a Georgia lineman. Had he not moved the foot, he said, "I probably wouldn't be standing here." Once he learned it wasn't serious, he returned to the lineup, both on offense as an up-front blocker in short yardage and at nose tackle.

"I knew I should go back and try to help out," he said.

This is Williams' second year at Bama and the Crimson Tide is playing for a second national championship, along with going for three in the past four years. The achievement is not lost on Williams.

"In the BCS era, I think this is unheard of," he said. "I'm really appreciative of the great coaching we've had to be put in the opportunity to go back-to-back."

Williams is also aware that Alabama has a record of 1-5 against the Fighting Irish.

"I think if the results of previous games affected this game, we'd be in trouble," he said. "I don't really concentrate on that. I pretty much go out there and try to play football like we know how."

Williams said the hardest thing about having five weeks between the SEC Championship Game and the BCS National Championship Game is "trying to ignore everything media-wise. There's not really too much going on, so they are trying to put everything on the media, trying to find stories for the game. So we're trying to ignore all that, trying to get our minds right.

"There's a time to relax, and we did that for a couple of days. Now we have to come back to practice and we have to lock in again. We have to manage our time wisely and be safe and not do silly stuff."

His primary method of avoiding the hype?

"I barely watch TV anyway."

He also has experience in preparing for a national championship game. "We're doing the exact same thing, day for day, we did last year," he said. "We had a break to help us recuperate physically and mentally. Once we came back, the coaches really do a great job of getting us mentally locked in and ready to play. The breaks we do have are short, and not long enough to let you go wandering about. The coaches do a great job and rolling through everything and getting us back in our routine.

"Everyone's going hard, trying to get better."

Williams thinks the Tide defensive front has an advantage in preparation. "The toughest games we have are the one we play every day here," he said. "I think it helps our team for our front to go against our offensive line and our offensive line to go against us every day. We try to get better from that."

There's a lot more football ahead for Williams, including possibly one more game in the state of Alabama. He has been invited to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile in late January, though he said he had not yet accepted. "I haven't dabbled in any of that yet," he said. "I'm really just trying to concentrate, like the rest of the guys, on the (BCS) game and that other stuff I'll sort out after the game."

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