Ben Mason has been a Swiss Army knife of sorts for the Michigan Wolverines since he arrived on campus and has played in a variety of roles. Coming into this year, he had pretty strictly been known as a fullback and someone to hammer the middle of the line of scrimmage in short-yardage and goal line situations.
With the Wolverines going to more of a pro-spread system under Josh Gattis, the need for a fullback on the field diminished greatly, but Jim Harbaugh still saw a football player in every sense of the world that he wanted to get as many snaps as possible.
That would up him switching sides over to defense this offseason, where he repped with the defensive tackles. For a variety of reasons, that role did not wind up suiting him all that much. Mason is now playing fullback again and running backs coach Jay Harbaugh explained why during a meeting with the media on Wednesday.
“He has a very obvious skill set on our side of the ball in terms of being a really good blocker, having great contact courage, being able to run right through somebody without stopping his feet and playing with good leverage and hands,” Harbaugh said. “He has good hands, can catch the ball, can carry the ball. There are those things that always made him a natural fit.”
Even though the fullback in this new offense is a bit of a relic, we have still seen Mason in recent weeks as the lead blocker in the Wildcat formation, which has been “quarterbacked” by Hassan Haskins.
“I think it speaks to the flexibility of the system and Coach Gattis’ offense,” Harbaugh said. “Taking a guy like that who had a very specific role in a very different scheme, and then finding ways to apply it (to new offense). I think you will see that continue to grow as we move forward.”
Harbaugh also addresses Chris Evans’ return
Chris Evans returns to Michigan’s running back room in 2020 after a year away due to a suspension from academic issues. Harbaugh also gave his reaction to Evans returning to the field, but said he could not speak on his behalf.
“I’m not sure, I couldn’t tell you what it was like for him – probably better for him to,” Harbaugh said. “I was excited. I was excited for him. Anybody who loves to play the game, a guy that loves football like him, it was – I know for me or most other guys, it would be tough to be away from the game. I was just excited for him to get back to what he loves to do. I briefly spoke with him a handful of times since then, just checking on him, seeing how he’s doing and where his head’s at with everything. I know he’s excited to get back more involved.”
Pat Forde explains Michigan football’s ‘comeback story’
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde took a look this week at some of the best turnaround jobs in-season so far and Michigan was named one of them after they bounced back from a horrid loss earlier this year at Wisconsin.
“Michigan (11). Low ebb: Getting run out of Camp Randall Stadium by Wisconsin on Sept. 21.
Since: the Wolverines have gone 6-1, and the lone loss (at Penn State) came within a dropped pass of taking the game into overtime.
What changed: Michigan stopped turning the ball over at an alarming rate. After nine turnovers in the first three games, it has had six in the last seven, and only one in the last three. Quarterback Shea Patterson regained full health, and developed a better sync with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. And defensive coordinator Don Brown started mixing in some zone coverages, as opposed to living and dying with man-to-man.
Where Michigan stands now: The Wolverines are 8-2 with a trip to Indiana Saturday and the defining rivalry game against Ohio State Nov. 30. There is no reason to declare that Michigan can beat the Buckeyes—but that matchup no longer looks like a guaranteed, avert-your-eyes horror show for the home fans.”
Avoiding a horror show. That’s what it’s all about, folks.
- Cincinnati football threw some shade at the Bengals this week in a promotional tweet. Yikes.
- Ohio State president Michael Drake is retiring in 2020. More change coming to the leadership structure in Columbus.
- The naming rights to a bowl seem to be open soon, as Belk announced it will not renew its Belk Bowl sponsorship after this season.