Big gains expected from Williams

New Eagles coach Steve Addazio wants to establish a power running game at Boston College in 2013, but it’s fair to question whether or not he has the pieces at running back to cobble together that puzzle immediately.

When it comes to RBs with experience, there’s Andre Williams … and that’s about it.

Tahj Kimble has shown glimpses of big-play talent, but hasn’t demonstrated the ability to stay on the field consistently. He’s currently rehabbing after knee surgery.

David Dudeck burst onto the scene after Rolandan Finch lost favor (and has since left school) and Kimble was injured, but he’s got 41 career carries and wasn’t even a full-time running back at the start of last season.

So if the Eagles are to play the kind of physical, power game that Addazio favors, it’ll be up to 6-foot, 227-pound Williams to carry the load.

The senior from Schnecksville, Pa., showed in spring work that he is capable of being a top back, and on Thursday was one of four ACC backs named to the Doak Walker Award watch list.

The Doak Walker Award, given each year to the nation’s top running back, is presented by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum. Semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 14, with the winner announced on Dec. 12 on the Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN.

Williams’ inclusion on the list may be due more to potential and opportunity than past performance. Coming into 2013, he has 349 career carries for 1,577 yards and 10 touchdowns.

For comparison’s sake, Montee Ball won the Doak Walker Award in 2012 after carrying the ball 356 times for 1,830 yards and 22 TDs for Wisconsin.

Williams had 130 carries for 584 yards and four TDs in nine games in BC’s 2-10 season. (Nearly one-third of those yards came in one game, with 196 yards -- including a 99-yard TD run -- rushing against Army).

If he can stay healthy and if the restructured offensive line can open enough holes, Williams will likely surpass those numbers in 2013. That’s not really a question.

The question Eagles fans are likely asking heading into Addazio’s first season is this: Can Williams’ legs carry BC to success?

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.