"I saw the Deuce that I like to see."
That was Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani on the play of running back Rolandan Finch following Saturday's 21-6 loss to Notre Dame. Finch came on in relief of true freshman starter David Dudeck, a converted defensive back, after being benched following the road loss to Northwestern back in week 3.
Finch finished the game with 7 carries for 40 yards (5.7 yards a carry), including a long run of 20 yards, adding some pop out of the backfield that has been sorely missing the last few weeks. Dudeck, the Eagles starter, finished with 4 carries for 9 yards for 2.3 a carry (though Dudeck did factor more into the passing game, finishing with 4 catches for 40 yards).
With due respect to Dudeck, who has been thrown to the fire as a true freshman, it's clear who is the more talented running back on the roster. Yet despite the talent gap, Finch had been relegated to the scout team for the last six weeks, a five-game purgatory that included not even traveling with the team to Wake Forest last weekend.
Finch's issues have being spun by the media as having to do with ball security. Here's Avidon in an article entitled Time is Now for Finch to Hang On.
"The problem, however, is that Finch fumbles. A lot.
And so despite all the good that happens when he plays, he was benched for five games this season, buried so far down the depth chart that he didn't even make BC's road trip to Wake Forest a couple of weekends ago.
BC simply couldn't afford all the turnovers that come when Finch is the ballcarrier, six in just 217 career carries, an average of one fumble per 36.2 carries that doesn't include the times he put the ball on the ground and BC recovered."
Aside: too bad Spaz ran off the RB on the roster with the best carries per fumble ratio. That would be Montel Harris, who averaged just one fumble every 78.7 carries over four years on the Heights. Now he's playing for Temple, where he's lost one fumble in 129 carries with the Owls.
A problem I have with this is the fact that Andre Williams has four fumbles over 130 carries this year, an average of one fumble per 32.5 carries that doesn't include the fumble BC ended up recovering vs. Northwestern. Williams was sidelined by a strained abdominal muscle, not the capricious two-deep whims of Spaz.
So Finch didn't fumble in the loss to Notre Dame, that means that he'll get the start this weekend. Right, Spaz?
"He has to practice and continue to do what he did to get where he got last night, and his role certainly will increase," Spaziani said during a conference call Sunday. "There are certain things you have to do and we can't project him into a more active role until he illustrates that he's earned it."
Look. There's a lot that's wrong with the current Boston College football program, but this particular issue continues to bother me. It's not time for Rolandan Finch to start hanging onto the football. It's time for Frank Spaziani to come clean on Finch's mysterious absence from the Eagles two-deep over the last five games.
If Finch's absence is really due to personal reasons, say so. Respect Finch's privacy in the matter and just say that he's dealing with some undisclosed off-field issue. It wouldn't be the first time someone disappeared from the Eagles roster or the coaching staff due to personal reasons.
That didn't happen. The media, no doubt fueled by Spaz's talking points and monodrone sound bytes, pursued the "lack of the E-word" rationale over the "personal reasons" excuse. It's for this reason that Finch's benching continues to bother me. The way this situation has been handled is far worse than if this was swept under the rug by an undisclosed personal reason.
In the papers, Finch is portrayed as a fumble machine that only worked his way back up and off the scout team "more by necessity than anything else" when anyone still paying attention knows that's the farthest thing from the truth. Players fumble. Get over it. Don't paint your kids in a negative light in the local area papers. Do your job by puttting the best 11 guys on the field every week; not holding personal grudges and inexplicably benching your leading returning rusher from 2011 and booting the school's all-time leading rusher from the program.
Then again, I guess the "Finch has been benched because he fumbled into the end zone, causing me great personal embarrassment and humiliation and likely getting me fired at season's end" doesn't play well in the papers. Just one more in a long line of dirty little secrets surrounding Boston College football that has me mentally fast-forwarding to Monday, November 26. The end can't come soon enough.