Williams, the 6-4, 240-pound juco transfer from City College of San Francisco, saw limited action at linebacker last Saturday against UAB in Game 2. In an effort to get him more playing time, he'll be playing end this weekend in Game 3 vs. Florida.
“We're going to play Gerald Williams at end, which will help our depth there,” head coach Phillip Fulmer confirmed. “He can give us some things as a pass rusher, then he'll be back at linebacker in the spring.”
Williams made his desire to play linebacker quite clear when he signed with UT last February. So how does he feel about this switch?
“He's fine with it,” Fulmer said. “He wants to get on the field.”
Defensive coordinator John Chavis believes the switch of Williams will solve two problems: One, it will get Williams more playing time. Two, it will bolster an end corps that is lacking in depth.
Noting that Williams will “probably play considerably more than he did last week,” Chavis added: “We're going to play him at defensive end. He's a good enough player and we think we can get him on the field quicker, particularly with the offenses we're going to see the next couple of weeks.
“Obviously, he gives us an opportunity to create some depth upfront and get a guy we think is going to be a good football player on the field.”
Because Florida has so much perimeter speed, Chavis feels compelled to upgrade Tennessee's depth at end. Still, he is pleased with the play of starters Robert Ayers and Wes Brown, and is thrilled with the sudden emergence of sophomore Chris Walker.
“What Walker got done at defensive end (vs. UAB) was really, really good,” the coordinator said. “He's playing really well for us. He's a guy upfront who can give us some big plays.
“If you're looking for one bright spot, Walker has given us some outstanding play. He and Ben Martin (another sophomore end) were in there the second series, and we were real happy with what they got done.”
In another move designed to help combat Florida's incredible team speed, the coordinator suggested that Tennessee may replace one linebacker with an extra defensive back and essentially play a nickel defense most of the game.
“We may not be playing but two linebackers,” he said. “We may play three or it may be just two.”