The fullback position last season was our Achilles heel. A lot of people thought that the offense was really challenged because we lost all of our fullbacks by the midway point of the season. Hancock was lost before the season started, Powdrell went down with a nasty injury then we lost Havili to an injury. At that point we went to Allen Bradford who was playing both sides of the ball and that was a stopgap measure that had moderate results.
This year we will have Stanley Havili in the top spot with Jody Adewale backing him up. After that it gets dicey. Yes there has been some talk here and there though mostly subdued about the "possibility" of Broderick Green trying fullback. That is unlikely, first he has to get cleared to play by the NCAA and then the coaching staff needs to figure out if that is the direction they want to go. I DO NOT think that Green, if cleared, will play fullback. I realize the depth chart has both Alfred Rowe and Jordan Campbell there, but Campbell is injured with a shoulder injury and I haven't heard Rowe's name a lot during camp so I'm not sure where he fits in. Does that mean that Bradford would then get the call? I don't know but there are times when it's all hands on deck.
The reasons are obvious; a good fullback is essential to the running game. By blocking and blowing some holes open for the tailback. They are also another receiving option out of the backfield and we have seen some great stuff from Havili in camp so this only reinforces the need for him to be healthy.
Art at Trojan Football Analysis sent me some pretty interesting information.
178 yards per game down to 113 yards per game for an overall total of 128 yards per game.
I Formation plays (fullback dependent) were the best example of how much the loss of the fullbacks hurt.
They averaged 4.8 yards per carry for the first three games and then 2.9 yards the rest of the season. Against UCLA and Michigan it was even worse...
That is pretty impressive, the amount of yards we gave up last season after the 3rd game shows just how much important it is that we get the fullback position nailed down. With all of the snickering we hear about 10 tailbacks and such this illustrates just how important depth is. Sure, I would like to have another couple of top recruits at fullback but that isn't where we are at, we need to be productive with what we have now.
The ability of the offense to stretch the defense out will only work if we have a solid production at the fullback position. Havili needs to stay healthy and that will only happen if the offensive line keeps the pressure off him long enough to let the plays develop.