With the seeming lack of improvement in many aspects of our football team against Miami of Ohio, one positive did emerge; we learned which running back is best suited for which running plays.
McGuffie: Fared extremely well from the i-formation (mostly sweeps), and from short screens/swings. These are where he gained most of his yards (3 catches for 32 yards). A very impressive day for McGuffie (4.4 ypc) compared with his highly mediocre performance last week. McGuffie did not perform as well from our basic spread-option looks and running the ball up the middle. His size simply counts against him as he gets knocked down very quickly. A great open-field runner, not a between the tackles type it would seem. More i-form! More McGuffie!
Shaw: Both the touches Shaw had in this game were very impressive (2 carries for 45 yards). As opposed to McGuffie, Shaw is a much more effective runner from the zone-option read look. His speed and his shiftyness allows him to go inside-out for these type of larger gains. Why Rodriguez only used Shaw twice in these situations is beyond me. He was easily our most effective runner out of the zone-read look in the Miami of Ohio game. I want more Shaw.
Minor: Though used sparingly (1 carry, 15 yards, TD) in this game, Minor scored the only TD of the bunch. Though Minor is infamous for his fumble-itis from last year (and one this year, though the call was questionable), he is 30 pounds bigger than McGuffie or Shaw. When he's not giving the ball to the other team, he was effective in shedding tackles, using his size and speed to gain yards. We saw very little of Minor in this game, so it's tough to tell. But what I saw, I liked. I'd expect to see him used more between the tackles in upcoming games.
Grady: Again, saw very little of him. Aside from being perhaps Michigan's all-time greatest recruiting bust in combination his tendency two years ago to put the ball on the ground fairly consistently does not bode well for Grady. Not to mention a DUI for good measure to keep him out of game 1. Grady was effective in the short yardage situations in which we employed him. To be honest, I was expecting to see more out of Grady this year with maturation (oops!). I'd be interested to see if Rodriguez keeps him in this role for the rest of the season.
Moundros: I love this guy. He's the greatest: hard worker, tough blocker. He deserves all the carries he gets. Lloyd must be cringing knowing that fullbacks somewhere are carrying the ball.
I withhold comment on Brown til we can see him again.
That's my evaluation of the running backs in the Miami of Ohio game. Hopefully the coaching staff saw these tendencies too and we'll see a more balanced running attack that plays to each backs' strength than the seeming haphazard multi-back system we've got going now.