ACC: Wake’s Williams making progress
By Aaron Beard
WINSTON-SALEM ó It took just one big game for Wake Forest’s Marshall Williams to move to the top of the ACC’s receiving statistics. Yet the junior sounded a little more fixated about something other than his numbers in that overtime loss.
“At the end of the day, I’d rather have that win,” Williams said. “It’s just a bittersweet feeling.”
A couple more games like his last one could help Williams and the Demon Deacons avoid too many of those outcomes.
After managing eight catches through the first three games, Williams hauled in 12 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown in a 27-24 overtime loss at Boston College. Granted, the Demon Deacons (2-2, 0-1) were playing from behind and had to throw more than coach Jim Grobe would normally like, but Williams’ performance proved the team has a bona fide downfield threat that can ease the pressure on senior quarterback Riley Skinner.
That could be particularly important this weekend against N.C. State, which boasts one of the nation’s top defenses statistically.
“The biggest difference that enabled me to have the type of game I had was Riley having the time to find me in open spaces,” Williams said. “A lot of those games before, I might be coming open late and he might be flushed out of the pocket. But this time, he had the opportunity to see me. It was just a great reflection on the coaching staff to see weaknesses in their defense that allowed me to get as open as I did.”
That one performance lifted Williams into a tie for the ACC lead in receptions per game while putting him in third in receiving yardage (82.2 per game). He had just six catches for 56 yards in the first two games, then had an 80-yard touchdown catch in an easy win against Elon.
He also had a mixed bag in last year’s 21-17 loss to the Wolfpack. He caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from D.J. Boldin on a reverse but couldn’t haul in what would have been the winning score in the final minute.
Regardless, Williams is giving Grobe reason to consider a few more shots downfield.
“He’s got to be a better blocker for us, and he wants to be,” Grobe said. “He’s really developing into a nice receiver. If we can get him to couple the route running and pass-catching ability with being a little bit better blocker, I think he can really do some nice things for us down the stretch.”