The Washington football staff isn’t turning to senior fullback Paul Homer much for running or receiving.
What they’re using instead is his brain.
And that works because it’s one of his prime assets.
Homer was named to the Pacific-10 Conference All-Academic first team as a sophomore, and he received honorable mention last season.
The new staff has found that that allows him to be used in a variety of ways not always associated with a fullback.
“Paul is an extremely smart guy, and we’re able to do a lot of things formation-wise that people don’t always see, maybe creating an advantage for us,” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said after practice Tuesday. “Especially in the passing game when you have a fullback in the game and people have to defend the box because they’re worried about two-back runs, and now all of a sudden the fullback is split out in formation. Paul is a smart guy, and we can do some things moving him out. He’s done a nice job for us with that.”
While UW coach Steve Sarkisian was offensive coordinator at Southern California last season, fullback Stanley Havili was a more active part of the Trojans’ offense: 24 catches for 324 yards, and 13 carries for 71 yards.
And Homer had watched enough Pac-10 film to anticipate that USC offense being transported to Seattle.
“I knew he used the fullback a lot,” Homer said. “And I was excited about that.”
But so far, Sarkisian has used Homer in different ways.
“Our system isn’t one where the fullback carries the ball a whole bunch,” Sarkisian said. “But there is some versatility where you can utilize the fullback, and we’re looking to do that.”
Even before Sarkisian’s arrival, Homer had been known more for his blocking than his running or receiving. As a regular starter over the past two seasons, he had 29 career carries for 68 yards and 10 receptions for 45 yards.
Those numbers haven’t grown much this season. Through seven games, Homer has one carry for 2 yards, and four receptions for 26 yards.
His lone rushing attempt came Saturday in the Huskies’ loss at Arizona State.
“It was a big carry for us,” Nussmeier said. “It was a fourth-down-and-1 conversion, so it was big.”
Homer said his philosophy is to fill whatever role he’s given. He has always taken pride in his blocking, and he hopes that might be his ticket to continuing his football career as a professional.
But he said he welcomes every opportunity on the field, whether running, catching, blocking, or in his evolving new role as a kind of wild-card decoy.
“They’re starting to split me out wide, and I did that very rarely before,” he said. “They’ve also got me in a few more routes coming out of the backfield. Even the run plays are different – they’ve got me coming from all angles, not just from out of the I (formation) but from far away; they have me motioning in, they have me motioning out, all over the place.
“I love it. Anytime I’m on the field and as many plays as I can get, I’ll motion anywhere.”
The Huskies practiced Tuesday afternoon in cloudy-but-dry conditions. ... Anthony Boyles and Curtis Shaw sat out practice due to illness.
Staff writer Todd Milles contributed to this report.
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