TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The playing time comes in spurts -- a series here and there, a few more snaps the next week.
The time Karlos Williams spends on the field is sacred but fleeting. They are a handful of snaps that mean everything, yet he knows the results must be quickly excavated from his memory.
"The snaps go by like a blink of the eye," he said.
Williams loves being on the field. He wants more playing time. He wants to fulfill his immense promise, blossom into a star, play a significant role in Florida State's championship aspirations.
That's the dream. The reality, for now, is that he is a back-up.
Williams speaks of Florida State's starting defense with reverence. He talks of his own play as a work-in-progress. He has goals, but he's not interested in maintaining the facade that they are close at hand.
"There's room for improvement, and as the season goes on, I'll mature more, and the playing time is definitely going to increase the more I mature and am prepared to play," Williams said.
Slowly but surely, that playing time has crept upward, and Williams said last week's game against USF represented a high-water mark for meaningful snaps.
"Going into camp, everything was a lot more comfortable for me," Williams said. "[Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops] is trusting me more to go in the game and there's no fall off."
Still, Williams' game Saturday wasn't perfect. He finished without a tackle, and in the fourth quarter, he missed a big one. B.J. Daniels hit Derrick Hopkins with a 15-yard pass. Williams was there immediately, but whiffed on the tackle. Hopkins sprinted another 22 yards to the FSU 7-yard line. The Bulls scored two plays later.
That's the trouble with those fleeting snaps -- the bad plays tend to be magnified.
But if there's anything that Williams has learned this season, it's that, while those Saturday snaps must be savored, he'll be judged on far more than that.
"He's become a better practice player," safety Lamarcus Joyner said. "If you want to go out there on Saturdays and compete, you have to show the coaches what you can do in practice. It's all about, 'Can I trust you?' [Stoops] wants to know what you can do all the time, not just on Saturdays."
Williams said he talks with Stoops nearly every day. It's a progress report of sorts. And at this point, progress remains the priority. The playing time will follow.
"Me and Coach Stoops talk a lot about that," Williams said. "A lot of the [safety] rotation is prepared to be put in. But for me, I'm just feeling comfortable."