East Lansing — RJ Williamson might have been the happiest man in the Skandalaris Football center on Friday afternoon following Michigan State’s last Cotton Bowl practice before its Christmas break.
Williamson — who hasn’t played in 11 weeks since suffering a torn biceps against Purdue — has been medically cleared to play and now that his pain is behind him, only anticipation is in front of him.
“It feels good. Right now, we’re just trying to strengthen it up more and more but as far as pain and everything like that, I think I’m 100 percent free from all of that,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting my conditioning down, but I feel good.”
The secondary was the problem spot of the defense to open the season, and when the senior — the only player in the secondary with starting experience — went down, the worries went up.
But, after some trials and tribulations, such as the debacle in Lincoln, the unit began to jell and some cohesiveness began to emerge as a rotation became set: Demetrious Cox moved back from cornerback to safety, a healthy Darian Hicks slid in at corner, Arjen Colquhoun continued to hold down his spot at boundary corner and a more confident Montae Nicholson rounded out the last line of defense.
But now with Williamson back to face Alabama on New Year’s Eve, there are questions of how that rotation might change.
“I’m a team player first, it’s not all about me — so I could care less about all of that,” he said.
But Williamson did acknowledge that with only a potential of two games left in the green and white, he expects to get a lot of opportunities.
“I expect to play as much as I did at the beginning of the season whether I start or not,” he said. “I feel like I’ll be a big contributor to our success that night and whatever the coaches have for me, I’m prepared for it.”
Jon Reschke isn’t as worried about Derrick Henry as Spartans fans might be.
“The game is in our hands,” Reschke said. “If they’re going to give him (Henry) the ball 45 times, it’s all on us. I don’t think they’ve faced linebackers as disciplined as us or who fill their gaps as fast as us, so he’s going to have a tough time trying to find a hole and break loose.”
While he acknowledged that Henry is a good and physical back, Reschke thinks they have faced running backs that are comparable.
“I don’t know how I would compare him but he’s not as quick as some guys we’ve played — I don’t even think he’s as tough a runner as some of the guys we’ve played,” said Reschke. “Like the kid from Penn State (Saquon Barkley) was a stud, Ezekiel Elliott was a stud ... they’re different running backs, but I’m not sure, I’m excited to play this guy, really excited.”
No cats here
By now you have probably heard about Bubbles — the feline friend of Jack Allen and Paul Lang. But something you probably didn’t know is that because the story broke, the apartment complex they live in has punished them.
“They’re actually not allowed to have cats or animals in their apartment so they got in trouble for that,” said Allen’s brother Brian. “They’re not going to give them their deposit back.”
Since no cats are allowed in their college apartment, Lang — part owner of Bubbles the cat — will take him back to the family home.
And these aren’t the only set of teammates to have a cat, said Brian Allen, who is more of a dog person himself.
“Matt Sokol, Chris Frey and Nate Conrad, they have a cat right now. ... His name is Arie, named after Arie Gold (from the hit show ‘Entourage’),” said Allen. “Riley Bullough used to have a cat but he gave it back; he couldn’t handle it anymore,” Allen joked.
“His name was Sir Charles.”
Tony Garcia is a freelance writer.
Alabama vs. Michigan State
Kickoff: 8 p.m. Dec. 31, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Records: No. 2 Alabama 12-1, No. 3 Michigan State 12-1
Line: Alabama by 10
Series: Alabama leads 1-0