Williams tackles work and play
Notebook: GT sets ACC scoring mark; Clemson right at home
“If you want to know the truth, ask Vince,” Velzina Williams-Nugent said of her son. “He will always tell you how he feels. What you see is what you get.”
Meet Vince Williams, a Florida State senior, who starts at middle linebacker for arguably the best defense unit in the nation. Williams already graduated with a creative writing degree and is pursuing a second undergraduate degree in sociology.
He recorded five tackles in the team’s 28-22 win against Virginia Tech last week and will be on the field when the Seminoles take on Maryland Saturday. If Florida State wins, it clinches the ACC Atlantic Division.
“Vince is a great leader. He has great passion for the game,” coach Jimbo Fisher said last week. “Loves playing, he’s very physical. Affects his teammates and brings energy to practice from the guys that aren’t there, and he’s making them get up and have that energy.”
Much has changed for Williams since he was in high school. He said he had “a one-track mind” back then.
“The only thing I thought about was just football — all day long. I would wake up, eat, sleep and breathe football,” he said.
An English teacher at Ridge Community high school, Amanda McCallister, helped Williams realize that he should try to identify his academic interests during college. Williams, like his former teacher, became a creative writing major.
“I think one of my most popular pieces of work that I’ve written was just about my church back home and growing up inside this church and just how it has kind of like a caste system between the older women who wear the bigger hats and have the most kids, or how they have the most respect, have the most prestige,” Williams said in a phone interview last week. “That was interesting and it was really funny to me too.”
Williams’ younger brother, Karlos, is a sophomore at Florida State and listed as a backup free safety on the Noles depth chart.
“He’s a pretty cool dude,” Vince said of his brother. “We’re kind of like polar opposites of each other.”
Williams-Nugent, who works for Disney, said the difference between Vince and Karlos is “night and day.”
“Karlos is a social butterfly. He’s always talking to everybody and being around everybody,” Fisher said. “But they’re both great young men. They are different. One’s more outgoing than the other, definitely.”
That would be Karlos. Vince said that teammates did not always know that he and Karlos were brothers.
“A lot of people didn’t realize that me and Karlos were actually related,” he said. “They just thought we had the same last name, because we acted so different from each other.”
A love of Florida State was instilled in Vince and Karlos by their stepfather, Mark Nugent.
Nugent and Williams-Nugent have been together for about 18 years. Nugent, who has been a Florida State fan since 1979, became a season ticket holder in the 1990s.
Vince’s biological father died when he was 10. Two weeks after he had surgery for a brain tumor, he had a heart attack.
“My stepdad is actually Caucasian; like that’s the only [father figure] I’ve ever known in my life,” Vince said. “My stepdad raised me since I was 3 years old and he raised my brother since he was a baby. I was raised with a white guy in the house.
“But I never even thought anything about it until I got a little older and my friends would talk about it and be like ‘That doesn’t bother you?’ And I’m like, ‘that’s the only dad I know.’ ”
Nugent, who works for Geico, said race was never a problem.
“It obviously occurred to me,” Nugent said. “It didn’t make any difference. It was never an issue.”
“He played a major role in my life,” Vince said of Nugent. “That’s where my love of Florida State came from [because] he was always a super heavy Florida State fan. His first tattoo was a Florida State tattoo and his second tattoo was my Mom’s name.”
After his days playing football end, Vince hopes to attend graduate school. He said would like to try to mold high school kids and “show them that you can affect your life in a positive [way] at an early age.”
“I don’t want to be one of those guys who’s figuring out what they’re going to do in life at 33,” he said.
It seems like he won’t. Once Vince Williams focuses his attention on a task, he commits to it completely. He is not one to take half-measures.
“Very pleased with him, very blessed to have coached him, and he’s a great young man,” Fisher said of Vince.
Boston College (2-8, 1-5 ACC)
• Quarterback Chase Rettig completed 27 of 34 passes for 247 yards as the Eagles lost to Notre Dame at home 21-6. At 2-8, Boston College is off to its worst start since 1989. Eagles linebacker Nick Clancy, who leads the ACC with 10.7 tackles per game, left the game with what the team called an upper body injury.
• Junior Alex Amidon caught six passes for 84 yards against the Irish. His 1,156 receiving yards this year broke the school’s single-season record. However, breaking Brian Brennan’s record provided little consolation for Amidon.
“I don’t really have much to say,” Amidon said of setting the receiving record. “It’s everyone on the offense, it’s not just me. I think Chase is playing phenomenal this year. The only thing that matters to me right now is that we’re 2-8.”
Next Game: vs. Virginia Tech Nov. 17
No. 11 Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC)
• Tajh Boyd threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers handed Maryland its fourth-consecutive loss. The win was Clemson’s sixth consecutive win and 12th in a row at Death Valley — a school record.
“This is big. We set a new standard here at Clemson,” defensive end Corey Crawford said of the record. “When we play at home we win, no matter what. From here on, for Clemson teams to come, that’s the standard.”
• The Tigers defense has improved in the past month (it has not allowed more than 20 points since it played Georgia Tech on Oct. 6). Dabo Swinney hopes it continues its strong play against NC State QB Mike Glennon, who throws for an average of 291 passing yards per game.
Next Game: vs. NC State Nov. 17
Duke (6-4, 3-3 ACC)
• The race for the Coastal Division title got a little more complicated as Duke enjoyed its open week. Duke is 3-3 in the conference, one game behind Georgia Tech and Miami (Fla.) in the win column. The Blue Devils next two opponents are the Yellow Jackets and the Hurricanes, so David Cutcliffe’s squad will play in the ACC championship game if it can win its last two. It won’t be an easy task, but it is certainly possible for Duke.
• The Blue Devils' rushing defense ranks 10th in the conference, allowing opposing teams to run for 182.5 yards per game. It will have to be at its best to slow down the Georgia Tech running game and an offense that just hung 68 points on UNC.
Next Game: at Georgia Tech Nov. 17
No. 10 Florida State (9-1, 6-1 ACC)
• The Seminoles were on the brink of losing at Virginia Tech, but E.J. Manuel hit a Rashad Greene on a slant and Greene sprinted 39 yards across the field to score and put the Seminoles ahead with 40 seconds to play Thursday. Greene had six catches for a season-high 125 yards.
• It is important for Florida State to not overlook Maryland with its showdown against Florida looming as its last game. Still, the Noles defense should not have too tough a time containing a Terrapins offense that averages 18.9 points per game — last in the ACC.
Next Game: at Maryland Nov. 17
Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3 ACC)
• The Yellow Jackets outscored the Tar Heels 68-50 on Saturday. The two teams combined for 1,085 yards and 118 points — breaking the record for the highest scoring game in ACC history. (Virginia’s 63-47 win against Tulane, in 1968, was the previous mark). Georgia Tech dominated possession as it controlled the ball for 37:14.
• Vad Lee and Tevin Washington again split playing time at quarterback for the Yellow Jackets. Washington tied the school and conference rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks with a 25-yard run on his team’s opening series. After the team’s third possession, Lee played the remainder of the game, finishing 6 of 10 for 169 yards passing.
• The Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils meet this weekend in a game that has big implications for the Coastal Division. Despite a 2-4 start, Paul Johnson has navigated Georgia Tech back into the division title conversation.
Next Game: vs. Duke Nov. 17
Maryland (4-6, 2-4 ACC)
• Maryland’s offensive woes were evident against Clemson as the Terps gained 180 yards of offense, a season low. One bright spot for the team was the play of redshirt freshman Brandon Ross, who ran for 100 yards on 16 carries.
• Injuries decimated Maryland’s depth this season, particularly at the quarterback position. Freshman Stefon Diggs did not play last weekend with an ankle injury. Leading tackler Demetrius Hartsfield was sidelined after he tore his ACL against Georgia Tech.
• The Terrapins offense, led by quarterback Shawn Petty, a former scout team linebacker, faces a tremendous task next weekend when it faces a Florida State defense that leads the nation in total defense. The Seminole defense holds opponents to 242.9 yards per game and 3.70 yards per play. Both marks are tops in the FBS.
Next Game: vs. Florida State Nov. 17
Miami (Fla.) (5-5, 4-3 ACC)
• The Virginia contest ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Hurricanes. Miami wasted a great performance from freshman Duke Johnson, who rushed for 150 yards on only 16 carries. Johnson also had four kick returns for 214 yards.
• Miami coach Al Golden, a former UVa assistant, told his team to look forward after the 41-40 defeat.
“We’re not going to go backwards,” Golden said. “We’re not going back to the days where everyone does their own thing and we turn into individuals.”
• The Hurricanes last home game is of the non-conference variety, a test against a 3-6 South Florida. The Bulls snapped a six-game losing streak last weekend when they beat UConn 13-6.
Next Game: vs. South Florida Nov. 17
NC State (6-4, 3-3 ACC)
• The Wolfpack have done a great job keeping their opponents on edge this year. You never quite know what version of NC State will show up on Saturday. Will it be the side that toppled then-No. 3 FSU? Or the team that lost at Virginia 33-6? This past weekend, the Wolfpack dominated in all facets of the game, knocking off Wake Forest 37-6.
• NC State can’t catch Clemson in the Atlantic Division, but it does have the opportunity to upset the No. 11 Tigers at home on Saturday. The Wolfpack will need a big day from its secondary to slow down Clemson’s potent offense.
Next Game: at Clemson Nov. 17
North Carolina (6-4, 3-3 ACC)
• Last week, coach Larry Fedora said he was happy the Tar Heels had extra time to prepare for the Yellow Jackets' offense. The week off, however, did not help stop the Georgia Tech offense. UNC was pierced for 68 points in the loss, the most it ever allowed at home and the most points it gave up since Louisville scored 69 against the Tar Heels in 2005.
• North Carolina travels to Charlottesville, Va., for the final ACC Thursday night game of the season. The Tar Heels look to cool down a Virginia team that has won two consecutive conference games.
Next Game: at Virginia Nov. 15
Virginia (4-6, 2-4 ACC)
• Making a bowl game was barely in the realm of possibility for Virginia a few weeks ago. However, after Jake McGee’s miraculous catch (and a great throw from Michael Rocco) with six seconds put Virginia up one point against Miami (Fla.), anything seems possible. Virginia’s 41-40 win will go down as one of the best comeback victories in UVa history.
• If the Wahoos can win their final two games, beginning with the Tar Heels on Thursday, it will be eligible for the postseason. Michael Rocco started for the first time since Week 5 for Cavaliers last weekend and his performance against the Hurricanes likely earned him another start this week.
Next Game: vs. North Carolina Nov. 15
Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4 ACC)
• Virginia Tech was less than a minute away from beating a top-10 Florida State squad and picking up a signature win that would have helped the team become bowl eligible. Now, Frank Beamer’s club must win its final two games to ensure itself a chance of making the postseason. Otherwise, the Hokies streak of consecutive bowl appearances will end at 19.
Next Game: at Boston College Nov. 17
Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5 ACC)
• The Demon Deacons dropped to .500 after it lost to the Wolfpack 37-6. NC State scored the game’s first 17 points.
“We certainly had some issues up front running and throwing the ball,” Jim Grobe said after the game. “Our receivers had some opportunities to make plays and didn’t make them. Tanner didn’t play really well [Saturday]. It’s not fair, but Tanner can’t play average. If he plays average, we can’t win.”
• Wake Forest will follow in the footsteps of Boston College as it attempts to hand the Fighting Irish its first loss this season. Wake is the Notre Dame’s third ACC opponent this year. Notre Dame beat Miami (Fla.) 41-3 on Oct. 6 in Chicago.
• If the Demon Deacons fail to topple No. 3 Notre Dame, then the outcome of a season-finale home contest against SEC foe Vanderbilt will determine if the team makes the postseason. James Franklin’s Commodores are 6-4 and surging.
Next Game: at Notre Dame Nov. 17