They say the most important statistic for a quarterback is wins, starting in Indiana Dexter Williams II led IU to a 39-31 away win in double overtime against the Michigan State Spartans.
Williams said there was no way he could have led the team to victory if his teammates hadn’t rallied around him.
“This team is very resilient,” said William. “These guys never gave up. They knew it was my first start and they gave me what they had and I really appreciate this team. I couldn’t have done it without these guys.”
Head coach Tom Allen said after Williams had a tough second quarter, there was some consideration of changing quarterbacks, but after a good start to the second half, they decided to stay with Williams.
“To be honest, I thought he got a little muddled in the second quarter, but you know what, you only learn how to deal with situations like this when you go through them,” Allen said. “What I told him was to relax and just be yourself. Obviously he lacks experience and so you don’t get it other than doing it. We just stayed the course and kind of waited to see how things would start in the second half to see if we thought about making a change there just to get us back on track if we did for that felt necessary. Then we started to get it going. It’s all about having a feel for the game and I think he had a great feel for it. I just told him to be you, and whatever that is, he’s got some key first downs with his legs when protection may have broken down.
While Williams didn’t do much through the air, he did prove dangerous for the Hoosiers with his legs. The Georgia native rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown with 16 carries. Allen said bringing Williams into the running game is a big key to IU’s offense.
“Obviously the quarterback runs are a big part of what we wanted to do,” Allen said. “I just felt like that was going to give us a chance to lead football and honestly we knew we had to do it. We just knew we had to play football against these guys with these conditions and the way they were going to play the game on both sides, so that was the plan. I’m just really proud of our coaching staff and our guys for running.”
Not only could Williams play with his feet, but so could the running backs, who got playing time. The Hoosiers finished the game with a season-high 257 yards and 44 carries. Shaun Shivers was Williams’ biggest beneficiary as quarterback when he rushed for a team for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s important because the guys are going to be scared of him and that’s going to give us more lanes as running backs,” Shivers said of how much having Williams in the QB helps the running game for IU. “It could be any game and as soon as they see him they don’t know if he’s going to pass the ball or run. I think that’s a big part of our offense.”
Freshman Jaylin Lucas said he could see a difference in how Michigan State’s defensive line defended it with Williams as quarterback.
“Dex really opens the run for us,” Lucas said of Williams. “A lot of the D-Linemen get a key to Dex, and going to him really opens the gap.”
Though Williams completed only two passes that day, one of those two was a crucial throw in the second overtime when he hit the tight end of AJ Barner for a 24-yard gain that gave Indiana a 1st and a goal from MSU One Yard Line. Williams said he knew there was going to be a game where he would have to make a big throw and he just wanted to come through for his teammates.
“Just knowing what this team is asking of me,” he said of the key second overtime pass that led to the winner. “I knew I had to come back. I knew they needed me to push the ball down the field at some point in that game. We knew the weather was coming and we knew it was going to be a little rough, but we knew we had to throw the ball at some point. Just when that moment came our offensive line did a perfect job of protecting me and we got the ball down the field.”