There has been no move more curious over the course of Boston College’s 2-8 season than Rolandan “Deuce” Finch’s early slide down the depth chart. His credentials as the Eagles’ top rusher a year ago indicated that he would be one of the backs BC counted on most this season, but he missed the first game with a foot injury, then after fumbling in the next two games, he was benched for performance and off-field issues.
He found himself in coach Frank Spaziani’s doghouse, the lowest point coming when he practiced with the scout team. It took six weeks, plus injuries to Tahj Kimble and Andre Williams, for Finch to return to the field. Last Saturday night, he carried the ball seven times for 40 yards against Notre Dame, giving him 32 carries for 154 yards on the season.
He is back to second on the depth chart for this week’s matchup with Virginia Tech, behind freshman David Dudeck, looking to have a strong finish to a humbling year.
“It’s great for Deuce just to get him back out there,” said tight end Chris Pantale. “I know he’s been through a lot this season. To have him back and make an impact was huge not only for him but for us in the offense.
“There were a couple of times I pulled him aside like, ‘Things like this happen in life, and it’s how we respond to these challenges. You’ve just got to work and hopefully things work out for the best.’ ”
Finch, who was not made available to reporters Wednesday, broke a 20-yard run against the Irish that was the Eagles’ longest carry in four games, flashing the ability a struggling running game could have used in his absence.
“We finally got something going with the running game a little bit,” Pantale said. “He has the ability to break runs off and break tackles, so it’s great having him back.”
Initially, the situation didn’t sit well with Finch, said captain Emmett Cleary, but he continued to work.
“Nobody’s happy with something like that,” Cleary said. “So I’m not going to say he was that gung-ho about it. But he handled it like a man. And it kind of shows how your opportunity will come back around if you keep working at it.
“He’s the same runner he’s always been. I was just glad to have him back. I hope he can contribute these next two weeks. He played well.”
One more time?
Quarterback Dave Shinskie hadn’t seriously thought about returning for a fifth season until the past few days, when a handful of teammates asked him what his plans were. Now, the former starter is rolling around the idea.
“I’ll think about it for the next week, and we’ll see,” said Shinskie, 28. “Because I do love this place and I do love the guys that I play with and it stinks to have it come to an end, and if it doesn’t have to, why should it, you know?”
To redshirt and gain a fifth year of eligibility, he would have to sit out the two remaining games. If he takes a snap this weekend against Virginia Tech, it would ostensibly mean he would have played his last game at The Heights.
When Shinskie came out of Mount Carmel Area High School in Kulpmont, Pa., in 2003, Michigan State and Delaware had him in their crosshairs, but he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins as a pitcher. He spent six seasons in the minors before coming to BC, where he earned the starting quarterback job in 2009, throwing for 2,049 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The next season, he was benched in favor of Chase Rettig, handling the demotion with poise and becoming close friends with the young quarterback.
“I can’t say enough about Dave,” Spaziani said. “I certainly, and he certainly, wish the on-field experience would have been a little more positive at this stage than when he started out, but what Dave’s meant for BC, how he’s handled a very, very difficult situation — a lot of guys have had morale issues over a lot less than that — you wouldn’t know talking to him where he is on the depth chart if you didn’t ask him.
“He’s been enthusiastic from the moment he was not the starting quarterback to now.”
No hard feelings
Rettig has been sacked 11 times the past three weeks, going down four times against Notre Dame, and even though he has gone to great lengths to not let any frustration show, it was telling when he explained what happened on a first-quarter overthrow that could have been a touchdown pass to Dudeck.
“I couldn’t see it,” he said. “I was on the ground.”
The Eagles’ offensive line has had a difficult time keeping Rettig upright.
“That’s the No. 1 thing we don’t want to see happening,” said center Andy Gallik. “We’re over there picking him back up and kicking ourselves in the back.”
Whether it’s missing a one-on-one block or not picking up a late blitz, the line has made mistakes that Rettig has had to pay for.
“I would expect him to be more harsh,” Gallik said. “But he understands that everybody’s going to make mistakes. If we let a guy through and he gets hit, he might miss a throw, but we just try to get up the next play and execute.”
Spaziani hinted that the knee injury receiver Bobby Swigert sustained against Notre Dame will likely end his season and could cost him some of next season as well. The weekly injury report will be released Thursday . . . Linebacker Nick Clancy, who sustained a concussion on the first series against Notre Dame, sat out the first two practices this week, but was cleared to participate Wednesday.