A Full Complement

first_imgBy Phil Collin STAFF WRITER Hmm. Fullback, huh? Sparks a vague memory as a rather vital tool for the USC offense. In two games, which included one electrifying 50-yard run, Stanley Havili delivered an emphatic reminder of the role the fullback once played for the Trojans, who had to limp through virtually the entire 2006 season without one. Powdrell had begun to make his impact at fullback, catching four passes for 72 yards in the opener, including a 44-yard catch-and-run play. His work didn’t escape Havili’s attention. “After last year and watching Ryan Powdrell and what he did in the Arkansas game, I knew that the fullback played a role significantly, not only blocking but in the passing game,” said Havili, who rolled up 2,652 all-purpose yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior in high school. “I knew coming out this season I’d have a few opportunities to catch the ball out of the backfield and help open up the offense.” Sure enough, after two games, Havili is tied for the team lead with eight receptions and has scored three touchdowns, two on receptions. And his stunning 50-yard run from the USC 4-yard line on the first play last week against Nebraska set the tone for the Trojans’ 313-yard rushing day. The play originally was to be called for tailback C.J. Gable, but USC just tried to create some breathing room for the offense. All Havili did was allow the Trojans to exhale a huge sigh of relief. “Last year we manufactured some things and handed it to Chauncey (Washington, a tailback) on that play and played (receiver) Steve Smith at tailback,” offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said, adding with a laugh: “We got creative.” But the Trojans couldn’t gimmick their way through the season, and by the end, they had to chuck the run game and pass their way out of trouble. After Havili was hurt, USC turned to Mike Brittingham, a former walk-on; little-used Jody Adewale; linebacker Thomas Williams; and converted defensive back Allen Bradford at fullback. That’s when the Trojans actually used a fullback. For much of the time, they tried to make do without. “You’re using wideouts to block a lot more and, as much as anything, you’re making guys sit there and think at the line of scrimmage,” Sarkisian said. “You change a lot more plays. We audibled unbelievable amounts last year for a variety of reasons, but one is, when you don’t have a fullback, when you can’t line up with two backs and run the ball, or play-action pass and get protection, you’ve got to sit there and figure things out. “That puts a burden on your quarterback, who’s thinking a lot at the line of scrimmage, and at the end, I don’t think you’re playing fast as a team. It’s nice to do it once in a while as part of your offense, but that doesn’t need to be your mainstay. At least that’s not the way we think.” The Trojans quickly found that two of their favorite facets of attack, tempo and creating mismatches, had been interrupted. No more. “Stan’s such a dual threat in the run game and the pass game,” quarterback John David Booty said. “We can play-action and run. He can do anything and opponents don’t even know what’s coming.” And to think a year ago, Havili didn’t know what was coming. He had to battle the frustration of not being able to play and fight the urge to come back during the season, which would prevent him from gaining a redshirt year. “I was real frustrated, very down after the Arizona game, and when they played Washington State, I was very down when I was watching it on TV,” Havili said. “I was kind of depressed for a few weeks, but I realized what I could do in this offense, what the fullback can do and waited for my opportunity to play.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Havili fits the mold the Trojans coaches imagined when the 6-foot-1, 225-pound redshirt freshman from Salt Lake City was recruited. If only he hadn’t broken his leg in the third game of the ’06 season, Havili could have made a huge difference in how the season turned out. The Trojans have chosen not to play the woulda-coulda game, instead turning their attention to what has been restored for the offense in 2007. Havili, having endured almost an entire season on the sideline, is only smiling at what the future can bring. He had played in USC’s wins over Arkansas and Nebraska to start the 2006 season, then started in the third game against Arizona after Ryan Powdrell was lost for the season with an ankle injury. last_img read more