Shreveport, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the top running backs in the
country will be going head-to-head in the Advocare V100 Bowl as Andre Williams
and the Boston College Eagles match up with Ka'Deem Carey and the Arizona
Wildcats at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Led by Carey, the second season for Arizona under head coach Rich Rodriguez
was filled with plenty of peaks and valleys. The Wildcats opened the year with
three straight wins, promptly took two losses, ripped off another three wins,
fell in back-to-back bouts before crushing Oregon, 42-15, that stands as
the signature win for this squad. However, a regular-season finale against
Arizona State resulted in a humbling 58-21 loss to the Sun Devils, leaving
Arizona at 7-5 overall, after going 8-5 last season.
Even though they might not have won enough to challenge for the Pac-12 title,
the Wildcats are headed to their fifth bowl game in the last six years. That
is nearly half as many bowl games as they had prior to the 2009 campaign.
"We're excited to be invited to the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, Arizona
athletics director Greg Byrne said. "In order for us to reach our long-term
goals of playing in Rose Bowls and contending for National Championships, we
have to build from a strong foundation that includes making a bowl game each
and every season."
In last year's bowl appearance the Wildcats faced off with New Mexico in the
New Mexico Bowl and came away with a thrilling, 49-48 victory thanks to a last
second touchdown pass from Matt Scott to Tyler Slavin. The win was the seventh
in 16 all-time bowl games for the Wildcats.
On the other side of the country, Williams racked up just about every honor
there is for a college running back in helping Boston College to its first
bowl game since 2010. The transition from Frank Spaziani to Steve Addazio at
head coach clearly had some positive effects on the Eagles, who finished the
regular season at 7-5. Like Arizona, Boston College suffered its share of ups
and downs but it claimed some impressive wins over Virginia Tech and at
Maryland, while going toe-to-toe with both Florida State and Clemson. The win
total for the Eagles is the most since they had a streak of 12 years with
seven or more wins snapped in 2011.
During that 12-year run the Eagles were mainstays in the bowl landscape,
However the last two season, when they managed just six wins combined, kept
them out of the postseason. They will now have a chance to not only earn an
eighth win for this campaign, but improve on their record in bowl games, which
currently stands at 12-9.
Besides the two running backs in this contest, also adding intrigue is the
fact that this will be the first-ever matchup between these two programs.
Carey missed the first game of the season with an injury. He certainly made up
for lost time, putting together a season that far exceeded many of his peers
who were healthy all year. The junior piled up 1,716 yards and 17 touchdowns
on 322 carries, enjoying 100-yard efforts in every game he played in. Carey
also ranked behind only Williams in rushing yards per game (156), while
earning consensus All-American honors, being named the Pac-12 Player of the
Year and a grabbing a spot on the finalist list for the Doak Walker Award.
Carey even managed to finish 10th in the Heisman voting.
The offensive gameplan that Rodriguez preaches certainly helps Carey stack up
yards and scores. Rodriguez has always been reliant on running the football
and the Wildcats have done so with great success this season, ranking 11th in
the nation in rushing (265.8 ypg) and 35th in total offense (452.6 ypg).
Aside from Carey, the most important player pushing the Wildcats to such
heights is quarterback B.J. Denker. The dual-threat signal caller racked up
898 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground alone. He finished with at least 50
yards in all but two games and even put together a pair of 100-yard efforts.
Denker was a bit more subdued as a passer, tallying 2,141 yards and 14 scores
on the year through the air but he completed 60.5 percent of his passes and
was intercepted seven times. However, three of those picks came in the season
finale against Arizona State.
Putting so much emphasis on running didn't open up a ton of opportunities for
a large group of the receiving corps. Still, Nate Phillips (42 receptions, 503
yards, seven TDs), Samajie Grant (45 receptions, 355 yards, one TD) and
Terrence Miller (39 receptions, 456 yards, one TD) all played important roles.
For how impressive they were on offense, the Wildcats were unable to match
that success on the defensive side of the ball. They were eighth in the Pac-12
in yards allowed (405.2 ypg), while generating only 17 sacks all season.
Heading up the unit is senior linebackers Marquis Flowers (86 tackles, 8,5
TFL) and Jake Fischer (85 tackles), while junior safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant
(66 tackles, 7.0 TFL, four INTs) was a dangerous defender in the secondary.
The only back in the country that was better than Carey was the one taking
handoffs for the Eagles, as Williams was unstoppable in thrusting himself into
the national spotlight. He led the nation in rushing with 2,102 yards and 17
touchdowns on 329 carries, earning Consensus All-American honors, as well as
the Doak Walker Award and an impressive finish in the Heisman voting. The bad
news was that he was hobbled during the season finale against Syracuse and is
still listed as questionable for this game, though the reason has been
"He's been playing well all year," Addazio said of Williams, adding he
believes his running back is the 'heart and soul of what we do'. "But it just
seems like each week he's growing, getting better, as is, I believe, our
offensive line, and the two are working together hand in hand."
Even with Williams stampeding his way into the record books, the Eagles were
still a rather pedestrian offensive team. They averaged only 28.4 points and
368.6 yards per game as a unit, ranking 10th and seventh in each category,
respectively, in the ACC.
Chase Rettig was yet again unable to live up to the promise he showed early on
in his career. The senior quarterback was solid this season, but never the
lynchpin for the offense. He threw for only 1,804 yards and 17 touchdowns,
though he did complete 61.6 percent of his pass attempts and avoided
interceptions, with just six in 12 games.
When Rettig is able to get time and complete passes he is normally looking for
Alex Amidon. The two have created an evident chemistry over the years and this
season was no different. Amidon led the team by a huge margin in receptions
(67) and receiving yards (895), while totaling a team-best five touchdowns
through the air. While those numbers aren't overwhelming, they dwarf the rest
of the roster, as Jake Sinkovec (12 receptions, 103 yards, three TDs) seems to
be the next best option.
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis joined Williams on the All-ACC First-Team as the
clear leader and most effective defender for the Eagles. The 6-foot-1 senior
record 104 tackles, 10.5 for loss and six sacks this season. Fellow linebacker
Steele Divitto (107 tackles) also reached the century mark in stops. Senior
defensive end Kasim Edebali (62 tackles, 15 TFL, 9.5 sacks) certainly had a
season to be proud of as well. However, the Eagles were not always able to
clamp down on the defensive end enough, allowing 419.3 total yards and 27.8
points per game.
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