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Can Williams energize Wagner ground game?
Considering Wagner College’s 5-6 finish of a year ago, it’s not surprising the Northeast Conference coaches ranked the Seahawks seventh in the nine-team league in the preseason poll released yesterday.
But there was a crucial missing element that contributed to that record, and his return could be the wild card in helping the Seahawks push beyond the preseason predictions.
Running back Dominique Williams averaged 5.7 yards per carry as a freshman in 2009, but a torn anterior cruciate ligament last August ended his 2010 season before it began.
In Williams’ absence, quarterback Nick Doscher led the Seahawks in rushing attempts, while still firing 119 more passes than he had the year before.
“That’s the one element that we didn’t have last year. When we lost him it really took a big part of our offense away and really put the onus all on Doscher,” said Wagner head coach Walt Hameline of the lack of backfield production. “(Williams is) back at 100 percent. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s a competitive kid. I think he’s in as good a shape as he’s ever been in his life. I think once he gets the fear of coming off an injury out of the way mentally, I think he’ll be right back where he was.”
Doscher threw the ball 297 times in 11 games, and David Crawford — who picked up one of Wagner’s three All-NEC preseason spots (LB Julian Stanford and kicker David Lopez the others) — caught 35 for an average gain of 18.0 yards with the Seahawks airing it out.
Hameline said Williams was 100 percent by the time the Seahawks held spring practices, but he held the running back out. When practices begin next week, he’ll line up behind some unfamiliar numbers. Wagner will be retooled on the offensive line after losing a pair of All-NEC First Team picks in Joe Feriozzi and Keith Hernandez.
“We want to be able to run the football,” said Hameline, who is entering his 31st season as Wagner’s head coach. “I think we’re going to be able to do that as long as those young kids come up front and develop.
“We think we’ve got good young athletes there and they just gotta get in the heat of battle and make sure they’re ready to go and know who the heck to block. But I think with Doscher and the running backs and the receivers, we’ve got guys who can make plays.”
That combination could help the Seahawks outperform that preseason ranking.
“I don’t know,” said Hameline. “That’s all good and dandy. I guess if you’re ranked No. 1 you’re excited from a standpoint that everybody believes you’re gonna be good. I really think the league is wide open and I really mean that. I’m not just saying that.”
By Tom Dowd, Staten Island Advance http://www.silive.com/colleges/index.ssf/2011/08/can_williams_energize_ground_g.html