Auburn, Ala.--If Auburn has success on offense in 2013 much of the credit will go to the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and even the offensive linemen, but some of the biggest contributions will likely come from Scott Fountain’s group.
Coaching the H-Back and tight end position that also encompasses the fullback spot, Fountain’s players must have the versatility to be a powerful blocker while also be athletic enough to make plays in the passing game.
With senior bruiser Jay Prosch back to lead the way along with juniors C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse and walk-on Gage Batten, Fountain pointed out for his guys to develop the way they need to it’s about time management in practice and having the ability to do many different things on the field.
“It’s kind of a different deal,” the coach said. “They have to go out there and get split receiver work so at times we’ll go out there and work with Coach (Dameyune) Craig for a period or two. Then we have to take them over and work with the offensive line on combo blocks and base blocks. Another big part of the practice is just getting in the backfield with shifts and movements and blocking from that position. Then we’ll run routes with those guys. Those guys do a lot during practice.”
The play of Prosch could be a major key to success for the 2013 offense. A true lead blocker whose play was one of the big reasons why Tre Mason ran for 1,000 yards last season, Prosch may not get many carries in his role in 2013 but Fountain notes that doesn’t mean he won’t touch the football.
“I think there will definitely be opportunities for him to do things with the ball in his hands,” Fountain said. “He won’t just be a blocking guy. I know one of Jay’s biggest things when Coach Malzahn came in was that he thought it was just a spread offense. We told him that his position was probably the most valuable to this offense because he does a lot of the dirty work on the power and counter. Coach Malzahn has really liked what he’s seen from Jay. I think you’ll see him actually touching the ball at times. There will be some opportunities to do that.”
C.J. Uzomah will be a junior this season.
While Fulse will play the traditional tight end role for the Tigers because of his physical blocking style, Uzomah may be the jack-of-all-trades this fall. A former high school quarterback, Uzomah has the speed to play outside at receiver, but is also strong enough to clear the way in the running game. Fountain is expecting big things from Uzomah this fall.
“C.J. is probably the most versatile guy we have," the coach said. "He can truly play split-five (slot receiver), tight end and the three-back (H-Back) for us in the backfield. Some of the other guys have bits and pieces of it, but he’s the one guy who can do it all. I think that makes him a real value to our football team.”
With a true blocking fullback, a tight end and a versatile player capable of doing both, Auburn has plenty of options in those spots this season. Fountain said that is a huge positive because Malzahn likes to move guys around, which should be an advantage this fall for the Tigers.
“I think at times you could see C.J, Brandon and Prosch on the field at the same time,” Fountain said. “Sometimes you’ll see just Brandon, or Brandon and C.J. or Prosch and C.J. out there together. Coach Malzahn’s offense has always had two or three tailbacks on the field at some point or two or three H-Back/fullback types. You will definitely see them out there at times together.”
A player who has caught the eyes of his coaches and teammates this preseason is Batten, a walk-on who came to Auburn to study i the honors program. A talented linebacker out of Dwyer High in Palm Beach, Fla., Batten was moved to fullback and now has a chance to following in his mentor Heath Evans’ footsteps as a fullback with the Tigers.
“At that H-Back position Coach Malzahn has always tried to find a guy, whether he’s a defensive guy or playing a different position on offense, to bring in and be an H-Back for us,” Fountain said. “Gage was a guy we approached about doing it. He was doing a really good job at linebacker so it was tough for him to make that move, but he wanted to do what was best for the team.
"It’s a real important to have depth," Fountain added. "We have got depth with Brandon Fulse and C.J., but Gage is a guy who gives you depth as a box guy, blocking the counters and sweeps. That has been really good for us.”
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