Column: Clemson Won't See BC's Cement Truck Coming
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The “three-headed monster” is out, and Andre Williams is in. As quarterback Chase Rettig has begun to take his step into the ACC elite during Boston College’s first three games, the backfield has faded into obscurity. The Eagles are 118th in the country in rushing yards per game, and no matter how good Rettig looks, it’s going to be nearly impossible to beat Clemson with that kind of output.
But Williams can change all of that on Saturday. With Tahj Kimble nursing an injury and Deuce Finch dealing with a combination of performance and personal issues, the ground game falls on Williams’ strong shoulders. He’s done it before. He bounced and bruised his way to 185 yards on 42 attempts against another sea of orange up in Syracuse two years ago during his coming-out party, stepping in for the injured Montel Harris.
Jim Morgans, Williams’ high school coach, describes him as a “runaway cement truck.” At his best, that’s exactly the kind of nightmare he can be for the Tiger defense tomorrow. He’s about the same size as every Clemson linebacker starting tomorrow and has at least 30 pounds on the corners. If the offensive line can help him get past the line of scrimmage, then say goodnight, because that cement truck is going to bulldoze his way to the house for six.
“My mouth always waters a bit when I see cornerbacks or just DBs in general that are 200 pounds or under because I know they’re going to be feeling me a little bit in the game,” Williams said before the season began.
Williams’ advantage over the Clemson’s defensive linemen that Clemson’s defensive linemen that significantly outweigh him and the linebackers around his size? His track star speed. He was such a stud in high school that he brought his speed suit and his spikes to BC just for fun. He used to run 110-meter hurdles and the 100-meter dash back to back. He claims, and Kimble confirmed, that the only person on the team that can match his speed is wide receiver Alex Amidon, and even then Williams thinks he has the extra step.
Don’t expect Williams to run flashy circles around the Tigers tomorrow, though. It’s not his style. It’s not fun that way.
“I like going for the hit,” Williams said.
The running game has been simplified. Offensive coordinator Doug Martin has honed in on a handful of a few core runs, and the offensive line as well as Williams have spent the past two weeks mastering those runs. It should be all Williams will need.
Clemson has one of the best pass rushes in the country. They know that Rettig has put the Eagle passing attack on top of the ACC and will be gunning for the quarterback all game. The only problem? The Tigers rank 103rd in rush defense. As the defensive ends try to break off of the outside and get to Rettig, Williams will have his chance. He can take the handoff, find the right gap, end up five yards past the line of scrimmage like it’s nothing, and then he’ll be one on one with a cocky Clemson cornerback. Maybe the DB thinks he can make a few highlight reels by ducking his head and laying a big hit on Williams. Good luck. If Williams doesn’t run the guy over, then he’ll fake a truck and side-step his way to a big gain.
Williams has heard all of the talk about the fumbles, but he isn’t going to let it get in his way.
“If scoring a touchdown in the best feeling in the world, then putting the ball on the ground is definitely the worst,” Williams said.
The scout team defensive players have spent the past two weeks not trying to tackle Williams, but instead doing everything they can to strip the ball out of his hands. Not only is he improving his ball control, but he also has Martin’s words of wisdom in his head that “a turnover is negated by four explosive plays.”
Williams owes the Eagles those explosive plays on Saturday, and he has all of the potential needed to execute them. If Rettig gets things rolling in the first quarter and the Clemson defensive line starts getting antsy and the box empties, then watch out for Williams. The mellow and relaxed running back is a different animal on the field once he starts heading downhill.
The last time BC beat Clemson was in 2010, when Harris piled up 142 yards on 36 carries right here in Chestnut Hill. Although the passing game has led the way so far this season, it might be Williams stepping into the spotlight tomorrow, following in the footsteps of his mentor. Yet if Williams really has his way, he won’t so much be following in Harris’ footsteps as much as he’ll be plowing his way right through them.