The Michigan Wolverines have sprinted out of the gate with what looks to be one of the best running back duos in the country in Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum. They said all offseason those two would be the 1A and 1B options that the offense would revolve around, and we are seeing just that play out on the field.
Running backs coach Mike Hart spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon in Ann Arbor and reviewed the work he has seen from his backs so far.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” Hart said. “A lot of things you don’t see on film. You see the big plays and you see all those things. When you get down to details and intricacies of certain plays and what they’re supposed to do, mistakes made, whether it’s a route or whether it’s certain things. There are always things to improve on. Attacking safeties in the open field on certain runs, they definitely can improve but they’re doing a great job with what we’re asking them right now.
Managing a duo and the workload that goes into carrying the ball so many times a game is something that Hart has been praised for through the first few weeks of the season. He joked that his experience playing video games when he was younger has shaped his mentality when it comes to managing the room.
“Obviously, there are certain plays for certain guys going into the week and they practice it throughout the week,” Hart said. “Then, it’s just a feel thing. I played Madden a lot growing up and, once a back has a certain amount of carries, they automatically sub them. When you run the ball on a 12-play drive, Hassan has to come out for a little bit and Blake goes in. You’ll see it, Blake sometimes starts a series and sometimes Hassan does, Donovan will start a series every now and then. It’s just kind of go with the flow and how you feel and let’s just go with that. I don’t use analytics for the substitutions.”
Despite this, there is going to come a time where a third option has to enter the mix either due to fatigue or injury. That is where true freshman Donovan Edwards, who has only a handful of carries through the first few games, is expected to play a bit more of a role moving forward as he continues to learn the ins and outs of the position.
“I think that’s the issue of any back that comes from high school,” Hart said. “It’s not just Donovan, it was Blake’s issue last year and I’m sure it was Hassan’s issue being a freshman. That’s one of the biggest transitions when you get to college, everybody is fast. Not just fast, they contain the balls and angles, right? You have to get vertical. He’s doing a great job. That’s the one thing,
“I’ve gotta get him on the field more. He’s talented. I told him the other day that he should have more carries in the game against Washington. Just gotta get him in there and get him oiled up.”
Michigan's next shot to get its backs a heavy workload comes on Saturday with Northern Illinois coming to town. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. ET.