August 20, 2007

Callender ready for bulk of carries?

For the better part of three years, the Boston College running attack has consisted primarily of two components. L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender. Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth.

They've been about as a interchangeable in former offensive coordinator Dana Bible's scheme as could be and their numbers are pretty similar. In three years, Whitworth has carried the ball 506 times for 2,221 yards for an average of 4.4 yards a carry. Callender, meanwhile, has not gotten quite as many touches but it's been close enough, carrying it 426 times for 1978 yards and a 4.7 average.

There have been games in which one or the other has gotten the hot hand and taken the bulk of the carries in the second half, but the two have pretty much split time throughout their collegiate careers.

But will that continue? Right now, it's hard to tell, especially with the injury bug having taken a big bite out of the backfield. Whitworth has missed all three scrimmages to date, though head coach Jeff Jagodzinski expects him to be ready for the September 1 opener against Wake Forest. Callender himself missed the second of three scrimmages, though he was back for Sunday's intrasquad game.

Meanwhile, A.J. Brooks has gotten a lot of carries in camp and has been making a play for time. And Jagodzinski has said repeatedly that he plans to get Jeff smith the ball any way he can, though Smith also missed his second scrimmage on Sunday.

And all the backs are trying to get up to speed on running the ball in the new zone blocking system.

After Sunday's scrimmage, Callender said that part of it has been something of a stop-and-go process.

"We're making some progress. We just have to stack a whole bunch of practices together to make this thing go. But I feel confident that we'll be ready by September 1," said the New Jersey-born senior. "Once in a while, you'll see glimpses of how we good can be. Other times, we've been shooting ourselves in the foot. We've got to minimize the mistakes and we'll be fine.

It's different. We get to choose our holes and make different reads. But we've gone through the spring and summer time now and we'll be OK....You've got to kind of pick and read where the hole's going to be and when you see it, you've got to hit it. Some days I have my good days and some days I have my bad days, just like everyone else has their good and bad days. I'm just trying to get the hang of it and trying to see the big picture."

Callender missed the second scrimmage, which might have been a good thing for him. In that scrimmmage, the offense could barely get out of its own way, as quarterback Matt Ryan had little time to throw the ball and the running backs were all too often greeted by defensive linemen in the ackfield.

But after another slow start on Sunday, the offense was showed some spark. It was most noticeable in the passing game, but the ground game made some strides as well. Callender led all rushers with 54 yards on 16 carries, though he was stopped on a third-and-one in the red zone.

"I felt OK. I made a couple of good reads and I made a couple of bad reads, but I've just got keep envisioning where the cut's going to be and work on my pass protection," said the Seton Hall Prep product.

With Whitworth sidelined, this camp has been a little strange for Callender, who hasn't had his friend, teammate and, yes, competitor by his side.

"It's been a little different," said Callender. "We've always depended on each other and critiqued each other, crack a few jokes and all that. Hopefully, he'll be back soon."

Of course, the longer Whitworth stays out, the better that could be for Callender. But the two have been pulling the sled in the same direction for so long, Calledner doesn't allow that kind of thought process to enter his mind.

"I try not to think about that," said Callender. "I just try to keep my head down and focus on camp and just try to stay healthy and just keep working at this offense, because I think we have something special."

But that's not to say that Callender wouldn't like to be the featured back. He wouldn't be the competitor that he is if he didn't think that way.

"That's the way it is with everything in life," said Callender. "But you just go out there and work hard and let the decision up to the coaches."

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