Reserve sophomore Jackson Simmons said the team tried to keep Williams' spirits up as he recovered. That included sending a video the day of his surgery with all the players mimicking Williams' fists-clinched, squatting pose he often strikes while motivating his players during games from the sideline.
"We were told it was going to be a positive outcome, but you just worry about that," Simmons said. "Those couple of weeks were really tough, but at the same time, there was a different focus around here that we sort of had the sense that we needed to work a little bit harder because Coach was working hard to get through that."
Williams has had minor health issues in recent years, including occasional bouts with vertigo and back problems. He had shoulder surgery three years ago to repair a torn labrum, which left him to coach several weeks with his left arm in a sling.
The coach said he's been working about five hours a day leading up to the start of preseason practice and would work a reduce schedule until about six weeks after surgery. He said he feels good and is not in any pain, but added he might've worn out his wife, Wanda, by spending all the extra time recovering at home.
"She's been after me to retire for 10 years," Williams said. "And after she's had all that time with me, she thinks she may want me to coach a little bit longer to get away from me."