From Seth Emerson’s mailbag:
With the recent enrollment of Keith Marshall and the recent commitment of Todd Gurley, Georgia looks stack at the running back position in terms of depth. Richard Samuel has been a team player ever since he stepped on campus. Do you think the coaches might try to switch him to fullback or to a h-back position.? He is a great blocker and can catch passes out in the flats if need be. I just do no see his getting much playing time next year as a running back.
This wasn’t the only question along these lines ….
How hard do you think it would be to switch from HB to FB for a guy like Richard Samuel? It didn’t seem to be a big deal for Figgins to go from TE to FB. I know TE’s block like a FB would, but still. I also know he’s already switched positions once, then back again, but FB is the place I think he could get on the field more. I think getting Samuel on the field is important and we are stacked at HB and hurting at FB. He’s also got the size and strength. How nice would it be to have the option to use him as a runner and receiver as well?
I’m with both of you on this. Samuel has the size to be a fullback, and the need is greater at that position than at tailback. So I’ve been a bit surprised that Richt has been so adamant that not only is Samuel not moving there, but none of the current tailbacks are. (Ken Malcome has the size for it too.)
It’s always possible that Richt feels guilty about moving Samuel around so much that he doesn’t want to ask him to do it again. In that case, Samuel might be the one to force the switch – if he really wants to do it. I haven’t heard that he does…
Those are pretty common sentiments these days. Maybe I’m just being a contrarian, but I’m not exactly convinced it’s such a hot idea.
And, no, I’m not saying that out of sympathy. I’m saying it because I don’t see much in Samuel’s track record that suggests such a move would benefit the team.
First off, unlike Figgins, Samuel has never been asked to run block in Georgia’s offense. So if you make the change, you’re asking him to learn another skill set in a relatively short time. (And before you go down the “it’s not that hard to learn how to run block” road, do you remember what Georgia’s running game looked like last year?) If it turns out that he’s not able to contribute much as a run blocker, what use is he at the new position?
Second, deployment at fullback doesn’t play into what strengths Samuel has as a rusher. Granted it’s a small sample size, but in those games I can think of when he made himself an effective factor, he was a back lined up in an I-set who was given the ball with enough space in the backfield so that he hit the line of scrimmage with a full head of steam. He’s not shifty. He’s not one of those backs who’s at full speed after one step or so. He’s a classic run between the tackles power back. He can’t hit the line with the same kind of authority from the fullback position.
I’ve never felt that Bobo’s made the best use out of Samuel’s abilities. The real shame of him getting hurt in the Florida game was that it was the first time since the ’09 South Carolina game that we saw a glimpse of what he could give when he was used correctly. Richt’s Dawgs are always going to need a power running game. I’d rather see the effort put into finding out whether Samuel is the guy for that than throwing him into a new role simply because he looks the part.