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September 3, 2008

Q&A with Derrick Williams

Penn State senior wide receiver Derrick Williams sat down for a teleconference with the media yesterday.

After a strong performance on Saturday afternoon against Coastal Carolina, Williams discusses his goals for the rest of the season, what to expect in the Oregon State game, and more!





*** Transcript ***




Do you feel like there's anything you could have improved upon on Saturday?

After looking at some film, there's some routes that we could have run better. We still made little mistakes like some blocks and everything like that. There's definitely things that we can improve upon. One thing that Joe tells us is the most improvement of a team is going to come between week one and week two because you just gotta go out there... I think there's still a lot we can improve upon.

What does it mean to hear from your head coach that he's going to make sure you get your opportunities to make plays?

Really, to me it just means all my work has paid off. I showed it in practice. I'm just trying to make plays whenever I can. Most of the plays are going to come from what you see in practice. When we go against our defense, I just try my best to help our offense out. That's just going to carry over into the game.

Are you looking forward to having a better test this weekend?

Most definitely. Oregon State has a great team. We started watching film on them. I had a chance to watch a little bit of their game against Stanford. They have some great players and it's definitely going to be an uphill battle for us. But, I think that the guys and myself are very prepared and we're ready for a challenge like what I know that they're going to give us.

Oregon State had trouble stopping the run last week. If that's something that works throughout the game, is it OK to be a one-dimensional team when you have all these weapons if that one dimension is working so well?

That's just something that's going to have to be decided on the game film. If it was up to me, if they can't be stopped, then I'm going to keep doing it because I want to leave with that victory. To me, that's just common sense. If a team can't stop something, I'm going to keep on doing what they can't stop and not try to get too open with it if I can run one play and get good yards from it and have a good game from just running that play.

What has stood out to you so far about Oregon State's defense?

They have a very fast defense. A lot of talent. They have some good corners, a good secondary. Their up-front guys are all new besides their two D-ends, they didn't start but they had a lot of playing time. It's just going to be a good battle for us because they have a good secondary, they have some experience there and they have a great team.

What are one or two things you've learned from Jordan and Deon that have helped make you a better player?

We just sit back and we just watch each other and watch other people before us. We watch some of the great people like Jerry Rice and everything like that. We might look at film and I might ask them, would you have done the same thing that I just did on that or was I wrong for doing that? We're pretty honest with each other and we try to help each other out as best as we can.

When you watch a game like Oregon State vs. Stanford, are you rooting for or against Oregon State? Do you care?

For me, I want every team that we play to win their games because if we come out with a victory, it just means that we're doing something right and that we have a pretty good team.

Would you say you feel a lot more urgency now as a senior? How different are you?

To me, I just feel like I'm a little more mature. I'm just taking this whole thing like a job, just going out there and trying to get the best team that we can have. With urgency, yeah, I feel a little bit more urgency of just having a good season. With the team, we really look forward to playing in the championship, winning the Big Ten. We really want to do some big things this year.

Did you work particularly on personal speed work this past year?

I've just been doing what I've usually been doing working with the speed and conditioning coach. Every year that I've been here, I've improved a little bit more than when I came in with getting stronger and faster. All of the credit goes to the speed and conditioning coach.

Was there anything different you did?

No, I didn't do anything too much different. THe workouts that I did with my speed and conditioning coach were workouts that everybody on our team did. In my own time, I work on routes and different things. A lot of my time was dedicated to the new quarterbacks that we had, trying to develop timing and everything like that on different routes. That was our main focus this off-season. Everything else was just the way it's been.

Does coach Paterno's saying about the importance of improving between last week and this week put more pressure on practice and heighten everyone's sense of urgency this week?

I don't think that it puts more pressure on this week. I just think that everybody is trying to get better out here. We know that we're going to face a tough team as we did last week. But, we're in for more of a challenge. They have great players and everything like that. When we get out there, we definitely work harder because we don't want to let anything get in the way of what our main focus is on.

What are your personal expectations for this year and how important was it to get off to the start you just did on Saturday toward reaching those personal goals?

My personal goals are to win in the Big Ten. We know that we have a tough schedule and week in and week out, if we don't play on top of our game we can lose a game. My personal goal is to win all the games that we have and just have a successful season. As far as the team, right now, for myself, I'm just doing whatever I can do have a great season which helps my team out.

It seems like the coaches are trying to get Chaz Powell ready to fill in for you when you're gone. How much has he leaned on you in practice?

Chaz is asking a whole lot of questions when we're in practice. Sometimes I have to walk him through routes and walk him through where a gap might be or something like that. He's certainly a very good athlete and I think that he's going to do a good job when it does happen, when he gets to step in there as he did on Saturday when he had that run. He's been trying to be a student of the game and just trying to pick everything up because he was on the defensive side last year and it's totally different over on offense. He's definitely picking it up fast though.

You came in as a quarterback in high school. How long did it take you to get comfortable with everything at that position?

My freshman year when I had my injury, that's when I was getting comfortable with everything and felt I might not blow it. Cause there were definitely games my freshman year that I would go out there and run the wrong route and things like that. It's just totally different when you step out there and you're out there on that island and you have to think about what you have to do. It was definitely something I had to pick up.

A lot is being made of this being a PAC 10 team vs. a Big Ten team. Do the players think about this at all?

No, not at all I don't think. I believe that it's just two good teams playing each other. One's gotta come out with a loss, one has to come out with a victory and we want to come out on top.

Do you expect the same playing time split between Daryll and Pat at quarterback this week? What is your take on their play Saturday?

Both of those guys did a great job on Saturday for their first time being in the game. I'm really not sure what they're going to do. I believe that whatever way the coaches decide, it's going to be a good one because both of them can get the job done.

Can you talk about going up against another power conference in the PAC 10?

I just think it's going to be a better opportunity for us to evaluate ourselves. We're facing a good team and we just want to come out on top. It'll definitely kick our season off right if we can come out with a victory.

Do you think them traveling 3,000 miles is going to be a factor? Does that play a role in how a team can prepare for a game properly?

I think that their guys will be ready to play. They just came off of a loss with Stanford, a tough loss. When you look at the game, they definitely made some mistakes that easily could have been in their favor and they definitely could have won the game. I think that no matter how far they travel, they're going to be ready on Saturday.

How has Daryll changed in practice since he's been named the starter?

Daryll has been a leader since he stepped on campus. He's been a guy that when you look at him, in our freshman year, you know that special things were going to come from him. Because, all the athletic ability that he had and how much he loves the game. He's just been doing the same thing that you can see just how much more comfortable he is back there, how much more vocal he is. He's definitely going to be an all-time quarterback. He has a lot of talent and I can't wait for him to just get it going and everything like that.

You said you were preparing this year like it's a job. How is that different from what you used to do?

Winding down, I'm in my last year so I don't have such a workload with classes and everything like that. Right now, I'm taking it where I come in in the morning, watch film, do some rehab and everything like that and just get myself mentally and physically ready for what's to come on Saturday. That's what I mean by taking it as a job. Just being about football from 9-to-5 and I think that's going to pay off.

That's different from last year because of your class schedule?

Yeah. It's much lighter with the way in my senior year, like, I only have three credits to do to graduate.

How much of an advantage was it that you didn't have to show the whole offense against Coastal?

I think that it's pretty much of an advantage. There's still a lot of things we have that can help us win a game and I think that this week with the tough team that we're playing, we're going to have to open it up a little more. Try to do some things that no one has seen before in the film room or anything like that and just try to catch people off-guard.

What responsibility is it of the experience that the wideouts have to get Daryll up to speed during a game?

I think that it's going to help us a lot with Daryll but... the thing about Daryll is, he's a student of the game. Daryll, I can tell you, Daryll is going to come to us and say what he sees and tell us ways that things can help him out. He's definitely on top of his game. It's not even about us having experience over him or playing for four years. Daryll was ready to play since he got on this campus and I think that he's going to do a good job with that.

In terms of big play weapons, is this the most you've had since you've been at Penn State?

Yep. By far.

What are the advantages and disadvantages for a wide receiver when a defensive back plays off at the line of scrimmage?

I personally like when somebody comes up because I think with all of our guys, we have a lot of speed out there and we definitely can run with the best of them and run away from some of them too. So, I like when they play up. But, playing off is not too difficult either. You have to close that space up as fast as you can so you can be coming in and out of your breaks pretty good with some space because you're not going to get the ball if you're covered. You gotta make sure you get on their feet, make your move and just try to create space so the ball can get in. That's the biggest difference.

You and the wideouts taking blocking seriously. Is that just hustle and desire or is it really focusing on technique and knowing where the defensive backs are going to be when you go to block them?

I think Mike McQueary does a great job of hounding us about blocking. We have to be great blockers because it's going to come down to our blocks that spring the play. You gotta think some of the faster guys on defense are at the DB position. Once our running back hits the hole and the only people that can pretty much catch them are the secondary and we have to do our job making sure that our running backs can have that space from them to try to break a long run.

Was there a moment when you recognized this was the most weapons you have on the team?

I think right when last year's team was over with. It was definitely a sign of how many weapons we had with Daryll and Pat at quarterback plus Stephfon, Evan and Brent Carter in the backfield. Deon, Jordan, Derek Moye, Brett Brackett, myself, Chaz, A.J. Wallace, Lydell... there's so many ways that you can look at it. There's so many people on the field that are very good that can do things at any given moment.


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