The Michigan Wolverines have been scrutinized in the past for trying to be a run-first offense in a now pass-heavy college football world. This year, Michigan stuck with the ground game and earned a Big Ten Championship and trip to the College Football Playoff.
The success of the rushing attack is due to Blake Corum, Hassan Haskins and their running back coach Mike Hart.
Corum and Haskins have both had monster years. Nicknamed “thunder and lightning,” the two backs have combined for 2,227 yards and 31 touchdowns. If it weren’t for an injury that kept Corum out for a couple weeks, both would likely have over 1,000 yards rushing this season. Corum currently has 939 yards, so it can still happen, and it would be special for the team if it does happen.
“It would mean a lot,” Corum told the media Thursday night. “We’re almost there, I think I might be like 60 yards away. It would mean a lot to me, it would mean a lot to the running back room, to coach Hart, it would just mean a lot. We’ll get it.”
This past offseason, Michigan made a lot of different coaching changes. One of which was a new running backs coach, Hart, who was a star back in his days playing at Michigan and has been a huge success as a coach as well.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Corum said in regards to the effect Hart has had on the team. “I’m blessed to have a running back coach that is a legend. He’s taught me so much ever since he’s got here. I’ve learned from him, I’ve watched his film. It’s just been great having a coach like that that can teach you in different ways than on the field. Film, life lessons, whatever it may be. He’s just a good person, good guy, and I’m glad to have him as my running back coach.”
Another coach who has been crucial to the success of the run game is offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who has created a nice balance of smash mouth football while still sticking to his “speed in space” mantra.
“This offseason we really focused on just refining everything,” Corum said. “We went back to the old school ways of just running it down everyone’s mouth, but don’t get it twisted, we still get to the outside, I run sweeps and stuff like that.”
The run game will have maybe its toughest challenge yet in the CFP semifinal against Georgia, who has the No. 2 overall defense.