Have you ever been in such a pressure-packed situation for four quarters, like the game on Saturday?
Garrick Williams: I wouldn't call it pressure, but I think that was a game where we knew what we had to do. There were 90,000 fans, so losing was not an option. Our fans showed up. I can recall that it was record-breaking, with 31,000 students. That feeling was crazy. I've never been a part of anything like that before.
In the postgame celebration, you said it was something you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Williams: I thought that our fans were loud during the Oklahoma game. We beat the No. 8 team in Nebraska and, when the fans came on the field, I was wondering if they could do that. The whole time I've been here, that's never happened. I was so excited for everyone. I've seen other colleges do it, but I've never seen it happen here. It was so exciting.
It seems like you guys have really connected with the student body. How special has this season been because of that bond?
Williams: I think that Coach Sherman opened the door for us, and we took it upon ourselves to walk through it. I remember one night driving on Wellborn Road, I saw students camping out and it was cold and raining. I thought to myself that they do all of this just to support us. That's the biggest thing for us as a team. We talk in the locker room that we don't need to win for us. We need to do it for the people that come out and give their all every Saturday. We play the game, but they play a huge role on Saturday nights.
Did you feel like Saturday was the ultimate test, since this team prides itself on stopping the run?
Williams: That was awesome because we knew going into the game that they had a fast quarterback and two good running backs. They run the majority of the game, and we knew what we had to do. I think the thing that rolls over to us is Coach DeRuyter's mentality because he's never satisfied. We can hold a team to 1.8 yards-per-carry and he'll say that we could've held them to 1.4. I think that has rolled over to us. We have certain standards, and the run game is something that we really do emphasize. He took us from being low, and I think now we are 15th in the nation in stopping the run.
What does it say about the defensive performance when Michael Hodges can win Big 12 Player of the Week, and Trent Hunter can win national player of the week after the same game?
Williams: I think those are statements. I think that we have a lot of great players on our defense. I don't think it would be the same if we weren't all so close. In the locker room, we're always interacting with one another. You wouldn't be able to tell who the best player on the team is and who the worst player on the team is because we all interact with each other.
Talk about the physicality of the defensive line and how easy that makes things on the rest of the defense.
Williams: I'll tell you one thing: I think our defensive line has had the biggest impact of any unit on our defense. They get great push and that makes my job and Hodges' job easier. I remember last year, sometimes, it was a problem of ours. But this year every single guy is hungry for something. If one guy comes out, another can come in and do the exact same thing the other was doing. We had some problems early in the season with communication, but now we're really gelling.
Because of that push, do you feel like you have more space to work?
Williams: Yes, but that all comes with being able to talk to your players. Coaches shouldn't have to be the only ones getting on to them. Tony and I have played together since high school and, sometimes, the guard is getting on me fast, and so I tell him and he fixes it. It's a feeling that I can't really explain.
How important is Steven Campbell to stopping the run?
Williams: Steven is a huge part of this defense. If people don't know of him now, they will next year. He's one of the fastest players on our team and the hardest hitter on the team. He's been held back a little because of the injury. He's a fanatical athlete that can do so many things. He can cover and come down hill and stop the run. Those hard-hitting, fast safeties don't really come around a lot. I think he's one of them and he's going to be a really good player for us.
Talk about Cyrus Gray and this run that he's on down the stretch.
Williams: I've seen Cyrus like this before. In high school, I remember him scoring five touchdowns and rushing for something like 300 yards. I've always known that Cyrus was capable of doing what he's doing. It was just him needing to get carries and proving what he can do with the ball. I've sat down and talked to Cyrus about things, and told him that he knows what we have to do. He talks to me in games and tells me, 'We need a stop.' Him being like my brother, it's like he's depending on me and I feel obligated to do [my job]. That's what drives me, and I can say the same for him.
What is it about Cyrus as a runner that makes him so much better as the game goes on?
Williams: Early in the season, someone asked me what the difference was between Cyrus and Christine Michael? I told him that Christine is more like LeBron James. He gets all the dunks. But Cyrus is like Kobe Bryant. He's more of a fundamental player. Him being so fast and quick, he can make a cut on a dime. On Saturday, he made a cut and I was like, 'How did he do that?' That all goes back to the summer and all of the hard work that he put in [to become a better all-around player]. That's the type of guy that he is.
How are you guys feeling from a physical standpoint going into a short week?
Williams: I think we're so caught up in the excitement that we know what we need to do. We're not looking at Texas like, 'Dang, we have Texas ... here we go again.' Texas is a great team that you shouldn't overlook by any means, but right now we have a different mindset. I could say the same thing about Oklahoma and Nebraska. We weren't in the locker room saying, 'Dang, we're about to play Oklahoma.' They're just another team that's in our way.
Finally, it seems like you guys are more focused on the big picture and the next task at hand.
Williams: Exactly. Coach Sherman does everything in his power to instill in us that these guys are in our way of accomplishing something that we want to do. I think we'll just take it from there.