Going into what proved to be a deciding play in Indiana’s game against Western Kentucky, Jaylin Williams was mad.
The defensive back was called for pass interference on the last drive of regulation, as the Hilltoppers attempted to win the game in 47 seconds. The penalty took WKU into long field goal range, and eventually into more makable territory. The kick was missed, sending the game to overtime.
Four plays later, Western Kentucky lined up to try another field goal. But Williams was still peeved about the penalty.
“I had a PI right before that, so for me, honestly, I was just upset at that fact. So for me, that play had to be made,” Williams said. “I had to make it up, no questions asked.”
Williams got through the WKU line from the left side and blocked the kick. Indiana went on to win the game on its own field goal.
That block was the product of an offseason focus for the Hoosiers. They worked on blocking kicks nearly every day in preseason camp.
“We made a huge emphasis this whole spring and fall camp on blocking kicks, and Coach (Paul) Randolph, our new D-line coach, has brought a really good attitude about that,” IU head coach Tom Allen said after the game. “Our guys have bought into it, and you couldn’t see a bigger one than you saw right there at the end.”
Throughout the game, Williams felt like he was just a tad off on timing the snaps. But he continued to trust the technique and got in there in a big moment. He said Western Kentucky’s tackle had done a good job of getting him out of position for most of the night, but he had just enough space to get through on the key play.
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Williams said that timing out the snap is the toughest part of blocking field goals. There are several things you have to pay attention to on those plays.
“I’ve got to make sure I’m not offsides, and then I gotta look at the ball, and I gotta listen for it,” Williams said. “There’s certain keys that they give you when they’re going to snap the ball. Whoever calls it, like the holder or the snapper or whoever’s given the cadence to let you know when they’re going to hike the ball. You’ve got to be on your P’s and Q’s and listen.”
When Williams made the play, his first reaction was to see where the ball went. He saw Bryant Fitzgerald take off with the ball, and once he realized what was happening, he tried to block for the return.
Williams joked that he would get on Fitzgerald for not scoring on the play. Allen made similar comments.
“I told Fitzy, if he would have lateraled it to me, I would have scored,” Allen said. “He cut it back and got tackled, so he’ll learn his lesson. But I thought he might go the distance and get us a win, and it was a walk-off block.”
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