The Disappearance Of The H-Back At Virginia Tech, And The Performance Of Amare Barno

Virginia Tech
Dalton Keene could be considered Virginia Tech’s last true H-back. (Ivan Morozov)

Last week, Chris hit me up with an idea: since not many folks would be interested in reading what was likely going to be a recap of a non-fun Virginia Tech game experience, maybe I could look into some Q&A topics that had caught the readership’s attention. That sounded intriguing on Friday, and just dandy on Saturday, so I’m rolling with it.

1) The H-back role seems to have disappeared. Is anybody effectively playing that position now, and is it costing the offense?

I’m in the camp that thinks the role has basically vanished. I can’t give a definitive answer as to why that’s going on, but I can fill out some details.

For me, an H-back is a guy you can use to block both on the edges and between the tackles. For the first one, he’s at wingback or inline TE walling off defensive ends on zone plays; for the second, he’s at a sniffer or fullback spot, and he’s busting through the gaps or leading through the alley to put a shoulder on linebackers and safeties, or he’s blindsiding defensive ends on kickout blocks. Those are two very different styles of blocking, and it takes a good player to do both well. You want someone built like an offensive tackle to handle the zone blocking, and you want someone built like an angry fire hydrant to get a head of steam and bust a defender in the mouth. Add in that you need a guy who’s a capable receiver and smart enough to handle all the reads required for different blocking styles and route options, and it takes a pretty special player to excel at the role.