Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Michigan's offense: The RBs

Mike Hart. 282 carries, 1455 yards, 9 TDs. He twisted and turned and fought for every yard last year and ended up 10th in the nation in rushing yardage.

Pretty good year for any running back on any team in the country. But Mike Hart? He was a true freshman. He started somewhere between fourth and sixth on the depth chart. He had 8 carries for 37 yards the first 2 games combined. The last 10 games he averaged over 140 a game. He also added 26 catches for 237 yards and 1 TD. That's almost 165 yards and 1 TD per game after he took over the majority of the carries. At one point he had three consecutive games of over 200 yards rushing in Big Ten play and four consecutive games with over 200 total yards.

How in the hell do you follow up that performance? If my guess is right, he won't live up to the same numbers as last year. But that's not a bad thing. With another year under Max Martin's belt and Kevin Grady having been enrolled and practicing with the team since December, the depth of talent at TB is perhaps better than any point since Tyrone Wheatley and Ricky Powers and Jesse Johnson rotated carries. My prediction is that Mike Hart doesn't get the 27 carries per game he averaged over the last 10 games. He might get 20-22 carries per game, but Martin and Grady are more than capable of sharing the load at times.

I look for Michigan to run the ball more than last year for 3 reasons:
1) more talent at TB

2) 4/5 OL starters return
3) Braylon Edwards departure

I think we see a return to a purely balanced offense instead of the passing dominated attacks Michigan has had the last few years. And I would say that's a good thing. I'm not sure if the Wolverines will face a D that is equipped to stop both the rushing and passing attack.

My predictions?
Mike Hart - 245 carries, 1300 yards, 8 TDs
Max Martin - 80 carries, 400 yards, 5 TDs
Kevin Grady - 50 carries, 215 yards, 5 TDs

As for the fullbacks, I'm not quite sure how the depth chart will work out but I am fairly certain that a solid blocker will emerge. What I do know is that the FB won't get as much PT as in previous seasons. Hart and Martin both seem to be the type of backs that can run well out of single back formations and with the depth at TB, I look for 2 TB sets at times. So watch out for the Michigan ground game to put up a season that would make Bo Schembechler proud and take a lot of heat off Chad Henne.


Anonymous Cary Strubbe said...

Rather disputable.

Mon Jan 02, 09:28:00 AM  

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