In The Huddle With ... Associate Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Tom Williams

Oct. 22, 2004

This is the ninth installment of a weekly column that takes you inside the minds of Stanford's assistant football coaches. Each week we will converse with an assistant coach to provide an inside look at a particular area of the team. This week we begin our second round of conversations with coaches as we sit down with associate head coach Tom Williams, who is responsible for the team's linebackers.

by Janelle Kwietkauski

JK: Can you talk about the play of the linebackers so far this season as a group?

TW: I think our experience has really shown that the players are more confident in what they are able to do. We have made fewer mental mistakes than we have in the past. I think that speaks to maturity and experience. The guys are all playing well, and I'm happy with where we are right now.

JK: Can you comment on the play of Kevin Schimmelmann, who leads the team in tackles?

TW: Kevin moved to safety a couple of springs ago. I've wanted to coach him for a while because I saw his full potential as a linebacker. I thought he would end up being a bigger guy than he was at the time. With his speed and size I thought he would be a great addition to the linebacker corps. He has not disappointed. He has taken to the position like a fish to water. It has been really great to see him blossom into the player he has become. I'd say he is our most consistent player. With his speed and athleticism, he brings a great dimension to the linebacking corps. I'm very happy to have him. I think he has nothing but great days ahead of him. I think he has the potential to be an NFL prospect.

JK: Can you comment on the play of Jared Newberry, who leads the team in tackles for loss?

TW: Jared usually plays outside linebacker but he also plays a little bit of inside linebacker in substitution packages. Jared has always had big play potential. He has been a consistent player for us for three years now. He has a knack for finding the football. His position as an outside linebacker gives him the opportunity to make a lot of tackles for loss. With his maturity and his experience, I think he has elevated his game. I think he also has a chance to play on Sunday.

JK: Can you talk about the play of David Bergeron who is first on the team in assisted tackles?

TW: David is another older guy. He is the heart and soul of our defense. He is our signal caller. He is the guy that makes checks and adjustments. The other players really trust and listen to him. He is very charismatic and has outstanding leadership qualities. He is really a tough, hard-nosed football player. I think he is the glue to our defense. He has an instinctive nose for the football and gets to the ball with a nasty attitude. He is a prototypical, old school, throwback linebacker. He is just a very productive player, and I'm glad that we have him.

JK: Jon Alston joined the starting lineup this year and leads the team in sacks. Can you comment on his play and what his addition to the starting lineup has meant to the team?

TW: Jon brings tremendous speed to the outside linebacker position. One of the reasons we went to a 3-4 defense was to get Jon on the field as a full-time player. We wanted to give him the opportunity to make more plays for us. He has not disappointed. He is unusually gifted in terms of speed and quickness. Offensive tackles and running backs are at a disadvantage because he is fast enough to run around the tackles and strong enough to pass rush against running backs. He is a tough matchup for offensive players. His ability to chase the football with his 4.4 speed and that gives him the opportunity to make a lot of plays on the field. He has done everything that we had envisioned so far.

JK: Stanford is playing Oregon this Saturday. What are your expectations for the game?

TW: It's going to be a tough game. All of the Pac-10 games are tough. There is a lot of parity in college football and certainly in the Pac-10 conference. Oregon has struggled early in the season, but they seem to be finding their groove as the middle of the season comes around. They came back two weeks ago against Washington State for a big win and they beat Arizona last week at home. They are feeling confident about themselves. We expect another tough contest. I'm glad that we are playing at home instead of in Autzen Stadium. I think it will be another tight game, and it will come down to the team that turns the ball over the fewest amount of times.

JK: This week Stanford has its homecoming week. How does that make this week special to the team?

TW: Homecoming, to me, always conjures up the image of all the older players that played here at Stanford coming back to see how the new team is doing. I know that our players are cognizant of the history of Stanford football and of all of the great players that have come before them. I think it will add another element of excitement to them coming into Stanford Stadium. We expect a good crowd on Saturday. I think homecoming heightens the excitement of the atmosphere around Stanford University.

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