An eager Larry Fedora couldn’t wait to tell the redshirt junior quarterback what he just learned at his weekly Monday press conference — so much so that he was tempted to give Williams a call the second the conference ended.
“Larry, N.C. State had some player say that when you hit Marquise Williams a few times, he just quits,” the voice from the front row informed Fedora.
“Really?” the dumbfounded coach asked. “When was that said? Just recently?”
“Like the last half hour.”
“The last half hour? OK. Marquise will love hearing that,” Fedora said. “Let me tell you what, I wouldn’t question Marquise’s toughness. Y’all have seen all of our games, you’ve seen how he gets hit and what he does. I haven’t looked at a game and thought he laid down for any reason.”
That’s because Williams hasn’t. And though N.C. State redshirt junior safety Hakim Jones will say he has, the numbers suggest otherwise.
Williams anchors the No. 2 total offense in the ACC — only behind Georgia Tech — and, as of Thursday, is the UNC single-season record holder for total offense and touchdowns accounted for.
UNC has the most passing touchdowns in the conference, and Williams’ 32 offensive touchdowns is a conference best by a long shot. Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston has 22.
“I’d like for him to go down (and slide) more than he does, actually,” Fedora said. “A whole lot more. But that’s not who he is. That’s not in his makeup, it’s not in his DNA. He likes delivering blows.”
Williams will face Jones and a N.C. State defense that ranks No. 60 of 125 in the country, while the UNC defense will face an offense that ranks 65th.
“In this part of the season, this is where guys seem to grab onto things a little bit better,” senior bandit Norkeithus Otis said. “I think that now we have it, we’re moving forward.”
With the Tar Heels now bowl eligible and with a chance to go 7-5 overall with a Saturday win, Fedora offered a bit of extra motivation for his players when they entered the locker room Sunday — a room covered in bright red N.C. State symbols to ignite a fire.
But for Williams, who wasn’t at Monday’s press conference, he likely won’t need that extra motivation. Jones has said what he’s said, and Fedora has faith his leader will handle it effortlessly.
“Oh, I think he’ll laugh. I think he’ll laugh, he’ll smile,” Fedora said. “But it’ll be good for him. He’ll like it.”
And for Otis, there’s no stopping Williams.
“I’ve seen Marquise get hit a lot this year,” he said. “If (Jones) can hit Marquise and take him out of the game then hey — I’ll shake his hand.”