At the beginning of the year, I made the bold call that Boom Williams would surpass 1,000 yards on the ground this season. Though right now it may seem like that was a no-brainer, the situation was very different back in August. Though Eddie Gran commented he wanted to run the ball “more” entering the season, BBN had no clue it would be this successful or be the focal point of this offense.
Boom’s career had been mostly good but injuries and some fumbling issues had prevented him from sustaining success. Despite decent Olines and with talented backs, Kentucky has not produced a 1,000 yard back since 2007. It wasn’t out of the question that Boom’s long-term viability would be in doubt with his past and UK looked awfully rocky last season transitioning to a new OC after two years with Neal Brown.
I laid out a path for Boom to eclipse 1,000 yards, but his production has destroyed my prognostication. I figured UK’s running back by committee approach would lower his ceiling and make yards hard to come by hence lowing his YPC. I thought it would take a step back from 7.1 to 6 (I was being very conservative– crazy to think that projecting six yards per run is conservative). But, I also went soft on trying to predict the number of runs the Cats would call; I ended up using Gran’s worst run output, 454 plays, at his time at Cinci. Back then, I thought the Cats would play from behind a lot this year.
But in order for Boom to get to the Thousand Yard Plateau, I figured his carry share had to increase to that of Derrick Locke’s in 2008, which was the highest carry share by a RB since the last 1,000 yard back. Entering this year, his carry share was no higher than 29%. After the UT game, it’s right around 31%.
Despite the stagnation in carry share, the explosion in total runs and YPC have helped Boom dismantle expectations. At this point, UK is eight runs away from eclipsing 454 and Boom’s YPC has increased to 7.4. The crazy part, however, is that he isn’t alone. True freshman Benny Snell Jr is also within striking distance of the Thousand Yard Plateau. Benny only needs 146 yards in the next two games to join his Junior teammate.
Just think: In August, there was no certainly UK would produce one 1,000 yards back. Now, its on the cusp of having two. Give a massive amount of kudos to this coaching staff and big boys up front. UK plans to retain a good portion of this unit next season, so the best might be yet to come. This physical ground-and-pound will play a huge part of this team’s success moving forward.
Though starting off mostly as a “slasher” and a back who looked to bounce runs to the outside, Boom now runs between the tackles with vision and patience. Once JoJo Kemp broke his hand, he even ran the Wildcat set. I’m very pleased to see Boom progress as a running back. Though he has size and durability concerns, someone will give him a chance to play at the next level.
Now that he’s answered the question whether or not he will reach 1,000 yards, now its time to ask “How much will he end up with?”