Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mailbag question: Running back in 2010

Mailbag question: Running back in 2010

I'd LOVE to hear your assessment of next year's RB situation and how you see all of the potential candidates panning out--and why. It seems like we all have favorites here, and between us all, we could come up with reasons why we think any of Mike Shaw, Vince Smith, Mike Cox, or Fitzgerald Toussaint will get the bulk of the carries next year.

Just by eyeballing it, people seem to be divided up to the tune of:
M. Shaw 40% -- Pros -- fastest back, pass catching -- Cons -- durability, lack of instincts.
V. Smith 30% -- Pros -- vision/cutback ability -- Cons -- top end speed, short yardage.
F. Toussaint 20% -- Pros -- speed, instincts, cutback ability -- Cons -- durability, unproven in Big 10.
M. Cox 10% -- Pros -- all around ability, balance, size -- Cons -- lack of grasp of the offense.

I don't ever remember graduating 3 running backs at the same time, and there will definitely be a void that will need filling. Also, I'd like to hear an honest assessment on if we can keep all four of these guys and not lose somebody to transfer. Looking forward to hearing from you guys on this.

Thanks in advance-
Mike B.


Thanks for the questions.

Going into 2009 Spring Practice, we would rate/offer opinions on the above guys this way.

1) M. Shaw: Michael is a combination of B. Minor and C. Brown. He has good size, combined with speed and explosion and he runs very hard as well. He needs to improve his receiving skills some; note that many backs gain pass catching proficiency the further along they advance into their college career.

2) V. Smith: Vinnie is super-quick and very tough for his size. He showed nice hands this spring. In our opinion he has the best vision of any of the returning running backs. Vinnie is a very good total package and only lacks true breakaway speed. His footwork and cutting ability is noteworthy. Add this, all of us at GBMW believe Vinnie loves football and wants very much to play and will pay the price to obtain the level needed.

3) M. Cox: we really like this kid’s attitude, work ethic, and ability. If Michigan still had an I-formation team he would be getting tons of reps in our opinion. Mike is just not a great fit for the new schemes and the offense being incorporated at Michigan. We have seen, this year, a little more use of the I-formation and UM backs have run well out of it, but will this use continue?

4) F. Toussaint: He is the dark house to win the running back job. He has tons of experience in a similar offense and possesses a very good skill set to excel in Coach Rod's offense. We were very happy when Michigan landed this player when others were less than enthusiastic. We believe Fitz could be a very good running back for Michigan.

5) Austin White: He has super hands and this skill will give him a shot at some playing time. Unless he comes in early for spring practice, we do not expect much more than a limited role. Austin needs to get much stronger and add weight. Also, Austin will take time to learn the new offense and the associated techniques.

Losing three senior running backs will deliver a hit on a program, but all three throughout their career have been injured, dinged up and have never made it through a complete year without having somebody else make an impact at running back.

Now people need to remember that at a position like running back, a team needs at least two or three good running backs to carry the load, and in some cases several more, especially if the extra backs can bring a different element to the running game for the Michigan offense.

As far as possible transfers at this time, let us see how the end of this season goes and also possibly spring practices before we worry about someone leaving. All the running backs listed above realize they have a chance to get playing time after this season, especially when they have seen many running backs getting carries this current year. In this type of system, and throughout college football, teams need more than one running back to be ready and able to play and we do not see any reason to think otherwise with Michigan.

People can see themselves contributing to the team next year and probably the first four running backs will get their chance along with being expected to be ready to play. If the first four players pick their game up we believe that A. White will likely red-shirt, but of course with injuries, and if players do not pick their game up, or get better and take advantage of their opportunity to play, Austin may become a primary running back for Michigan.

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
If you have any questions please E-Mail

Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

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