There was little concern about the potential consequences when Boston College coach Steve Addazio curtailed Andre Williams’s workload during preseason camp. Addazio’s careful management of his senior running back’s repetitions in camp was all about making sure Williams was rested and ready to go for the Aug. 31 opener against Villanova — and beyond.
“I want to keep him healthy more than I want to keep him fresh,’’ said Addazio, who increased Williams’s repetitions in the final scrimmage game Wednesday at Shea Field, where the Eagles went through a final dress rehearsal for their opener in shorts and shoulder pads.
Mindful of the considerable gap between Williams and the rest of the running backs on the roster, Addazio did not want to grind down his senior workhorse, even at the risk of some rust setting in during camp.
“But the No. 2 is not close to the No. 1 right now,’’ said Addazio, referring to junior Tahj Kimble, who missed the spring and was slow to return to his backup role, as well as freshmen running backs Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, both of whom may be counted upon to provide depth.
“So the No. 1, a little rusty, is still the No. 1,’’ Addazio said. “So we got to get him to the race and you do the best you can to try and manage him.’’
Williams, a 6-foot, 227-pounder from Schnecksville, Pa., was BC’s rushing leader last season with 584 yards and four touchdowns on 130 carries despite missing the last three games. Now, as the focal point of BC’s rushing attack, Williams will be looking to make a strong finishing kick to his senior season.
“When [camp] started, I started to get into a lot of conditioning with the strength coaches and then getting a lot of reps with the [first-team offense] at the end of camp,’’ Williams said. “It was real difficult, but you know that’s another part of training. I didn’t really think too much of it. I know that it’s important to make sure the playmakers are healthy and here for the first game. So I’m really happy that [the coach is] treating us right.’’
Durable sophomore David Dudeck, who took the lion’s share of the repetitions during camp after both freshmen got nicked up, was lauded by Addazio as “a warrior’’ for his tireless efforts in the week leading up to and in last Saturday’s penultimate scrimmage of the preseason.
With Williams, Kimble and both freshmen getting much of the work Wednesday, Dudeck added to his plate by taking some reps at slot receiver.
“He’s a soldier,’’ Williams said. “He takes a lot of reps and it doesn’t faze him mentally or physically. He can play anywhere on the field. They got him playing a little bit of the receiver position right now and the running back, so he’s really versatile.
“He just proved that he’s a mentally tough person and he can play anywhere on the field. In my mind, he’s not really a young guy. I treat him like he’s a senior.’’
As for the freshmen? “They’re both going to be good running backs,’’ Williams said. “Tyler, he’s real stocky and quick and when he learns to lower his shoulder on the field when he needs to, he’s going to be a monster. I think his style is a little similar to mine. Myles has really good feet and he looks so natural in his cuts.
“They’re both going to end up being a really good combo.’’
Though his workload was kept to a minimum at the start of camp, Williams said he avoided any letdown by learning BC’s new offense and staying fully engaged off the field.
“I think I’ve got a good handle on the offense at this point,’’ he said. “I’m watching tape at night and I’m scouting Villanova and I make sure I’m awake and alert during the meetings. Even if I’m not getting the physical rep, I’m definitely repping mentally all the time.’’
“I saw him in spring and I saw him in camp and he’s clearly the best back on the field right now,’’ said Addazio. “I’ve seen it all. He’s got a phenomenal mind-set. He’s one of those guys we have on the field who, to me, is a difference-maker.’’
Up for grabs
With the status of junior backup quarterback Josh Bordner uncertain for the opener, Addazio said the backup role was still unsettled between senior Mike Marscovetra and freshman James Walsh. Both split the repetitions in camp that otherwise would have gone to Bordner, who tweaked his knee before the second scrimmage.
“It’s very unsettled and it’s very concerning,’’ Addazio said. “Bordner getting dinged up was not a positive thing for us. So we got to get him back. We got to get him back in the fold. He’s missed a lot of camp right now and we were really counting on him.
“So if you asked what was the biggest hit we’ve taken in camp, that’s a pretty sizable hit that we took in camp. We can ill afford to have our No. 2 quarterback out like this.’’
Addazio said redshirt freshman Bobby Wolford, a 6-2, 233-pounder who switched from linebacker to fullback, helped his cause in camp. “He’s going to play a lot of football for us at fullback,’’ Addazio said. “That’s just one example of a guy who made a position change.’’ The coach also lauded the efforts of sophomore wideout Dan Crimmins, a physical 6-5, 222-pound target (“He’s a guy who completely worked his way into being a starter on this team,’’ Addazio said) in addition to linebackers Sean Duggan and Steven Daniels, and defensive lineman Brian Mihalik. “They’re guys who might not be starters necessarily, but are getting a ton of snaps right now,’’ Addazio said . . . While most coaches do not like to play too many freshmen as a rule of thumb, Addazio said BC fans could expect to see contributions from freshmen such as wide receiver Drew Barksdale, defensive end Kevin Kavalec, cornerback John Johnson, and safety Matt Milano in addition to Walsh at quarterback and Rouse and Willis at running back . . . Addazio said junior defensive lineman Malachi Moore (undisclosed medical issue) and senior wide receiver Bobby Swigert (knee rehab) would not play this season. Both will be eligible to return next season, pending medical clearance.
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.