Jason Cook, the starting fullback for the Rebs in 2005 and the odds-on favorite to be the top man at the same position in 2006, gets a wide smile on his face when he thinks about the style of offense new Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner is installing.
"The new offense has transformed my position from something that was more like a job into something that is fun," Cook said.
That was a somewhat surprising comment from the 6-0, 235-pounder, who always exudes energy and effort on the field of play, but his explanation makes sense from a fullback and offensive line perspective.
"The offensive line approach by OL Coach (Art) Kehoe is to fire off the ball and be aggressive. We use double teams and power and an attack frame of mind up front," the articulate Cook noted. "With them producing a surge, it gives the fullback more room to operate. We get better angles and can get up a little more speed to produce more devastating blocks.
"We (the fullbacks) now feel like we are delivering the blow because of that extra room rather than absorbing the blow. That makes our position a lot more fun and it makes the OL personnel more excited."
Cook doesn't expect the FB role to change much from 2005 to 2006, but he expects the position to be more effective in what they do.
"We are still the blocking back - leading the way for the tailbacks. We still won't get the rock as much as we'd like, but that's OK," he explained. "We will be more effective in what our assignments are and I think Coach Werner will throw us a bone every once in a while with a pass in the flat, which is a great reward for us.
"It feels pretty good when you make block that springs a back for good yardage, as good as getting that yardage yourself, and I think we will have more opportunties for those kinds of blocks with the philosophy Coach Werner and Coach Kehoe have up front."
Cook said the scheme up front not only benefits the fullbacks with more time to function properly before reaching the point of attack, it helps the guy with the ball in his hands as well.
"The TB will also have more time to read the holes and consider his options if we are doing our jobs up front," Cook stated. "That will only make them better too."
Cook got a full dose of blocking for TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the spring and got a chance to get in synch with his running style.
"Ben is so good at setting up blocks. He doesn't mess around. He runs right at a defender behind me, plants the guy, waits on my block and then cuts off of it," said Cook. "He makes the defender a stationary target and easier to engage."
But he's also a big fan of blocking for the more "slippery" Mico McSwain, even though he may be moved to a WR/H-Back position in August.
"Mico makes our job as lead blockers a little harder, but he's so elusive and quick that it doesn't matter. He dances around a little, which makes the defender dance some and hard to get a bead on for the fullbacks, but it's still an effective style. They are both great backs," Cook said. "They just have different styles."
If Mico moves out wide, Cook is confident Bruce Hall and Hiram White, the backup TBs in spring, can get the job done.
"People do not need to underestimate them. They can produce. And we have Cordera Eason and Derrick Davis coming in as newcomers who I understand are very good too," he continued. "Between the four of them, we will be just fine in giving Ben a rest and not missing a beat."
Jason injured his arm - the one that was broken last season - late in spring, but he feels it will be fine by mid-summer.
"All the pain is gone now, but I'm still in rehab trying to get all the range of motion back," he explained. "I have a plate in my arm from the break last fall. I fell on the arm in spring training and all the force of the fall went down the plate - which wasn't going to give - to the nearest bone area exposed to the force of the fall. It had to give somewhere and I ended up with a hairline fracture. I knew it instantly."
Rehab is critical for Cook, physically and mentally.
"Physically, I'm probably ready to go now, but I want to keep rehabbing it until I have no worries or doubts about the arm at all," he stated.
In the offseason, his goal is to gain a little weight, but it's also important he keeps his speed in the 4.6s in the 40.
"(RB) Coach (Frank) Wilson and I have a plan to get me to 245 and still keep my movement good. I'm around 238 right now and feel good carrying that weight," Cook said.
Prior to his injury, he felt spring was going well for him.
"My focus was on being more physical and more of a complete player. I am also learning how to lead by following the example of those who led me. Certainly, I have a way to go, but I felt I had a positive and productive spring before I got hurt," he allowed.
As for the future, he can't wait.
"With the new scheme we have, and the new mindset we have, football, as I said, is more fun. We think we are on to something really good in the running game and can't wait to continue developing it this summer and in August," he closed.
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