Up-tempo, no-huddle offenses may be in vogue, but there is still is a place in college football for the old-school fullback.
Just ask LSU and Georgia, which will have bruisers J.C. Copeland and Quayvon Hicks on display Saturday in Sanford Stadium in the teams‚Äô top-10 matchup.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really rare,‚Äù Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said of the position‚Äôs place nowadays. ‚ÄúI think you‚Äôve got mirrored offenses from the standpoint that you‚Äôve got wideouts, both of us have got really good quarterbacks, athletic tight ends and I know their offensive line is really physical. And both of them do have fullbacks that can carry the ball and they‚Äôre physical fullbacks, too. We‚Äôve got to be ready to be play.‚Äù
Besides Georgia and LSU, Arkansas is the only other team in the Southeastern Conference that lists a fullback on an 11-player offensive depth chart.
South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt and Kentucky list a fullback, but do so using a 12-player depth chart that includes three receivers. Alabama lists the 12th spot as a tight end/H-back.
The tailbacks will no doubt be in the spotlight Saturday.
Georgia‚Äôs Todd Gurley leads the SEC at 125.7 rushing yards per game and LSU‚Äôs Jeremy Hill is third with 117.
The 6-foot-2, 257-pound Hicks and the 6-foot, 270-pound Copeland use their big bodies to clear the way for them as lead blockers.
‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt hear much about Hicks, but I get as fired up watching Hicks on film as I do Gurley,‚Äù former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Andre Ware said calling the Georgia-North Texas game Saturday for SEC-TV.
Georgia didn‚Äôt rely much on the fullback the past two seasons, accounting for just seven total carries. Hicks has already rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Hicks, a sophomore, was recruited by most schools as a defensive end, but he was offered by Georgia as a fullback as a junior out of Pierce County High School.
His favorite fullback is the Baltimore Ravens‚Äô Pro Bowler Vonta Leach.
Hicks has two catches out of the backfield for 61 yards but likes blocking better than catching. He said he doesn‚Äôt have one particular block so far that is his favorite.
‚ÄúAll of them are fun,‚Äù Hicks said. ‚ÄúAs long as I‚Äôm getting my job done, that‚Äôs all that matters.‚Äù
Copeland is listed as the No. 5 NFL fullback prospect by ESPN‚Äôs Mel Kiper, and he‚Äôs now playing in an offense run by former NFL head coach and coordinator Cam Cameron.
‚ÄúThey pound the ball just like we pound it,‚Äù Hicks said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be a physical game.‚Äù
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre not going to try to trick you,‚Äù Georgia coach Mark Richt said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre just going to line up and maul you. That‚Äôs their goal. And then they‚Äôll be able to create some good matchups with some great receivers and a quarterback who can sling it.‚Äù
Copeland, a senior, was a high school teammate of Georgia offensive guard Chris Burnette at Troup County High School in LaGrange. He was moved from defensive tackle to fullback in 2010.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a really big dude,‚Äù Georgia inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said.
Copeland, who has six career rushing touchdowns, provided a big block to Hill on a 49-yard touchdown against Auburn Saturday on a third-and-two.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really tough because he‚Äôs a big guy that will not only hit you head up but he‚Äôll also chop you coming through the hole,‚Äù Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve really got to be prepared, but I feel like we‚Äôll be all right because facing him because we have gone against Quayvon in practice a lot. We‚Äôre pretty much used to big guys like that.‚Äù
The game will be a ‚Äústreet fight,‚Äù Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo predicted.
‚ÄúTwo teams that try to establish the run and are physical and are going to still put the ball in the air and be balanced,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what we‚Äôre going to talk about this week. `You better come ready to be in a fight on Saturday because that‚Äôs what it‚Äôs going to be.‚Äô‚Äù