WEST POINT, N.Y. — The positive thoughts started flowing for Boston College running back Andre Williams when strength and conditioning coach Mike Poidomani passed along a book, “The Dream Giver.”
The line he’s been living by since he read it says, “This is your dream and god made you to do it.”
But, at the start of the season, the Eagles’ backfield was designed to be a committee with Williams, Rolandan Finch, and Tahj Kimble.
Through five games, though, Williams has been the back BC has leaned on.
Finch fell out of the depth chart, Kimble is sidelined with a leg injury, and Williams is now the feature back.
“It’s responsibility, but somebody has to be the starter and why not me?” Williams said. “I don’t really feel like it’s a real heavy burden on my shoulders. I’m ready to accept it.
“I’m not really thinking about any negative things anymore. I’m just worried about the positive.”
As much as the Eagles have struggled running the ball all season, they chewed up yards on the ground in their 34-31 loss to Army Saturday and Williams led the attack with 191 yards and two touchdowns.
He had the biggest run of his career, the longest in BC history and NCAA history all in one play, breaking loose in the second quarter for a 99-yard touchdown.
The Eagles were pinned against their end zone, but a hole opened up that gave Williams an HOV lane to the secondary. Once he got there he broke a tackle and then it became a race to the end zone with Army cornerback Marques Avery.
He knew he wouldn’t be chased down.
“My track instincts broke out,” he said.
In the fourth 100-yard game of his career, Williams was the closest thing the Eagles had to an answer for an Army ground game that rushed for 516 yards, with three runners reaching the century mark.
“It felt real good to get the running game going, because in previous games we just hadn’t been able to run the ball effectively in key situations,” Williams said. “This time, we definitely established ourselves as a running offense and that’s something positive to build off.”
In clutch situations, Williams came through. The Eagles faced third down 11 times, eight of which were third-and-4 or longer. When they passed, they were 2 of 8. When they ran, they went to Williams and they were 2 of 3.
The only time he came up short was in the fourth quarter on third and 4 from the BC 7, when he plunged into the line and picked up only a yard.
The Eagles came in with the third-worst run defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and having starting linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis on the sideline with an upper-body injury only made things worse against Army, whose running attack is second in the nation.
Sophomore linebacker Sean Duggan started in Pierre-Louis’s place, making nine tackles. But the Eagles missed Pierre-Louis’s experience.
“Kevin, it’s huge having him out on the weak side,” linebacker Nick Clancy said. “He plays that spot so well. He’s been there three years. He knows exactly how it’s played.”
Pantale near return
Tight end Chris Pantale will practice this week after traveling with the team to West Point, and coach Frank Spaziani is optimistic that one of his biggest weapons could be back on the depth chart next week at Florida State.
Pantale broke his left foot in the preseason and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks. He had been wearing a walking boot until a week ago, when he was cleared to begin light workouts.
“He’s getting close,” Spaziani said. “He should be doing more stuff out there and a little more next week.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.