Thimons, S-Backs In Line For More Early Time
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– With West Virginia’s thinning depth chart at tight end, offensive plans for early season games might morph to more involvement for the fullbacks, or S-Backs as they are known in head coach Neal Brown’s system. With tight ends Jovani Haskins and T.J. Banks both held out of full contact work for all of fall camp (and with Haskins’ status for the first game in question after his arrest for three misdemeanors), the Mountaineer game plan may have to include its fullbacks in situations that call for more blocking.
Enter then, into the conversation, Logan Thimons, who has been working to carve a spot for himself on the offensive side of the ball after moving into the fullback role prior to the 2018 season. He saw action on just 27 offensive snaps last year, with part of that being due to the fact that the previous offense mixed tight ends and fullbacks together. Starter Trevon Wesco sometimes lined up in the backfield as a blocker, bringing his 270 pounds to bear at the point of attack, and his performance there left little space for anyone else to get on the field.
This year, in Neal Brown’s offensive system, tight ends and S-Backs are different positions, and while there might be a formation or two where they line up outside their standard spots, their roles are more separated and clearly defined than in 2018. Now, with tight end a bit of a concern, game planning for extra pass protection, lead blocking and maybe the occasional pass could include more time for the S-Backs.
“We are mixing a lot of different personnel in right now. A lot of guys can play, and a lot of packages have been working,” Thimons said of the prospects for more playing time. “Right now I am just trying my best to prove myself and prove I can be a dependable person on offense. It’s hard to say (how much we might play). Whatever is working, that’s what (the coaches) will go with. If the plays are going well with me in there, that’s probably what they will go with. If not, they’ll try something else. It’s up to me to do my best and make sure when I am in the plays are going the right way.”
Both Brown and offensive coordinator Matt Moore have confirmed that the S-Backs could see more time early in the season.
“We’re working the S-Backs a lot,” Moore said. “Thimons has gotten a lot better since the spring, and (Jackson) Knipper really brings it. He’s a physical player. If you ask the linebackers who is physical, they’ll say 43 will put it on you. We have to good a good job of game planning and using both those guys. I don’t think we have a dude at tight end or fullback that is going to go in there and play every snap, so we have to do a good job of using those guys [in all our sets].”
The move from defense to offense hasn’t been a total readjustment for Thimons, as some of the core necessities of linebacker, where he previously was slotted, also come in to play at S-Back.
“There are similarities as far as the physicality of it. That was something I was able to carry over,” the redshirt junior said. “Both positions are downhill, hitting positions. The biggest difference is probably the control side of it, playing a little more under control on offense as opposed to middle linebacker where you just fly in there.
“It’s a position I haven’t been playing long. I’ve been a defensive player my whole life. It’s a gritty position. You have to stick your nose in there and love what you do. It’s not a position where you get a whole lot of glory. It’s almost like an offensive lineman in the backfield.”
There are also differences in the position from the previous offensive system to that of Neal Brown’s, which has a history of developing S-Backs into vital, if oft-times unnoticed, members of the team. Thimons has made study of those players part of his learning process.
“I’ve watched a lot of film from Troy and how their fullbacks fit up. It’s good to see that,” he related. “I’ve learned some from that. I’ve been working with (graduate assistant) Coach (Caleb) Carbine and how he wants me to fit in to that role.”
Carbine, one of three offensive graduate assistants on this year’s staff, mostly works with the S-Backs during practices, and despite a rather fierce bearded appearance, has a more measured approach in his coaching style.
“He’s a guy that is not in your face. He takes time to explain things through and explain how he wants things to work,” Thimons described. “He does hold you to a high standard which is good. He’s done a great job of fitting in with us and connecting with us. He’s a guy you want to play for.”
Thimons is also expected to see playing time on special teams. He has been working as one of the shield protectors on the punt team, and could also be on return teams as his blocking continues to improve. No matter how it pans out, though, there’s no doubt that Thimons is the kind of player that programs must have to be successful. Without question, he wants to get on the field and play, but he’s going to do whatever he’s asked, without complaint to help the team be successful.
“It’s something I love and take pride in, and I am trying to make a name for myself there.”