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Starting Role Still Unclear for Michigan Tailbacks

During the season preview portion of this blog, I had written the following about runningbacks:

Bottom line: If running back becomes a carousel of different players it's likely because none of them are really that good, and if this transition is going to work it needs a good running back. Last year, our rushing yards were made by Denard's ability in a spread-out attack. This year, Denard's carries are going to be reduced. The differential in yards is going to have to be made up somewhere, and having a primary back who can do it will be a key factor in this year's success.

Well, it's one game in, and we're still searching for an answer at that position. I thought that both Shaw and Toussaint had good, albeit brief showings during the rain delayed victory over Western, but if it weren't clear that afternoon that neither had "won" the workhorse roll, it is now - Brady Hoke:

Did Toussaint solidify his spot at all with his performance Saturday? "No, well -- I think right now he’d be the guy to start the game."

Could Hopkins win starting job? "Oh he could. We’ll let the week play out. I think he’s done a nice job. He did a nice job in fall camp." Could he play fullback? "He can play some fullback. Can … Has."

So Stephen Hopkins is throwing his name back into the mix as a potential starter. While Toussaint has tenuously solidified his spot as the starting back, that doesn't exactly sound like a huge vote of confidence from the head coach. Expect to see a heavy rotation of Toussaint, Shaw, and maybe Hopkins against Notre Dame.

What does this mean? Well, it means that we're not any closer to establishing a workhorse back, which would be the preference of Borges and company. How this will affect what Borges and the offense is able to do remains unclear. While it would be my preference to get a primary guy in there who Denard can build some trust with in the pass blocking game, it certainly didn't hold back the rushing attack last Saturday.