UCLA Football: The Impact of the Fullback

Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

The UCLA Football team are looking to introduce a little more power into their running game this season. Just how much will the fullback position help them gain that little extra?

Last season Bruin faithful were treated to the same struggle in the short yardage game they had been subjected to since the Mazzone era had begun.

Spreading out your offense is great when you want to create matchup issues in space but when it’s 4th and 1 you are in a goal line situation, you need to be able to line up and blow someone off the line.

Fans were tickled when they first saw

Myles Jack

line up behind three defensive linemen and pound the ball away for score after score but alas that successful strategy never fully materialized into a larger part of the game plan. Everyone also found out what happens when you take Jack out of that equation last season.

This season UCLA, under the watchful eye of Kennedy Polamalu, has decided to go with some heavier options in the backfield and in an odd twist of fate, has stolen them from the defense. Meet Cameron Griffin and Ainuu Taua.

Aug 30, 2014; Charlottesville, VA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Ainuu Taua (35) participates in warm ups prior to the Bruins
Aug 30, 2014; Charlottesville, VA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Ainuu Taua (35) participates in warm ups prior to the Bruins /

Griffin, a former linebacker and rugby player is no stranger to major collisions. An underrated athlete, Griffin gives UCLA a number of formation options.

Taua was a highly touted defensive lineman but despite his impressive high school tape, he struggled to crack the two deep.

Built powerfully and low to the ground, the 5’11, 300 lbs. fullback is going to be a nightmare for defenses. Add into this equation multifaceted freshman Jalen Starks who arrives in the Fall, and the Bruins will field a devastating fullback unit.

While both were accustomed to making the tackles, they both now will be dealing out the punishment as lead blockers and pass protectors. Adding a fullback into the offense is essentially like giving yourself another offensive lineman on the field.

He can punch through a linebacker looking to fill the hole, stone a pass rusher, be a safety valve for the quarterback in the passing game or pick up a few yards in a pinch. Most importantly however is the respect they force a defense to give when they are on the field.

If you’re a defensive coordinator and UCLA lines up with a fullback do you stay in your base defense or trust your nickel defense? Are the Bruins going to run power or are they going to use west coast concepts and come out passing?

More from Go Joe Bruin

Next: UCLA Football: The Benefits of Shifting to the 4-3 Defense

While UCLA won’t show the media or fans everything until the season begins, one thing is certain, the Bruins running backs are going to play a little follow the leader this year.