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BYU running back Ty’Son Williams returns to SEC country wanting ‘as many carries as it takes’ to beat reeling Tennessee

Transfer from South Carolina rushed for 47 yards in his last visit to historic and massive Neyland Stadium in 2017.

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Utah defensive back Julian Blackmon (23) makes a diving stop of BYU running back Ty’Son Williams (5) during the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

PROVO — Ty’Son Williams, BYU’s fifth-year graduate transfer running back who was with South Carolina the past two seasons, has played at some of the most historic and venerable venues in the Southeastern Conference.

He’s been between the hedges at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, rumbled just a few yards away from The Grove’s partying tailgaters at Ole Miss and watched the famed 12th Man do its thing at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. He has also played at Vanderbilt and Missouri.

The best football atmosphere in the SEC?

Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium, where Williams ran 11 times for 47 yards in a 15-9 Gamecocks victory on Oct. 14, 2017, ranks right up there, said the native of Sumter, South Carolina.

“That is one of the top venues in the country,” Williams said Tuesday as the Cougars (0-1) prepared to take on the Volunteers (0-1) this Saturday at the 102,000-seat stadium in Knoxville.

Williams, a redshirt sophomore that year, didn’t take a selfie or the like for the ol’ scrapbook, but remembers the fans weren’t at full throat because the game kicked off at noon.

“I expect a lot of fans there (Saturday). It is going to be a good time there.” — BYU running back Ty’Son Williams, on playing at Neyland Stadium

“I expect a lot of fans there (Saturday),” he said. “It is going to be a good time there.”

Last year, Williams rushed 13 times for just 34 yards against the Vols at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium, which seats around 80,000. He also had two catches for 16 yards.

Suffice it to say, the Cougars’ starting running back would like more than eight touches — seven carries, one reception — like he got in last week’s 30-12 loss to Utah. He finished with 49 total yards.

“However many it takes to win the game is what I want,” he said. “That’s how I feel. Sometimes, you may not need to run it as much. And sometimes you may have to, so I think it was just based on the game and how the game flows. I trust coach (Jeff) Grimes and coach (AJ) Steward and our whole offensive staff. We will do what it takes to win the game.”

Ty’Son Williams 2018 stats

Ty’Son Williams’ carries/yards each game last season

Sept. 1 vs. Coastal Carolina — 11 carries, 82 yards

Sept. 8 vs. Georgia — 6 carries, 26 yards

Sept. 22 at Vanderbilt — 7 carries, 48 yards

Oct. 6 vs. Missouri — 15 carries, 51 yards

Oct. 13 vs. Texas A&M — 7 carries, 48 yards

Oct. 27 vs. Tennessee — 13 carries, 34 yards

Nov. 3 at Ole Miss — 7 carries, 30 yards

Dec. 29 vs. Virginia — 4 carries, 9 yards

Note: Williams had 11 carries for 47 yards at Tennessee in 2017

Grimes said he “had a lot more plays ready to call (for Williams), that’s for sure,” but the Cougars turned the ball over three times to thwart drives and then couldn’t wrest the ball back from the Utes for long stretches in the final 30 minutes.

BYU only ran 15 plays in the second half. 

“For a first game with us, Ty’Son had a good game,” Grimes said. “We wish we could have given him more opportunities.”

Head coach Kalani Sitake referenced the same reasons — turnovers and problems getting the ball back — when asked why Williams didn’t get more chances last Thursday.

“We had what, 40 plays in first half?” Sitake said. “So if we can get 40 plays (per half), that means we are converting third downs and we are getting first downs and we are driving down the field. Then there will be more opportunities for him to get the ball.”

Sitake and Grimes said Lopini Katoa and Rice transfer Emmanuel Esukpa are healthy and ready to go and should also see some carries against Tennessee.

“So you can expect all three guys to be on the field a lot,” Sitake said.

Center James Empey said Williams not only made some outstanding plays against the Utes, he “has had great plays in fall camp” as well. 

“Everybody is talking to him about Tennessee, saying, ‘Hey, how is it over there? How do they play? What is it going to be like?’” Empey said.

Williams says he can’t speak to how the Vols will recover from last week’s stunning 38-30 loss to Georgia State.

But he does know the venue and atmosphere will be fantastic.