Jonah Williams was an anomaly. Sure, he enrolled early; and sure, he was a five star recruit. Still, Cam Robinson was the only true freshman to start on the offensive line for Nick Saban at Alabama.
Now Robinson isn’t the only one.
Williams seized the job and ran with it. He started all 15 games, earning Freshman SEC and All-American honors along the way. I broke down his A Day game for the Film Room just before the season started, and it’s nice to see how far he came from the spring game to the national championship.
2nd and 1: Williams has Hale Hentges and O.J. Howard to his right. ArDarius Stewart goes in motion, but Hurts hands off to Damien Harris. Williams is a little slow out of his stance, but he makes up for it with power. He smashes into DE Porter Gustin; and, with a little help from Hentges, he drives Gustin back five yards and takes him out of the play.
2nd and 8: Bama’s in the pistol with everybody’s favorite 11 personnel. Miller Forristall is in at tight end on the left. Robert Foster - one of his rare appearances - motions from right to left, but that’s just window dressing. This is a simple inside zone for Josh Jacobs. The motion cleared the right side, leaving just the safety if Jacobs gets by the front seven. And he does thanks to some excellent blocking. Williams steps to his right and engages the defensive end. He turns the defender and walls him out, doing his part to open a lane. Jacobs cuts, hits the hole, and he’s off to the races, getting stopped just short of the goalline.
2nd and 3: Williams has O.J. Howard to his right on the line, and Miller Forristall is at H-back on the right. They leave Montravius Adams unblocked, and Williams shoots up to the second level. He crashes into the middle linebacker and blocks his pursuit of Damien Harris. He wins and manages to turn himself in between the linebacker and where Harris is. Solid technique, good footwork, and nice athleticism are all on display.
1st and 10: Alabama busts out the inverted veer here. The Washington outside linebacker, Benning Potoa’e, is left unblocked; and Hurts has the option to keep it inside or hand it off to Bo Scarbrough on a sweep, depending on what Potoa’e does. Potoa’e stays outside, playing Scarbrough; so Hurts pulls it and sprints through the hole. Williams blocks down on the defensive end, joining Korren Kirven for the double team. Potoa’e makes a good play, recovering and tripping Hurts up; but it’s still a five yard gain on first down.
3rd and 9: It’s Williams’ fourth play of the season. USC is showing blitz with six defenders crowded along the line, and the nickel is threatening as well. Williams kicks out to pick up the nickel back, but he doesn’t get far enough outside. The defender gets by him and makes a dash for Blake Barnett. However, even if Williams had blocked him; Bradley Bozeman and Damien Harris let a rusher by as well.
1st and 10: Arkansas has three down linemen and the undersized but speedy Randy Ramsey rushing from a standing up position on their left. He tries a speed rush to the outside. Williams has to hustle after his initial kick slide, but he meets Ramsey and prevents him from turning the corner.
2nd and 10: Williams is matched up against DE Lewis Neal here. It’s playaction, and Williams steps up to engage. He does a good job of getting his hands in Neal’s chest; and he stays upright, not leaning forward or off balance. Neal moves to the outside; Williams stays with him. Neal tries to rip off a spin move, but Williams stays with him. Had Hurts not been throwing, Williams was in great position to continue shutting Neal down. He doesn’t waste a footstep during this exchange. Also, what a catch by Trevon Diggs.
1st and 10: Williams is going against Mississippi State’s leading sacker Jonathan Calvin (7 sacks in 2016, 0 against Alabama). Williams just dominates. He controls the block as Calvin tries to go outside; he controls the block as Calvin tries to counter and go inside. Hurts has to dump it off to Harris after Ross Pierschbacher got driven all the way into his lap. Harris takes off downfield, and Williams jogs down too. Harris hits the brakes and jukes the heck out of two Bulldogs and keeps going. Williams sees this and immediately starts looking for someone else to block. Harris gets tackled, but I just love the hustle and attitude from Williams here.