The popular opinion about the Boston College running game in the media is that they would falter without Andre Williams.
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Through four games in 2014, they certainly do not appear to be suffering any ill effects from the departure of the aforementioned Heisman finalist.
In 2013, Steve Addazio took over in his first season as Boston College head coach, and Ryan Day began running the offense, instituting a run-heavy offense. Williams had 2,177 rushing yards on a team that netted 2,762. As a team, the 2013 Boston College running game produced 212.5 yards per game, and Andre accounted for almost 79 percent of those yards.
Things changed drastically in 2014 without him. Through four games, Boston College already has 1,345 rushing yards, or 336.25 yards per game. Those yards, however, are diversified. Quarterback Tyler Murphy is the team’s leading rusher with 500 yards, or 37.2 percent of the total.
In fact, six Boston College rushers have at least 100 rushing yards already. In 2013, only three players had triple-digit yardage for the whole season, and the quarterback was not one of them.
This Boston College running game has a new dimension named Tyler Murphy, but it also has depth. In the days of Andre Williams, the Eagles knew they could rely on him, and go sparingly to Myles Willis and, to a lesser extent, Tyler Rouse. Dave Dudeck would have been behind them, and they were not going to run it with Chase Rettig unless absolutely necessary. That was the full extent of what they had.
Sep 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles running back Jon Hilliman (32) warms up prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Panters at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Now, Boston College has any one of six players that they can trust with the football and who can do good things. Despite the fact that all except Murphy are underclassmen, this Boston College running game has some notable talent. This has the side effect of giving opposing defenses a number of different looks and forcing them to have to gameplan for half a dozen rushers.
The statistics are going to fluctuate throughout the season, but when all is said and done, the Boston College running game will be very productive, perhaps more productive in terms of overall yardage than last season. Much of that has to do with the stability and seniority of the offensive line, which has played three good games out of four so far.
Otherwise, part of it is relying on the passing game less. If necessary, Rettig could throw for 200 yards in a game under Addazio, and did on a few occasions. Murphy will not be asked to do that, and quite frankly, the passing game is such a liability for this team that they probably couldn’t if they tried.
Yet, instead of one great running back carrying almost all of the load for the Boston College running game, there are about six good players sharing it, with excellent results so far. From the first game against UMass, the Eagles elected to do a running-back-by-committee thing, and it is working well. The Eagles beat USC this way, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This team does not need an Andre Williams figure to do it all himself.
It is too soon to say whether the 2014 rushing offense will be “better” than last year, but there is the definite possibility that it will be more productive. With this new infusion of depth, the future is very bright.