It's tough to sit and watch the battles between the offensive and defensive line when you are watching a football game. Yes, more often than not - the battles that are won and lost in the trenches decides the outcome, but still easy to get caught watching the football.
One of the prime match-ups to watch today will by on the line of scrimmage where Eastern's All-American defensive tackle and South Kitsap grad Renard Williams will go up against the UW offensive line, particularly guards Colin Tanigawa and Colin Porter.
Not familiar with Williams? Believe me, UW coaches and players have gotten themselves familiar with him. He's 6-foot-3, 300 pounds and by all accounts he's a Pac 12 level player.
"He's as good as there is on the entire West Coast, " said WSU head coach Paul Wulff, who recruited Williams to Eastern.
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Despite being 300 pounds, closer to 305 now, Williams ran a 4.8 40-yard dash this spring. And he uses that speed to often just blow by blockers.
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Montana head coach and long time Pac 10 assistant Robin Pflugrad watched Williams drill his quarterback, force a fumble and scoop it up and run away from two pursuers for a touchdown last season, sealing a win for the Eagles.
"He plays every play like it’s his last play," Pflugrad said. "He was very disruptive in the fourth quarter against us. We were trying to do some things to make him tired, it was getting close, but he had an extra. He plays with a great heart. He really dug down and played hard with the game on the line."
His teammates marvel at his ability.
"Renard, he has been talked about a lot – and for good reason," said Eastern's all-conference linebacker Matt Johnson. "I've never seen a guy that big and athletic."
Usually you see much of the pressure on the quarterback coming from the outside. But Williams gets pressure right up the middle. The Eagles like to find ways to get him matched up against guards. At 300 pounds, he's just as big, but moves so well.
Expect Eastern to try and get Williams on top of the 6-3, 297-pound Tanigawa, who will be making his first Division I start. Or they may see if Williams can use his speed to get around the 322-pound Porter, who is very physical but not as quick.
"He's a good player," Tanigawa said. "He gets off the ball quick and he has good pass rush moves."
"He’s really disruptive," head coach Steve Sarkisian said. "For a big man he’s an excellent pass rusher. He does a nice job with his spin move and using suddenness and when he gets 1 on 1 opportunities on guards he can cause havoc."
The Huskies probably will try and avoid 1-on-1 opportunities for Williams.
"I think he’s the type of guy that the back has to look for him in pass protection and in run schemes if one the other adjacent linemen can get his hands on him that will help," Pflugrad said.
Williams is an NFL player. Talking with draft guru Rob Rang on NFLdraftscout.com, he believes Williams projects as third or fourth round pick.
"He's the classic undersized defensive tackle," Rang said. "He's kind of like Craig Terrill in terms of size and playing that 'three' technique, but he's much more athletic. This is a big game for him."
So while it's not always fun to watch, pay close attention the match-up of Williams versus Tanigawa and Porter. It might go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.