Before the season started, we discussed position groups we had the most confidence in. I chose the corners due to the fact that Marcus Jones is a badass and Damarion Williams isn’t far behind.
Marcus Jones is still that same badass but Damarion Williams has stepped up and might be the #1 corner on this team. It was bound to happen with Jones focusing on WR early in the season and Williams taking more and more reps on defense. Williams is #2 on the team in tackles #1 in passes broken up. He also had a nice INT this past week against Tulsa.
He has always been a solid cover corner but this year he has taken the next step and become a complete defender. He’s reliable in defending the pass and has been an asset against the run. Currently, Pro Football Focus has him graded as the #15 cornerback in the country with a #3 grade in run defense and #1 in tackling.
Williams has become more versatile and, if necessary, can switch to safety. That allows defensive coordinator Doug Belk the opportunity to get another corner on the field. It is a huge bonus to move such a good cover guy into the safety role to better defend the middle of the field. The dude is just getting it done in every facet of the game.
Lagniappe: There are 217 corners in the country that have been targeted 16 times or more this season (Damarion has been targeted 16 times). None of those 217 have given up fewer catches than Damarion and only three have given up a lower percentage of catches vs. targets.
Here is a play from last week’s game. Tulsa wants to get this ball to the man in motion, Keylon Stokes. They’re trying to set it up so that when Damarion trails the motion and doubles back, Stokes can rub him against the slot receiver. That pick should leave Stokes isolated on a little comeback route to pick up the first down.
Damarion said hell no.
Usually, a defensive back is in such a hurry to get back to his man that he doesn’t see the pick coming. It appears Damarion did see it and stays close to the line of scrimmage to avoid the rub. Damarion fights through the traffic and stays with Stokes then reads the throw and makes the INT.
It was Damarion Williams’ second interception at Tulsa. In 2019, he had a pick-six to put UH ahead for good.
In this next play, Williams is lined up at safety and is responsible for the slot receiver. He does a nice job of picking the receiver up while following quarterback Davis Brin’s eyes. As he sees what is coming, he gets to the ball fast, swatting it away to deny the first down.
Damarion gets the breakup but he got a huge assist from the DL who pressured Brin, forcing him to side-step the rush then step up into the pocket, giving Williams time to make his read.
In a season where we have seen a number of boneheaded plays and situations from UH, we should highlight some of the smart moments, right? Facing 3rd & 8 with Tulsa driving, UH is having issues getting the right personnel on the field and in position. Normally, we would burn a timeout or risk giving up something big on a busted assignment. Luckily, Damarion was apparently hit by a sniper from the stands and went down. Way to jump in front of a bullet to save the day, Damarion!
UH fakes cramps in Tulsa.
Life can be funny sometimes. #GoCoogs
— GoCoogs.com (@gocoogs1) October 2, 2021
For a little more fun here is Damarion blowing up the Navy fullback and then shutting down the QB on the option. He would go on to finish that game with a team-leading nine solo tackles.
UH has played the softest schedule in school history up to this point but they are doing what good teams do to weak opponents. They are dominating. The Cougars are near the top of FBS in most defensive categories and Damarion Williams is playing a major role in all of that.