TELEGRAM: Adam Fuller excites Greyhounds football with "spread offense method"August 31, 2008
By Brendan Hall
WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER- When Coach ADAM FULLER talks to his former boss every few weeks, he's hardly asking Dave Clawson for advice. It's more, "How are you doing?" than "How do I?"
After all, Fuller absorbed plenty as an assistant under Clawson at the University of Richmond the past three seasons. Fuller was the Spiders' linebackers coach last year when they advanced to the national semifinals in Division 1-AA.
Both have since gone their ways with Fuller taking over as head coach at Assumption College in March and Clawson as offensive coordinator at Tennessee.
"Any time you work for somebody for that length of time, you get a feel for how to do it their way," said Fuller, who lost his Greyhounds debut, 42-21, at Sacred Heart last night.
The Clawson way, as he proved in stops at Fordham and Richmond, is one of offensive innovation. At both schools, he ran a variation of the spread offense, a scheme that utilizes shotgun formations and aims to create one-on-one matchups in the open field.
One of the misconceptions about the spread is that it's a pass-oriented offense. Fuller plans to run the ball 50 percent of the time, but by no means will his offense be by convention.
Look for junior wide receiver DAVID CANNEY, who set school records last season in receptions (62) and receiving yards (870), to catch balls off screens, and even take handoffs and pitches. The same goes for wideouts JOEY FABIANO (senior) and DOMINIQUE PRICE (sophomore), tight end JAKE LONGENECKER (post-graduate) - who missed last season with an injury - and top returning rusher HERB (POP) " WOODARD (sophomore) (966 yards, 10 TDs).
"Our job is to get our playmakers the ball in space," Fuller said. "If that calls for Jake or Herb to be used in different areas, then we'll do that. We're definitely looking at that."
Aside from that, there are some large holes to fill on offense, starting at quarterback. Senior TAYLOR HUMPHREY, who became the Greyhounds' first 2,000-yard passer last year, underwent ankle surgery last month. Fuller named sophomore JOSH RATACIK the starter last Monday.
"We felt comfortable with him in the spring, and he reassured our confidence in him this summer," Fuller said. "He doesn't force things and he can make plays with his feet, too."
Along the offensive line, the Hounds must replace all five starters from last season. In that regard, sophomore MATT SIDEBOTTOM has been moved to left tackle. The 6-foot-4 Sidebottom was used as a blocking back last year, but has put on 20 pounds since (from 295).
"He moves really well," Fuller said.
The biggest holes defensively rest along the line, too. The Greyhounds must replace brothers Jared and Josh Kelly at defensive end.
Running a 4-3 scheme, the strength appears to be at linebacker and safety. Zitzmann returns as the team's leading tackler (113) and is the school's first player to record back-to-back 100-tackle seasons. Free safety and defensive captain CHRIS MARTINO (senior) chipped in with 88 tackles and led the team with four interceptions.
Players so far have taken a liking to Fuller's attention to detail.
"We always know what we're doing at all times, and why," junior middle linebacker DUSTIN ZITZMANN said. "We don't do meaningless things."
That's no surprise, according to Fuller's former mentor.
"He (Fuller) is an extremely hard-working, detail-oriented person," Clawson said by phone. "He likes to be organized, he's very thorough, and his football team will be well-prepared."