The hiring of Doug Nussmeier was another step toward Michigan becoming Michigan—you know, that team that used to unapologetically run the ball down the opponents’ throat each Saturday.
Expecting him to replicate the Alabama days may be a bit much, but envisioning a similar attack to that of the Crimson Tide isn’t out of the question. Let’s not forget that the Wolverines perfected smash-mouth running decades ago—they’ve just gotten away from it over the years.
Ann Arbor will again become a destination for top-tier ball-carriers. Just sit back and watch Nussmeier work.
According to Sam Webb of the Detroit News and Scout.com, the new offensive coordinator is one of the main reasons why Michigan remains in the hunt for Mike Weber, a 4-star running back out of Detroit Cass Tech.
During a recent interview with Webb, Weber—2015’s No. 12-ranked running back according to 247Sports—said the following about his connection to Nuss:
[Michigan made the cut] because of [Doug] Nussmeier. He is a good guy. He has been to Alabama and he has coached a lot of great backs. He’s bringing in a new offense and rebuilding a lot of stuff on offense, and that made (me) have a lot of interest back in Michigan. All they have to do is just keep doing what they’re doing, and maybe good things will happen.
He showed me a video of Alabama running backs and how they run the ball, my highlights and how I run the ball, and they really were similar. That really opened my eyes to how they are looking to running the ball and how they are going to do it. I fit in there real good. That was real sweet.
Michigan's backfield has the talent to succeed this fall. In fact, Team 134 had the necessary means to do well on the ground. Additional coaching and insight from Nussmeier, along with the addition of recruits such as Weber, should return the Wolverines to their former rushing ways.
Questing for 1,000
Michigan hasn't had a 1,000-yard-rushing running back since Fitz Toussaint, who rang up 1,041 as a sophomore in 2011.
Of course, having Denard Robinson, a quarterback with a running back's mindset, didn't exactly allow the Wolverines to spread the wealth.
Shoelace pretty much took care of everything. But that's an era gone by; a fond era, but it's probably not something that Brady Hoke wants to repeat.
Quarterbacks aren't supposed to lead their teams in rushing. That's for the spread crowd, not the pro-stylers.
Nussmeier is a pro-styler. Hoke is a pro-styler.
So is Weber.
Seeing a trend?
That being said, having a 1,000-yarder this season is possible, even with a multi-back approach.
In 2013, T.J. Yeldon finished No. 24 overall with 1,235 yards. As the workhorse of the group, the sophomore toted the ball 207 times and averaged six yards per touch. Kenyan Drake, also a sophomore, rushed for 694 yards on 92 carries. Derrick Henry, a true freshman, gained 382 yards on 36 carries.
It's easy to do that with an NFL-ready O-Line. However, expect to see Michigan's front come together sooner than later, as Nussmeier will likely have most of the say when it comes to offensive personnel. He knows what he wants and how to get it.
Dave Brandon, the athletic director, will give him the green light. So will Hoke.
The following video shows Nussmeier speaking to the MHSFCA. Basically, it shows his willingness to immediately connect with coaches in Michigan.
Development, relationships, mentoring--yeah, yeah, yeah.
All of that helps.
But really, it boils down to one thing: Nussmeier can recruit the hell out of recruits. That's his realm. Al Borges had a way on the trail, but prepare to see that pale in comparison to what Nussmeier should do at Michigan.
Heritage, pedigree and national titles were major selling points at Alabama. The same song will be sang by Nussmeier while attempting to serenade potential Team 136'ers and beyond.
Take a look at two of the backs that chose 'Bama--Nussmeier most certainly had a hand in gaining the commitment of 4- and 5-star talents.
Altee Tenpenny (No. 7 RB of 2013, per 247Sports)
With just 82 yards as a true frosh, Tenpenny didn't blow the doors off the competition. As a matter of fact, his average of 3.7 yards per touch wasn't all that impressive, either. However, take into account who was in front of him. Nussmeier must have a field day in Tuscaloosa.
Who 'Bama beat: Auburn, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Arkansas
Derrick Henry (No. 1 ATH of 2013, per 247Sports)
Henry was outstanding this past season. He averaged 10.6 yards per touch and scored three times, one of which came by way of an 80-yard rumble to the endzone.
Who 'Bama beat: Tennessee, Florida, Florida State and Clemson
Process: Pick back. Give back ball. Watch back contribute to a team average of 205 yards per game (No. 25 overall in 2013). Pretty simple stuff here, folks.
Expecting Nussmeier to do everything immediately is unrealistic.
So give him until at least Week 3.
Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81