Michigan running backs continue to struggle and other notes
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - As quarterback Denard Robinson continues to gain yards at a steady pace, the carries dwindle for the Michigan running backs.
Robinson rushed 27 times on Saturday in a 41-31 Michigan loss to Penn State. The Wolverines’ running backs touched the ball 15 times.
“We tried to run a lot of inside stuff with them,” running backs coach Fred Jackson said. “I thought they did OK. Until I see film I won’t know how well they ran it.
“ I was hoping we could get a little bit more production, but we didn’t. But I’d have to look at the film before I tell you why not.”
When Jackson does view the film, he’ll see a group that gained 2.8 yards a carry.
Robinson had 191 yards rushing. Everyone else had 42 yards.
Vincent Smith gained 24 yards on nine carries, Stephen Hopkins had 14 yards on five carries and Michael Shaw, who started the first game of the year, had one carry for 4 yards.
“We have to play better,” Jackson said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got plays there to be made and we’re not making them, I’m talking from the running back position.
“We have to play better.”
From the athletic director First-year Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon stood off to the side as Michigan’s players exited the locker room after the game.
And the former Domino’s CEO and Michigan regent was as disappointed as anyone.
“Like everybody in the program, we want to win,” Brandon said. “We always want to win.”
Brandon declined to answer questions about the progress of Michigan’s football team this season.
Vinopal gets the start Michigan’s already-young secondary became a little bit more inexperienced Saturday when the Wolverines inserted true freshman Ray VInopal into the starting lineup.
Vinopal had played sparingly through the first half of the season, but saw significant time on the road, at night, at Penn State.
“I was nervous,” Vinopal said. “But after the first play all the nerves went away and it was just football again.”
Vinopal played decently in his first extended playing time, making six tackles.
Injury report Before the season, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez called nose tackle Mike Martin his defense’s most critical player.
Now, Martin is playing on two ankles that have been beat up.
Martin injured his right ankle against Iowa. In the first half Saturday, he hurt his left one.
“That’s a blow,” Rodriguez said. “Because Mike makes a difference when he’s in there.”
Cornerback J.T. Floyd, who Rodriguez said suffered a stinger, re-entered the game but was seen limping out of the Michigan locker room.
This and that Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson declined to speak with the media after Saturday’s game. Mark Huyge, the former starter at left tackle before being replaced by Taylor Lewan earlier this season, started at right tackle in place of Perry Dorrestein. Dorrestein missed the game with a sprained knee but said he’d be ready for Illinois. Rodriguez replaced kicker Seth Broekhuizen on kickoffs with freshman punter Will Hagerup. Broekhuizen made a field goal, though, his first since he had one against Michigan State.