Derrick Green should be the starter next week against Notre Dame.

Submitted by aaamichfan on September 1st, 2013 at 1:31 PM

There is a serious case to be made here. While I agree that Green could use a little more time with Wellman to get things toned before he's an All American, he is still the best RB on the team. He led the team in rushing yesterday, and also looked the best doing it. 

The Notre Dame defense is relatively small, and I believe we definitely could benefit greatly from having such a big option pounding the rock at all times. We definitely don't want to rely on the arm of Gardner this week(interceptions killed us last year against ND), and can easily win this game with an effective ground game. 



September 1st, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

What is the deal with all this raving about Fitz? 14 carries 57 yards? That's 4 per carry. Cool that he's back from a horrendous injury, but that's hardly something to sit there and be happy with against a MAC team. We'll see really where we're at next Saturday, but I don't get the FITZ IS BACK shit.

I do think Fitz is still the guy, given his experience and non-fumbling, but I think it's pretty clear that he's not going to get 25+ carries a game. They will, and should continue to try out Smith and Green to get those guys experience and see if one can be an immediate value-add to the ground game. By the end of October, I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the freshmen getting more carries on average than Fitz. I also won't be surprised if that doesn't happen. 

Space Coyote

September 1st, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

And didn't get carries against a worn out CMU defensive front. Fitz wasn't perfect, but he was decisive and did well to square his shoulders. If he picked up his feet a little better he would have broke one or two long ones. And if he would have gotten up to 20 carries he likely would have had 90+ yards. Fitz also had another GL run with no blocking and a 3rd and short with no blocking and was hindered by the fact that twice Michigan tried to run counters with him in the game and blocked no one. And don't get me started on the two shotgun delayed draws that looked awfully blocked.

On normal down and distances, when Michigan ran zone runs, Fitz probably averaged near 6 yards a pop. He looked good running out of the zone. I think you need to look away from the ball once in a while to see the whole story.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:24 PM ^

The reaction is especially humorous in context.  After the Nebraska fiasco last year, Fitz posted 193 yards on 34 carries (5.67 ypc) before getting hurt early in the Iowa game (also played Minnesota and Northwestern).  Supposedly he was running like a bitch and the offensive line totally sucked. 

It is good to know that all is now right with the world.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

To be fair, 14 carries for 57 yards is actually only a smidge below an average in-game peformance for Fitz (that being about 13 carries for 65 yards), so there is that to consider. It is only one game, but it was a better performance than typical last year (13 carries for 55 yards average in-game). When it comes to using the stats, we might be better off waiting until there are not nine players - including both QBs - rushing for yardage and the opponent is not CMU, I would think.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

I'm with you.


I'm not agreeing with the OP, but this place can be such an enourmous circle jerk at times. Green played well, but it's cool to hate on him at the moment and proclaim Smith as the superior back.

Obviously Fitz will start, but I feel like Green had a slightly better game yesterday than he is being given credit for around these parts.

Space Coyote

September 1st, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

Smith looks better between the tackles right now. Still think Green has more upside and will become a better everydown back, because I think he is better at attacking the edge and I think he has more burst. But right now Smith brings his legs and shoulders in the hole better than Green.

Space Coyote

September 1st, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

And it has nothing to do with what "shape" he's in. We still don't know if he can block. We don't know if he's effective catching the ball out of the backfield. He is still struggling when to plant a foot and cut up on zone runs. He needs work on gets his shoulders lower and churning his feet.

Look, I think Green looked pretty good and showed a lot of promise, but as many FR need, he needs time to improve his game before becoming the starter. Right now Fitz is just better, plain and simple.

Now by mid-season, yeah, I'd probably look for Green to be #2 behind Fitz, and still a clear #2. I actually Smith between the tackles more than Green on short yardage situations, but don't run him outside, and I think Hayes should get some 3rd down plays (I think this is being saved for ND FWIW). Other than that, I'm not really impressed with the other backs as of now.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

Green does go down easily in open field... always seems first contact... but his importance to the team is the inside pounding in the latter half of the game, when the other team is fatigued... then you'll understand his value.... brilliant move by Hoke...

The beauty of it all?  The end game....  Michigan has Alabama in its sights..... the country's most storied program was down for a decade, and along with its yang the Buckeyes, they both are on the major rise, whereby in 2015, it'll be us and OSU as the premier teams, and not the SEC.



September 1st, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

next week. He looked much better than Tom Brady. Have we not learned what assuming a true frosh 5* guy can do over a seasoned vet can result in? Here's my two cents, while Green may be a better back, he wasn't yesterday and to assume he should start over Fitz is overlooking that Fitz is committed. He proved it by busting his ass and coming back from an injury to win the starting position in week 1. Green has come into the fall overweight and that shows a lack of discipline. Fitz starts!

One Inch Woody…

September 1st, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

I love these Michigan "fans" that get their assumptions from the box score. Yeah no shit Green led the team in rushing, we rushed something like 90% to 10% once Morris got on the field. Touissant did his job and took a rest on the bench. That's like saying that since whatever 5th string receiver in a Lions preseason game got more catches/yards than Calvin, we should bench Calvin because he is worse.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

I'm more worried that we only had success running left - sounds too familiar for my liking.  Plus the read option had no "legs" to boot. Fitz looked great, had primetime vision and ran with authority.  Green got his biggest run as a result of a Lewan pancake.  


September 1st, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

I liked the 30 yard run, but that was really the line creating a huge hole. His other 10 carries went for only 28 yards. Sample size is too small, we can't really compare the two until we're heading into B1G play with four games of carries.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

Fitzgerald blocking for Gardner on a pass play. Leaking out of the backfield on play action as a safety valve receiver. Throwing a block on a designed Gardner run. Heading for just the right spot to catch a screen pass. Telling a young fullback exactly how to tweak a blocking angle. And on, and on.

Freshman can play RB. But it's not just running the ball--and even then Green didn't look like an upgrade to me.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

I didn't think any of the RBs looked great.  Take away the long run, and Green had 10 carries for 28 yards.  Fitz was similarilty pedestrian at 4.1 YPC.  Take away his 20 yarder, and you have 13 carries for 37 yards, good for 2.8 YPC.  Against Central, we should have had better production.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

It's not stupid.  It's an attempt to evaluate whether the backs provided consistent production over the course of the game or whether their numbers were merely the result of one huge hole.  Take away the top 5% of Barry Sanders or Walter Payton's longest runs, and they're still in the Hall of Fame.  From most of your posts, it seems that you are so desperate to disparage the comments of others that you often completely miss what people are trying to say.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

It's really not a straw man because the point stands whether we are talking about games or careers.  In football, there are these things called first downs, meaning your offense needs to be able to consistently move the ball 10 or more yards over the course of 3 plays.  A running back who runs into the line 15 times in a row and then breaks one big isn't, in my opinion, nearly as valuable as one who consistently gives you 5 YPC, especially in the kind of power running attack that Michigan wants to implement.


September 1st, 2013 at 4:23 PM ^

But you're completely missing the possiblilty that short runs can be as misleading as long runs. Maybe there were quite a few short-yardage situations. On a goal-to-go scenario, you may only have an opportunity to get 3 yards at most. Not to mention the defenses are geared to be able to stop run plays to the inside, so you may be more likely to get stuffed. And even if you get in, you only get a yard or two to your credit. Not to mention any 3rd and 3-or-less situations where you get the first down (which is all that really matters in that situation). What about the situations where your oline gets no push and you have no chance to gain any yards? 

So, yeah YPC can be misleading. But what's even more misleading is chopping out specific runs willy nilly. You have to have a very good reason to throw out a data point. And I argue you simply do not.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

It is the same logic behind the "Those 1,000+ yards Denard rushed for don't count!" arguments when people still wanted to bitch about the offense in recent years.  Fortunately I didn't see anybody subtracting Gardner's contribution on the ground or Norfleet's long run to get the "accurate" rushing stats that don't look as good from yesterday's game.


September 1st, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

Well I don't have time to do a comprehensive analysis, but we can take his 1997 season as an example.  He rushed for 2053 yards on 335 carries, good for 6.13 YPC.

If we take away his longest run from every game, which is right around 5% of his total carries that year, we get 1434 yards on 319 carries.  That's still nearly 4.5 YPC, which would place him in the top third in YPC among starting NFL RBs for the 2012 season.  

That's what I mean when I talk about consistent production.  Obviously, this is a little unfair since I'm using one the greatest backs ever and not looking at every carry, but I think the point still stands.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:13 PM ^

All these Green haters saying he got better blocking need to watch the game again. Green is quicker initially and hits the hole harder. Fitz biggest issue is once he gets the ball he isn't going full speed. I'll take a kid who goes hard into the hole and gets 5-6 each time. Fitz is the starter and I thought looked good. I will enjoy having so many great backs while you kids pick them apart.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

Frankly it doesn't really matter who starts. Both will get carries, it only matters who produces. It looked to me like Fitz can't make lemonade but when given a decent hole, he had the speed to break through for 6-9 yards a pop. I think he will have a real big game and soon.

And I actually think it will be Gardner's legs and deep ball that win this. If he's out there throwing slants and testing the Linebackers constantly, we will lose. If he is throwing a few screens and running play action and using his legs, we will win and probably win handily. I know everyone is scared of him getting hurt but I would rather take that risk of losing the whole season if he scrambles 10 times for 60-70 yards and 2-3 TDs every game.


September 1st, 2013 at 2:25 PM ^

There's a huge difference between going against a team when the game is in question and going against a team that has thrown in the towel because they have no chance.  When a person realizes he doesn't have a chance, he doesn't give it his all because if you give your all and fail, you've failed but if you give only 80% and fail it's not as much of a failure on your part.  By the end of the game, even though they had starters in, CMU's 4th quarter starters weren't the same as CMU 1st quarter starters.

And I don't know how anyone can feel confident about the running game yet.  I didn't see many series where the Michigan OL could manhandle the defenses front 7 and pick up 6+ yards a down consistently.  Michigan put up 5.1 ypc against CMU, and if you take out the DG carries and Morris sack you're down to 4.9 ypc.  That's hardly a great performance.  Meanwhile, excluding QB yards, Wisconson averaged 9.46 ypc, Florida averaged 6.1 , and Gerogia averaged 6.97 and they all played essentially equivilient or better teams.  Michigan still has a lot of work to do on the OL to get the running game where it should be if they want to succeed against MSU, ND, and OSU on the ground.