Ask any good running back what the most unheralded skill is at the position and the odds may be pretty good the answer will be pass protection. What truly separates the great running backs from the good running backs is a will to commit to pass protection when not being handed the football. It is something some players take great pride in once they work on the skill, and that is something Michigan running back Derrick Green is soaking in with preparation for the 2014 season.
“They know we can run the ball,” Green said last week during a summer episode of “Inside Michigan Football,” according to MLive.com. “But you’ve got to be able to block first, and run second. Protecting the quarterback is the main thing for us. Running the ball is secondary, pass protection is first.”
That is a good mindset for the Wolverines after allowing 36 sacks last season. Credit must be given to new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who is bringing a bit of a new attitude and philosophy to Michigan after serving as an assistant at Alabama the past two seasons. One of the big differences between Alabama and most of its opponents the last few years has been the ability of the offense to protect the quarterback. It is a philosophy that must be bought from all positions, not just the offensive linemen up front.
Michigan has a talented running back group with loads of potential, but for the Wolverines to truly take the next step as an offensive unit, the running backs must improve the pass blocking this fall.
One of the more underrated storylines heading into Week 6 continued its tack of uncertainty Tuesday.
During the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, Dalvin Cook tweaked his hamstring and didn’t return to the contest. The sophomore running back was initially labeled as day-to-day for this weekend’s game against Miami, and that hasn’t changed as Jimbo Fisher reaffirmed that Cook’s status for the in-state rivalry game remains up in the air.
“We’ll keep waiting,” the head coach said, adding that, because of Cook’s knowledge of the offense, he could sit out of practice the entire week and still take the field against the Hurricanes.
“He knows what to do, you can keep him healthy and do that there’s no doubt about that,” Fisher said.
Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th. The Seminoles’ No. 2 rusher, Mario Pender, is still dealing with the aftereffects of a collapsed lung that will sideline him for at least another week.
Oklahoma State’s defense has taken what will likely prove to be a very significant and impactful blow.
On Twitter as well as Instagram late Tuesday night, Ryan Simmons announced that he “recently tore my MCL & PCL which will require surgery.” As a result, Simmons, who was injured in the Week 5 win over Kansas State, will miss the remainder of the 2015 season, even as OSU has yet to officially confirm the linebacker’s status moving forward.
Because Simmons is a senior, and this is his final season of eligibility, the end of his 2015 season would also mean the end of his collegiate career.
Simmons has started the last 31 games for the Cowboys. He was second on the team in tackles last season, and his 26 career tackles for loss makes him OSU’s active leader in that category as well.
On his official bio, it’s written that Simmons is “[o]ne of the unquestioned leaders of the team, both on and off the field.”