Zach Williams shines for Hogs

By Otis Kirk
on 2022-09-21 05:04 AM

FAYETTEVILLE — Senior defensive end Zach Williams is having an outstanding season as the No. 10 Razorbacks are off to a 3-0 start.

In a 38-27 victory over Missouri State, Williams had five tackles, two for loss, a pair of sacks and a quarterback hurry. For the season, Williams has eight tackles, three solo, 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries. Following Tuesday’s practice, Williams talked about what has led to his improved play in 2022 and also about the Texas A&M line this week.

“I did put in some work over the summer, so of course I wanted to showcase my abilities,” Williams said. “I’m going to keep trying to perform, not only for myself, but for everybody else. My family and fans, everybody. 

“Texas A&M, they’re big, they’re strong [on the line]. The tight ends, the same way. We’re going to have to really fight them. It’s going to be a 1-on-1 battle for every snap. I give them their respect, because from what I’ve seen, they’re pretty good.”

Arkansas’ left tackle goes against Williams some in practice and has seen the improvement.

“It’s great to go against him every day because he’s a really good player,” Jones said. “He’s got great length and great speed. It’s a good opportunity for me to get to go against him on the edge. He looks like a beast now. He’s a real SEC defensive end. It’s a good opportunity to get to go against him.”

Prior to this season, Williams had played in 31 games with 14 starts. He had 57 tackles, 22 solo, seven for loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two quarterback hurries. He is just one sack shy of matching his career total as the Hogs head into fourth game of season. What has led to the improvement?

“Really, just competition. Iron sharpens iron,” Williams said. “The way we’re in practice everybody’s fighting for a spot, fighting for a job. I mean, you’re not going to just roll over and let somebody take your spot. We support each other 100%, love each other, but you know iron sharpens iron. So I feel like with these new people that came in, they really helped push me more than I think last year because they’re really good. They make a lot of plays too.”

Williams mentioned Jordan Domineck and the other competition he’s talking about.

“Him, Landon Jackson, Drew Sanders even,” Williams said. “He’s not even a D-lineman. So you know they really help push people and I really like that about them.”

Williams was asked if he expected to have this kind of start as far as sacks in 2022?

“I think so, yes,” Williams said. “Because I feel like I put in the work in the summer and I really emphasized on that and I wanted to show people what I’ve been doing over that time.”

Another thing that has probably helped Williams this season is his weight. He’s listed at 261 on the roster.

“I mean I’ll gain and lose a couple of pounds throughout the whole week but usually I’m around 260,” Williams said. “But last year I was probably 240. Something like that.”

Williams’ father, Rickey who was a great linebacker for the Hogs, tries to help Williams with his weight.

“My father,” Williams said. “‘Cause he finds a lot of people to help me with that, and I just drink these type of shakes that are like 1,400 calories, and I drink ’em at night. I drink two on the weekends, maybe just one before bed on the weekdays.”

Williams’ father was All-SWC and has talked to Zach about the A&M series.

“My dad, he’s very passionate about everything, so it’s kind of hard to sift through what he’s most passionate about,” Williams said. “So yes, he has talked to me about the Aggies and why it’s a big deal, but he also talked about Missouri State, Cincinnati. So, I get a little lecture every week about how important the next game is.”

Like Jones said earlier, linebacker Pooh Paul is amazed by how Williams is playing.

“Zach is a great player, and he a great leader, if he don’t know it or not,” Paul said. “You know, I took a lot in from guys when I first got in here, and Zach was one of the ones. Zach really sat down with me and talked, you know, he seen the way I was maneuvering and seen me struggle when I first came in, and Zach was one of the ones who actually, you know, one of the D-linemen that I talk about and actually sat me down and had a real man-to-man talk with me about what I had been doing, things I needed to improve on and things like that. If Zach doesn’t know, I really do take advice from him. I really do listen to him, you know, he’s been here long enough for me to know that he knows what he’s talking about, and just the way he plays, man. Zach is a true leader. He’s a great guy off the field, and on the field, he’s a dawg.”

Paul noticed in the heat of a very hot summer how hard Williams was working.

“Like he said, he’s been working real hard, and I can see it,” Paul said. “Even on some days in the summer, him and the other D-linemen like Jordan Domineck and Landon Jackson, they [were] staying after practice. I could see them working on bags and things like that, just working pass rush movements, so he’s been working really hard. He’s been doing great.”

Getting transfers in like Domineck, Jackson and Sanders has boosted Williams.

“Yeah, I feel like it really does, because not only are they really good at pass rushing, but they also teach people what they do and how they do it,” Williams said. “I feel like that’s something that is very important because, you know, the more people you have that are good at pass rushing, the more difference you can make on defense and in the game. So yeah, I feel like that’s a major benefit.”

Williams also gives new defensive line coach Deke Adams credit for his and the line’s success.

“Coach Adams, he’s almost the best at what he does,” Williams said. “Like, I’ve never met a coach that is as passionate, as knowledgeable as he is. He’ll chew you out, but he’ll do it from the right from the right mindset and from the right place in his heart. So I feel like that’s what people really need. And he teaches us new stuff that, like, you would never even think about. So I feel like it’s a major benefit to how we’ve been performing these last few games.”

Williams and the Hogs will take on Texas A&M at 6 p.m. on Saturday night in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will be televised on ESPN.

(Last updated: 2022-09-21 05:04 AM)