There have been a lot of pleasant surprises so far in the 2021 Michigan Wolverines football season: the 6-0 start, the top 10 ranking and the improved defense, just to name a few. But one of the biggest surprises has been how dominant the run game has been. Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum make for one of the most dynamic duos in college football, and the talented freshman Donovan Edwards sits behind them waiting for his turn to shine.
The Wolverines brought in former player Mike Hart during the offseason to be the running backs coach, and he returned to Ann Arbor inheriting quite the talented group. One thing Hart likes to see out of his backs is the ability to get extra yards, which is something he has seen out of his dynamic duo.
“I think yards after contact is huge,” Hart said. “If there’s a huge hole, they should be able to get yards, but, for example, Hassan made that guy in the open field miss. That’s yards after contact even though he didn’t get touched. Blake does the same thing in the open field a lot, too, when the guy may not touch him but he makes a move on him. Those are all yards after contact and that’s what great running backs do, they get the extra yards.”
Hart believes his running backs have this ability because of not only their strength, but also their determination.
“I think it’s both,” Hart said. “I think it’s want to, you have to want to do it, you have to not be scared of contact and know that you want to fall forward. But I think it comes down to, number one, evaluating and bringing in great running backs that can break tackles and can fall forward. I think that’s huge in the evaluation process. And number two, it translates from the weight room. You have to be strong to do those things.”
Michigan has shown this year it wants to be a run-first offense. Because of this, Haskins and Corum each get plenty of carries every game and take a lot of hits. It’s important they know how to take care of their bodies.
“Hassan’s an older guy, Blake’s a guy who takes care of his body better than anybody,” Hart said. “Rep wise, they get enough reps to be ready to play, but I’m not going to overdo it with them in practice, and I think that comes down to management throughout the week. Up to this point they’ve been healthy, they’ve been good. They haven’t missed a practice. I think using them both the way that we use them helps out a little bit.”
Michigan is set to face the lowest-ranked rushing defense in the Big Ten this weekend, the Northwestern Wildcats, so look for Haskins and Corum to get lots of action on Saturday.