BC offense finds identity without Harris

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.

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.