Michigan’s offensive line and running game have been bright spots through the first three weeks of the season.
“Obviously, the backs are playing hard, but the O-line is doing a great job. I think that’s the most important thing,” running backs coach Mike Hart said this week. “These guys know who they are, they know what they want to do.”
And what they want to do is punch people in the mouth.
Blake Corum rushed for over 100 yards for the third consecutive game in Michigan’s 63-10 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday, the team rushed for 373. Michigan now ranks first nationally in rushing offense, averaging 350.3 yards per game.
“We’re going to keep running the ball as much as we can and as well as we can,” offensive lineman Ryan Hayes said last week. “We’ll see if it works.”
Well, it has worked. Corum ranks first nationally in all-purpose yards per game (193.7), No. 3 in rushing yards per game (135.7), and tied for first with 8 total touchdowns. Beyond the standout production of Corum, Hassan Haskins has had a rock solid start to the year with 281 yards, true freshman Donovan Edwards has 117, and A.J. Henning has 100. Michigan has multiple contributors in the running game with a diverse set of skills.
Michigan’s running game is for real, and if quarterback Cade McNamara can continue to have solid outings (9-for-11, 191 yards, 1 TD vs. Northern Illinois), it’ll keep defenses guessing and force them to not always stack the box.
Teams stacking the box hasn’t really mattered to this point, the line has had their way — gaping holes appear and the backs, specifically Corum, continue to find paydirt in exciting fashion.
“He’s the quickest, most explosive,” Hart said when asked if Corum is the fastest back he’s ever coached. “He gets from zero to ten really, really fast. That’s what I think makes him so dangerous. When there is a crease, is a hole, he gets through it really fast and gets on the safety quick. I think it surprises the safeties.”
Michigan’s running game will face a good test next Saturday against Rutgers, who rank No. 27 in rushing defense.