Harris’ Departure Not End of World for BC
By David Wheatley
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There are three running backs on Boston College's roster who saw significant playing time in 2011.
In what many Boston College fans saw as a surprise, fifth year senior running back and all-time school leading rusher Montel Harris was dismissed from the BC football team for what Eagles Head Coach Frank Spaziani called, "a repeated violation of team rules". While most fans may think that Harris' departure dooms any chance the Eagles have for a bowl game in 2012, that is not necessarily the case.
What BC fans need to realize is that even if Harris was not kicked off the team, it is quite possible that he would not have been able to play during the 2012 season. During the last 18 months, Harris has had numerous knee issues that have kept him off the field. It all started back in November of 2010, when Harris injured his knee in a late season game vs. Virginia. Harris' doctors were optimistic that if he had surgery around Thanksgiving, he would recover in time to play in the Eagles' bowl game in early January 2011. When the bowl game rolled around, however, Harris' knee had not healed as the doctors had hoped, and, as a result, he did not see the field in the Eagles' bowl game. The injury continued to linger through the spring, and kept him out of the Eagles' spring practice. Just a week into the Eagles' 2011 preseason camp, Harris re-aggravated the injury and had to undergo another surgical procedure. After being deemed fit to play halfway through the 2011 season, Harris played in just two games before being forced out of action due to more knee pain. Harris was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA after the 2011 season. After just one spring practice in 2012, Harris was shut down again for the rest of the spring. Given his injury history over the last 18 months, it seems almost likely that Harris would have continued to have knee problems in the coming months.
Another reason why Harris' departure isn't the end of the world for BC is that there are three running backs on BC's roster who saw considerable time during the 2011 season due to Harris' injury. The trio of Andre Williams, Deuce Finch and Tahj Kimble combined to rush for just under 1,400 yards in 2011. While that may not be the most impressive total, it is important to remember that due to BC's lack of production in the passing game, defenses keyed in on BC's running game. The trio of Williams, Finch and Kimble is more than capable of carrying the load for BC in 2012.
Physically, Finch is the largest of the three, and he is a bruising type who is hard to bring down above the waist. Last season against Maryland, Finch rushed for 243 yards to lead BC to their first ACC win of the season. In the 2012 spring game, he rushed for just under 200 yards. The biggest knock on Finch is that he is not the best at taking care of the football. Finch has been known to fumble, and in the BC spring game, he did so twice.
Williams, while not as bruising as Finch, is a very well-rounded back. There is nothing that really stands out about him in terms of speed or power, but he is very good at spotting holes in the defense. Williams sat out for most of spring practice due to injury, but barring any set backs, he should be fully healthy by the start of preseason.
Of the three, Kimble is probably the best receiver out of the backfield. He will probably be used in third and long situations. Kimble led the Eagles in rushing against both Notre Dame and Clemson last year. Kimble participated in most of the spring practices, but in a stroke of bad luck, sprained his ankle during the 1st quarter of the spring game and was forced out of action. Like Williams, Kimble should be fully healthy when the Eagles start preseason camp.
The Eagles' success or lack of success in the running game in 2012 may have nothing to do with who their running backs are. The Eagles need to develop more of a balanced offense in 2012. The passing game needs to improve drastically. Spaziani brought in Doug Martin to try and improve BC's passing attack, but judging by the spring game performance, work is still left to be done. If BC can't improve their passing game, defenses will be able to stack the line against the run and it won't matter who is running the ball. After all, football is a team sport, and if one aspects of the offense isn't clicking, it can throw off the rest of the offense.