Saturday, August 13, 2005

Let's take a look at the running backs

Running Backs (Michael Hart, HB)
Best Case: The sky is the limit for the Michigan ground game in 2005. Hart is the returning starter coming off a freshman season in which he led the Big Ten in yardage and was arguably the best running back in the nation for a month-long stretch last year. He will be joined by fellow sophomore Max Martin who was solid if not spectacular down the stretch and junior Jerome Jackson, the starter before Hart burst onto the scene. Also contributing will be true freshman Kevin Grady who graduated early from high school and enrolled for the winter term. While Hart is clearly the most accomplished of the quartet, Grady might just be the most talented.

Worst Case: This group is so ridiculously deep and talented, it is hard to believe that there could be a worst case scenario. Even if Hart doesn't perform as well as last year, Martin and Grady are more than capable of picking up the slack. The fullback position carries some concern, as Brian Thompson was banged up in the spring and Obi Oluigbo lacks big game experience. If this group falters, the plethora of tailbacks will surely allow some sort of a two halfback set. Frankly I cannot envision a scenario in which Michigan fails to field an above average rushing attack in the year to come.

Injury Case: As previously stated, Michigan's depth here is outstanding and as a result, injuries should not be a concern.

Best Guess: I fully expect Michael Hart to rush for less yards than he did a year ago, perhaps somewhere in the 1250 yard range with 10 TDs or so. Grady and Martin will take away a significant number of carries, although Hart should have a higher yards per carry average which should help elevate his numbers. Rumor has it that Hart has improved significantly at catching passes. 250 yards and 5 TDs shouldn't be out of the question. Martin and Grady will combine for 800-1000 yards rushing and 7 TDs. Neither will make a tremendous impact in the passing game. It is hard to believe, but all of the halfbacks should be back next year, meaning that this year could be a preview of even better things to come.


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