My mind wanders sometimes, if you couldn’t tell. After checking out the DawgPost projections of Georgia’s 2011 starters I linked to below (and here’s Bernie’s speculation, if you’re looking for more of this), I found myself wondering about one position in particular.
Weirdly enough, I’m intrigued about the coaches’ plans for Bruce Figgins.
A lot of people see “Figgins moved to fullback” and figure he’ll just be a guy they’ll swap in and out with Ogletree as a blocker for the tailbacks. I’m wondering if Bobo might see this as an opportunity to add another weapon to the arsenal, the H-Back.
The H-Back was essentially a creation of Joe Gibbs, who was looking for some way to, if not neutralize Lawrence Taylor completely, at least reduce his effectiveness. It’s a position that not a tight end and not a fullback, but a little of both (h/t Tomahawk Nation).
… The term H-back basically means, “motion TE.” The Skins would typically use 1 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR, and this H-back as their base offensive personnel grouping. The in-line TE would be a bigger, more blocking-focused player. The H-back would be a somewhat more maneuverable type, but still a blocking-focused guy. He would usually line up 1 step behind the line of scrimmage, either outside the in-line TE (double wing,) or outside the weakside Tackle (balanced,) depending on the particular play. He’d frequently go in motion, either taking the offense from the double wing look to a balanced look, or from a balanced look to a double wing look. The famous Redskins Counter Trey usually began from a balanced Ace set, and featured the H-back motioning to the strong side, and sealing the backside edge along with the in-line TE, with the backside Guard & Tackle pulling to the playside to lead the running play.
The perception among media hacks is that any TE who catches the ball better than he blocks is an H-back, especially if he wears a number in the 40s (like Chris Cooley and Dallas Clark.) In actuality, the H-back position was conceived to get a good blocker into position to block an edge defensive player quickly. It was simply a redeployment of the traditional fullback, strategy-wise. The FB is usually hitting an ILB, and the H-back would usually hit an OLB…
But there’s more to it than just tailoring (see what I did there?) blocking schemes. There are all kinds of formation games you can play when you deploy an H-Back, particularly if you’re a team, like Georgia, that has a bunch of talent at the tight end position. Like this one:
In the previous example, the Titans attacked the Cowboys’ base two-tight end set with a five-man secondary. This was due both to the down-and-distance situation and the strength of the Cowboys receivers. Most defenses use their standard personnel grouping against a two-tight end, two-receiver package, though they may move a linebacker or two up to act as down linemen.
But what happens when the offense shifts into a three-tight end look? Again, the defense’s reaction varies, depending on the down, the distance, and the opponent.
We generally think of a three-tight end formation as a running formation. But the Patriots are unpredictable when they switch to a three-tight end package. Opponents who would normally switch to a 4-4 or 5-3 defense (replacing a cornerback with an extra lineman or linebacker) are reluctant to do so against the Patriots. This benefits the Patriots’ running game, but Bill Belichick’s assistants are very clever about using multiple tight ends as weapons in the passing game as well.
I’ve got no idea if any of this is going through Bobo’s head, but it’s worth noting that we saw him use a lot more motion at the fullback position last season than we had previously. Anyway, it’s food for thought.