BBD Staff Writer: John Maher
Bowl season is time for games between teams who would rarely match up under normal circumstances. That is the case in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, or more colloquially the Independence Bowl, which will pit the Arizona Wildcats (7-5) against the Boston College Eagles (7-5) for the first time ever (Tuesday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN).
The story of this game will be the matchup between the FBS’ leading rushers of the past two seasons, Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey and Boston College senior running back Andre Williams.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College, Sr. (6’0”, 227 lbs)
Williams will look to make a final mark on a tremendous season Tuesday. Leading the FBS with 2,102 rushing yards this season, Williams earned the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in college football and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Williams has shown the potential to be a three-down back in the NFL. His strong build allows him to simply overpower defenders and muscle for more yards after first contact, as his 6.4 yards per carry average this season attests to. Williams has also shown some significant big play ability; he has 17 rushing plays or 30 yards or more this season while no other running back has more than nine, according to CFBStats.com.
Although Williams has had a tremendous senior season, there are still criticisms. He has zero receptions on the year, which could hurt his draft stock. Williams also had very unremarkable sophomore and juniors campaigns, averaging just 4.2 and 4.5 yards per carry in those seasons on just 254 combined carries.
Going against a weak Arizona rushing defense, Williams could very well have an excellent day in his final game, but it may not be a tell-tale sign of his NFL potential.
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona, Jr. (5’10”, 196 lbs)
Unlike Williams, Carey has more than one year of consistent production. After leading the FBS with 1,929 rushing yards in 2012, he has 1,716 rushing yards this season with one game left to play. Carey has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game he has played in this season and has an FBS-best streak of 15 straight 100-yard rushing games.
Carey has proven himself to be one of the best draft prospects at his position over the best two seasons. He has shown patience as a runner while continuing to make things happen when he gets out in the open. The value of the running back position has been decreased in recent seasons, but Carey could play a similar a role to that of Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard in his rookie season.
One concern for Carey is his maturity. He was suspended for Arizona’s season opener by head coach Rich Rodriguez after being involved in multiple off-field incidents last offseason, including a domestic violence incident with his pregnant ex-girlfriend and being kicked out of an Arizona basketball game after a verbal confrontation with event staff and local police, according to Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com.
While Carey might be the top running back in the 2014 draft if he declares, his off-field baggage may drop his stock.
Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College, Sr. (6’1”, 225 lbs)
Pierre-Louis has started since his freshman year for Boston College and has shown improvement each year since. He has accumulated 104 total tackles including 10.5 tackles for loss as a senior, and his 211 career solo tackles rank sixth in the FBS among active players.
Pierre-Louis has a great motor and shown big-play ability, including a interception return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech earlier this season. While Pierre-Louis is not nearly the talent that former BC and current Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was, he has great strength and good size for a weakside linebacker.
Going up against Carey in this game will be a good test for Pierre-Louis to show if he is capable of going up against an NFL-caliber running back.
The biggest concern with Pierre-Louis might be injuries. He missed three games in both his sophomore and junior years due to injury. Still, Pierre-Louis could be a late Day 2 or Day 3 selection in the 2014 draft.
Other Players to Watch
Alex Amidon, WR, Boston College, Sr. (6’0”, 182 lbs)
Following an excellent junior year with 1,210 receiving yards, some were looking at Amidon as a sleeper pick in the 2014 draft. Amidon took a step back in his senior year, however, with 903 yards on only 11 less receptions. Amidon does not have great agility or open-field moves, but he has great awareness over the middle of the field and can be a deep threat. Still, Amidon is likely to fall to the seventh round or be an undrafted free agent pickup.
Marquis Flowers, LB, Arizona, Sr. (6’3”, 229 lbs)
Flowers has made his mark on the Arizona defense after moving to outside linebacker from free safety in his junior year. He has 25 career tackles for loss, 22 of which have come in the past two seasons. Flowers has good size and weight for a linebacker, but is still raw with only two years of collegiate experience as a linebacker. He could be a late draft pick with developmental potential.
Nate Freese, K, Boston College, Sr. (5’11”, 192 lbs)
While a kicker is hardly the talk of a bowl game, Freese has been perfect for Boston College this season, making all 18 of his attempted field goals which makes him the only kicker in the FBS to have a perfect field goal percentage this season. He earned an all-ACC selection this season for his consistency, and could be looked at as an NFL kicker.
Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona, Sr. (6’1”, 186 lbs)
Richardson is a great man-to-man cover cornerback who has the strength to effectively jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. With only three interceptions and six total pass defenses on the year, Richardson has been far from leading the stat book in his senior season, but he has come up with big plays against big teams, especially Oregon, with an interception of his own and an incredible play to set up another. He could be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent signing.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Alex Amidon, Andre Williams, Arizona, Boston College, Bowl Games, Bowl Previews, Game Previews, Indepence Bowl, Ka'Deem Carey, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Marquis Flowers, Nate Freese, Prospect Previews, Shaquille Richardson