Allen gets stronger in season’s second half

The B-back, generally considered as the main “fullback” in Head Coach Paul Johnson’s spread option offense, is supposed to get a significant chunk of the carries and keep the chains moving throughout the whole game. Senior B-back Allen, however, started the year slow, only averaging 66 yards per game in his first five outings, and things did not seem to go as planned for a typical B-back’s season.
The B-back is an important staple of the spread option as his primary job is to take the ball from a short distance in the backfield and essentially “dive” into the holes that the offensive line can provide, usually resulting in short yardage. At times, the play can seem ineffective as most defenses prioritize stopping this run, but it is necessary to opening up big plays throughout the game.
If the B-back is gaining good yardage (around four to six yards per carry), the defense will have to accommodate for this, and pull in more defenders to the box to contain the running threat. By doing this, more one-on-one opportunities are created between the defenders and the offensive weapons, and the quarterback can distribute the ball to wherever he sees the best mismatch on the field.
However, if the dive play is getting stopped on a regular basis, the opposing defense can put more priority on stopping the other phases of the offense, creating a much greater challenge for the offense.
In Tech’s season opener against South Carolina State, Allen only had six carries for 28 yards, which was very atypical for a B-back in the spread option. SCSU’s primary defense was to defend the dive play at all costs, and this resulted in big yardage being gained by the rest of the offense. However, after two good outings at Kansas and at UNC, Allen struggled to make big plays against N.C. State and Wake Forest. Allen had yet to score a touchdown after his first five games, something that was causing Tech coaches and fans to speculate if there was a problem.
This, however, is not much different from the results from the previous two years with former B-back Jonathan Dwyer at the helm. Dwyer started both the 2008 and 2009 seasons fairly slowly, ending both years with exactly 1395 yards. Through his first five games in 2009, Dwyer only had 409 yards, not a huge step up from where Allen started the 2010 season. Dwyer, however, improved and finished strong with six 100+ yard outings in his final nine games at Tech.
Johnson has repeatedly said that the B-back almost always surpasses the 1000 yard threshold in any given season, yet at the beginning of the year Allen was on pace to be well under that. However, after a win at Wake Forest this season, Johnson challenged Allen to finish his runs and punish defenders. Allen took the advice to heart, and in his last homecoming game at Tech against Virginia, he carried the ball 25 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
“When you get the ball that many times, you feel like you’re getting stronger, and that’s what I felt like happened,” Allen said.
The trend continued throughout the rest of the regular season. Allen averaged 127.9 yards per game and a much higher 5.8 yards per carry. Allen has managed to continue the trend of B-backs in Johnson’s system rushing for over 1000 yards.
Allen now has 1225 yards this season, averaging 5.6 yards a carry. If he keeps on his current pace in his final game, he could finish with over 1300 yards to add to the list of typical offensive season totals for a B-back.
Allen has taken his fair share of hard hits, getting tackled essentially on every play, but he always manages to get up and take a few more hits.
“You definitely feel [the hits] while you’re in a game, but Coach Johnson does a great job of preparing us for stuff like that. During camp and during practice he makes sure we stay in shape, and when it gets down to it, we have our legs fresh and are ready to go,” Allen said.

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