1. Most football fans know the difference between a fullback and a tailback, but what in the name of Bear Bryant does the coach mean when he talks about A-backs?
The A-back is the position Franchione created to take advantage of the talents of sophomore Ray Hudson and junior Shaud Williams. It's combines the position of tailback and flanker.
"They'll be a receiver and a tailback," Franchione says of his ideal A-backs. "They'll take handoffs, they'll take pitches and they'll block. And they'll also be split out wide, and you'll look at them as a receiver."
At the A-back, Hudson and Williams will be able to utilize their speed--Franchione calls Hudson the fastest back on the team and Williams was the second-best hurdler in Texas as a high school junior-while avoiding the pounding of an every-down back.
2. And what is a W? Shouldn't that be WR?
Actually, no. W doesn't stand for wide receiver. It's the preferred designation for weak side tight end. It doesn't get too confusing until you find out that the position is actually a combination of tight end and fullback.
As Theo Sanders, one of the new W's puts it, "The tight end and the fullback are interchangeable this year. So I guess you can still call me a fullback if you want, but I still play tight end, too."
3. So who are the W's, and what do they do?
Sanders, the number 2 tight end from last season, will hold down the position. Donnie Lowe, who split time at fullback with Marvin Brown in 2001, will play there, but is currently out with a concussion. Donald Clarke, a 6-6, 260-pound tight end, and others will also see action at the W.
4. What about fullback Marvin Brown?
Brown was moved to linebacker this spring, in part because the senior would have had to learn a somewhat new position at W and also to help fill the void at linebacker. Franchione said the 6-foot, 260-pound Brown has done a great job at filling gaps in the running game, but his pass coverage skills are still coming around.
"Marvin just wants to play," Franchione said of the switch. "He had a good attitude about it. I think he's kinda enjoying it."
5. With all these A's and W's running around, will there be any room for normal players, like traditional wide receivers and running backs?
Yes. Franchione only plans to use his hybrid players to confuse the defense and take advantage of his own players skills. Furthermore, A-backs won't be on the field with the W's.
"They [W's] are generally not in with the A-back," Franchione said. "Both those two positions, A and W's create formations within personnel groupings that are unique as compared to what we did last year.
"We're still running mostly the same offense that we ran last year. We've got some wrinkles, but we're just utilizing our personnel a little better now that we have a better grasp of them."