Winovich: Ben Mason wants to play more defense

Submitted by stephenrjking on March 15th, 2019 at 1:12 PM

My translation: Michigan won't be using a fullback much this year.

Other translations/interpretations welcome.


Gentleman Squirrels

March 15th, 2019 at 1:25 PM ^

He could be an undersized DT this year if he fully commits to it and gets up to 270/275. Or take a redshirt year to get acclimated to the position. More likely to play LB on obvious run downs.

Ben VanSumeran could be in the in the same boat if FB is going to be slowly phased out. Maybe have him bulk up to 250ish and play a WDE/OLB role. He's pretty explosive and could become a poor man's Josh Allen.

Brian Griese

March 15th, 2019 at 2:08 PM ^

I'll believe it when I see it, but if so that would be a major step in the right direction.  My feelings on FB's is they should only be used enough to where a walk-on can handle it.  

To another point, Michigan used 12% (7) of their 85 scholarships last year (and most likely this year as well) on FB's and TE's. IMO, 4 or maybe 5 scholarships from that group is plenty.  I really don't understand why it took four seasons for Harbaugh to figure out this 'speed' thing, assuming it is actually implemented.  


March 15th, 2019 at 3:48 PM ^

What's so hard to understand?

He's won with FB's before and has won at UM too with FB. Yes the O has not been prolific but outside of one year with a mess of an Oline and at QB it hasn't been horrible either. So he was willing to ride with what brought him here and what gave the team success....just not enough success. Now he's willing to make changes..something I don't think he gets near enough credit for.

Steve in PA

March 15th, 2019 at 5:38 PM ^

How many of those FB wind up playing a different position?  In baseball when you are putting together post season teams you take nearly every player that was a shortstop or pitcher during the regular season because they have the talent to play other positions.

I see FB/TE the same way.  A large powerful individual that can also move.


March 15th, 2019 at 4:18 PM ^

This would be sad. Those Ben Mason packages they ran last year were awesome. I don't think Michigan will stray too far from power football. Probably more 4 and 5 wide, but a good mix of personnel groups. This is still a team built to smash. It would be risky to switch things up too much simply because they have 3 big time receivers this year.


March 16th, 2019 at 3:11 PM ^

They were fun, but statistically they were not awesome, and we aren't as setup to be a "smash" team as you'd think.

On rushes with 2 yards or less to go, Michigan converted a first down or touchdown on roughly 69% of those snaps which ranked somewhere in the 70's in the entire country. If that's what a team built to smash converts, that is not awesome.


March 15th, 2019 at 4:22 PM ^

Different set of skills. He may be great at hitting things and going forward, but there's a lot more to playing LB. Personally, I'd rather have his impact on offense. We already have some Dudes at LB.

Love me some Bench, but no way is he fast enough to cover those crossing routes.


March 15th, 2019 at 1:21 PM ^

I'd be all for it in goal line/short yardage situations. I'd also love it if he were the lone set back in those same situations on offense. I think he can get one yard on any defense that is spread out.


March 15th, 2019 at 1:28 PM ^

Your translation is 100% correct. I also don't expect to see him as a single back anymore - maybe on occasion in goalline only.

Michigan won't use the FB as much so I expect Mason to play some MLB or Noah Furbush's old role on defense while still coming in as a FB when we need one.

I wonder if Ben VanSumeren also tries out another position to provide some depth in addition to FB duties. He could probably move to TE and play an Aaron Shea/Khalid Hill type of hybrid role.

Both should be huge on special teams (Mason already is).


March 15th, 2019 at 1:44 PM ^

He would have been a great linebacker. 20 years ago. He'd be limited to short yardage situations as a LB. Could be an interesting prospect at DE, but I have no idea if he has the requisite skills or not. 


March 15th, 2019 at 2:25 PM ^

I was assuming given our RB depth that we would be hearing about Mason at RB in spring camp.  I don't see the current RB depth able to take the poundings of an every down back.  He ought to be able to both pass protect and bang out 3-5 yards when the line does a decent job blocking.  Certainly a nice safety net if Evans isn't back with the team in the fall.  I suppose Wilson can take those caries, but we seem to be lacking a short yardage back and that certainly fits Mason's strengths.


March 15th, 2019 at 2:35 PM ^

I don't think this means that the fullback is going away at all. Those of you celebrating the potential demise of the fullback will also be the first to whine and moan when we fail to convert on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 this year, which was about to close as automatic last year when we handed it to Ben Mason last year. Short yardage running is very undervalued and was a big part of the reason we got to ten wins last year.

Mason was also a huge part of our successful run game last year because of how effective he was a lead blocker. I, for one, will be very disappointed if we don't see him at all on offense this year. Especially in short yardage and goal-line situations.


March 15th, 2019 at 2:50 PM ^

Mason failed to convert some extremely critical third and fourth and shorts this year. He also biffed more than a few blocking assignments. Neither are totally on him, since this is a team sport and the offensive coaching was... not optimal.

He's a good player and I like to watch his violence on the field. However, you're vastly overrating him. The Hammering Panda was a much better FB than Mason has been - so far. 


March 15th, 2019 at 3:51 PM ^

Your translation may be correct, but I'm going half cup full and going to say that he is comfortable in his roles on ST and FB, and now wants to learn another role so he can play more football in general.

Now he'll score a TD on a FB dive, go light up the kick-off returner, then go get a TFL in three plays back-to-back.