The #20-ranked Michigan Men’s Lacrosse team kicks off the 2019 campaign tomorrow on the road against Cleveland State. Michigan is on the rise and made major strides last year under second-year coach Kevin Conry. The Wolverines are coming off their second straight 8-6 season and last year knocked off rivals Notre Dame and Penn State. Their #20 ranking is their highest-ever in the preseason poll and shows that the rest of the lacrosse world thinks they are poised for a big jump. But, Michigan’s 2019 season, like the last few, is a mysterious box with a big question mark on it.
No, not this one
Much has been made of the fact that we once again have a 3-Deep of fullbacks – including 2 on scholarship. They’ve been discussed often as ‘fullbackian fullbacks who fullback in fullbackian ways’ or something similar, but I think that Borges has more plans for these guys than just being a “classic” Michigan fullback. To break it down simply, there are 2 schools of fullbacks: The 6’ 240lb linebacker-meeters like this guy
- great fullback name or greatest fullback name?
and the West-Coast Fullback.
Now the 1st type of fullback has one job and one job only – lead blocker. Out of the I he hits the hole before the running back and takes out the first defender he sees.
This type of fullback often drove many including the fearless leader Brian and myself to anger when we would line up in an I, the fullback would shuffle-shuffle-shuffle one direction and totally tell the defense where the run was going.
(14 seconds in. It worked, but it was Purdue)
I don’t believe that’s what we’ll be getting with Borges. I believe that Borges will be asking a lot more of his fullbacks, he actually already has. In the same vein, Hopkins is a converted RB who has handled the ball a lot and Houma is a triple-option FB who rushed for a ton of yards in high school. Also I think the best corollary to what we’ll see from our fullbacks in the future (Hopkins and Houma) is how Jacob Hester has been used, both at LSU and on the Chargers.
We’ve seen that Borges treats the fullback as a receiver (5:58 of the clip below. Thanks to SC Wolverine for finding it)
We saw often that Borges isn’t afraid to line up in a heavy I, split out the tailback, and hand it to the fullback on a dive. Sometimes with great, sometimes with terrible – THEN GREAT – results.
(See 4:59. Hell, just watch it all again in all its glory)
Doing this like 5 times in goal line situations of course lead to easy rollout Denard TDs on a fake dive as well.
Jacob Hester is listed (now, as a 5year pro) at 5'11” 235#. The new weights from B1G media days list Hopkins at 235# and Houma at 221#. Looking at some clips of Hester Highlights from the Chargers we see a couple of designed fullback pass plays:
Let’s hope we get a lot of those TDs from Hopkins and Houma going forward.
I'd love to see M break out the triple option this year with Hopkins as the dive back and Fitz as the pitch back. Do you think it is in the playbook already, yet to be installed in the arsenal, or never gonna happen? If it is in the arsenal this year, when could we/I expect to see it??
Who else loved that jumbo package that Michigan used at the goal-line on Saturday with Hopkins at RB, Will Campbell at FB, and Washington at H-Back?
Last year when the season collapsed at the Illinois 1-yard line I was begging for Michigan to come out in jumbo package with Kevin Grady and Mark Moundros. Apparently Rodriguez decided to leave no doubt and put 900 pounds of human being in the back-field this time. I think you'll see this situation in the next couple of weeks with the same result - then later in the season you'll see them use different variations with the same personnel.
But here's the real question - Who catches the first play action TD pass - Campbell or Washington?