Nov 1, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Stanford Cardinal Brendon Austin (74) lift Stanford Cardinal fullback Patrick Skov (24) in celebration following a touchdown at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
As was a common theme in yesterday’s A-back preview (and will be in the upcoming wide receiver preview), the skill positions for the Jackets will be manned by many players with no previous experience carrying the ball for the white and gold.
Georgia Tech graduated all four men who manned the B-back position a year ago. Zack Laskey and Synjyn Days both arrived at B-back after moving through multiple positions, the former as a punt returner and defensive back and the latter as a quarterback and A-back.
This duo would combine to form one of the most potent rushing attacks in the nation last season. Those two combined for 1775 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
Add in the departure of serviceable players Charles Perkins, who switched between A and B-back, and Matt Connors, and what is left is no returning players from a fearsome foursome that helped lift the team to an Orange Bowl victory.
B-backs coach Bryan Cook will have a lot on his plate getting players up to speed. The Jackets have had success grooming players for this position and more, as Laskey and Days were given training camp invites to NFL teams this offseason and early Paul Johnson era B-backs Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen were draft picks in previous offseasons.
Can the Jackets get similar production out of a their projected starter, a fullback who faced off against Pac-12 foes last season?
Starter: Patrick Skov
Skov is a graduate transfer from Stanford, where he played alongside his brother, LB Shayne Skov. While he was a fullback there and the conversion to B-back won’t exactly be seamless, there are few schools that can boast the accolades Stanford has when it comes to ground and pound football. On offense, they primarily line up in an old school I or power-I formation, heavy on fullbacks and tight ends to open pathways for the halfback. Skov’s responsibility as fullback was to meet the linebacker filling the open gap so the halfback can get to the second level.
The three years at Stanford blocking bigger men leaves no doubt about Skov’s toughness. Listed at 6’1″ and 235 lbs, he is in line with the size of Days and David Sims before him in the B-back role.
Skov had very few opportunities running the ball with the Cardinal. He totalled just 14 rushes in 3 years for modest gains, although he did also catch passes and return a handful of kickoffs. He even played defense a number of snaps in his junior season. However, his role on this team is simple: flatten pass rushers in blocking situations and eliminate tackles for loss when carrying the ball.
Backups: Marcus Allen and Marcus Marshall
Allen saw the field in the previous two seasons in very limited spurts as a linebacker, so the switch to the razor thin position on the other side of the ball should yield fruit in terms of playing time. He is listed at 6’2″ and 225 lbs. and was a member of the 2012 class with Justin Thomas. His last action running with the ball was as a high school senior at Hilliard Middle-Senior HS in north Florida.
Marcus Marshall is a true freshman from Raleigh, NC. At 5’9″, he profiles as more of an A-back in stature. College football fans may recognize his brother, Keith Marshall, as a backup running back for Georgia Tech’s bitter rivals in Athens, Ga. Here’s to Marcus striving to outdo his older brother en route to successful rookie campaign.
True freshman Quaide Weimerskirch and redshirt freshman CJ Leggett were both expected to vie for this position but injuries have set both back. A rare Tech 4-star recruit from nearby Suwanee, Leggett will be out for the season after tearing his ACL. The news is a bit more optimistic for Weimerskirch, as he may return this season from a foot injury suffered in spring practice. Still, it’s a losing proposition to rest hopes in a true freshman returning from a serious lower body injury to rescue the position’s follies.
Like the A-back position, the B-backs may give the coaching staff and fans headaches at times as part of the growing process. It will be up to Bryan Cook and other to figure out a solution fast as preseason #11 Notre Dame looms after a couple of tune-up games.