Friday, March 14, 2014

How does Quayvon fit into the "H-back" role?

“I don’t know if he’ll even take any fullback reps,” Bobo said of Hicks. “… I think he plays with a good base. His issue sometimes blocking has been out in space, which causes him not to fit up properly. So we think getting up there close to the line will give him a chance to be successful in the running game. Now the passing game is going to be foreign. He’s used to running in the flat and that’s about it. So he’ll have to run some different routes and that will be an adjustment for him.”
Having had a week to process this, the move is mostly because of the lack of depth at tight end. With Jay Rome missing spring practice while recovering from foot surgery, Bobo will only have the services of Jordan Davis, plus walk ons Jack Loonam and Jared Chapple this spring. And since Quayvon Hicks played some tight end in high school at Pierce County the transition there should be a smooth one during spring practices, which begin in earnest next week.

But it also appears as if Hicks is being shifted into a different role as he heads into his junior season - the H-back. This is generally a hybrid tight end position that utilizes a lot of motion pre-snap. Motion makes the defense think before reacting. The offense can set the H-back up right where they want him just before the ball is snapped. This gives the defense little time to adjust and suddenly the play is beginning and the linebackers are still thinking about what they're seeing pre-snap. And as we all know, a defense that is thinking is not reacting nearly as quickly as it would prefer.

Although the H-back has been utilized in many ways since its inception, the fundamentals for the H-back remain the same - block, run and catch, Similar to a fullback, the H-back must run downhill to help create running lanes for the ball carrier. Meanwhile, running with the football out of this position typically comes after catching a pass rather than after a handoff. A good H-back will be able to do all of these things equally.

So if this transition is a successful one, what can we expect from Quayvon this fall? Looking over his 2013 stats paints a picture of inconsistency. On one hand he averaged 9.3 yards per touch. On the other that only includes ten rushes and five receptions. The reality is that Hicks struggled to find snaps at fullback behind Merritt Hall and also dropped some passes that would have possibly helped him fit better into the offense. Hall is almost exclusively a blocker and has clearly established himself as the #1 fullback for the next two seasons. Hicks adds some other dimensions for Bobo to utilize, especially if he can prove to be a dependable target in the passing game.

The good news is that the motivation should be high for Quayvon this spring. I would imagine he's eager to prove his versatility as a player in this offense, both for Georgia as well as his future stock in an NFL draft.