All of the talk going into Boston College’s 2016 season has involved new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and head coach Steve Addazio’s goal of implementing a more balanced offense. While yes, Boston College certainly is going to need to throw the ball more effectively this season, they are also going to need to fix the running game, which fell from 15th in the country in 2014 to 73rd last season. Running has been the bread and butter of this offense since 2013, and if BC wants to get more points, the rushing attack will have to improve.
There were quite a few reasons the running game did not move the chains in 2015. One, the offensive line struggled, and when blockers can’t open up holes, running backs/QB’s options are quite limited. Add in a non-existent passing game, injuries and mistakes by younger players, and the backfield was a bit of a mess last season.
This season the running game should improve. The offensive line, as mentioned here before has bulked up significantly (and in the case of Aaron Monteiro, slimmed down), and hopefully Loeffler’s work with Patrick Towles/Darius Wade will open up the offense a bit more and will prevent defenses from loading up in the box and keying in on the run. And even though BC lost Sherm Alston, Marcus Outlow and Jordan Gowins, the Eagles should have enough talent to run the ball effectively.
First and foremost, Jon Hilliman is back. Just a season after missing 9 games due to a foot injury, the sophomore should be ready to roll in Dublin. Clearly as we saw last year against NIU, and at the end of 2014 in the Pinstripe Bowl, Hilliman probably is the most dynamic running back on the roster. He’s big, he’s physical, and don’t sleep on his speed. He’s an everydown back, with the physical frame to take the abuse that comes with it. If he can stay healthy, he is going to be a huge asset for this offense, and could easily lead BC in touchdowns by year’s end.
Behind Hilliman there are other options as well. Senior Myles Willis is a name that should be called numerous times by year’s end. Looking at this new balanced offense, his skill set could be the type that benefits most in this running back stable. Good speed, and with a quarterback who can throw the ball, he should be able to make a few catches out of the backfield as well.
Tyler Rouse seems to be one of Steve Addazio’s favorite players on the roster. He’s hard working, and while he may not be as explosive as Willis/Hilliman, he still can make some big plays. He may not be the type of running back you want to see as a featured runner, as he seemed to wear down in games, but he certainly is a guy that needs to see some touches every game.
If the offense starts to click, and BC gets into the red zone, Richard Wilson may be a back that starts to see the ball. He came to BC as a halfback, converted to fullback (where he played multiple games), and then started seeing runs at halfback. Big and powerful, if the Eagles can get the ball deep, he may be the punch it in type of back.
Davon Jones is an enigma right now. He came to the Eagles as cornerback, but redshirted his freshman year, and is now a running back. He put on weight to get himself to be more of a RB size (now listed at 214 lbs), and made a few good runs during the spring game. Certainly he is a name that will be worth watching as summer practices kick off.
As you can see, BC has plenty of options to run the ball in 2016. Addazio continues to reiterate that BC is going to be a smash mouth football team, one that wants to impose their physical will over other teams. There are certainly plenty of question marks about this offense going into this season, but hopefully if they stay healthy, the running back position won’t be one of them.