East Carolina coach John Thompson said he was frightened after watching USF’s running back rip into UAB’s defense Wednesday.
If opposing coaches are scared, Bulls fans must be asking themselves, “What is with this Andre Hall guy?”
Just don’t ask the coaching staff.
“This guy?” said running back coach Carl Franks with a southern drawl. “Oh, he ain’t just a guy.”
Whatever he is, there’s no question he has been the most productive player on offense this season. The 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound junior is ranked No. 3 in the nation with 179.29 all-purpose yards per game.
And he’s close to breaking school records just seven games into the season.
Hall, in his first year at USF, has rushed for 822 yards in only seven games and is only 195 yards short of Dyral McDillon’s school record of 1,017 yards in a season (1999).
His nine rushing touchdowns tie a school record and his 10 total scores leave him just two shy of another record.
The junior-college transfer from Garden City has done it with a lot of pressure after much preseason buildup.
“He had a lot of hype coming in,” senior center Alex Herron said. “And for good reason, as we can tell. Andre has another dimension to him. We block, but he sure makes a lot of things happen for himself. You could tell in the UAB game because you could see him zigzagging all across the field. It has been fun because you never know. He’s gone the wrong way and then broke it for 30 yards and you just look at it in amazement like, ‘How did he do that?'”
Both Hall and Franks have been quick to give credit to the offensive line. But Herron, a fourth-year starter on the line, said most of the success should be attributed to one person.
“I give a lot of (the credit) to Andre,” Herron said. “Just the things that he can do with the ball — he breaks those long runs and, yeah, we might give him a crease to run through but he definitely seems to make most of it happen for himself.”
Those who like watching this speedy back run all over the field should count their blessings. Hall very easily could be wearing colors other than green and gold.
He had offers to play for a lot of other football teams.
“I see Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas A&M,” Hall said. “I see them on TV and I’m like, ‘Dang, I could have been there.’ But then I sit in the locker room with my team and I’ll be like, ‘I’m happy I’m here.’ I don’t regret my decision at all. I enjoy living here in the Tampa Bay area.”
Playing for USF was a homecoming for Hall. He played high-school ball at Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg and said being close to his family is a big reason why he chose USF. He said as many as 100 of his family and friends attend each home game.
What Hall didn’t expect when he committed to USF was a pairing with the coach to which he credits much of his success. That’s because when Hall chose USF, Franks was not yet a member of the Bulls coaching staff.
Franks, who oversees recruiting efforts in addition to coaching running backs, can’t boast about recruiting the team’s most explosive player because he inherited Hall when he was hired by USF.
“He has the one thing you always look for in a running back,” Franks said. “If you had to break it down, what’s the most important thing that you look at? It’s the ability to make people miss. That’s what he has.
“Maybe he’s not the fastest guy in the world, but when you start looking at the qualities that are important in a running back — vision, size, speed and all those things — you get down to what’s the most important thing. The most important thing is to be able to make people miss and make yards, get first downs and keep the sticks moving. It’s just something that is a gift that he has.”
Hall has at least 200 yards in two of USF’s past three games. He ran for two touchdowns Wednesday against UAB in a game where he broke USF’s single-game rushing record with 275 yards.
Now the question isn’t whether Hall will break the school record for yards in a season — it’s whether he will break it this weekend against East Carolina.