Michigan football program proves well stocked at running back
If Saturday’s 63-6 victory over Delaware State was any indication, the Michigan football program is well-stocked for the future at running back.
True freshman Vincent Smith carried the rushing load for Michigan, gaining 166 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
“It was just fun all around,” Smith said. “The big guys up front did a tremendous job. I was just reading the defense.”
“(Cox) finished it up at the end,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He’s got some talent. He’s still down on the scout team, so he’s not with the first or second offense much, but I thought he ran hard.”
“We’ve had so many close games, at least four or so that went down to the wire, we (haven’t) been able to get our (reserves) a lot of quality game reps,” Rodriguez said. “Today, they played more than the starters. That is critical. We have to develop more depth.”
Smith gave perhaps the most impressive performance of all the young running backs, averaging 9.8 points a carry. Smith didn’t expect the heavy workload, he said, and wasn’t quite prepared for it.
“I got a little winded at first, because I wasn’t used to those types of carries,” Smith said.
But as Smith kept getting the ball, he said the offensive flow came naturally to him.
“I wasn’t aware of all the things I was doing,” he said. “I was just running the ball, to be honest, and having fun.”
Smith also showed strength beyond his 5-foot-6, 168-pound frame - the same power he’s been showing all year in practice, defensive end Brandon Graham said.
“He’s stronger than he looks,” Graham said. “You ain’t seen him with his shirt off.”
As the season progresses, Rodriguez said he'll look for ways to test his young running backs and get them ready for game situations.
“I’ve said many times I’ll know we’ve arrived when our twos aren’t far behind our ones, and we’re playing them quite a bit more - not just in games like today,” Rodriguez said. “In the future, I think we’ll see that.”
James Briggs covers sports for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at 734.623.2557 or email@example.com.