Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams doesn’t hold back. He’s the best stiff arm player in the business.
“There is literally tape of me throwing kids out of the end zone,” Williams said of his younger days playing running back. “I swear I’ve been doing it since I started playing. That’s why it’s so personal to me because I haven’t seen anybody laying a stiff arm as consistently as I do. That’s always been in my game, my bag, my repertoire.”
On the most spectacular run of his career, Williams stiff-armed North Carolina linebacker Tomon Fox on a cutback in the backfield on his 91-yard touchdown run. That quick lunge with his right arm that landed on Fox’s chest under his face mask allowed Williams just enough room to hit the corner and break free for the touchdown.
There is nothing like a well-timed stiff arm for Williams.
“If you throw it too early, it gets swatted down,” he explained. “If you throw it too late, there is no way you can get the (defender off you). Knowing when to throw it and then just feeling the leverage of it happening … I don’t know. I’m telling you, it just comes so naturally.”
A good stiff arm, according to Williams, is unstoppable.
“If I get you on your head, you are done,” Williams said. “You are not getting up off the ground.”
Williams can only remember one time when a good stiff arm failed. Last year, a Louisville defensive player swatted away his stiff arm like it was a fly that was buzzing around his head.
“He just knocked it down,” Williams said. “It was like, ‘How did he just do that?’ That’s about it though.”
Williams said that he’d still rather make a defender “miss and look crazy” than use his stiff arm.
The junior running back should have plenty of chances to do both on Saturday when Notre Dame (10-1) plays Stanford (3-8). The Cardinal have not defended the run well, giving up an average of 241.7 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 127th out of 130 FBS teams. It could be a feast for the offensive line and Williams.
“It would be huge,” he said if the team was able to run for big numbers against Stanford to end the regular season. “It just gives us confidence going into the postseason. It’s exactly what we need to end the season with a big old stamp and let everyone know we aren’t here to play.”
Williams has had a stellar second half of the season. He’s averaging 6.3 yards per carry since the USC game and has rushed for 558 yards, which is 111 yards per game.
Williams is likely taking his stiff arm to the NFL after the season, though he said he’s not thinking about that now.
“I really haven’t put much thought into that,” he said. “It’s going to sound like a cliche but we still got Stanford. It really is true, I don’t like to think about the future because I start thinking about it and worrying about it too much. I know there is a possibility for me to go to the NFL this year and I know that’s obviously my dream.”
Williams said he has to keep playing well with what’s left of the season for his NFL suitors.
“I know what comes with the NFL is work I do now and the work I put on film,” he said. “I know if I have bad games, the likely hood of me leaving is not likely so I’m focused on doing what I have to do to be the best version of me and to be the best teammate I can be.”
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