After three games of the season, it is clear that Michigan’s identity on offense is to run the football. The Wolverines struggled with the run game a season ago, rushing for 789 yards on 172 attempts with 12 rushing touchdowns in six games. Because of last year’s struggles, there were a lot of doubts about Michigan’s rushing attack heading into the season, but the team has always felt confident.
“Coming in through camp we were meshing really well together,” sophomore offensive lineman Zak Zinter said on Tuesday night. “We believed in ourselves.”
Michigan’s rushing attack has been much improved from a year ago. Through three games, the Wolverines have racked up 1,051 yards on 147 attempts thus far and have 15 rushing touchdowns. Despite the early success, Michigan is still playing with a chip on its shoulder.
“A lot of people on the outside didn’t really believe in us,” Zinter said. “The same people that are telling us we’re great now said we were going to be terrible a month ago, so we’ve still got that mindset that we have a lot to prove and that we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Michigan’s strong offensive line is obviously a key component of the success in the run game, and the goal has been to wear down the opponent.
“We want to make them quit,” Zinter said. “We want to make them give up and show them who we are.”
The strong run game can also lead to opponents going all in to stop the run, giving the Wolverines some opportunities through the air.
“I think it gives us the best of both worlds,” Zinter said. “Once they start packing the box because they know we’re going to run, we have the opportunity to throw it over their heads.”
The strong run game this year has been led by the running back tandem of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. The two have combined for 688 yards and 11 touchdowns through three games.
“They’re beasts.” junior quarterback Cade McNamara said. “Those two guys are ballers, Donovan Edwards as well. What they’re doing for this team, what they’re doing for this offense, it’s leading us in the right direction.
Michigan looks to improve to 4-0 on Saturday as they open up Big Ten play in Ann Arbor against the visiting Rutgers Scarlet Knights.