When LeKendrick Williams got to Fresno State, there was a lot to learn, to get used to and comfortable with in a new offensive system before he could put his speed and short-area quickness to full use. The terminology, the concepts, the expectations, the routes and adjustments to coverage, the timing, the signals.
That's but a fraction of it, and it is the last one that took the senior wide receiver the longest to fully digest.
When a play comes in from the sideline, the synapses have to fire — the Bulldogs might have struggled offensively and the production certainly has fallen off from a year ago, but they still move fast and are averaging 82 plays per game, just a few ticks off the 83.7 of last season.
With so much new there, it didn't always happen in an instant and, Williams said, "I can't play fast without knowing what I'm doing 100%"
But in a blowout victory over Southern Utah the graduate transfer from Texas A&M sent very clear signals that he is ready to take on more, and with the Bulldogs still searching for consistent playmakers he will get the opportunity starting Friday in the Mountain West Conference opener at New Mexico.
"We're making a conscious effort to try to get him touches and I like what he's done with it," coach Tim DeRuyter said. "Beep-Beep is probably not our fastest guy going straight ahead, but in a phone booth there's not a whole lot of people that can put a hand on him.
"He's a guy that we like for his dynamic athleticism returning kicks, in the slot getting the ball quickly, and I think in our league he can be an effective factor as he learns our offense better and just feels more and more comfortable with things."
In the first three games this season, Williams had caught three passes for nine yards and had one punt return for 19 yards, that against Nebraska.
But as the Thunderbirds found, Williams can add a playmaking ability to a Bulldogs offense that is built around and thrives through its playmakers.
He returned three punts for 43 yards, including one for 23 yards, and each time appeared one move or block or missed tackle from ending up in the end zone.
He caught four passes for 23 yards, which could have been much higher and more productive. In the third quarter, he took in a short pass, made some defenders miss, got a key block and went 74 yards only to have the play called back by a holding penalty.
But he no doubt made an impression, getting closer to full speed.
"He was feeling his way through, but you have to give some credit to the opponents we were playing, too. Those guys are pretty good," offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said.
"But you have to know what you're doing, just the little things ... When we signal the play in from the sideline, if that's the tempo, you have to know what you're doing. He's willing, but there's a lot there for him. We've forced-fed him and he's doing a nice job.
"He's obviously very dynamic, so we have to put him in positons where he can help us like he did the other night. He's kind of learning what we expect, what the expectations are, but at the same time he gives us a little juice out there at that slot. We can get some bubbles and stuff to him and stress the defense a little bit, and he can go vertically, so it was good to see him have a good game."
The Bulldogs' offense is predicated on taking advantage of what opposing defenses are giving it: "If we get this coverage we go here, if they do this we throw this screen," Schramm said.
There never is the intent to be so specific that they have to get someone this ball on this play, but having another playmaker on the field to stress defenses, especially when they are playing at an elevated tempo, can only help the Bulldogs as they go after a third consecutive conference championship.
Williams is ready to be one of those players.
"I'm much better than I was three weeks ago," he said. "Way better. They can signal something and I know it right off the bat and I'm able to go 100% I know the progressions now, and that helps me out a lot, too. It was just repetition, practice as we go. The first week (in fall camp) it was kind of rough, I struggled with it in two-a-days, but it's been getting better game by game."