BC football is having a redemption year, ushering in validity to the Addazio era and a bright future for the program.
But it isn’t just the quarterback, Chase Rettig, who was touted to be the frontline for BC’s success this season entering his final year. Nor has the defense -- who accounted for four turnovers against the Virginia Tech Hokies -- been solely responsible for the team's recent resurgence.
This season has been on the back, shoulders and bulging legs of BC’s starting running back, Andre Williams. This season, Williams has rushed for 1,471 yards and 12 touchdowns, ranking him first in the country in rushing yards and seventh in total touchdowns.
He is the best running back in the ACC, a conference that could easily be represented in the national championship come January. Against Florida State, Williams rushed for 149 yards on 28 attempts. Against Virginia Tech, a team that is eighth in the country in points against, Williams rushed for 166 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Skeptics will claim that Williams is fed the ball so much that he is bound to produce a lot of yardage and touchdowns.
Well, the same can be said for a wide receiver who is thrown the ball more than any other wide receiver on the team.
It's all about production, and no one has produced more for BC than Williams has this season. An even better example is arguably the best running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson. At Oklahoma, Peterson rushed for 1,925 yards on 339 carries his freshman year. Peterson had 239 rush attempts to Williams' 246 rush attempts at this stage of the season; the argument of too many carries is inaccurate.
But in a sport that idolizes the quarterback, Williams is a glaring counterexample.
If you look at college football, the quarterback is the producer. He is the ringmaster -- the cover boy for the school's program. Williams has attempted more rushes than Rettig has attempted passes and that is taboo in college football.
According to Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft lead writer Matt Miller, NFL scouts look at seven traits when scouting running backs: vision, quickness, ball security, speed and acceleration, strength, durability and third-down skills. Category by category, it's evident that Williams is NFL-bound.
No play speaks to vision more than Williams’ 62-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech that sealed the Eagles' 34-27 victory. On a play that looked to just eat up time, Williams saw a slim hole open up on the right side and with no one around, sprinted downfield for a touchdown. He could have ran into the wall and taken time off the clock, but his vision led to an easy touchdown.
The Army game is another display of Williams’ keen vision. He used his blocks and found the necessary openings to have the career game he had, finishing with 263 rushing yards and a school-record five touchdowns.
Williams is as agile as they come. If you watch the tape against Wake Forest, he had his best rushing performance of his career before the Army game. On plays that looked to be mere short gains, Williams would juke or run through a shoe-string tackle for positive yardage.
Ball security is huge. Williams has only fumbled once this entire season, which says a lot because he has carried the ball 246 times. He's known for fighting for an extra yard when being tackled and taking some hard hits, but his ability to protect the ball and pick up some extra yardage makes him one of the best running backs in the country when it comes to ball security.
Speed and acceleration is the main attraction for scouts. We hear time and time again about how fast someone ran the 40-yard dash in the combine and how they will zip by defenders in the league, but speed is one factor out of seven tools to define how good a running back is -- if we pen Matt Miller's formula as the end-all to evaluating prospect talent.
Chris Johnson ran a 4.24 in the combine compared to Peterson’s 4.4. Who is the better running back? Speed is not a defining trait. Da’Rel Scott put up a time of 4.34 and today he is a free agent because of his performance earlier in the 2013 NFL season.
Williams' time of 4.59 might not scream fast, but he certainly possesses acceleration and down-field strength that compensates for pure speed.
Speaking of strength, one of the highlights of BC’s season was a thunderous, head-on collision between Williams and defensive stud Robert Smith during the Clemson game. Williams found a seam and bulldozed over one of the best safeties in the ACC.
That’s a man. That’s a grown man.
The biggest reason why Williams has averaged 6.0 yards per carry is his ability to power through defenders and break tackles for extra yards. You can see his strength not just in the play against Clemson, but in his 19-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech where he broke 4 tackles.
In terms of durability, Williams has carried a significant percentage of the team's offensive production and had to deal with nagging injuries like an abdominal strain against Wake Forest. His trademark is toughness, and it's pretty hard to see him get injured easily (knock on wood...).
Lastly, third down skills is crucial for any running back. On third down, Williams averages 7.8 yards per carry, but it is critical situations like third and/or fourth and short that increase his value.
On third and 1-2, he averages 5.3 yards, and in situations when BC was fourth and 1-2, Williams averages 8.3 yards per carry.
Coupled with his vision and strength to pick up positive yards, Williams is a must-have when it comes to critical situations on third down.
Williams has taken the NCAA by storm with his running ability, and if Matt Miller's formula is any indication of NFL talent, the senior running back is without a doubt one of the most prolific backs in the country come draft time.
He possesses all the necessary tools and has the statistics to back it up. There’s no question he has had a great offensive line to support him this season as BC is known for its production of linemen, but you need to give credit where credit is due.
A dude who has facilitated the rebirth of the football program at Boston College can be a dude who spearheads an NFL offense.
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