NCF Nation: Rolandan Finch

NFL prospects among HBCU playmakers

October, 9, 2013
NFL scouts have been watching a lot of top Division I-A quarterbacks such as Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Clemson Tajh Boyd. However, there are some pretty good NFL prospects in black college football as well.

The MEAC has a host of quality players capable of playing on Sundays. These players should get invited to the NFL combine as well as to some of the postseason college football all-star games.

If you are not familiar with the some of the great players who have come out of the MEAC over the years, the list includes Indianapolis Colts S Antoine Bethea (Howard), Dallas Cowboys LB Justin Durant (Hampton) and New Orleans Saints S Rafael Bush (South Carolina State).

The NFL draft is several months away, but these players could be selected based on their play so far. If not, they could find their way onto NFL rosters as undrafted free agents.


[+] EnlargeRolandan Finch
Courtesy of Mark SuttonNorfolk State RB Rolandan Finch leads the MEAC in rushing.
Rolandan Finch, RB
Norfolk State
5-foot-10, 215 pounds

Finch has the ability to run between the tackles. He has enough speed to get to the edge. Last week, he had a terrific game against Savannah State. Finch rushed for 134 yards on 23 carries. He currently leads the MEAC is rushing with 403 yards.

Isidore Jackson, RB
5-10, 205 pounds

Jackson is one of the most exciting players in the MEAC. He has the speed to turn a 2-yard gain into an 80-yard touchdown run. Jackson was the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of the Year. In addition, he can catch the football coming out of the backfield.

Alex Monroe, OT
6-5, 305 pounds

Monroe is a good run- and pass-blocker. He has good strength and power. He moves his feet extremely well. He knows how to open those gaping holes to help the Wildcats’ running attack. His pass-blocking skills have Bethune-Cookman’s passing game in high gear. Monroe has the size and experience to play at the next level.

Tyler McDonald, WR
South Carolina State
6-3, 190 pounds

McDonald is a big-play wide receiver. He leads the MEAC in receiving yards. McDonald averages 31.5 yards a catch. He has 17 receptions for 536 yards and five touchdowns. He has good size and speed. McDonald can run the deep routes. In a 52-13 loss to Clemson earlier this season, he caught two touchdown passes of 63 and 51 yards.


Tazmon Foster, LB
North Carolina Central
5-10, 215 pounds

Foster is always around the football. He plays the run very well. He does a great job of coming up and stopping the sweeps for short gains. He plays with good anticipation. Foster has 30 solo and 58 total tackles.

Joe Thomas, LB
South Carolina State
6-0, 230 pounds

Thomas is one of the best all-around defensive players in the MEAC. He knows how to pick his spots in terms of rushing the passer. Thomas has three sacks this season. He’s a real playmaking linebacker. He has 47 solo and 62 total tackles.

Delbert Tyler, LB
5-11, 225 pounds

Tyler has been all over the field for Hampton. The Pirates linebacker knows how to close on the football. He’s made a lot of plays with his speed and tackling ability. He has 23 solo and 54 total tackles.

Jarkevis Fields, LB
6-0, 230 pounds

Fields has the ability to rush the passer and play the run and the pass. He’s been a big reason why Bethune-Cookman has the league’s best defensive team. Fields has good range and quickness.


• Morgan State quarterback Seth Higgins was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Higgins completed 12 of 20 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown as the Bears posted a 34-21 win over Florida A&M. He also rushed for a career-high 102 yards on 17 carries while scoring a touchdown.

• Morgan State linebacker Cody Acker was selected as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Acker returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown in Morgan State’s win over Florida A&M.

• Jackson State running back Tommy Gooden was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week. Gooden had a career-high 214 rushing yards and four touchdowns in JSU’s 42-33 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

• Mississippi Valley State defensive back Terrance Hudson was chosen as the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Hudson was playing his second game as defensive back after playing wide receiver picked up six tackles (two solo) and two interceptions in MVSU’s 28-9 win over Alabama A&M.

SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll

1. Bethune-Cookman
2. Tennessee State
3. South Carolina State
4. Winston-Salem State
5. North Carolina A&T
6. Prairie View A&M
7. Jackson State
8. Alabama State
9. Tuskegee
10. North Carolina Central
The message new Boston College coach Steve Addazio has delivered from the moment he met his players has not wavered: he wants to be a physical team with a power run game.

Andre Williams' ears perked up. Power run game? He can do that.

With the departure of Rolandan Finch, Williams has emerged as the No. 1 option at running back for the Eagles this spring. After the team's scrimmage last weekend, Addazio called Williams a "real power back," and described him as strong and powerful. Williams stands 6 feet, weighs 220 pounds and has come to embrace his new role.

"In previous years, I feel like I've been working on maybe being more of a finesse back," Williams told in a recent phone conversation. "I played behind Montel Harris, and he really inspired me in certain ways, but this year I realized I'm a different type of runner, and I accepted that and I’m really trying to play to my strength this year. The fact the offense is the way it is now, we have a lot of power in there, and it really suits my strengths."

Interestingly enough, Harris just finished his senior season playing for Addazio at Temple in 2012 after transferring from BC. So Williams called Harris for some advice.

"He told me Coach Addazio has a different way of coaching," Williams said. "He could be strict or stern at times, but we're going to be fresh for the games. I could definitely see Coach Addazio has a way of making practice less about physicality and more about mental toughness. It's still a physical day out there, but I don't feel like we're trying to beat a dead horse on certain issues. It's more trying to prepare ourselves mentally to put ourselves in game situations rather than memorize a certain play or anything like that."

Boston College struggled to run the ball last season, ranking No. 115 in the nation in rushing (90.9 yards per game). Some of that is a function of the Eagles trailing in many games. But the bottom line is they simply could gain no consistency with their backs or their offensive line. Williams had a few 100-yard games last year, but calls last season "nothing to hang my hat on. I'm really just putting everything last season behind me and starting fresh on this year."

So with the emphasis on the run game, can Williams get to 1,000 yards for the first time in his career -- in the final season of his career?

"Absolutely, I think I can get 1,000 yards," he said. "If I don't get 1,000 yards, I'll be really disappointed. I'm confident, I have no doubt in my mind, I'm going to get to 1,000 yards this year."

ACC predictions: Week 13

November, 21, 2012
You don't want to be reading while you eat your turkey, so chew on this first ...

It was almost another home run week for the predictions, but Virginia lost at home to North Carolina. (Still can’t believe how poorly UVa played in that one with so much still on the line.) The final tally last week was 6-1 for a grand total of 71-17 (80.7 percent) heading into the final week of the regular season.

This weekend is big-time. We’ve got rivalry games. ACC versus SEC. Bragging rights. All that good stuff. Can the ACC get it done?

You betcha …

Florida State 28, Florida 14: This game is in Tallahassee. It won't be a nail-biter. A defensive struggle at times? Sure, but Florida State is the better team with the better quarterback, and it will score. The Seminoles might be a bit naive to think they can still play for the national title, but fans should expect them to play as if the championship game was on the line because it is -- the state championship.

Clemson 31, South Carolina 17: Yeah, you read that right. And holding Clemson to fewer than 40 points will be a victory for the Gamecocks’ defense. No, Clemson’s defense isn’t championship-caliber, but it’s good enough to make South Carolina miss Marcus Lattimore. Quarterback Tajh Boyd will have the edge, and Clemson will snap its three-game losing streak to South Carolina.

Georgia 38, Georgia Tech 17: The ACC’s magic ends here. The Yellow Jackets turned the corner in the ACC, but the weaknesses in the defense will again be exposed against better competition. The Dawgs roll at home behind an outstanding defense that will be disciplined enough to slow down the spread option.

Vanderbilt 27, Wake Forest 10: Vandy is one of the hottest teams in the SEC right now, having won five straight. The Deacs are playing to become bowl-eligible, but they’re doing it with an inept offense that ranks No. 114 in the country in scoring (18.27), No. 111 in rushing (98.36) and No. 117 in total offense (300.55).

NC State 31, Boston College 21: This game isn’t going to be a complete blowout, but the Eagles won’t be able to stop Mike Glennon and NC State’s passing game. In what is likely to be coach Frank Spaziani’s last game as head coach of the Eagles, running back Rolandan Finch will give ‘em a chance, and the they'll give their usual relentless effort but come up short on the road.

North Carolina 38, Maryland 10: No, this isn’t the Big Ten blog. If it were, the score might be 52-3. OK, OK, I’ll stop. Seriously, injuries have been too much for Maryland to overcome this year, and the Tar Heels should have no problem closing the season with a home win.

Miami 41, Duke 38: This game went from meaning everything to meaning nothing -- unless you’re in either program. Once Miami declared itself ineligible for the postseason, Georgia Tech automatically won the Coastal Division. Odds are coach Al Golden is selling his players on finishing 5-3 in league play. Duke’s defense, meanwhile, continues to struggle against ACC opponents.

Virginia Tech 21, Virginia 20: Um, yeah. In what will never been deemed an instant classic, the Hokies will barely become bowl-eligible and take advantage of a mistake-prone Virginia team. If the Hoos were still playing for bowl eligibility, this might be a different story, but they squandered that opportunity last week and will now face a Virginia Tech in Blacksburg team with everything to lose.

BC, VT cruise past FCS opponents

September, 8, 2012

Boston College and Virginia Tech each won Saturday. Here are quick recaps:

Boston College 34, Maine 3: Maine jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and it took about a quarter for Boston College to find its rhythm. The story of the day was Spiffy Evans, who had his first touchdown catch and first punt return for a touchdown, and set a career-high with 155 all-purpose yards in the victory. Running back Rolandan Finch was able to play after sitting out the Miami game with a foot injury. He led the team with 90 yards rushing, but also lost a fumble early in the game. Tahj Kimble also lost a fumble at the goal line, or the Eagles would have had more points.

Receiver Alex Amidon just missed out on his second straight 100 yard game, after finishing with 99 yards receiving and a touchdown. Boston College plays at Northwestern next week.

Virginia Tech 42, Austin Peay 7: The Hokies also got off to a slow start on offense in this game, but they cruised to the victory and avoided any sort of upset on just five days' rest.

Junior running back Tony Gregory blocked a punt and ran for his first career touchdown. Running back Michael Holmes also had his first two career scores with runs of 2 and 9 yards. Receiver Corey Fuller also had his first career touchdown, catching a 30-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Virginia Tech spread the ball out to 10 receivers in its first game without D.J. Coles, out for the season with a knee injury.

Logan Thomas finished 15-of-23 for 212 yards and two scores in three quarters of work. Virginia Tech plays at Pitt next week.

Boston College receiver Bobby Swigert will miss the season opener next week against Miami with a left knee injury, coach Frank Spaziani announced Friday.

Swigert was hurt during the team scrimmage Wednesday after making his only catch. In the announcement, Spaziani said Swigert will be out for several weeks. Expected to start this season, Swigert appeared in all 12 games last season and led the Eagles with 44 catches for 470 yards and three touchdowns.

Injuries are really mounting for the Eagles, who will be without at least three starters against Miami. Tight end Chris Pantale (foot) and cornerback Al Louis-Jean (foot) also are out for the Miami game. Running backs Rolandan Finch, Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble also have been banged up during preseason camp.

BC backfield takes another hit

August, 16, 2012
The bad news just keeps coming for Boston College this summer.

Featured tailback Rolandan Finch, the team’s leading rusher last season, injured his foot in Wednesday night's scrimmage, according to the Boston Herald.

“I hate to say it, but it is his foot, but it’s a little too early to say more,” coach Frank Spaziani told the paper. “We put some ice on it and do the usual routine, X-ray and MRI.”

The Eagles had recently announced the news of injuries to starting tight end Chris Pantale and cornerback Al Louis-Jean. Boston College was already missing one of its top rushers, as Montel Harris was dismissed from the team in early May.

In Wednesday's scrimmage, junior tailback Andre Williams carried the ball seven times for 18 yards and two touchdowns, which included one touchdown in goal-line simulation. Freshman George Craan, who also scored one touchdown in goal-line simulation, carried five times for 12 yards. Senior Mike Javorski carried the ball nine times.

The good news is that the quarterbacks played well.

Starter Chase Rettig completed 14-of-21 passing attempts for 259 yards and one touchdown. He completed passes of at least 12 yards seven times, including a 72-yard touchdown to senior Colin Larmond Jr., passes of 30 and 35 yards to junior Alex Amidon, and a 26-yard completion to junior Johnathan Coleman.

“I’m looking for him [Rettig] to run the operation, make good decisions, and, right now, run our offense,” Spaziani said, according to the team's scrimmage report. “We did a couple new things out here today, gave him some more stuff to do. I thought the quarterbacks -- they looked fine. I think he’s been practicing well.”

He's going to have to play well, too, if the Eagles are going to overcome all of these injuries.
The ACC will be missing one of its most accomplished running backs this season, as Boston College record-setter Montel Harris was dismissed from the team last month for a repeated violation of team rules.

Harris was the ACC’s leading rusher in 2010, the league’s preseason player of the year in 2011, and BC’s all-time leading rusher.

He wasn’t the only running back, though, on the Eagles’ depth chart.

[+] EnlargeRolandan Finch
Evan Habeeb/US PresswireRolandan Finch led Boston College with 705 rushing yards last season.
First-year offensive coordinator Doug Martin said all three of BC’s running backs -- Tahj Kimble, Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams -- will see playing time this season. With Harris sidelined with a knee injury in 2011, all three backups played in at least 10 games each, with Finch and Williams both receiving more than 100 carries. Finch was the team’s leading rusher with 705 yards and three touchdowns on 157 carries, but Kimble finished the spring atop the depth chart.

“It’s going to be running back by committee, all three are going to play and they all bring something different to the table,” Martin said. “Tajh is very versatile. He’s really good out of the backfield catching the ball, he’s got great hands. We can motion him out, use him as a wide receiver. He’s got really good vision in the hole. Finch is a bit of a bigger back, he’s good in the passing game. He’s a little bit more of a slasher-type runner. And Andre is a big, power back. He’s really a strong, strong runner. Inside is where he’s at his best, and he has really good pass protection.”

And quarterback Chase Rettig will need time to throw this fall.

Martin’s philosophy is to spread defenses out to open things up in the running game. He said he expects the offensive line to be one of the most improved groups of the offense this season, and that he was very impressed with Rettig and backup quarterback Josh Bordner. The biggest question is the depth at the receiver position.

BC has enough pieces in place, though, that Martin said the offense was able to develop an identity this spring, which was one of his primary goals.

“I think we’re a real power, downhill running team,” he said. “I think we’re a really good play-action pass team, and the players bought into what we were trying to get done. We’re trying to speed the tempo, get in and out of the huddle faster, stretch the defense a bit more. … We really want to try to make defenses have to think when they play us.”

Even without Harris, the Eagles should be able to accomplish that this fall.

ACC's spring breakout players

May, 17, 2012
Here's a look at those who made names for themselves, those who fine-tuned some strengths and those who burst onto the scene this spring in the ACC.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: Hopkins had seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers' spring game, including five for 100 in the first quarter. Coach Dabo Swinney called him the team's spring MVP, and he and Sammy Watkins could form the top receiver tandem in the nation.

RB Rolandan Finch, Boston College: Finch will have to carry a bigger load with Montel Harris off the team, and he stepped up in the spring game when the three men ahead of him were all banged-up, rushing for 196 yards on 27 carries. He will likely battle with Andre Williams for the top spot this fall, though both figure to see plenty of time.

LT Cameron Erving, FSU: The converted defensive tackle impressed this spring, as the sophomore is one of two new tackles the Seminoles are breaking in on the offensive line, a unit that may just be the deciding factor on whether FSU can return to the national elite this season. Coach Jimbo Fisher has called the 6-foot-5, 304-pound sophomore a future NFL starter.

QB Ryan Williams, Miami: Coach Al Golden said this week that Stephen Morris has been medically cleared, and he will likely enter a full-on quarterback competition with Williams, the Memphis transfer who saw most of the action this spring and played well, despite a sub-par spring game.

TE Jake McGee, Virginia: The converted quarterback caught two passes for 81 yards and figures to be a reliable target this fall after a subpar performance for the Cavaliers' tight ends last season.

CB Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia: Coach Mike London named him the team's most distinguished freshman this spring, but he will have to grow up fast. After playing almost every snap last fall, he is the veteran of the Cavaliers' secondary in 2012.

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech: Maddy was named the Hokies' defensive MVP of this spring. The rising sophomore has said he has adjusted to the speed of the game after a freshman year that featured seven starts, and he figures to be a key on a line that will anchor Virginia Tech's defense this season.
Boston College entered the Jay McGillis Spring Game on Saturday without running backs Montel Harris and Andre Williams. Less than 15 minutes in, the Eagles found themselves without Tahj Kimble, too.

But Rolandan Finch rose to the challenge Saturday, carrying the ball 27 times for 196 yards and hauling in four catches for 38 yards in the offense's 68-58 win over the defense.

The scoring system for the game went as follows: First downs (one point), explosive plays of 25 yards or more (two points), sacks (one point), pass breakups (one point) and turnovers (three points).

The offense concluded its first spring under coordinator Doug Martin, who is bringing a more up-tempo approach to a unit that finished 112th nationally in 2011.

Returning starting quarterback Chase Rettig completed 13 of 23 passes for 120 yards, one touchdown and two picks. Josh Bordner concluded a strong spring by going 8-of-18 for 159 yards and two scores. Both signal-callers were victims of Ameer Richardson interceptions, as the redshirt freshman picked off each quarterback on consecutive series.

Sophomore James McCaffrey also had two picks, in addition to a fumble recovery and three tackles. Kicker Joey Launceford stepped in at defensive back and had a pick of his own, returning an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the second half.

Weekend rewind: ACC

November, 7, 2011
Here’s your look back at Week 10 and fast-forward to Week 11:

[+] EnlargeTBD
Liz Condo/US PresswireRedshirt freshman Giovani Bernard is North Carolina's first 1,000-yard rusher in 14 years.
The good: Long-awaited 1,000-yard rushers. Welcome to the club, Lamar Miller and Giovani Bernard. If there was one highlight for UNC in Saturday’s 13-0 loss to rival NC State, it was that the program produced its first 1,000-yard rusher in 14 years. Bernard needed just 34 yards in the game to reach the milestone, and he barely got it with 47 yards on 18 carries. At Miami, Miller became the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Willis McGahee in 2002. Miller had 147 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

The bad: UNC’s offense. Three rushing yards. Four sacks. Three turnovers. And 4-of-14 third down conversions. (smh).

The ugly: Maryland’s rushing defense. For the fifth straight game, Maryland allowed an opponent to run for at least 200 yards. The Terps allowed Virginia 220 rushing yards, and Perry Jones ran for 139 of them, along with two touchdowns. Against BC, the Terps allowed 372 rushing yards, including 243 by Rolandan Finch. FSU had 218 yards on the ground, and Clemson had 306, Georgia Tech 272.

The streaks: Streak I: NC State is 5-0 against UNC under Tom O’Brien, and the winning streak ties as the longest in the 101-year history of the series. Dick Sheridan led his State teams to victories over the Tar Heels five straight times from 1988-1992. Streak II: In the Coastal Division, Miami is now 7-0 against Duke since joining the ACC. Streak III: BC linebacker Luke Kuechly had 20 tackles against FSU, his 31st straight game with 10 or more. Streak IV: BC’s streak of 12 consecutive bowl games came to an end, while FSU extended its bowl streak to 30 games, the longest active streak in the country.

Top three games of Week 11:

1. No. 10 Virginia Tech at No. 21 Georgia Tech: This matchup continues to carry some of the heaviest weight in the Coastal Division standings. If the Hokies win this one, the Yellow Jackets are eliminated from the ACC race. Both have had bye weeks to prepare, and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster needed it, as he revamped his injury-laden defense to better prepare for Georgia Tech’s spread option offense.

2. Wake Forest at No. 9 Clemson: The Tigers have had a bye week to rest and regroup after their loss to Georgia Tech, while Wake Forest put together an impressive effort in a respectable loss to Notre Dame. Now the Deacs have a chance to play spoiler in the Atlantic Division race, but they have to win the next two games to get to the ACC championship game.

3. Miami at Florida State: There was a time when this used to be the No. 1 game. Period. Now it’s not even the best game in the ACC. It is, however, still Florida State and Miami, and the history and tradition of these two programs remains among the best in the nation. Both teams are playing at a high level right now and coming off of wins. Neither team is out of its respective division race, though both of them need a lot of help to actually win it, and neither can afford another league loss.

FSU's defense ends BC's bowl hopes

November, 4, 2011
Florida State’s defense was like a giant on Thursday night, and BC was swinging at its knees, hitting nothing but air for four quarters.

It’s still hard to believe this same Florida State team lost three games this year, though in retrospect, it can be rationalized. What’s done is done, and the Seminoles continued to state their case as one of the best teams in the ACC, regardless of their place in the standings.

For the fourth straight week, the Seminoles flat-out dominated, smothering Boston College from the very start with its pass rush in a 38-7 win. With a 2-7 record the Eagles will have their streak of 12 consecutive bowl games snapped, but after watching them play on Thursday night, it was clear that this year’s team isn’t bowl worthy. Florida State, though, earned its sixth win of the season and is guaranteed a spot in the postseason -- just not the one many had expected.

FSU quarterback EJ Manuel has received most of the attention for the Noles’ turnaround, but the defense has been simply outstanding. The Noles snagged four takeaways from BC, and three were very costly:
  • Rolandan Finch fumbled in the first quarter and Telvin Smith recovered it at BC’s 2 yard line. The Noles took the 7-0 lead three plays later.
  • With 43 seconds left in the half, it was second-and-goal from the 1 for BC when Finch was credited with another fumble and Bjoern Werner recovered it at his own 2. It wasn’t Finch’s fault, as inexperienced quarterback Josh Bordner bumbled the handoff.
  • In the fourth quarter, Rettig was intercepted by Werner at the BC 36-yard line. FSU scored on the following possession for a 38-7 lead. (Werner, by the way, is playing his way into the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year conversation).

It was an ugly performance by BC, which was completely overwhelmed by Florida State. The Eagles, aside from Luke Kuechly’s ridiculous 20 tackles, simply had no answer. Again. With three games left and no bowl hopes remaining, BC will be playing for pride and for 2012 in the final three games.

Florida State? The Noles look like they’re playing for another top 10 preseason ranking.
Boston College running back Rolandan Finch, known as “Deuce” to his friends and family, caught the ACC’s attention with 243 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 28-17 win against Maryland. It was pretty hard to ignore, as it was the most rushing yardage by a running back in the ACC this season.

[+] EnlargeRolandan Finch
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskySophomore RB Rolandan Finch has provided a much-needed injection of rushing offense for the Eagles.
Not bad for a player who started the season No. 4 on the depth chart.

His quick ascension came at the expense of injured teammates Montel Harris and Andre Williams, and he has made the most of the opportunity. Finch has been a surprise highlight for a position filled with turnover this year, and his emergence has helped the Eagles generate a respectable running game in recent weeks. The Eagles will be challenged to sustain that success tonight against Florida State, though, as the Seminoles are No. 4 in the country in rushing defense. Finch has run for at least 86 yards in each of the past three games – some of the most consistency the position as seen all season.

In mid-August, Harris had arthoscopic surgery on his knee and missed the first three games of the season. Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble were listed as the top two running backs. Williams started the first four games, but injured his ankle in the second quarter against Wake Forest on Oct. 1. On Oct. 8 at Clemson, Finch, who missed all of last season with an injury, earned his first career start and became the third running back to start the position through the first six games of the season. BC coach Frank Spaziani said Finch’s success has only been part of the equation.

“No. 1, our offensive line has been getting better,” Spaziani said. “You know, I think I've been quite consistent in saying that we have been, you know, able to hold that group together now for the last -- going on four weeks now, they have practiced and they have been out there every day. So that in itself lends itself to more proficiency and certainly Deuce has gotten a better flow of having to run the ball and what we are expecting of him. That added to it, and then that was two major contributing factors to the performance.”

BC enters the Florida State game with the No. 73 rushing offense in the country at 146.5 yards per game – not much worth bragging about. In the past four games, though, the Eagles have improved to 184.25 rushing yards per game. Unfortunately for BC, FSU is holding its opponents to just 77 rushing yards per game.

“Well, it will be a different level of intensity over there,” Spaziani said. “And certainly, it will be quite challenging to say the least. They do have quite talented people over there in their front seven and in their back end, also. So it's going to be a big challenge but once again in order for us to win any game, we have to be successful running. Now that's the key word; what is successful? So we are going to have to get some yardage and keep them off balance a little bit.”

And keep Finch right where he left off against the Terps.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 10

November, 3, 2011
With only five games this week, the math is easy: Two things to watch in each game. Here’s your top 10 in Week 10, in no particular order:

1. BC’s offensive line against Florida State’s defensive line. This could be the game-defining matchup, as the Eagles have been playing better up front in recent weeks and their running game has flourished as a byproduct, but Florida State’s defensive line has been flat-out dominant. The Noles are No. 3 in the country in sacks, and No. 8 in tackles for loss. Bjoern Werner (7.5) and Brandon Jenkins (6.5) lead the Seminoles in tackles for loss.

[+] EnlargeRolandan Finch
Evan Habeeb/US PresswireAfter never eclipsing 100 yards, Boston College sophomore Rolandan Finch rumbled for 243 last week against Maryland.
2. Young running backs in Chestnut Hill. For Florida State, Devonta Freeman has totaled 226 rushing yards in the past three games. He became the first freshman to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games since Chris Parker in 1988. For Boston College, sophomore Rolandan Finch ran for 243 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend’s 28-17 victory over Maryland; prior to that, Finch had never surpassed the 100-yard mark. He has run for 81 or more yards in each of the past three games.

3. Quarterbacks in College Park. The saga continues, as Maryland coach Randy Edsall said on Wednesday’s ACC teleconference that both Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown continue to compete and the Terps could “get in a situation where we play both of them, play one.” Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco, meanwhile, said this week he has benefited from the diminished role of true freshman David Watford, who was sharing the reps. Rocco took all but one snap in last weekend’s win at Miami.

4. Maryland’s run defense. The Terps enter this game with the nation’s No. 118 rushing defense, and Virginia’s ability to run the ball has been crucial to its success in this series. Virginia is 22-8 against Maryland since 1937 when gaining at least 150 rushing yards. UVa has rushed for at least 150 yards in seven of eight games in 2011. In last year’s loss, the Hoos ran for just 92.

5. NC State’s pass defense against UNC quarterback Bryn Renner. Renner is the ACC’s most efficient passer, but he will face a secondary that boasts the nation’s leader in interceptions in David Amerson, who has eight. Brandan Bishop has four. Renner has thrown nine interceptions this year to 19 touchdowns.

6. UNC tailback Giovani Bernard. He needs just 35 more yards to become the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Jonathan Linton in 1997. Bernard has 965 yards this year and leads all freshman runners in the country with 107.2 yards per game. He leads the ACC with 12 touchdowns. NC State’s rushing defense has been holding opponents to 160.1 yards per game.

7. Duke’s defense in the second half. The Blue Devils have allowed one second-half touchdown — a fourth-quarter score by Wake Forest — in their past two games, and held Virginia Tech scoreless last weekend for the entire second half. Safety Matt Daniels has defended 16 passes, second in both the ACC and the FBS.

8. Turnovers at Miami. The Hurricanes forced seven turnovers in last year’s victory over Duke, and the Blue Devils are coming off a loss to Virginia Tech in which they had four turnovers. Quarterback Sean Renfree has thrown four interceptions in the past two games, including three against the Hokies. Since the loss to Kansas State, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has thrown 11 touchdowns to just one interception.

9. Wake Forest’s defensive line against Notre Dame’s offensive line. The Demon Deacons will have a definite size disadvantage, and the Irish went the whole month of October without allowing a sack. Notre Dame’s offense line averages 305.6 pounds; Wake Forest’s defensive front averages 247.5 pounds. Wake will have to put some pressure on Irish quarterback Tommy Rees to help disrupt a passing game targeted at one of the nation’s top receivers in Michael Floyd.

10. Wake Forest defensive back Merrill Noel. He leads the FBS in passes defended with 16, an average of 2.0 per game. The freshman only has one interception, but he’s been a major contributor to Wake’s defense and could play a crucial role in helping slow down Floyd, who is ninth nationally with 7.9 receptions per game.

Weekend rewind: ACC

October, 31, 2011
Here’s your weekly look back at the ACC and a sneak peek at what lies ahead for Week 10:

The good: BC running back Rolandan Finch. He ran for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 28-17 win at Maryland on Saturday. It was the first time in his career that the sophomore had broken 100 yards, let alone 200, and he had run for a total of 266 yards in the six previous games combined. Finch had 152 rushing yards at the half, and finished with a career-high 39 carries.

[+] EnlargeTevin Washington
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireGeorgia Tech QB Tevin Washington ran for 176 yards against Clemson.
The historic: Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington ran for 176 yards against Clemson, the most ever by a quarterback in school history. He also had the two longest runs of his career at 46 and 56 yards.

The bad: The ACC lost its national title contender. At No. 11 in the latest BCS standings, Clemson has played itself out of the national title picture, and the ACC returns to its all-too familiar spot of irrelevance on the national landscape.

The ugly: Virginia Tech’s win at Duke. Was that really the Coastal Division’s best team, or was it playing in Atlanta? The Hokies beat Duke 14-10 but were held scoreless in the second half by the nation’s No. 69 scoring defense. Both teams combined for five turnovers in the first 20 minutes of the game. Three 15-yard penalties kept Duke’s only scoring drive alive. Yikes.

Top three games of Week 10:

North Carolina at NC State: Tom O’Brien has won four straight games in this series, but the Wolfpack is coming off one of its worst performances of the season in a 34-0 loss to Florida State. The Tar Heels showed dramatic improvement in their win against Wake Forest in which they had five takeaways and quarterback Bryn Renner was very efficient. The Pack has home-field advantage, but the Heels have the momentum.

Notre Dame at Wake Forest: Heading into the season, this looked like a matchup that was above Wake Forest -- and it will be if the Deacs play like they did in Saturday’s loss to North Carolina. If Wake Forest gets back to taking care of the ball and maximizing the passing game, though, the Irish could be in for a surprise. Notre Dame is ranked No. 118 in turnover margin. Wake Forest had committed just five turnovers all season before turning it over five times against UNC, four of which were converted into touchdowns.

Florida State at Boston College: The Seminoles are the better team, but BC has home-field advantage, has shown improvement in each of the past few weeks, and should be feeling good after a win at Maryland. It’s a Thursday night game in which anything can happen, but there’s no question the Eagles will have to look like a different team in order to surprise Florida State. Facing the No. 4 rushing defense in the country, BC will need more than Finch.

ACC power rankings: Week 10

October, 31, 2011
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Clemson lost. BC won. You never know what you’re gonna get in the ACC. There were a few tweaks this week, but nothing major. No. 1 is still No. 1, at least in the ACC:

1. Clemson (8-1, 5-1 ACC; LW: No. 1): The Tigers didn’t look like a national title contender in their loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, and because of it, they’re not anymore. The goal of winning the Atlantic Division title, though, is still very much in reach. Clemson has its bye week to regroup before hosting Wake Forest in a critical division matchup.

2. Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1; LW: No. 2): It wasn’t a pretty 14-10 win against Duke, but the Hokies are still in the Coastal Division lead with only one ACC loss. Virginia Tech has a bye week to prepare for Georgia Tech, and will enter that game on a four-game winning streak. Historically, this game has decided the division winner, and it could do so again.

3. Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2; LW: No. 5): The win over Clemson was impressive not because of what Clemson didn’t do, but because of how well the Jackets played. They looked like the best team in the Coastal Division on Saturday, but with back-to-back losses against Virginia and Miami, it’s still up for debate.

4. Wake Forest (5-3, 4-2; LW: No. 4): It was an uncharacteristically undisciplined performance for Wake Forest, which had five turnovers in the 49-24 loss to North Carolina. The Deacs are still Clemson’s biggest challenger in the Atlantic Division, but they can’t afford to look past a tough night game this weekend against Notre Dame.

5. Florida State (5-3, 3-2; LW: No. 6): Seminoles fans want FSU to be ranked higher, and they eventually could be, but don’t forget they lost to Wake Forest, and Saturday’s 34-0 win over NC State – while convincing – was its first win over a program with a winning record. The Noles have a Thursday night game at BC this week, and while FSU is the better team, the Eagles finally have some confidence from their first ACC win.

6. North Carolina (6-3, 2-3; LW: No. 8): The win over Wake Forest was a much better performance than what UNC fans saw in the loss to Clemson. UNC quarterback Bryn Renner was efficient, running back Giovani Bernard racked up over 100 yards, and the defense had five turnovers. The Tar Heels have to continue that success now in back-to-back road games at NC State and Virginia Tech.

7. Virginia (5-3, 2-2; LW: No. 9): The Hoos deserve credit for going on the road and beating a Miami team that was on an upward trend. The Cavaliers ran the ball well, quarterback Michael Rocco played well without having to share time with David Watford, and Virginia is looking ahead of schedule and bowl bound in Mike London’s second season.

8. Miami (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 3): The Canes allowed too many explosive plays, and it was another narrow defeat that hurt Miami’s chances of winning the Coastal Division. Receiver Tommy Streeter had 176 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to make a fourth-quarter comeback. Miami can’t afford to overlook Duke this weekend.

9. NC State (4-4, 1-3; LW: No. 7): It was an ugly performance by the Wolfpack in the loss to Florida State. NC State had only 166 yards on offense and had its first shutout since the 2008 season opener. It’s not exactly the confidence builder the Wolfpack needed heading into the rivalry game against UNC.

10. Duke (3-5, 1-3; LW: No. 11): The Blue Devils have become the masters of almost-wins. Duke threatened an upset of No. 12-ranked Virginia Tech, but it couldn’t overcome four turnovers. Duke has now lost three straight heading into back-to-back road games at Miami and Virginia.

11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4; LW: No. 12): The Eagles finally got their first ACC win, and snapped a three-game losing streak with a 28-17 win at Maryland. Rolandan Finch ran for 243 yards and two touchdowns. His performance helped offset the four turnovers. So did Maryland’s defense.

12. Maryland (2-6, 1-4; LW: No. 10): The Terps have officially hit rock bottom. They lost at home to a Boston College team that had yet to win an ACC game, and the defense allowed 404 total yards. In order to get to a bowl game, Maryland now has to win out in November, starting this weekend against a much-improved Virginia team.