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Michigan running back competition is heating up

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If there is one aspect of the offense that should be expected to improve for Michigan in 2014, it may be the running game’s effectiveness. The Wolverines ranked 11th in team rushing in the Big Ten in 2013. The competition for playing time in Michigan’s backfield has been taking on a bit of a spotlight this summer, with head coach Brady Hoke providing an interesting update on the status of the position on Sunday during the team’s media day.

“Right now, it would be Drake Johnson and [De'Veon Smith],” Hoke said Sunday, per MLive.com, when asked about who the top candidates for playing time this fall are right now. “So, you’ve got a No. 1 and No. 1-A (there), and then you’ve got a No. 2 with [Derrick Green].”

As noted by MLive.com, the spring saw Michigan’s running stable led by Smith and Green, so it seems as though the talented Green may have slipped a bit in the mix for the time being. Or perhaps Johnson has just really impressed in the early goings of fall camp to make it impossible not to put him ahead of the pack?

Michigan’s running backs as a unit are focused on improving pass protection this year. Johnson apparently has been excelling at pass protection, which could be another reason why he might be showing more to coaches and getting early praise from Hoke. A running back’s ability to help with pass protection could come in handy in attempting to keep quarterback Devin Gardner healthy.

“They know we can run the ball,” Green said earlier this offseason. “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.”

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15 Responses to “Michigan running back competition is heating up”
  1. johnelwayishorsefaced says: Aug 10, 2014 2:09 PM

    Wow more posts on this website about a totally irrelevant program. What is the national sports media’s obsession with Michigan? If this was any other team with Michigan’s record over the course of the last several years we wouldn’t be forced to read a fraction as much about them.
    Michigan State has been the best team in the Big 10 for at least a couple of years now. How about some posts on them? Or maybe even Ohio State who dominates their rivalry and consistently puts together better seasons? Heck how about Wisconsin, another superior Big 10 team?

  2. brianincbus says: Aug 10, 2014 2:19 PM

    As if scUM even matters. They’ll finish 8-4 and lose to Sparty and tOSU.

  3. derekgorgonstar says: Aug 10, 2014 3:03 PM

    Total irrelevant…..with the most wins of all time.

    And playing in the world’s largest football stadium.

    God, sparty, you got to your once-every-28 years Rose Bowl, you should be happy.

  4. tigers182 says: Aug 10, 2014 7:49 PM

    Umm, Notre Dame has most wins of all time.

    Does um have anything to brag about other than their performance from 100 years ago? Since the NCAA allowed minorities to play, um has been irrelevant.

    Um is like the the girl in high school who was once hot, then gained 50 lbs and still thinks she’s hot. Now everyone laughs at her behind her back.

  5. eidolon21 says: Aug 10, 2014 8:05 PM

    UM leads in Rapists allowed to play for three years until they use up their eligibility right Derek MoronStar

  6. dkhhuey says: Aug 10, 2014 8:19 PM

    You can tell how damaged their program is when their fans have to rely on the ‘winningest program of all time’ meme… it shows just how far this program has dropped off the face of the college football landscape when you have to fall back on accumulating the vast amount of those victories before they wore helmets. How about we stay in the last 50 years guys!

  7. jylick says: Aug 10, 2014 8:50 PM

    The mere fact that you people feel the need to hate on U of M is indicative of the inferiority complex you have in regards to whatever school you support. The honest truth is that U of M is not only elite educational institution in the Midwest but boasts success in many other athletic programs. Sure, the football program isn’t what it was, but at least we don’t parade a former coach guilty of violating NCAA rules around the field on the shoulders of players on national television before The Game…I have family ties to U of M, MSU, and OSU. Do you negative commenters have any ties to your schools besides geographical proximity?

    Michigan football WILL bounce back. Look at our basketball program, these things take time. All you haters keep hating, Michigan will always be relevant despite your mundane attacks. Grow up

  8. samsonight1010 says: Aug 10, 2014 9:18 PM

    *ichigan will be back…just not while Brady Hoke is still there

  9. jbz79 says: Aug 10, 2014 9:22 PM

    5 minutes ago while browsing Yahoos main page I read a headline that mentioned Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller. Do you want to know what it said? I could’t tell you because I don’t give a crap about them and have the sense not to take the time to read the story. These trolls are either retarded or closet Wolverine fans and need write this crap so their buckeye friends don’t see their hard on for all things Maize and Blue. Get a life guys. Go Blue!!! Team 135 is going to be special.

  10. cfballfan1 says: Aug 10, 2014 9:45 PM

    Um is like the the girl in high school who was once hot, then gained 50 lbs and still thinks she’s hot. Now everyone laughs at her behind her back.
    ——————————————————-

    Everyone’s not laughing behind Um’s back – many of us are laughing right here in front of them.

  11. tigersfandan says: Aug 10, 2014 10:21 PM

    tigers182 says:
    Aug 10, 2014 7:49 PM
    Umm, Notre Dame has most wins of all time.
    ____________________________________

    Uh, no, they don’t.

  12. tigers182 says: Aug 10, 2014 10:32 PM

    Sorry, better winning percentage, which means you played in more games. Congrats on being good pre-Great Depression.

  13. polegojim says: Aug 11, 2014 12:42 AM

    Glad to hear of the competition and having good options. Fight for a spot and fight for the wins.

    Let’s maintain the attitude.

    Go BLUE!

  14. roserowdie5 says: Aug 11, 2014 9:40 AM

    This would be a pretty lame site if they only did stories on the last three national champions.

    The big news in this story to me isn’t the competition, it’s the fact that Michigan with 11th in rushing in the Big Ten last year and the running backs are talking about pass protection being the most important thing. Is that what Biakabutuka and Wheatley thought? : 0
    That was a long time ago.

  15. matrychapcox says: Aug 11, 2014 10:43 AM

    0-2 versus App State. Take the +11000 money line in Vegas!

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