Will the Real Slim Running Back please stand up? V.3.0

A Running Back look from a March and Aug posts, lets review how this has shook out.

Who will be our starting running back come UCONN? Michigan has a stable of young and capable running backs who could break out. We could have a running back by committee but that's sorta boring in my eyes. I love you B.Minor but we haven't had that stud Michigan RB since Mike Hart. Minor could have been but he was hurt too much and being made of glass isn't a Michigan running back trait. I think for Michigan to have the season we all want them to have, someone needs to break out of the pack as that stud Michigan back. Lets take a look...

Michael Shaw

Shaw now a Jr has had his highlights(08 Minn game) and low lights(passed on the depth chart by V.Smith). I like Shaw a lot. More then most. Some fans have written him off in favor of V.Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint. I on the other hand think Shaw can become that stud we have wanted since Mike Hart. I love his power for how small he is. He seems to explode into holes,LB and everything else. He may lack a bit of vision but I am hoping by year three he can make strides in this area. A big part will be if Tate can improve his zone reads and get Michael Shaw the ball at the right times. You also gotta love Shaw's passion as you can see how much he hates to loose(He was the kid on the bench tore up after Iowa). Don't give up on Michael Shaw everyone.. He may surprise you.

Shaw as of today is listed as the number one back with Smith. I expect him to do well if given enough carries to get going. I think he is a RB who needs to get a rhythm going. Denard and Shaw in the back field is a serious home run threat but with Shaw's history it's also a serious negative yardage threat as well. I am sure we will see both Shaw and Smith in many sets so this could be very interesting to see who gets the carries.

Shaw has been banged up since late in the BG game. He sat out the IND game and than ripped off a nice run up the middle in the MSU game. After that he hasn't been seen much. It's hard to tell if thats more due the coaches liking the V.Smith more or his injury has caused this. I will guess it's the bad knee more than anything.  I am hoping he can get back to 12-15 carries at PSU. He seem to be on to something vs BG(yes almost baby seal) by hitting his holes and not dancing. Lets hope Michael Shaw has learned something and can get back on the field.

Vincent Smith

The true frosh showed a lot of guts last year and played well in the OSU game. Here's the catch going into 2010. He got injured. He will be coming back from a torn ACL. It could stunt his growth going into year two. On the flip side, how could you not love Smith? He is most like Mike Hart. He's got great vision and can move the chains. He also pass blocks very well and catches out of the back field like a champ. He was one of the few to show up in the Wisky game. Smith is the slowest of the RBs. He may even be slower then Mike Hart but... He's a RB who just moves the chains. I will take that any day over the home run threat. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from his injury. He maybe the number one come UCONN.

V.Smith didn't lose much of any ground from being out all spring. Guys like Mike Cox could not hop Smith with him being out. He is a great grind it out type of RB. I can't see him busting a 60 yard TD but he will move the sticks for you which is more important in the big picture(as Mike Hart). He also shows a great skill of catching out of the back field which Mike Shaw might lack. V.Smith is the "OR" right now with Michael Shaw so we will be seeing a lot of both of them come this Saturday. They are really a great combo since one is a speedster and Smith is the grind man. If one fumbles they will have Mike Cox waiting in the wings.

V.Smith seem to be RR favorite back. "He's not a fumbler" Rich said. Well that was said after he put one the turf after the Michigan was driving on Iowa. So now thats Smith and Hopkins who have coughed one up. Gotta wonder if Hopkins might start taking some carries away from Smith. You gotta like Hopkins better up the middle. I hope the Power I Smith up the middle play is trashed. So far its been for a loss and a fumble. Brian of Mgoblog and Magnus of Touch the Banner have expressed a desire to see less of Smith and I have to agree. Hes a good 3rd down back and catches well out of the back field and in the slot but as a guy who gonna get you 80-100 yards and break something open and keep a defense off Denard.... The kid just isn't that. Rich seems to love the kid, not sure if he raking his yard or what but I doubt V.Smith is heading to the bench. I like V.Smith but he needs to be given less carries IMO.

Mike Cox

Mike is that wild card that I like. He maybe our next banger if given a chance. He has shown a lot in little chances. Sure most have been vs The Washington Generals football team but I expect him to get a fair chance to be in the mix. I hope Mike gets a fair chance because he could turn out to be better then we all know. If his RB gig doesn't turn out he can always turn to his modeling.

Mike Cox has a great blend of Speed and Power but has he learned the play book and cleaned up the mental mistakes? As of today Mike is listed 2nd on the depth chart. He should get chances this Saturday to prove that he may be worth starting. Mike still seems to be the dark horse or wild card of the group. It wouldn't be surprising if he became the man but it wouldn't be surprising if he sunk of the depth chart either. He's got the tools but does he have the brawn?

A big Swing and a miss on my part. Figure Mike might get his chance vs IND but I guess I was wrong. V.Smith took much of the load with Hopkins getting a carry. I just don't know anymore about M.Cox. He must be clueless on blocking assignments and everything else. He has the most gifts physically but can't put it together mentally. I am sure it's pretty frustrating to the coaches when they need a guy like him on the field. I still would wish he would get a small shot. Just give him a few carries here and there and see what happens. If I had to guess... Mike Cox will have to improve in the off season and come out next year looking to make a impact in the spring camp. What I am saying.. He won't see the field this year. 

Fitzgerald Toussaint

If Mike Cox is a wild card then what is Fitz? Right now he is a practice hype machine. Some have said "FITZ WILL BE THE STARTER BY GAME FOUR OMG!!". There has been so much crap to come out of UM practices over the years that I don't buy it until I see it. He has yet to take a game snap and some have placed him as our number one back. I am a show me person. Running backs coach Fred Jackson who hypes someone every year has done that with Fitz.

“He’s a good player,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen enough. I didn’t have my blinders on.”
Alright maybe this isn't a ton of hype but many people on the boards have added to his hype. I know he can be good and I hope he is but I just wanna see it.

With lots of internet rumblings and the super Fred Jackson hype of being "Mike Hart but faster". Fitz has more hype than most RBs get before taking a snap. Hype doesn't matter if you can't stay healthy. Right now that hype is stuck at the 4th spot on the depth chart. A lot may have to do with his health and being banged up. Some saying he may not even play vs UCONN. This is pretty concerning since he seems to be injury prone just like Mike Hart. It would be interesting to see if Fitz would have been the number one back if healthy. We may find out in a few weeks when he will be finally healthy. He better hope that another back hasn't ran away with the job. Poster FormerWolv even said Fitz was the clear number one back. We will see how true it is once he is healthy.

Not much has changed since the 30th of Aug. Fitz got his chance in BG game in which he looked good. He did make a nice run(you could drive a truck through the hole) but was caught from behind by a MAC LBer. His knee still looked to be holding him back. He than put the TD on the next play. Everything great right? WRONG! He found a way in two plays to hurt his shoulder and has been out since. So what we have learned is that Fitz is B.Minor but x100000 in being injury prone. It looks like he may be dressed for PSU game but lets hope he doesn't cough before the game.. He may be in street clothes by kick off.

New Kids
As for the new kids Austin White and Stephen Hopkins. I don't see them getting snaps unless one comes out of no where and shows some great stuff in the spring and fall.

Austin White is off the team(holds back mean things to say). Hopkins still getting praise and could see a snap here or there. He could be our 2010 goal line back but we will see. He is sitting at 4th or 5th right now so he is a spot duty guy if others don't hold their own.

Stephen Hopkins

The Hopkins love train is starting to gain some speed half way through the season. He looked good running tough vs a great Iowa team. Many are calling for him to get the load of carries and count me in. He has a lot of Smith's speed but at least he can punish people for tough yards and won't go down on the first hit. Hopkins may get a major chance vs PSU this Saturday. The young horse is gaining a lot of confidence and it will be interesting to see what kind of chance Hopkins will get.

Predictions from my squawking
So who is the our starting back come fall and vs UCONN? If I had to guess right now I say Shaw shows and does enough to be that starter come game one. It won't be by much and will have to show a lot to keep his starting job for the first three games.

I hate to say this but I told you so... I told you so. Shaw starts with V.Smith and both could be yanked for Cox if either don't produce or turn the ball over. Shaw doesn't have many fans so this is great shot to show what he can do. Without Rage or Gesundheit in his way anymore he will be given a chance to showcase his skills. UM will be pounding the rock on Saturday, lets hope someone steps up and produces.

I hate to say this but... I was wrong. Shaw hurt... Smith "meh" and Cox glued to the bench. Oh and Fitz is a scarecrow. So the running back position is a bit of a mess. Something Michigan isn't used to. Someone has to step up and help Denard. If I guess what will happen the rest of the year... Shit I dunno. Shaw gets some more carries since he is back to feeling better and Hopkins steals some carries from V.Smith. Either way we may be a year away from solving this issue(lets hope). 

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