Michigan State Football: Anthony Williams Jr. can help form solid 1-2 punch

Anthony Williams Jr., Michigan State football (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Anthony Williams Jr., Michigan State football (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

After a quiet freshman season with Michigan State football, Anthony Williams Jr. could help form the solid 1-2 punch that the offense needs.

Michigan State’s backfield was at a disadvantage a season ago. The offensive line wasn’t opening running lanes and the depth at the running back position deteriorated with the departures of La’Darius Jefferson, Weston Bridges (who could have moved back to running back) and Connor Heyward, who has since returned.

The backfield was three freshman, led by Elijah Collins.

Collins ended up having a breakout season, rushing for just shy of 1,000 yards but his offensive line did him no favors as he averaged less than five yards per carry. With a serviceable offensive line, he would have easily broken the 1,000-yard mark and would be somewhere around the 5.5 yards per carry mark.

Another player who would have benefitted from a coach like Chris Kapilovic leading the offensive line would have been Anthony Williams Jr., a freshman thrust into that RB2 role.

Forming a solid 1-2 punch for Michigan State football

In his first year, Williams Jr. finished with just 118 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries, but it was obvious from the get-go that he had the potential to be a shifty back capable of putting up big numbers in the offense. He has the speed and elusiveness to be a star.

Williams Jr. got the touches, but whenever he was in, it seemed like the line got blown off the ball and he suffered a number of carries for negative yardage. That shouldn’t be the case in 2020.

Collins will be the clear No. 1 back heading into the season but Williams Jr. should be the second option. While Heyward is back, the staff could utilize him as a utility player who plays in the slot, the backfield, at fullback and just all over the place. He’s an athlete so he’ll find a spot and excel wherever he goes.

As for Williams Jr., he has the ability to be a nice 500-yard rusher behind Collins and if Elijah can surpass 1,000 yards on the season and Anthony can reach 500-600, the run game will be deemed an overwhelming success.

The pieces are in place, the coaching staff is right and the backs have the potential to form a solid one-two punch the likes we haven’t seen in East Lansing since Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker.

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