NCF Nation: Alex Amidon

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Previewing the 2014 season for the Boston College Eagles:

Key returners: RB Myles Willis, WR Josh Bordner, LG Bobby Vardaro, C Andy Gallik, RG Harris Williams, DT Mehdi Abdesmad, LB Steven Daniels, LB Josh Keyes, CB Manuel Asprilla, CB Bryce Jones, S Dominique Williams

Key losses: QB Chase Rettig, RB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon, LT Matt Patchan, RT Ian White, DE Kasim Edebali, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, K/P Nate Freese

Most important 2014 games: Sept. 5 vs. Pitt, Sept. 13 vs. USC, Nov. 1 at Virginia Tech, Nov. 22 at Florida State, Nov. 29 vs. Syracuse

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsSecond-year Boston College coach Steve Addazio is looking to build on a seven-win season in 2013.
Projected win percentage: 37.9 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: 5 wins

Instant impact newcomer: Florida transfer Tyler Murphy is the front-runner to start at quarterback, having been recruited to Gainesville back when Eagles coach Steve Addazio was an assistant there. Murphy started six games last year for the Gators, completing 60.5 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and five interceptions, adding 61 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

High point from 2013: Pick any Andre Williams highlight and you'll find it easy to understand how the previously unsung running back bullied his way to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Williams rushed for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns, finishing fourth in the Heisman voting. His 166 yards and two touchdowns in a Nov. 2 upset of Virginia Tech sparked a four-game winning streak for BC, helping the Eagles get to a bowl in Year 1 under Addazio.

Low point from 2013: A two-game slide to finish the season at 7-6 diminished some of the glow that had come from such a surprising run during BC's four-game winning streak earlier. The Eagles lost Williams in the regular-season finale at rival Syracuse, and lost the game 34-31 on a touchdown pass with six seconds left. Then Arizona routed BC 42-19 in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Murphy proves to be an efficient dual-threat quarterback, adding a dynamic to BC's offense that wasn't there last year. Willis leads a running back committee that, running behind a veteran line, is able to collectively make up for much of the production that went out the door when Williams left. A strong secondary offsets a mostly untested defensive front, and BC continues its ascent under Addazio, winning eight games and pulling several more upsets along the way.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: The offense struggles to find its identity without the machine-like Williams pushing it forward. Murphy and a green receiving corps have trouble meshing, the defense lacks punch up front and the Eagles fall back to a three- or four-win season, which is what many thought would happen last season.

They said it: "Really, the interest level now is about winning those games. It's really not about being close; that's not really what we're striving for here. Year 1 was about winning the opener, it was about getting bowl eligible. Now I think as the program moves on in Year 2, you want to get to Charlotte, and that's the next goal on the program's docket right now, is to get to Charlotte." -- Addazio, on BC's respectable 48-34 loss last season to eventual national champion Florida State

ACC weekend rewind: Week 13

November, 25, 2013
The final regular-season weekend is on deck. Time sure flies. So here's one last look at all that went down in the ACC this past weekend.

The good: The ACC seemingly survived JV week without incident, with Florida State and North Carolina each putting up 80 points, Georgia Tech crushing Alabama A&M 66-7, and Clemson taking care of business against the Citadel with a 56-7 win. Two teams, UNC and Pitt, got to bowl-eligibility, setting up for some great showdowns this coming rivalry weekend.

The bad: Well, there is always Virginia, which lost by 19 at Miami and remains winless in ACC play. And there is NC State, also winless in ACC play after a 14-point home loss to East Carolina -- which, to add insult to injury, further declared its place in the Triangle in a season in which it beat both NC State and North Carolina.

The ugly: North Carolina's 80-20 win over Old Dominion featured a shortened fourth quarter, from 15 minutes to 10. And none of the Tar Heels' 80 points ended up coming in the final frame. Funny enough, this was actually a 14-13 game after the first quarter. I was at Notre Dame on Saturday, and when the out-of-town scores were announced in the press box, this game was announced: "North Carolina 80, Old Dominion 20. That's football, not basketball."

[+] EnlargeDaniel Rodriguez
AP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtClemson walk-on WR Daniel Rodriguez, a Purple Heart recipient, caught a TD pass Saturday, providing a heart-warming moment.
The awesome moment: It came at the 14:10 mark of the fourth quarter, with Clemson already holding a 45-3 lead over the Citadel. Then, Daniel Rodriguez caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Cole Stoudt, for his first career touchdown. On Military Appreciation Day, no less. If you're not already familiar with Rodriguez's story, become so. Simply amazing.

The icers: Paul Chryst, bravo. Randy Edsall, not so much. Up 17-16 with 1:03 left and Syracuse facing a fourth-and-8 from the Pitt 36, Chryst called a timeout right as the Orange were about to attempt a game-winning field goal, which was then revealed to be a fake, a fake that looked destined to be good. Terrel Hunt then threw an incomplete pass out of the timeout, sealing bowl-eligibility for the Panthers and leaving Syracuse with no other choice but to beat Boston College this Saturday in order to make the postseason. Edsall, meanwhile, called a timeout to ice BC kicker Nate Freese's 52-yard game-winning attempt, which hooked left. With new life from Edsall's timeout, however, Freese drilled it, giving the Eagles a 29-26 win at Maryland, their fourth straight victory.

The unconventional two-pointer: Speaking of BC-Maryland, how about the wild extra-point sequence in the fourth quarter? Alex Amidon hauled in a 74-yard touchdown pass for BC with 5:02 left to take a 26-24 lead. But the extra point was blocked, and Anthony Nixon ran it back the other way to tie the game at 26. You don't see that every day.

The Heisman hopefuls: In making your case for why you should win college football's highest individual honor, you can do a lot worse than what Andre Williams and Aaron Donald did on Saturday. Williams rushed for 263 yards, eclipsing the 200-yard mark for the third straight game. He also got to 2,073 yards on the season, becoming just the 16th player in college football history to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. His 36-yard run set up the game-winning field goal for Boston College. Donald, meanwhile, was named the Walter Camp defensive player of the week award, as the Pitt defensive tackle tallied nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a blocked extra-point attempt that provided the winning margin in a 17-16 win at Syracuse.

The three-headed attack: Here's another box-score oddity you don't see every day: Florida State had three different players average better than 11 yards per carry. Devonta Freeman carried it 11 times for 129 yards and a touchdown (11.7 yards per carry), Karlos Williams ran it 10 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns (11.4 ypc) and James Wilder Jr. rushed four times for 85 yards and a score (21.3). The Seminoles had 336 rushing yards on the day, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.

The Blue Devils: Where do we start this time? Duke is in the BCS standings for the first time, at No. 24, after getting picked to finish last in the Coastal Division by the media in July. The Blue Devils have now clinched a tie of the division title after beating Wake Forest 28-21, and can win it outright by winning this Saturday at North Carolina. They have tied a school record with nine wins, something they have not done since 1941. And they have won seven straight games for the first time since 1994.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 9

October, 24, 2013
With only Syracuse on a bye this week, there will be plenty to keep an eye on in the conference. Here’s a look at what to watch in Week 9, in no particular order:

1. Florida State flashback: All eyes will be on the pregame scene in Tallahassee, where former Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden will make his first return to Doak Campbell Stadium since he was ousted following the 2009 season. Bowden will plant the famous spear at midfield, and nearly 400 former players are expected to attend the No. 2-ranked Seminoles’ game against NC State. "There's no nerves," Bowden told’s David Hale. "I'm excited about it, getting to see a lot of people."

[+] EnlargeBrandon Mitchell
Lance King/Getty ImagesBrandon Mitchell has been out since the opener for NC State.
2. Brandon Mitchell's return: While Florida State will be celebrating the return of its legendary coach, the Wolfpack will be celebrating the return of its injured starting quarterback. Mitchell broke his left foot in the season opener and hasn’t played since. He won the job over Pete Thomas this preseason, and his athleticism seemed to fit first-year coach Dave Doeren’s no-huddle offense well. He’ll face one of the toughest defenses in the country, though, on Saturday.

3. Wake’s hopes at an upset: The Demon Deacons are on a roll, having won back-to-back Atlantic Division games, and while the Canes lead the series 7-3, all three of Wake’s wins have come at Miami. Wake is looking to snap a six-game losing streak against ranked teams -- and Saturday is the 67th anniversary of the program’s win over No. 4 Tennessee, the highest-ranked team Wake has ever defeated. If the Deacs can continue to get the ball to receiver Michael Campanaro and play stingy defense, they could have a chance. Especially considering …

4. Miami’s ball security: You’ve heard it a million times this week. Miami has turned it over 12 times in the past three weeks. The Hurricanes the only team in the country to have at least four turnovers in three consecutive games this season and the first since East Carolina in 2011. Miami has also had four red-zone turnovers in its past three games. Meanwhile, Wake’s defense forced three turnovers in the Deacs’ victory over Maryland last week. Speaking of the Terps, watch out for …

5. Maryland’s quarterback controversy: It’s C.J. Brown OR Caleb Rowe listed as the starter on this week’s depth chart for Saturday’s game against Clemson, and coach Randy Edsall has played coy about Brown’s status since last week. Edsall said the indecision on his starter is health-related, not performance-related, but wouldn’t specify what’s wrong with Brown. Brown struggled in last week’s loss at Wake Forest, and Edsall said it was because of an injury unrelated to the concussion Brown suffered against Florida State. Stay tuned for which QB will be leading the Terps’ offense against a stingy Clemson D.

6. UNC’s run defense: Miami gashed the Tar Heels for 234 yards on the ground last week -- and that was with their leading rusher, Duke Johnson, sidelined for three quarters and four turnovers from the Canes. Boston College makes its living on the running game, led by senior Andre Williams, who leads the ACC and ranks fifth nationally in rushing yards per game (139.7).

7. Clemson’s rebound: Last week’s 51-14 home loss to Florida State was humbling and devastating to the Tigers. It knocked them out of the national championship picture, all but ruined quarterback Tajh Boyd's chances at winning the Heisman Trophy, and put them behind the Seminoles in the ACC race. How will the Tigers respond on the road? They’ve got more talent than the depleted Terps, but emotion could be a factor early.

8. Virginia Tech’s secondary: Veteran cornerback Antone Exum is expected to finally return for Saturday’s home game against Duke, more than eight months after he had offseason surgery to repair his ACL and a bone fracture. Exum was cleared Sept. 30, but he and the staff have played it cautious. Senior CB Kyle Fuller has broken up 10 passes in seven games and ranks fourth in the nation in passes defended (1.71 per game). They will come in handy against quarterback Duke, which is averaging 269 passing yards per game.

9. Replacement receivers: The ACC will be missing three of its top receivers, with Maryland’s Stefon Diggs and Deon Long and Miami’s Phillip Dorsett all out with injuries. Levern Jacobs will step in at the slot position in place of Diggs, and redshirt freshman Amba Etta-Tawo will take over Long’s spot. With Dorsett out at Miami, that likely means an increased role for Malcolm Lewis, who is listed as a backup at two spots, and true freshman Stacy Coley, who is listed as a co-starter at wide receiver, a starting kick returner and co-starter at punt returner.

10. BC WR Alex Amidon: The Eagles can do more than just run the ball, and Amidon needs just 144 receiving yards to become BC’s all-time leading pass receiver. He has three 100-plus yard receiving games this season and a school-record 10 for his 39-game collegiate career.

Williams' career day carries BC's offense

September, 7, 2013

NEWTON, Mass. -- Andre Williams was in the open field, rumbling up the right sideline late in the third quarter with the Eagles up 17-7 when he saw a Wake Forest defensive back cutting off his path to the end zone.

He could’ve veered out of bounds, content to take his 15-plus yards and a first down inside the red zone. Instead, Williams lowered his shoulder and delivered a big blow.

“It was intentional,” Williams said of the hit he dished out on the play. “I never want to be the type of back that is gonna run out of bounds. I always want to punish the DBs because the next play, it could be play-action and that DB is a little fazed and [Alex] Amidon will make a big play.

“I’m a big running back, I’m 230 pounds, and I just have to be true to myself and realize that I can punish people, I can wear down the defense, and that’s just the role I’m gonna embrace.”

[+] EnlargeAndre Williams, A.J. Marshall
AP Photo/Michael DwyerAndre Williams rushed for a career-high 204 yards despite not practicing all week.
While the hit was impressive, that’s only a part of what he produced in BC’s 24-10 win on Friday night. Williams carried the ball 35 times for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown (which he produced two plays after delivering that blow in the third quarter).

And he did it all after not practicing during the short week.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the senior tailback had to leave last week’s game against Villanova with a hamstring strain, as the preparation for Wake Forest got underway, the 6-foot, 227-pounder found himself under the weather with a chest cold, too.

Boston College coach Steve Addazio revealed after the game that the Eagles held him out of practice this week in hopes that the hamstring would heal and the cold would dissipate enough to allow him to play against the Demon Deacons.

They’re glad now that they did.

“Andre ran really hard,” Addazio said. “And that was important. Andre knew that it was important for him to come to this game and get on that field and overcome the hamstring strain that he had and have the night that he had. He needed to do that. And he did it, to his credit, he did it. That was important, because the team was counting on him.”

The Eagles finished with 314 yards of total offense, meaning Williams alone accounted for almost two-thirds of the total.

“I thought our offense really punched hard and really wore down their defense and had a really great, critical last drive to just keep moving the chains,” Addazio said.

With BC leading 24-10 and just more than five minutes to go in the game, the Eagles got the ball back. Their strategy wasn’t hard to figure out on that final drive, as Williams got the ball eight straight plays, grinding out yards and letting time tick off the clock.

“That’s the beautiful thing about having a run game, is that you can do that,” Addazio said. “The run game is a funny thing. It’s not something that you can just all of a sudden show up and think you’re gonna have a run game. Sometimes it can be a little maddening. When you’re not hitting it when you want to hit it right. But you keep pounding at the rock, pounding at the rock and the rock cracked.”

After it was over and the Eagles had moved to 2-0 for the first time since 2010 and matched their win total from all of 2012, Williams was asked if this was his most satisfying game.

The tailback hesitated before answering.

“I don’t know if it’s the most satisfying game, because I’m sure there’s a lot of football left to be played,” he said. “And the next one is gonna be sweeter when we’re 3-0.”

True to form, Williams wasn’t thinking that enough’s enough. He wants more.

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

BC trying to change culture

April, 18, 2013
Despite all of the headaches and heartaches Boston College has gone through in recent years, senior linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis said he only has one regret: That he doesn’t have two more years in the program.

Pierre-Louis has bought in to what first-year coach Steve Addazio and his staff have been doing in order to get the program back on track in Chestnut Hill.

[+] EnlargeKevin Pierre-Louis
Michael Tureski/Icon SMILinebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis says he has noticed a big change around the program since coach Steve Addazio took over.
“He’s very demanding,” Pierre-Louis said of Addazio. “He wants things to be done a certain way and he’s going to let you know that he wants things to be done a certain way. He respects his staff as well as his players, but he’s going to make sure everyone is in line to get done what his vision is. His vision is clear. He wants us to become what Boston College has always been in the past -- a tough, hard-nosed football team that’s going to play you for four quarters. He felt as though we had gotten away from that a little bit. He’s trying to reel us back in and get that reputation back for our program.”

There has been a major overhaul at BC this offseason, but it’s not just within the playbook. After a 2-10 season, the players have noticed the staff’s attempt to change the culture, too. In the locker room, the players are now split into position groups instead of by number. There has been a greater emphasis placed on leadership by the upper classmen, and the expectations for accountability have increased.

“Coach Addazio is clearly addressing some of the problems we had in the past years, which has mainly been a lack of leadership, from the older class, which is now my class,” said senior receiver Alex Amidon. “That’s something you will see different, is people being held more accountable for what is going on.”

Running back Andre Williams agreed.

“Absolutely,” he said. “In past years, we really lacked leadership and that's on the coaching level and on the players' level. This year, I feel like the seniors have taken it upon themselves a little bit more to make sure they take that leadership role so we don't end up in the same position we were in in years' past.”

Which is on the outside looking in at both the ACC race and bowl eligibility.

The program has been on a steady decline, missing a bowl game in each of the past two seasons. Whether or not Addazio is the right man for the job remains to be seen, but those within the program are thrilled to have a clean slate this spring.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “One losing season is bad and two losing seasons, it takes a lot of wind out of the whole program. I'm thankful that we were able to get a fresh start, and it feels like changes are being made now so we can really wipe the taste out of our mouths from those last couple seasons.”

It hasn’t been easy.

“The first practice, it was almost as though we were starting from scratch,” Pierre-Louis said. “It was chaos out there. It was almost to the point where it was a little embarrassing, because no one knew what the right calls were we needed to make, where we needed to be. As that practice got along and running, everyone started to feel comfortable and clear their minds and make sure they’re making the proper reads and calls. In the beginning it was kind of hectic, but towards the end everyone fell into place. We still have a long ways to go, but everyone is getting better.”
On Tuesday we checked in with BC receiver Alex Amidon to get his take on how the Eagles have been progressing this spring under first-year coach Steve Addazio and coordinator Ryan Day. Here is the second part of our conversation:

Are you guys having more fun this year?

[+] EnlargeAlex Amidon
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsBoston College wide receiver Alex Amidon says the team has adjusted well to a new head coach and new offensive coordinator.
Alex Amidon: Definitely. It’s a mix between that and everyone is trying to adapt to the new culture. Practices have been a lot tougher, but they’re also a lot more rewarding and a lot more fun. It’s only going to get better, the more you get used to it and the more people buy in, but it’s definitely already noticeable.

What’s the biggest change Addazio has made?

AA: I’d say the competitive spirit on the team is amped up a lot. It’s just in practices and stuff, that’s noticeable. Everyone is accountable individually for how they compete during practice. That’s something that’s new. He’s changed a lot of things, but I think that’s one thing that’s pretty important.

You had a terrific season last year, obviously, what are you looking to do specifically to get better and what are your individual goals for this season?

AA: Honestly I’m just trying to learn this offense as quickly as I can. I guess the one thing I can work on specifically is running with the ball after the catch. I wasn’t really that great at it last year, and that’s something that can help in this offense, a little more screen game and stuff like that. And then how I fit into the offense, I don’t really care, I just want to be on the field. If Andre is running 30 times a game, I’m going to try to help him get the extra yard and block a safety or something. Whatever the team needs, that’s what I’m trying to do for the season, get us some wins. At this point, I just want to win games.

Just how different is the playbook and how difficult has it been to learn this spring?

AA: For me there’s a couple of things I’ve never done before, but coach Day, the offensive coordinator, he was my receivers coach the first two years I was here.

Right, that’s why I thought it might be a little easier.

AA: It’s not that tough for me right now because all of the terminology is the same, and all of the concepts he’s talking about are the same. I’m just trying to make sure I know everything without having to think about it so I can play faster.

What did you think when you heard that Ryan Day was the guy who was hired as the OC?

AA: I was excited because the stuff he’s interested in in offense is what I’d like to be in, high-tempo. He comes from UNH and Chip Kelly, those are his background, so he has great offensive ideas. I was excited.

How do you feel like you guys are progressing, as far as learning the offense?

AA: It’s going day by day. He’s slowly infusing stuff into the offense. We’re installing stuff a little at a time. I guess after the first week people started getting it. The past two weeks it’s been good. Everyone knows what they’re doing.
Boston College receiver Alex Amidon was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Eagles last year. This fall, he is hoping to be part of a turnaround under first-year coach Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day. Last year, Amidon’s 1,210 yards receiving ranked second in the ACC, behind Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins. Amidon and Hopkins led all ACC receivers in 2012 with six 100-yard reception games each. I caught up with Amidon recently to get his take on the new offense and staff changes. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

Tell me how the new offense changes your role.

[+] EnlargeAmidon
Anthony Nesmith/Cal Sport Media Boston College receiver Alex Amidon says he welcomes an emphasis on the running game.
Alex Amidon: Well, I wouldn’t say it changes my role that much. The one thing I noticed about the offense is we’re really focusing on establishing the run game before the pass game, which is going to help the offense out a lot. Last year we couldn’t really run the ball that well, and that closed the play-action game, but I’d say I’m just out there trying to help move the chains on third downs. I think that would be my most significant role right now.

Does that concern you at all, that it’s going to be more geared towards the run game?

AA: No, not at all. It’s not like we’re not going to pass, it’s just, I would say if anything, us having the run game is going to help the pass game. I would definitely love to run the ball more than 20 times. Last year we were averaging around 20 carries a game, and if we could get to like 30 or something, that would help the pass game out a lot, in my opinion.

What do you think needs to improve offensively? We talked about the run game, but what have been some of the other priorities for you this spring?

AA: There were a lot of young guys coming out, and they’ve all been focusing on improving every day, getting down the completely new offense, trying to learn that. One thing around the whole team is mental and physical toughness. That’s something, along with tempo, but we’re not really working on that right now. Mental and physical toughness is something you don’t really need talent for -- I’m not saying we don’t have talent -- but anyone can have them, and if you have those two things, you can outmatch a team. Those two things have really been a focus for us.

How would you say the culture has changed under the new coaching staff?

AA: It is a lot different. There’s a new amount of energy in the program. That’s the one noticeable thing, a huge energy. Practices are high-energy practices, lots of competition, lots of competitive drills. The energy and competition are the two most noticeable differences.

How tough have the past two seasons been?

AA: They’ve been real bad. They’ve been tough. It’s just tough because we’re working year-round to win games, and when you don’t, it’s so disillusioning, all of the work you put in. It was tough last season, for sure.

Do you feel like things are going in the right direction now?

AA: I do. You can tell. The optimism people have, the energy we have. Coach Addazio is clearly addressing some of the problems we had in the past years, which has mainly been a lack of leadership, from the older class, which is now my class. That’s something you will see different, is people being held more accountable for what is going on.

What are some of the things you guys have done as some of the older players to try and establish that sense of leadership?

AA: Whether it comes from a quarterback calling out a receiver for dropping a ball in practice, or somebody missing their assignment, just a lot more accountability in that. And also off the field, we’ve been trying to establish more of a community-sense, which is something we haven’t really had in the past here. Both of those things, together, those are a great base for what we’re trying to accomplish.

How are you trying to do that off the field?

AA: Just sitting down with the receiver group, we’ll go out to dinner, Applebee’s, we’ll go there, or eat on campus together, or the offense will gather as a group. Just do something off the field that just gets us together in kind of a fun setting, a family-type setting.

Check back tomorrow for Part II of this conversation.
The ACC coaches have unveiled their inaugural All-ACC football team and award winners, and it looks nearly identical to the media winners announced last week.

Both the coaches and media are in agreement on the players of the year: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd as player of the year and offensive player of the year; Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner as defensive player of the year; and Miami running back Duke Johnson as rookie of the year and Offensive Rookie of the Year; Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby as defensive rookie of the year; and Duke coach David Cutcliffe as coach of the year.

Boyd won player of the year and offensive player of the year more comfortably on the coaches' ballots, getting four more votes than North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard. In media voting, Boyd beat out Bernard by one point.

Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. First-team selections earned two points; second-team selections got one.

Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina each had five players chosen to the first team, though the Tar Heels actually had six first-team picks as Bernard was named to the first-team offense as a running back, while also earning first-team specialist accolades. All of Clemson’s first-team honorees were on offense, while four of FSU’s five were on defense.

The coaches' All-ACC first-team differed from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association team only at three positions: choosing Duke receiver Conner Vernon over Boston College’s Alex Amidon; North Carolina offensive tackle James Hurst over Clemson’s Brandon Thomas; and Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler instead of Virginia’s Steve Greer. Amidon, Thomas and Greer were all second-team picks.

In all, there were four unanimous first-team selections in Boyd, Bernard, Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Florida State defensive end Cornellius Carradine on defense.

Here are the complete teams.

Tajh Boyd headlines All-ACC team

November, 26, 2012
Clemson had the best offense in the ACC this season, so it comes as no surprise that the Tigers dominated the All-ACC first team released Monday.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd and five teammates won first-team honors on offense, the first time Clemson has ever place six players on the All-ACC first-team offense and the first time any team has done it since Florida State in 1995.

Florida State and North Carolina each placed five players on the all-conference team, determined by a vote of 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Boyd is joined on the first team by running back Andre Ellington, receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tackle Brandon Thomas, center Dalton Freeman and tight end Brandon Ford. Boyd led the ACC with 34 touchdown passes while Hopkins had league-bests of 16 total touchdown catches and an average of 104 yards receiving.

Nine teams had at least one first-team selection. There were no unanimous picks to the first team, but North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard was chosen as a first-teamer on 45 ballots. Bernard, who had an ACC-leading 1,228 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns, joins Boyd as repeat first-team selections.

Bernard, a punt returner who also was picked as the first-team specialist, was joined by guard Jonathan Cooper, linebacker Kevin Reddick and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.

Four Florida State defensive players -- ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Lamarcus Joyner -- join kicker Dustin Hopkins on the first team.

Boston College (receiver Alex Amidon and linebacker Nick Clancy), Virginia (offensive tackle Oday Aboushi and linebacker Steve Greer) and Duke (cornerback Ross Cockrell and punter Will Monday) were the only other schools with multiple first-team picks.

You also should note that Virginia Tech and Miami did not have a first-team selection for the first time since they joined the ACC in 2004. Defensive end James Gayle, linebacker Jack Tyler and cornerback Antone Exum made the second team for Virginia Tech; Miami's Duke Johnson made the second team as a running back and specialist.

The league coaches will announce their all-conference team next week.

  • QB-Tajh Boyd, Clemson
  • RB-Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
  • RB-Andre Ellington, Clemson
  • WR-DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
  • WR-Alex Amidon, Boston College
  • OT-Oday Aboushi, Virginia
  • OT-Brandon Thomas, Clemson
  • OG-Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
  • OG-Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech
  • C-Dalton Freeman, Clemson
  • TE-Brandon Ford, Clemson
  • K-Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Specialist- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
  • DE-Bjoern Werner, Florida State
  • DE-Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
  • DT-Joe Vellano, Maryland
  • DT-Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
  • LB-Nick Clancy, Boston College
  • LB-Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
  • LB-Steve Greer, Virginia
  • CB-Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
  • CB-Ross Cockrell, Duke
  • S-Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
  • S-Earl Wolff, NC State
  • P-Will Monday, Duke

For the second-team and honorable mention selections, you can click here.

Notre Dame prediction: Week 11 at BC

November, 8, 2012
Upset special? Not a chance.

When Notre Dame has the ball: Boston College ranks 116th nationally against the run. Who have the Irish faced that is worse? Miami (119th). How did that work out? Notre Dame rushed for 376 yards, including 197 in the third quarter, when the Irish ran the ball on 19 of 21 plays. The Irish have rushed for more than 200 yards in each of their past three games and should have a field day pounding it against the Eagles defense.

When Boston College has the ball: Quarterback Chase Rettig is coming off a three-turnover performance in a loss to Wake Forest, but the Eagles average better than 289 passing yards per game. They will try to take advantage of Alex Amidon, who has six 100-yard receiving games this season, including the past three weeks. Their ground game ranks 118th nationally and has virtually no shot of making anything happen against the Irish's stout run defense.

Intangible: Boston College is actually first in something -- punt returns, averaging 25 yards per return. The Irish's special-teams woes have been pretty well documented. BC also has the history on its side, ruining perfect Notre Dame seasons in 2002 and 1993, games current Notre Dame players have said are not on their minds. (Who can blame them?) Coach Brian Kelly, who has said that history will play no role with this year's team, will also be experiencing a homecoming of sorts in the Boston area.

Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 6. This will be the Navy and Miami games all over again.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 10

November, 1, 2012
What should you watch in the ACC this week? Glad you asked.

1. Coastal Division clash. Virginia Tech travels to play Miami tonight in a game that could end up determining who wins the Coastal Division. If one of these teams wins out, then it will end up in the ACC championship game. This is only the sixth time in 29 meetings between the two schools that neither team is ranked going into the matchup. But Virginia Tech has a few things going in its favor. First, the Hokies have won three straight in the series. Second, they are 19-5 in Thursday night games on ESPN -- including 2-0 last season.

2. Quarterback uncertainty. This is a position to watch for several ACC teams this week. The biggest headliner is the Maryland-Georgia Tech game. The Terps have no scholarship quarterbacks remaining, so they are going with converted linebacker Shawn Petty, the third true freshman they have played at that position. The Maryland sports information department says no other school in the nation has faced such an unprecedented situation at quarterback this season or last. As for the Yellow Jackets, coach Paul Johnson may end up starting Vad Lee over Tevin Washington. One other quarterback situation to watch: Will Duke start the banged -p Sean Renfree against Clemson?

[+] EnlargeSean Renfree
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireThe Blue Devils may be without starting QB Sean Renfree when they face No. 13 Clemson.
3. Can Duke play better against Clemson? Speaking of this matchup, the Blue Devils get their third crack at a Top 25 team this season and hope for much better results. Their first two games did not exactly go well, as they lost to then-No. 25 Stanford and then-No. 12 Florida State by a combined 98-20. But those two games were on the road, and Duke has played much better at home. In fact, Duke is averaging 42.6 points per game at home, compared to just 13.3 points in its three road games. Duke has now scored 213 points in its five home games in 2012, the highest five-game home total in school history.

4. Bounce-back time. Eight of the 10 teams playing this weekend are coming into their games off a loss. Would you believe Boston College is one of two teams that is not?

5. Now or never. Virginia (2-6) and Boston College (2-6) have to win out in order to keep their bowl hopes alive. The Eagles travel to play Wake Forest, a team that had major problems slowing down the Clemson passing game. That could be problematic for the Deacs this week, as Boston College has a good quarterback in Chase Rettig and one of the most productive receivers in the ACC in Alex Amidon. As for the Hoos, they got an extra week to prepare to play NC State, which has won three of the past four meetings in the series. Their young secondary is sure to be tested by Mike Glennon, who threw for 467 yards last week against North Carolina.

6. Bowl eligibility. On the flip side, NC State is the only team playing this weekend with an opportunity to clinch bowl eligibility. The Wolfpack are coming into the game off a tough loss to in-state rival North Carolina and could very well feel the effects of a "letdown" game as they are playing an overmatched opponent. But after previous losses this season, NC State bounced back the following week with a win.

7. Hokies' run game vs. Miami's run defense. We all know coach Frank Beamer is playing coy about his running back rotation going into tonight's game, but will it matter? The Hurricanes rank No. 119 in the nation in rushing defense, giving up an average of 249.3 yards per game on the ground. Miami has allowed fewer than 200 yards rushing just once this season -- 96 to Boston College in the season opener.

8. Georgia Tech run game vs. Maryland run defense. For the second straight week, the Jackets are facing one of the best run defenses in the nation. Last week in a loss to BYU, they were held to a season-low 117 yards rushing. Can they improve on that mark against the No. 4 run defense in the nation? Five times this season, the Terps have held their opponent to under 100 yards rushing, including back-to-back games. For Maryland to stand a chance, its defense is going to have to play a near-flawless game.

9. Can Clemson keep rolling? The Tigers were virtually unstoppable in a 42-13 win over Wake Forest last week, as Tajh Boyd threw for a school-record 428 yards, and Sammy Watkins set a school record with 202 yards receiving. Though Duke has made strides in the secondary, the Blue Devils are going to have to find a way to slow down Boyd, Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins to keep their Coastal Division hopes alive.

10. Record watch. Duke receiver Conner Vernon needs 82 yards to pass former Florida State standout Peter Warrick and become the leading receiver in ACC history. Warrick's mark stands at 3,517 yards. With one catch this week, Vernon will tie the ACC record for consecutive games with at least one reception, matching the mark of 45 held by Corey Holliday of North Carolina.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 9

October, 29, 2012
Here’s a look back at the week that was in the ACC …

The good: Boston College’s first ACC win. The Eagles ended a five-game losing streak with a 20-17 win over Maryland on Saturday. It was also the first win over an FBS opponent this year.

The bad: Wake Forest’s defense. The Deacs allowed Clemson 534 total yards and to convert on 10 of 17 third downs.

The ugly: Georgia Tech’s offense on third downs. Oh-fer-10.

The great: Quarterbacks. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon threw for a career-high 467 yards and tied a school record with five touchdowns. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a school-record 428 yards with five touchdown passes. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns against Duke. UNC quarterback Bryn Renner completed 30 of 47 passes for 358 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

[+] EnlargeGiovani Bernard
Bob Donnan/US PresswireGiovani Bernard capped off a day in which he gained 230 yards from scrimmage with a 74-yard game-winning punt return.
The spectacular: Returns for TDs. UNC running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown to beat NC State with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter. On only his third punt return ever, FSU sophomore Tyler Hunter returned it 75 yards for a touchdown against Duke, the Noles’ longest punt return of the season. And Georgia Tech sophomore Jamal Golden had a 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown Saturday against BYU, and finished with 174 yards on his five kick returns. The kick return for a touchdown broke a streak of 177 games without one for Georgia Tech.

The quote: “It feels great, just getting a win it feels so good. You can feel the atmosphere in the locker room. Everyone’s just so excited about it. It doesn’t fix everything, but it just feels awesome. We’re 1-0 today, that’s how I think about it.” -- Boston College WR Alex Amidon.

The quote II: "We feel like we're ready to prove everybody wrong, that we had that one loss but we let that go and we're ready to move on," FSU cornerback Xavier Rhodes told NoleNation’s David Hale. "To prove to everybody this is the team they thought it would be."

The record: FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins’ 56-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was a career-best and also set a new ACC record for career field goals with 81, breaking former Maryland kicker Nick Novak’s mark of 80 set from 2001-04. The 56-yard field goal also tied for the second-longest in FSU history with Sebastian Janikowski, who made a 56-yarder against Wake Forest in 1997.

The milestone: Clemson became the second ACC team in history to score at least 37 points in seven straight games.

The stat: UNC and NC State combined for 1,104 yards, the most in a UNC game since 2002, when the Tar Heels and Arizona State combined for 1,135 yards in a 38-35 Carolina victory.

The streaks: BC’s losing streak has ended, Duke’s losing streak against FSU was extended to 18 games. UNC ended a five-game losing streak to rival NC State.
Boston College receiver Alex Amidon is putting together a pretty impressive season.

His 114.7 receiving yards per game ranks No. 8 in the nation. In fact, he and DeAndre Hopkins are the only two receivers in the ACC averaging 100 yards a game.

But what is even more impressive? His ability to keep going ... and going ... and going.

"I've never been around a wideout who plays as fast as he does," receivers coach Aaron Smith said in a recent telephone interview.

Here is the proof: Amidon misses only a handful of snaps every week. Smith says most receivers average about 40 snaps a game. But not Amidon. In one contest this year, Smith said Amidon played 75 snaps. In another, he ran a deep, 60-yard route that fell incomplete. Smith went to take him out of the game, but Amidon flashed the thumbs up.

[+] EnlargeBoston College's Alex Amidon
Greg M. Cooper/US PRESSWIREBoston College's Alex Amidon has 41 catches for 688 yards and four touchdowns through six games.
"Most guys run that pattern and it’s incomplete, or even if they catch it, they look to the sideline to get tapped out," Smith said. "He hasn’t looked at me once to get tapped out. I've had to pull him out. That tells you what type of kid he is. At wideout, that doesn’t happen."

What has allowed Amidon to have Energizer Bunny-like qualities? Well, for one, Amidon is former track athlete, having taken up the sport when he moved from his native London to the United States when he was 9. So his experience running in both the sprints (200), intermediate distances (400) and the longer distances (800) has helped with his endurance. But so has his father, whose supervised workouts when Amidon was younger allowed him to push himself to the limit.

There is one workout in particular that helped shape Amidon. When he was in middle school, there was a hill nearby that was a a little more than a half mile long to the top. The incline was so steep, Amidon would throw up just about every time he finished. But he never once quit on his father, or that workout. In fact, Amidon has taken his hill workout with him to Boston College.

"After you’ve done it and you are lying on the ground, you feel a sense of accomplishment that you killed yourself to get better," Amidon recalled in a recent phone interview. "I was always excited to get a better time. I was training for the 800, and that was for long-distance training, an endurance thing so I would run up as fast as I could, and I wanted to go faster and faster."

He only started playing football his freshman year in high school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, because surgery forced him out for the cross country season. He sat and watched football practice one day and asked if he could join the team. He played quarterback at first, but switched to receiver his junior year.

He had a good first season at receiver, but nobody was recruiting him. So Amidon took matters into his own hands.

"I sent my tape in to BC, and they asked me to come to their camp," Amidon said. "I had to push myself onto people, no one was coming up to me. I knew I had to go to camps and stuff. At the camp, they offered me a scholarship and I accepted."

One of the coaches working the camp? Smith, an assistant at Columbia at the time.

"If you looked at him and eye balled him you wouldn’t say, 'That’s an ACC receiver,'" Smith said. "But watching him work, he was good. You could tell he had a lot of potential."

That potential has been realized this season in the new fast-paced offense that offensive coordinator Doug Martin has installed. Smith says the receivers benefit more than any other player on offense under the scheme, because it allows them to play fast. That, of course, is a perfect match for Amidon.

The results back that up. Against Clemson earlier this year, Amidon had 193 yards receiving, the highest single-game total since Gerard Phelan had 226 yards against Miami on Nov. 23, 1984.

He already has three 100-yard receiving games this year and has been added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list. But you will never hear Amidon brag on himself. Smith sent him a text message congratulating him when he was added to the Biletnikoff list. Amidon replied with a brief, "Thanks."

"I wasn’t expecting these kind of numbers," Amidon said. "I think it has a lot to do with the system we’re in and the way Chase (Rettig) is playing. Coach Martin has really simplified the offense. It’s an awesome offense, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

BC gets run over by Army

October, 6, 2012
Army was winless.

Note the past tense.

Boston College's run defense was nonexistent in a 34-31 road loss to Army. The Eagles allowed three 100-yard rushers, and couldn't make the stops when needed on Army's last-minute scoring drive. BC allowed 516 rushing yards. That must feel like three miles to BC's defense. With 45 seconds remaining in the game, Trent Steelman rushed 29 yards for the game-winning touchdown. It was Army's first win of the season.

Boston College, meanwhile, has dropped three straight and has yet to beat an FBS team. At this point, it's survival mode for coach Frank Spaziani. The Eagles have back-to-back road games lined up, starting with No. 3 Florida State next weekend. If they couldn't slow down Army, good luck against the Seminoles and a similar offense to Army in Georgia Tech. A 1-6 start is likely, and the frustrating part for BC fans has to be that this team is finally making progress offensively. Receiver Alex Amidon had another great game, and Andre Williams ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns. It's the defense that has collapsed. This loss is going to be tough for Spaziani to overcome.

BC offense showing marked improvement

September, 26, 2012
The ACC’s leader in receiving yards per game does not play for Clemson or Florida State.

The ACC’s leader in passing yards does not play for Clemson or FSU, either.

Surprise: They play for Boston College.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesThe Eagles have the top passing offense in the ACC behind Chase Rettig's 951 yards.
The hire of offensive coordinator Doug Martin, combined with maturity and consistency, has made a difference in Chestnut Hill, as the Eagles’ once struggling offense is finally showing signs of life. Whether or not Boston College can keep pace with Clemson when the Tigers come to town on Saturday remains to be seen, but Clemson’s porous defense is sure to be tested. BC receiver Alex Amidon is the league’s leading receiver and ranks fourth in the country in receiving yards per game (122.0 ypg). Quarterback Chase Rettig leads the ACC and ranks 11th among all FBS quarterbacks in passing yards per game (317.0).

“They’re just much more dynamic,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “They’re totally different looking at them as far as throwing the football and their efficiency in throwing the ball and really understanding how to attack a defense. They’re still big up front. They do a good job with their three-step game, and they’re keeping you off balance with the play-action. They’ve got shifts and motions and they’re playing at a tempo. They’ve never been a tempo team. You watch the Miami game, and heck, they’re snapping the ball and Miami’s not even lined up. They’re barely getting down. That’s a real change. They do a good job of throwing the ball to the running backs, they run the lead draw and the zone as good as anybody, and they do a good job with screens. They still have their physical approach they’ve always had, but just much more dynamic and attacking you in different ways.”

Last year, Boston College was No. 112 in the country in total offense, No. 112 in scoring offense, and No. 100 in passing offense. After three games, the Eagles have the top passing offense in the ACC and No. 16 in the country.

Swinney said it all starts with the quarterback.

Rettig has completed 72 of 127 passes for 951 yards, six touchdowns and one interception through three games. He has completed close to 57 percent of his passes and has thrown 114 times without an interception.

“This guy can play,” Swinney said. “… You don’t throw for 1,000 yards in three games by accident, especially when you’ve played Miami and Northwestern in two of those opponents. I’m very impressed with what they’re doing offensively.”

BC will need to keep it up in order to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole in conference play. The Eagles started the season with a loss to Miami, but will play their first Atlantic Division opponent on Saturday. BC outgained Miami in total yardage despite the 41-32 loss, but hurt itself with three turnovers.

Coach Frank Spaziani said Boston College has been unable “for a number of reasons to be successful on offense,” but that Martin has helped change that. Spaziani said Martin understands what the players can do within the scheme he wants to run.

“He’s always part of the solution, not the problem,” Spaziani said. “He looks at the positive things, and so far we’ve had a lot of positive things. We need more of them.”