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Player to Watch: Nebraska’s Kieron Williams

There wasn’t a quarterback to write about, so we’re going defense.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Had you asked at season’s beginning who the Player to Watch would have been when Iowa took on Nebraska, perhaps we would’ve told you Tommy Armstrong — nope, he’s hurt. Ryker Fyfe? He’s hurt too.

You could’ve said Jordan Westerkamp, but he gradua— you’re telling me he’s still there? Nate Gerry? Oh look, there he goes pumping up the crowd after getting tossed for targeting.

But it’s the final week of the regular season, and those three Cornhusker seniors — who, yes, are somehow only seniors — aren’t making the cut. Instead, it’s the Big Ten’s leader in interceptions, Kieron Williams. Well, tied for the interception lead, but you get the point.

To the tape!

I’m incredibly sorry for the obnoxious music in that video, but the actual footage is valuable, and a nice place to start and help explain — in part — why Williams is having the season he’s having. Pressure.

And yes, I know it’s Purdue, and no, this isn’t a knock on Williams. Anyone in the defensive backfield benefits greatly from heat on the quarterback — Williams and the Cornhusker defense are no exception. They can be considered the “best of the rest” in the Big Ten in total defense — Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin are all under the 295 yard per game mark, Nebraska’s fourth at 345.4 — and have been able to stick in the top-25 for the better part of the season.

Put simply — this is a solid team unit, and Williams has had lots of opportunities as a result. As you’re about to see, he takes advantage of those chances.

Opportunistic, if nothing else. And if you’re thinking ‘opportunistic’ is an adjective used to describe players who get lucky, well, there’s something to be said for guys in the right place at the right time. Look at a few of Desmond King’s interceptions last season.

But, that’s besides the point. The point is that Williams is a cog in a Nebraska scoring defense ranked fifth in the Big Ten behind Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and — you guessed it — Iowa. You might not see him intercept a C.J. Beathard throw as the Hawkeye passing game has been virtually nonexistent lately, but you’ll see him step up in run support and hopefully be chasing Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels, Jr. all afternoon.

We’ll leave you with this video of Williams, who gave up No. 27 in honor of punter Sam Foltz, who passed away before the season began. It’s sobering, but an appropriate reminder to keep things in perspective as we move into the holiday season.

Enjoy Thanksgiving, everyone.