Late last week Boston College announced that running back Rolandan Finch was no longer on the team due to personal reasons. It was a major blow for the Eagles as many preseason projections had Finch as the top running back. His unexpected departure left two major questions. How will his departure effect Steve Addazio's running back depth, and how will his loss change Ryan Day's offensive scheme going into the 2013 season?
First, let's look at the running back depth. First and foremost, the primary back will be senior running back Andre Williams. Last year, Williams led the Eagles with 584 yards, but 200 of those game from the Army game and 100 from one play alone. He has always had the talent, but he--along with most of the running game last year-- never really found his groove.
With some good run blocking, especially between the tackles, Williams should improve next year. Many games last year followed the same formula. Williams would be given the ball, he would take off between tackle and the hole would immediately close. If Justin Frye can improve the line, Williams should be explosive. We have seen multiple examples of this, most notably his epic performance against Syracuse in 2010 where he rushed for 185 yards and carried the offense.
After Williams there is David Dudeck. Last year Spaz transitioned the freshman from safety to running back, and the young Dudeck struggled. He had a real hard time shedding tackles, and looked hesitant many times he touched the ball. Spaz used him as an every down back, but that was kind of unfair to Dudeck. If Williams goes down, he can't be the answer for Addazio, especially if BC plans on sticking to the run. Dudeck is nothing more than a 3rd down back, and if used properly, he could be a good one, but he shouldn't be running the ball more than 5-7 times a game.
But what happens if Andre Williams gets dinged up or hurt? Who will step in and become the primary tailback? The answer will have to come from a four running backs who have a combined 17 career rushes between them. Is there a sure answer between Myles Willis, Tahj Kimble, George Craan and Tyler Rouse? It's impossible to say. Willis and Rouse haven't set foot on campus yet, and Craan was limited to red shirt duties last year. Kimble easily has the highest upside, but injuries have hampered him over the last year.
With all these question marks, it certainly looks as if Addazio and Day are going to have to look long and hard at their offensive strategy going into next season. The head coach has claimed that he will look at his teams resources and develop plans based on the strengths of the team. Certainly they planned on going in with a run heavy, "run to set up the pass" mentality, but that may need to change given the personnel issues they have in front of them.
BC is clearly stronger in the passing game right now. They have more weapons, including Alex Amidon, Spiffy Evans, Johnathan Coleman and either Joel Zoungrana or Harrison Jackson to go along with transfer Marcus Grant. BC could even rely more on the short game, with a solid crew of tight ends that could work as Rettig's safety valve. Addazio would be wise to throw the ball, not as much as Doug Martin asked for last year, but certainly more than a team that plans to implement a ground and pound offense.
Chase Rettig is going to need to throw the ball consistently next year for BC to be successful. Certainly I would like to see the Eagles run the ball 30+ times, but given the depth of the team this season, it may not be wise especially given Andre Williams track record with injuries. the past two seasons. Certainly a freshman like Willis or Rouse could step up, but relying on that as a centerpiece of your offense is a huge gamble.
The Spring Game is just over a week away. Maybe we will see some clues of what to expect this fall. Maybe not.