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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

May 19, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Post-spring position overview — tailback and fullback

Entry number two of our post-spring position review today hits the two running back spots — tailback and fullback.
Chris Polk, So.
Johri Fogerson, Jr./
or Deontae Cooper, Fr./
or Jesse Callier, Fr.
Demitrius Bronson, So.
No scholarship players.
Tailback emerged as one of the strongest positions on the team as the spring progressed. Last year’s starter, Chris Polk (pictured) sat out contact drills to recover from off-season shoulder surgery. But there’s little doubting Polk’s ability after his 1,113 yards last season, and he figures to be the leader on the depth chart heading into the fall.
But there’s lots of competition after that as Johri Fogerson put on about 10-15 pounds and showed a better ability to pass block and also finished with a strong performance in the spring game, prompting head coach Steve Sarkisian to say later that he will continue to explore ways to get Fogerson more involved in the offense next season.
Then there were the two true frosh, Callier and Cooper, who were the breakout offensive stars for most of the spring. Callier sat out the last week or so with a minor injury, but both did more than enough to indicate they will be in the rotation next season as UW coaches have consistently said they would like to give Polk a few more breaks than a year ago, when he took 226 of the 270 carries that went to tailbacks last season.
Bronson struggled early, mainly with holding onto the ball, and was used some at fullback. But he came on late and led all rushers in the spring game with 72 yards, showing that there’s still a place for him in this offense, as well.

Here’s how Sarkisian assessed the tailback spot at the end of the spring:

“I thought it was a great spring for us. Obviously you bring in two new guys with Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier, they really flashed all spring long. There were a lot of big plays out of those two guys. But what I liked out of both of them was their willingness in the passing game not only to catch balls but to pass protect. They did a nice job. And I was really impressed with Johri Fogerson the second half of spring, I thought he came on strong which was great for him. All in all it’s a deep group, and then we get to add Chris Polk back in the fall, so we are excited about the position.”

The big question at this spot may be how the Huskies keep all the tailbacks happy with enough carries. Both Polk and Fogerson, who would seem to be the two with the most at stake in that regard, said they aren’t worried about it.
The big picture is that UW appears as well-stocked at this position as any time since maybe the mid-90s. And it also appears set up well for the long-haul with some proven experience returning and young guys waiting in the wings.
Austin Sylvester, Sr.
Dorson Boyce, Jr.
Kimo Makaula, Fr./
or Demitrius Bronson, So.
Zach Fogerson
This is one of just two offensive spots where UW is attempting to replace an established starter in Paul Homer. None of the candidates have much on-field time so it will remain a little bit of an unknown until the season begins. With so many talented tailbacks, UW probably won’t look for a lot of carries out of the fullback spot, instead looking more for blocking and catching passes out of the backfield — recall that Homer had just one carry last season.
Sylvester, a 241-pounder who began his UW career as a linebacker, and Boyce, who moved from tight end this spring, emerged at the top of the depth chart, particularly in sets that call for traditional fullback duties of blocking and catching out of the backfield.
The wildcards here are Johri Fogerson, whom Sarkisian said he plans to use some in two-back sets (with Fogerson technically lining up as a fullback) to get him more involved (similar to a lot of sets the team ran a year ago, as well); and Bronson, who spent some time at fullback during the spring and could emerge into a role similar to what Sarkisian sees for Fogerson, as kind of a hybrid tailback-fullback.
This looks like a situation where a lot of different guys could see time at what is the fullback spot, but each could have different roles when playing that position based on the set and play call.
Here’s how Sarkisian assessed the position at the end of spring:

“The fullback positon was one of kind of by-committee through the spring, but when you go back and assess it all, I thought Austin Sylvester had a nice spring and Dorson Boyce had a nice spring . And the experiment of Demitrius there, I think he showed some signs he might be able help us down the road.”



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