Whether LSU’s running back rotation will be back at full strength for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game remains to be seen.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels was in a walking boot days after last week’s 38-23 loss at Texas A&M, a game running back Josh Williams was already sidelined because of a sprained knee suffered in his team’s win Nov. 12 at Arkansas.
The No. 11 Tigers (9-3) face the No. 1 Bulldogs (12-0) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The game will be televised by CBS and broadcast locally by 98.1-FM.
“My knee’s doing better than it was last week,” Williams said during Sunday’s teleconference in advance of the SEC title game. “Last week, I started running more on the grass and the coaches wanted to hold me back and make sure they played it smart for this week. So, this week I’m feeling better. I’m progressing for this weekend.”
Williams, a former walk-on, continues to lead LSU’s running backs in rushing with 91 carries for 477 yards and six touchdowns. He’s registered a pair of 100-yard games with a career-high 118 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts coming against Arkansas.
“I’m feeling better than I did last week,” Williams said. “I’ve been progressing every day, started running last week and I’ve been doing well. I’m excited to see how well I’m progressing. I’m pretty confident that I’m going to make an appearance in the game, but I just want to just want to put it in God’s hands and see how it goes.”
Here’s what else Williams had to say:
On team’s response to Saturday’s loss at Texas A&M?
“Of course, we know last week was a letdown and we’re upset, but at the end of the day we’re going to look forward to the next game and we’re going to play that game like this or like our last game and not going to dwell on the past.”
On Coach Kelly’s process talking hold with the team?
“I would say Mississippi State. We had a few games to kind of get our warm-up and kind of understand what our process was. And I believe that going into the State game and winning that game really propelled us and we stuck to that process.”
On being able to apply those process during difficult times?
“We’re not perfect and we know some games that we’re just don’t do as well as we expect to do. But that doesn’t change our process. And that doesn’t change our mindset going into the next week. Just because it doesn’t look good for one game doesn’t mean it can’t look good the next game, so we go into it with a positive mindset. And we look for it.”
Examples of Coach Kelly’s process you’ve found helpful?
“I would say firstly, SWAT teams. We have teams and their SWAT leaders and basically, we play all our like weightlifting sessions and we kind of add those together, to see was the highest score at the end of the week. So that was new and effective. I feel like we also did we have to do a survey of telling the strength staff how much sleep you got, how sore we are, how many hours of sleep, how many meals we ate. I believe that that gives us discipline because sometimes you may forget.
“I would say the format of practice, fast paced three-to-five-minute periods rather than longer periods. So, we’re always running around the field and everything’s a transition. Everything’s movement and organized chaos.”
Thinking back to the summer, did you believe team would be in this position?
“If you would have asked me that back in December last year, then I would have been surprised but for now. I’m not really surprised because I know all the work that we put in. I know the work that we put in as a team and looking back on it, I believe we deserve to be here. We put in the time and effort, and we incorporate a lot of discipline aspects to the team, and I believe that it’s paid off.”
Would have you have believed even after the loss to Tennessee?
“I think by the Tennessee game, we as a team already adopted our process Coach Kelly implemented. So, we didn’t let Tennessee give us any negative thoughts. We know that we just had a bad game, and we just had a few unfortunate plays that made the game look a certain way. That we could have been in the game, and we knew where our mistakes were. So, we weren’t thinking negatively as a team, and we just looked at the film and corrected the mistakes going into the next week. We really focused harder than next weekend.”
What does this opportunity mean to the team?
“I think it means a lot for LSU that we’re competing for LSU title for the SEC title because like I previously said earlier that we had an upsetting season last year with a coaching change and everybody just giving us no credit or no. They had no expectations for the season. So just for us to turn it all the way around and actually get to the SEC Championship is a big for the school and it’s good for the football program and recruiting, so we’re excited.”
Will playoff expansion devalue conference championship games?
“I’m sure the College Football Playoff committee would have ensured some rules that can make it fair, but I think it’d be a good chance giving more teams the opportunity to compete that lost earlier in the season because there are more upsets. The only thing in my case, I was wondering how they would make it how many games you’re going to play if they had to add any games that way. But I think it would be up it would be pretty cool if they added it like that.”