Redshirt sophomore Dominique Williams plans to step on the electrifying field of Jordan-Hare Stadium against the Auburn Tigers on Aug. 31, and will look at the fire in quarterback Connor Halliday’s eyes.
In his second season at wide receiver, Williams said the Cougar football team has become more in-tune with each other, and as a result, the mentality of the locker room changed.
“My expectation is like everyone else’s, we want a bowl game,” Williams said. “I want it really bad. We talk about it every day, but our first step is August 31.”
Originally from Pomona, Calif., Williams said playing for WSU has been an adjustment, due to the fact that he grew up with people talking about the success of USC, UCLA and Stanford.
Williams said his first couple games suiting up for the Cougars made him nervous, with the game speeding up on him until the end of the season when the offense all finally landed on the same page.
“Coach Simmons started talking to me a lot and said, ‘Just play fast and give your full effort,’ and that’s what started to happen,” Williams said. “Everything started to slow down, and I was reading everything easier.”
In conversations with WSU football coach Mike Leach, Williams said he realized he needs to step in and play in a big role for the team, in addition to having fun on the field.
After catching only three passes in the first six games of last season, Williams finished the season by starting in the last five games for the Cougars and collecting 28 passes with 438 yards.
In the overtime Apple Cup win against the University of Washington, Williams also caught a season high eight catches and had 143 receiving yards.
“(The Apple Cup) actually showed what I’m capable of doing, and I want to be better than that this year,” Williams said. “That includes running my routes more crisp so I get open.”
This summer, Williams said he has been working on his speed, change of direction and the ability to get off the line quicker.
However, Williams said the most challenging part of training has been maintaining his weight with conditioning and workouts, due to the loss of calories and water weight.
As for last season, Williams said he was most proud of how the team finished the season after starting off their conference slate shaky with a Sept. 22 loss to the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“We finished off strong enough to where our offseason pushed ourselves even more because we want to start off strong and finish strong this season,” Williams said.
With coaches not being as available in the summer, Williams said players have to rely on teammates for advice and give out pointers during team workouts.
As for the start of the season against Auburn University, Williams said the environment will be amazing with the big crowds, but added that his focus will be on moving the ball and discussing play-by-play options with Halliday.
“It’s difficult to prepare, but you have to go into the mindset of ‘We want to win this game,’” Williams said. “You don’t want to go into the game with the mindset of ‘This is Auburn.’ Any team can be beat on any day.”