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September 10, 2012

Roy Finch needs to earn his way on the field

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When Oklahoma struggled against UTEP in the season opener, the Sooners seemed like a team with a lot of playmakers incapable of making plays.

After OU's 69-13 trouncing of Florida A&M, OU's offense looks like a team full of playmakers who didn't have enough footballs to go around. That's exactly how it looked when Roy Finch came into the game late and racked up 50 yards rushing on just five carries and scored a touchdown.

So where has Finch been over the first two games?

SCOOPHD: COORDINATOR BREAKDOWN FROM FLORIDA A&M POSTGAME

He's been the starting kickoff returner for the Sooners. But he hasn't seen any meaningful playing time since the end of the 2011 season, when he tied with Dominique Whaley for the highest yards per carry average on the team.

"We all know what type of talent Roy is," co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel reminded the media Monday. "We know the type of explosiveness he can bring to us offensively when you get the ball to him out in space."

So then what's the problem? Why can't Finch get out on the field more?

Part of the problem is OU decided to work Finch at the slot receiver position this fall. It was their answer to finding ways to get Finch more involved in the offense.

"We're trying to give him more opportunities," said co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. "We're trying to give him more chances to get on the field."

It's not as if the OU coaches are ignoring Finch's talents. Their plan was to figure out ways to get him the ball more in 2012. The problem is, Finch hasn't held up his end of the bargain.

"It's just a matter of him being consistent and doing the things we're asking him to do as coaches," said Norvell. "He definitely has a role. He's a talent and we want to find a role for him, but he has a responsibility in it too."

That responsibility for Finch is learning this new role the coaches have devised for him as a slot receiver. It's not a task Finch is excelling at. Unforunately for Finch, he's not Allen Iverson. We are talking about practice. And Finch isn't practicing all that well these days.

He definitely has a role. He's a talent and we want to find a role for him, but he has a responsibility in it too. - Jay Norvell on Roy Finch

"Ultimately, we as a coaching staff, teammates, everybody, are asking all of our guys to buy in and be disciplined in everything you do and how you approach everything on and off the field because it's going to show up on gameday at some point too," said Heupel. "As Roy continues to handle himself in a mature way and practice better, he's going to continue to earn more touches."

Right now with Finch's poor practice habits, he's lagging behind players at two positions.

"Really, the bottom line is he's a slot receiver who is playing behind Kenny Stills and Sterling Shepard, two pretty good players," said Norvell. "They're playing well. At running back he's behind a couple of other players. We'd love to get him some more carries but we'd love to get Trey Millard some more carries."

Finch is at a crossroads in his Sooner career. He's two games into his junior year. He's a starting kickoff returner and he's making an impact at that spot on the field.

But fans certainly want to see him do more than just return kickoffs. Finch certainly doesn't want his OU career to end up a blown opportunity. The OU coaching staff doesn't want that either. But at some point, he's got to earn the playing time fans believe he deserves.

We are talking about practice.

"You only have so many opportunities so it's really on the players to earn those opportunities in practice and that's what he's trying to do," said Norvell.



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