Williams, Smith dynamic duo for GVSU football

Williams, Smith dynamic duo for GVSU football

Beau Troutman

The first drive of the GVSU season ended with a punt—a 10 play 21-yard misadventure.

The next drive, facing a second down with eight years to go from near midfield, quarterback Bart Williams faked the run, looked down field and what happened next figures to be a frequent occurrence in the 2016 season.

Williams to receiver Urston Smith. 43 yards. Touchdown, Lakers.

“To have (the big play) show up on Thursday night, it was really relieving, especially the first touchdown of the season, fireworks, Lubbers going crazy, it was awesome,” Williams said.

Smith has proven himself early this season as the top deep threat in a strong Lakers’ receiving corps. Williams and Smith have connected on four passes of 20 yards or more in the first two games this season (20, 43, 52, 62).

Smith is poised for a breakout season after primarily serving as a role player last season.

“You talk to anybody in our building, Urston Smith had a great fall camp, he earned the right to play,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell.

Smith had one of the more memorable plays of the season last year in the playoff win over rival Ferris State Nov. 28, 2015. A 30-yard diving touchdown grab from a Williams’ pass earned the pair a spot on an ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 list.

Asked if he could make an ESPN appearance again this season, Smith says it’s not exactly one of his primary goals.

“We’re probably going to make more big plays, but we’re not trying to get on Top 10. If it happens, it happens, good for us,” Smith said.

Williams said the pair has already had a Top 10 play this season—he said a 52-yard bomb in the Lake Erie win was equally worthy of Top 10 recognition to the Ferris State play.

“If that one didn’t get in there, that one was better than the one against Ferris (State),” Williams said. “It just wasn’t in the end zone or the playoffs.”

Highlight plays aside, the connection between Williams and Smith has been a significant part of the offensive attack this season. The success of the running game led by Martayveus Carter (11.2 yards-per-carry) has opened up more options in the passing game, namely the play action pass.

“(A) really good way for us to get the ball down the field is play action,” said GVSU offensive coordinator Tim Morrison. “We’re running the ball fairly decent right now, so you’re getting defenses playing downhill, which gives us deep shots over the top.”

In Smith’s long hauls this season, his ability to track the ball without losing speed downfield makes him a dangerous target for the GVSU offense. At 6-foot-2-inches tall and 215 pounds, Smith’s frame and speed gives him advantage over defenders in jump ball situations.

There are a number of things that must go right for one of Smith’s trademark deep catches.

“First off, you’ve got to make a good move on the line,” Smith said. “You’ve got to make your move and when Bart (Williams) puts the ball out, you just got to run and go get it. He’ll put it way out there so the defense can’t get it, which makes it easier for us to catch the ball.”

On the flip side, Williams knows if he doesn’t put the ball in just the right spot for Smith and the other receivers.

“A lot of that comes from the running backs and the offensive line doing a good job blocking up front,” Williams said. “Its just a lot of repetition. A lot of these times the ball is in the air so long, if I tried to throw it to somebody it’d be tough, but we’ve just practiced it so many times I know the spot to throw on the field, and the wide outs do a good job of going to that spot for me.”

The Lakers play the Northern Michigan Wildcats this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lubbers Stadium. If the past two games have been any indication, one thing is clear: Williams will be looking deep for No. 10 early and often.

“Hopefully (we can make more big plays),” Williams said. “We’re going to try. We try to be explosive every Saturday.”