By ROB LUDWIG / Special To The Corsicana Daily Sun
John Williams and Kerri Holliday watched it week to week, in practice and then in games. And they vowed that when they became the sophomore leaders, there would be no more clowning around.
Four games deep into the 2013 season, it’s obvious they are following through on their freshman promise.
Williams and Holliday have had some radical changes in the last year. In addition to taking over leadership roles, Holliday and Williams were part of a vast change in the Navarro’s defense under the leadership of new defensive coordinator Scott Joseph.
Williams (6-4, 255) played outside linebacker in high school and then switched to defensive end last season. Now he finds himself at tackle in the Bulldogs’ new 3-4 defense. Holliday is an undersized (6-3, 260), but very effective nose tackle.
“It’s a whole new position for me and there’s been a lot to learn, but I think I’m getting it down,” Holliday said. “As a whole, I think we’re more disciplined this year and it shows with what we’re doing in the new defense.”
Williams and Holliday have provided the sophomore leadership up front for the Bulldogs. Williams leads the team with three sacks and three tackles for loss and Holliday has contributed nine tackles and a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage through three games.
The interior line has been buoyed by the emergence of Texas Tech transfer Michael Starts at nose tackle and Oklahoma transfer Marquis Anderson rotating with Williams at tackle.
Rush end Kyron Minter and stud end Chip Jones have combined for six tackles for loss, 37 tackles and a pair of sacks.
“I don’t know if there is a better freshmen in the conference on defense then Kyron,” said Navarro Coach Brian Mayper. “He just keeps making big plays for us in every game.
“Chip is a physical kid who was a spot player for us last year. You can tell it means a lot to him when he’s on the field.”
That’s exactly what Williams and Holliday wanted to see in their teammates for 2013.
“We were probably more talented last year on the defensive line, but being childish and playful all the time probably cost us a national championship,” Holliday said. “We decided real quickly after the season that we weren’t going to be that way this year. It’s important to us to have a great year and win a national championship.”
“We take a lot of pride in our discipline,” Williams said. “Coach Jo(seph) keeps us focused and keeps us disciplined. That’s how we’re going to win football games.”
It doesn’t hurt that Navarro’s defense has been a turnover machine this fall, creating 11 opponent miscues and forcing more than four fumbles a game.
“We have a big emphasis on turnovers in practice,” Williams said. “It’s something that we’re constantly talking about in meetings, in practice, in the huddle and in games.
Practice is where the turnover production blossoms, Holliday says.
“We have something we call a tackle circuit where we try to strip the ball,” he said.
“We also play a three-and-out drill where the object is getting the ball back as quickly as possible. We force a turnover or get the ball back really fast. That way we can get it back into the hands of our offense and let them do their thing.
“We’re really serious about what we’re doing on defense. I think everybody can see that.”