The internet has been abuzz with talk of yesterday's dismissal of Montel Harris from the Boston College football team. Whether you agree with the way BC treated the situation or not, the fact remains that BC will be playing football again in 2012 without their star running back. But how big is this loss to the Boston College offensive attack? Even though were many fans who didn't imagine that Montel would ever put on the maroon and gold again, his loss seriously impacts BC's depth at running back.
But is the loss that major? Southern Pigskin says that the loss of Harris is not the end of the world for BC.
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.
While I agree that the trio could carry the load for BC, each back brings multiple question marks that should make us cautious on relying on them. Williams struggled last year when relied upon as the go-to back, Finch fumbled the ball and Tahj KImble has not been called upon to be an every down back. Also both Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble have both been hurt this spring (Williams enough so as to keep him out of the Spring Game). If two of the backs go down, which isn't out of the realm of possibility given the physicality of the position, the depth chart looks awfully baron behind them. George Craan? Mike Javorski?
The loss of Harris makes the adjustments that new offensive coordinator Doug Martin has reportedly created even more crucial. If he is indeed going to more of a West Coast Offense with lots of passing and less of a reliance on running the ball 30-40 times a game, then having a premier back might not be as integral to a successful offense. The Eagles will just need a serviceable back that can carry the ball 15-20 times as a change of pace. Sure, there will be games where Rolandan Finch runs the ball for 30+ carries like he did against Maryland last year, but those games might be fewer and far between.
What this loss of Montel Harris and adjustments implemented by Doug Martin are going to do is put an increased amount of pressure on Chase Rettig and his receivers. The young QB is going to be asked to do a lot more in 2012 than he did during his first two seasons at BC. He is going to need to become more efficient and accurate with the football, and his receivers are going to need to become bigger weapons than they were in 2011. The clues that the passing game is going to be a bigger emphasis of the offense can be seen in how much effort Spaz is putting into recruiting wide receivers and tight ends.
The dismissal of Montel Harris raises many question marks going into the next season. But in order for BC's offense to improve from their dismal 2011 showing, they are going to need to adjust. If BC continues to go with the ground pound offense that we have come to expect from Spaz, they might continue to struggle especially without a lot of depth. But if Martin truly implements a new style of offense, one that relies more heavily on the passing game, maybe the loss of Harris' won't be all that detrimental.