This season not only serves as a quasi-reboot of the Michigan Wolverines football program but also a homecoming for one of its most distinguished alums. Former star rusher Mike Hart returns to the program as an assistant coach and has been tasked with leading a room he was once a pupil in.
Hart spoke to the media during fall camp availability on Thursday afternoon and ran through the state of his backs and what the Wolverines will bring into the season.
“I think you guys are pretty aware of what we have, with Hassan (Haskins), Blake (Corum) from last year, what they’ve done,” Hart said, via WolverinesWire. “The experience that Hassan has, Blake’s obviously still young from that standpoint. Two new guys in Donovan (Edwards) and (Tavierre Dunlap) round that out.
“They’ve been great. Young guys keep getting better, and that’s what you want to see. They’re growing a lot. They’re mid-year guys so they had a beat on the offense, understand the offense. They’re just cleaning up all the little things with those two guys. Hassan and Blake just continue to do what they do.”
One of Hart’s biggest challenges this year will be figuring out the pecking order of the running back rotation, as well knowing when to to keep someone in and sub them out.
So, does the “lead back” role of 25-30 carries a game register as something that is still in play? Hart is not ruling it out.
“I wouldn’t say it doesn’t exist anymore! It can happen. It can happen, it just depends on (who is) running the ball,” Hart said.. “When I played, I was the only running back that played. A lot more guys involved. Most teams play more than one running back now. So it’s hard to get 30 carries. In the last job I had, there was a guy that had 30 carries in a game and that was a weather game. So, pouring rain. I’d be happy as long as we win. I’d rather have 20 carries and win than 40 carries and lose.”
It has long been assumed that Haskins and Corum will by and large be the 1A and 1B on this year’s team with Edwards factoring in as a true freshman. As long as he’s ready to roll, Hart will have him on the field.
“At the end of the day, if (he) plays, he’s ready to play, so he has to go out there and do what he has to do,” Hart said. “I think everyone knows it’s gonna take more than two running backs to get through the season. You’re not gonna get through a Big Ten season with two running backs. Will Donovan be on the field at some point? Yeah, it’s probably gonna happen. I can’t tell you when and I can’t tell you how much.
“But I think that everyone knows that as long as these guys do the work, they show up and earn it, we don’t care who’s on the field. It could be anybody. You’re gonna have to play more than two running backs in the Big Ten in the season. I’ve not gone through a season with two running backs.”