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Posted on Sat, Oct 17, 2009 : 6:50 p.m.

Michigan football program proves well stocked at running back

By James Briggs


Michigan running back Vincent Smith runs the ball ahead of the pack during the third quarter of the Wolverine's 63-6 win against Delaware State at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.

Melanie Maxwell |

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.”

Redshirt freshman Michael Cox rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore Michael Shaw added 73 yards and one touchdown.

“(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.”

As a team, Michigan rushed for 472 yards without Brandon Minor or Carlos Brown.

“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 Contact him at 734.623.2557 or



Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 3:22 p.m.

If you're going to complain about the scheduling, at least get it right. Delaware State is a D-I school. What you want is for Michigan to schedule FBS (football bowl subdivison or I-A) schools instead of FCS (football championship subdivision or I-AA) schools.


Mon, Oct 19, 2009 : 12:13 p.m.

mazenbluehome, UCONN is fine for next year since they at least are a D-1 school. The criteria should be that the opponent be a D-1 school at least.

Sun, Oct 18, 2009 : 10:29 a.m.

I'm sick of hearing how this game was bad for us to schedule. It was the only team we could get. Tulsa go look at Florida's non conference schedule.Look at Penn State's, Ohio State's, Nebraska's,and so on and so on. They all have a Delaware State type team on. MSU had Montana State. MSU isnt even playing Ohio State this year. You think Michigan will EVER not play Ohio State? We play all the big boys, so I could not care less if we get a game like DSU. Tell me how Sparty can brag about a Big 10 championship if they dont play all the big boys in the conference. Go Blue


Sun, Oct 18, 2009 : 8:33 a.m.

TulsaTom, They couldn't find a D-1 school that would play them. Look it up. FYI--you can sleep well tonight knowing there are no lower division schools on next year's non-conf schedule. UCONN is though, is that justified?


Sat, Oct 17, 2009 : 8:38 p.m.

Developing depth is about the only positive I can think of about today's game. Otherwise, it was a game that was below U-M to schedule, in my view. At least they should schedule another D-1 school. Who's on the schedule for next year's mid-season non-conference game? Valdosta Sate? Perhaps Wheaton College or a team of MIAA All-Stars? U-M shouldn't settle for playing anyone less than a team in their own division. It's hard to justify the win, otherwise.