August 7, 2011

Figgins' big adjustment

Of all the adjustments Bruce Figgins has had to make moving from tight end to fullback, one stands out above the rest - getting used to making contact in space.

As a tight end, Figgins had grown used to lining up directly in front of an opposing defensive end or outside linebacker.

Having to pick up a linebacker 10 or 12 yards upfield is an entirely different matter.

"That has been the biggest thing, getting used to the contact," Figgins said. "Fullback is more about collision than tight end which is more about placement, feet and hands. That's one of the things with learning how to take on the linebacker; the most important thing is how you approach that. It's really mentality. You've really got to change your mentality up, but it's one of those things when you take more reps you get better, you get to figure out how to make it work for you."

That's what head coach Mark Richt is counting on Figgins being able to do.

He admits it's going to take some work.

"As a tight end you've always got somebody right in your face when you engage a block. You've got the neutral zone and that's about it. With the impact you have coming off the ball, there's not a lot of momentum," Richt said. "Now, when you back that guy up four or five yards downfield and he's blocking that linebacker behind the line of scrimmage and converging, both have a head of steam so he's going to have to get used to blocking a mobile target."

At 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, Figgins will be bigger than most if not all the linebackers he comes across this fall.

But will size alone matter?

"I've had guys 220 pounds who did a great job and I've had guys 280 who did a great job," Richt said. "It's just a matter if he really wants to do it bad enough, is he tough enough to take that contact down after down because it is a high-contact position."

Position coach Bryan McClendon is doing his best to help Figgins, along with the rest of the backs, get their fundamentals down, not just blocking but other important aspects of their game as well.

"I'm always reminding myself of pad level, to bend my knees since I'm a little taller than your average full back," said Figgins. "I think it's going well. I'm making sure I pay attention."

Although he feels he's improving, the Columbus native said he's looking forward to Wednesday's first scrimmage to start putting his recent lessons to work.

"It's starting to feel more natural. The drills are more exaggerated than how it would be out on the field in actual scrimmage downs," Figgins said. "But that's what it's all about, doing things with exaggerated movements because as you get more time and take more reps, even though you're not doing things exactly the same, techniques are starting to wear off a little bit."

As far as his former gig at tight end, Figgins smiled and said he still catches himself glancing over at his former teammates whenever he has the opportunity.

He can't help it.

"I'm always glancing at the tight ends," Figgins said. "I think (Jay) Rome asked five questions the other day that I was able to answer so I'm still good with the tight ends, but I'm starting to get more used to it (fullback). Of course, I outweigh the rest of these guys by 60 pounds, but I'm getting acclimated with everything that they're doing."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.