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Jay Harbaugh, Michigan looking for more ‘home runs’ from young running back duo

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The Wolverines have a few points of emphasis for Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

You would be hard-pressed to find a better young running back duos in the country than the one the Michigan Wolverines boast in Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins. In their freshmen seasons (Haskins was a redshirt) in Ann Arbor in 2019, the two combined for 1,348 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.

Running backs coach Jay Harbaugh spoke to the media on Friday and discussed what each player is doing to take their games to the next level as sophomores.

“(For Haskins), being able to open up his hips and improve his stride length, turn some of those seven- to 15-yard runs into really big ones,” Harbaugh said via a Zoom conference with the Michigan media. “I think everybody respects the way he plays and loved watching him run last year, but Hassan would be the first to tell you he wants to turn some of those runs into even bigger ones. Finding ways to make that extra hat miss and turning some of those medium runs into huge ones is going to be a good difference for him.

“(For Charbonnet), it’s really not super different. We need to turn some of these medium runs into explosive, home run ones that send the Big House into an eruption. Both those guys are kind of the same focus. I really believe with the experience, the confidence, continuing to understand the system, where the unblocked defenders are, just running with more confidence, they’re both going to make a lot of improvements in that area.”

Harbaugh cites a desire to improve and being proactive at the end of last season as confirmation of the types of guys they have recruited into the program.

“That’s just because the guys have the hunger for greatness and a really strong desire to improve. Those guys all have it,” Harbaugh said. “After the season when we say, ‘hey, here are the 10 things we really need to improve,’ maybe there are three or four that are most important. Those guys really grab on to that. They are driven and motivated to take that next step.

“It’s this is what we’re trying to do. We want to make this guy miss, want to get more yardage out of this play, have more big plays. Here are steps you can take from a training standpoint to do it. Here’s a cutup of this NFL player you should watch. Here’s an example of this run. Here’s some type of quiz or assessment so you’re understanding the way the play is being blocked.”