USC sophomore defensive lineman Leonard Williams missed last Saturday’s win over the Cal Golden Bears due to a nagging shoulder injury that held him out of practice all last week. This week, it’s looking to be a different story for the 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, as interim head coach Ed Orgeron told the media on Tuesday afternoon that he expects Williams to play against No. 5 Stanford.
Orgeron said Leonard Williams’ shoulder is “very sore, but I do believe he’s going to play” vs. Stanford
— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) November 13, 2013
Williams has been a stalwart in the USC defensive front since he arrived on campus last summer, and has improved in his first year under new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s multiple defense. Through nine games, Williams has tallied 55 total tackles, four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. As a freshman, Williams had 64 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss in 13 games, to go with eight sacks.
Against the pass-happy Cal Bears, the Trojans primarily used a defensive front of Devon Kennard and J.R. Tavai has stand-up ends, with Antwaun Woods and George Uko as interior linemen, allowing the secondary to play in a nickel with Dion Bailey. That enabled Orgeron to be more cautious with Williams than normal, and give him a week off before the biggest game of the year.
This week against Stanford, the Trojans will likely lose the nickel package, and use Williams as an interior lineman for a five-man front, with Bailey and Su’a Cravens playing as tandem safeties.