Williams finally strikes Heisman pose
Posted: Saturday January 02, 1999 12:42 AM
DALLAS (AP) -- With everything Texas running back Ricky Williams accomplished this award-winning season and through his record-shattering career, there was one thing he hadn't done -- strike the Heisman Trophy pose.
Williams celebrated his 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of the Longhorns' 38-11 victory over Mississippi State in the Cotton Bowl by mimicking the trophy he took home last month.
"It was something the guys have been trying to get me to do all year. I didn't want to do it until I won the trophy," said Williams, who gave a Heisman-caliber performance with 30 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns and five receptions for 45 yards. He was named the game's offensive most valuable player.
As the leading scorer in Division I-A history, Williams has had plenty of chances to show off in the end zone. Instead, he usually handed the ball to officials and quietly returned to the sidelines.
Not this time.
In his first trip to the end zone since winning the Heisman, Williams tucked the ball under his left arm, curled his right leg and stiff-armed an imaginary defender with his right arm. He didn't hold it long, but he didn't have to.
It was the first time Williams struck the pose in public since doing it at a baseball card photo shoot the summer before his freshman year. Embarrassed that it ended up on the card, Williams tried buying as many as he could and vowed to never do it again.
The timing was right Friday. It came after a long run -- what would be his longest of the day -- and it put Texas up 21-3 with 12:34 left in the third quarter.
"We had a big enough lead that a penalty [for celebrating] wouldn't hurt us," said Williams. The move cost Texas 15 yards and Williams returned to his low-key routine when he scored again about 10 minutes later to put the Longhorns (9-3) up 31-3.
Mississippi State (8-5) held Williams to 75 yards on 15 carries in the first half, but two long touchdown passes from Major Applewhite to Wane McGarity gave Texas a 14-3 lead.
From Williams' first carry of the third quarter -- a 5-yard burst up the middle -- it was evident that he had fresher legs than his pursuers.
On his next carry, Williams went around the left side of the line and darted virtually untouched for the 37-yard touchdown.
"We had [blitzed] all the gaps and we didn't stay in the outside gap," Bulldogs coach Jackie Sherrill said.
Linebacker Barrin Simpson said the way Texas' offensive line handled the blitz in the second half helped spring Williams.
"In the first half, I feel we did a pretty good job defensing the run," said Simpson, who led MSU with 10 tackles. "In the second half, we just didn't execute on blitzes and with a great back like Ricky, you can't make many mistakes."
Williams left the game with 4:30 left following a 13-yard run. He got a big ovation from the pro-Texas crowd of 72,611, many of whom chanted his name.
Williams became the seventh Heisman winner to play in the Cotton Bowl the season he won the award, but just the third to be on the winning side. He joined the late Doak Walker as the only players to win the Heisman and be named Cotton Bowl MVP the same season.
Williams befriended Walker before the former Southern Methodist star died in September and has worn a No. 37 sticker on his helmet since then as a tribute. Williams wore No. 37 the last time he played in the stadium known as "The House That Doak Built," but didn't this time because he didn't want to cheapen the original gesture.
Fittingly, Williams' long touchdown was 37 yards -- something he pointed out to reporters. Both 37-yard lines had large red circles with 37 painted in white in memory of Walker, who would've turned 72 Friday.
"Personally, I wanted to have a great game and give him a great birthday present," Williams said. "I'm happy I was able to do that."
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