Green to backup Toussaint now

Submitted by El Fuego on September 3rd, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Contrary to popular opinion a couple days ago, Brady Hoke said that Derrick Green is now the number 2 back behind Toussaint.

"Fitz (is) No. 1," Hoke said. "Then it'd be Green No. 2, then (Thomas) Rawls and (De'Veon) Smith and then Justice Hayes."

Obviously a lot of this has to do with the injury to Drake Johnson.  It is interesting to me that he moved up the depth chart quickly.  Sure, he had that great run against Central, but that had more to do with great blocking.  Overall, his running seemed pretty "meh" that game.




September 3rd, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

If I were him, I'd seperate myself as the best passblockin, catching, route running  back on the team because the freshman are better than him now and He's not catching them.  The Vincent smith role is currently open in the offense and even if Fitz takes it this year than it will be open and if he doesn't than he has no chance to plat during his Michigan career


September 3rd, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

If I were him, I'd seperate myself as the best passblockin, catching, route running  back on the team because the freshman are better than him now and He's not catching them.  The Vincent smith role is currently open in the offense and even if Fitz takes it this year than it will be open and if he doesn't than he has no chance to plat during his Michigan career


September 3rd, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

Nobody looked great in that CMU game, but Green looked better than the other guys, IMO. Besides, I think part of Green's issue was/is his weight. If he loses 10 lbs. or so, which he can do fairly quickly if he so chooses, I think he'll be better off. It's just a matter of time before he puts a stranglehold on that #2 spot. The other guys have either had chances and done nothing with them, or in Smith's case, he's just too slow to be much of a threat in anything but short yardage stuff.


September 3rd, 2013 at 11:59 AM ^

For once I agree with you. I'd like to see him lower his shoulder some and initiate the contact he did seem easy to bring down for a man his size. That's conrrectable though. He moves quick for a dude his size..What are your thoughts on that? Slightly different topic who do you think played better Gordon or Beyer?


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:39 PM ^

I agree that Green wasn't physical enough, but he looked out of shape. Sometimes being too top-heavy can mess with your balance, ability to get low, etc. If he chooses to get in shape, that will take care of itself somewhat. That being said, he's never been a destroyer at running back. Smith is the more physical back but lacks the foot quickness and straight line speed.

Gordon was the best defender on the field. I thought Beyer looked improved (quicker and stronger) but I still want Gordon the field more than Beyer.


September 3rd, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

I will take Gordon and Beyer on the field.  Both have strengths to be leveraged and utilized in the game plan.  Both played very well.  Good News Everyone!  It doesn't have to be one or the other.  Notre Dame will be a much bigger test.  With growing talent and depth, it is great to see fresh players making plays and competition in full swing.  Everyone gets better this way. 

Decatur Jack

September 3rd, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

Green didn't look out of shape to me. If he was out of shape, then every other running back out there looked out of shape too.

(And even if Green was out of shape, he still led the team in rushing for the game. Imagine what he'd be if he was actually in shape! O_o Besides, could someone really crack off a 30-yard run and take hits and punch it into the endzone if he was out of shape? He would have collapsed after the third run.)


September 3rd, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

I actually thought the same thing on Saturday.  Maybe something most MGoBloggers (myself included) overlooked in all that awesome high school film of him breaking tackles is that he HAD to break tackles fairly close to the line of scrimmage to gain a lot of yards.  He didn't hit holes as fast as Green on Saturday.


September 3rd, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

Personally, I thought he looked slow in high school, too. He had trouble running away from tiny white kids in the middle of Ohio and had to cut back, run through tackles, etc. to gain all those yards. It was still impressive, but in a different way. He's going to be able to outrun even fewer guys in college.


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

Do you really think that it's possible for him to get get in better shape and lose 10 lbs mid-season?

Honest question. It just seems like it's a fool's errand to expect someone to significantly improve their conditioning after the season starts, when a lot of their time will be taken up in practice and film, etc. But I honestly don't know.


September 3rd, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

I guess the losing weight part makes sense. Now that I think about it, I remember reading somewhere (I think it was in response to some pictures of a particularly heavy looking RG3) that players try to add some extra bulk at the beginning of the season because they naturally tend to shed weight over the course of the season.

Hopefully the weight loss helps with the stamina, because he seemed to get a little winded out there.


September 4th, 2013 at 12:26 AM ^ me the holes Green got... chirp chirp....he got one hole to the outside... every other carry there were guys on his back as soon as he got the ball.  Barry Sanders couldnt have gotten yards out of those....


ok..maybe Barry could...but not many other backs could....certainly not Green.


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:05 PM ^

Outliers are notable for a reason. Nobody is saying that it doesn't "count" or that it didn't happen or that Green doesn't deserve credit for it. But simply saying, "Green averaged 5.3 yd/carry!" and ignoring the fact that literally more than half his yards came on one run out of 11 is to willfully miss out on a lot of important information.

Excising this outlier, he averaged 2.8 yd/carry. I would think that eliminating one run dropping his average by almost half would be notable.


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

I think the assumption is that an outlier is unlikely to be repeated and so should be removed to get a better projection of future performance.

In this case, I would actually agree that the 5.3yds/carry is the right stat line. Given his reported talent, I think its more likely that opposing defenses may be able to contain him for at most 90% of his carries, but sooner or later he's going to rip off a long run, and be closer to that 5.3 number


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

I don't necessarily think that that's the only reason people would want to take note of an outlier. But let's say that it is. It's still worth mentioning that if Green's performance on Saturday is predictive of future performance (huge "if," obviously), that we can expect him to grind out less than 3 yards every time he touches the ball, but that less than 10% of the time he'll break a long one. That pattern (assuming it is an actual reproduceable pattern, which is probably isn't) is very noteworthy and not reflected in just the 5.3 ypc stat.

I'm not saying that the 30 yard run isn't noteworthy, should be ignored, doesn't count, whatever. It's a noteworthy abberation when compared to Green's other runs. It's also noteworthy that he got some score yardage duty that drags his average down, too. I'm just not a fan at all of ignoring important information in data.


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

Good point. "Gains less than 3 ypc except for big runs 10% of the time" is not the sort of profile you expect from a big, tackle-breaking back. Green's build and skillset is a profile for the type of back that gets 5 yards every time with very few big plays. The profile you just hypothesized is more what you'd expect for a guy like Trung Canidate.



September 3rd, 2013 at 1:05 PM ^

Yeah, I seriously doubt that that will be Green's MO. First game, only 11 carries, CMU, etc and so on. I would be really surprised if his stats matched that profile after a few more games and things start to normalize a bit as the N goes up.

My whole point is that ignoring the fact that his yardage stats are propped up by a long run is to ignore obvious information and come away with an incomplete picture. If someone wants to argue that that run "doesn't count," well that's silly. But it's just as silly to say, "you can't single that run out."


September 3rd, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

I feel like your characterization is a guess rather than anything based in reality.  For an unrelated reason I had done an analysis of Steven Jackson's 2006 season.  He doesn't seem like a terrible comparison for Green's style, so bear with me.  To cut to the case, his 4.4 yards/carry (346 carries) dropped to 3.7 if you took out the 9 longest runs (and those only averaged 30 yards/each).  Cut out the top 10% of his runs and it drops to 2.9 yards/carry.

The fact of the matter is that if guys actually got 5 yards/carry consistently (and not based on breaking long runs periodically), then a team would do nothing but run the ball non-stop and thus would score on every single drive and win every game. 


September 3rd, 2013 at 3:47 PM ^

I feel like your characterization of my characterization is an imaginary, mythical strawman rather than anything based in reality.

Listen, nobody disputes that averages are built out of longer and shorter runs. The problem is that, with 11 carries, Green had one carry that almost anybody on Michigan's runner could have taken for big yardage. If it had been Smith with the carry, he would have had the big gain; Hayes and Rawls the same. 

The fact of the matter is that, while RBs do have variance in their yardage averages, some of them vary more than others. Curtis Martin almost never broke big runs, but he almost never lost yardage either, and he unspectacularly got key yards for his teams for years. Barry Sanders, in contrast, produced numerous runs for little, no, or negative yardage, but was also capable of picking up chunks of 10-15 yards at a time, with liberal doses of massive 50+ yard gains. 

The problem with Green is that, except for the (brilliant!) touchdown, he went straight to the ground every time he got hit. No extra yards, no finishing the runs, nothing like what he is supposed to be capable of doing. As it happens, I am not worried about it--as he gains experience he will be finishing those runs. But the Green we saw was a guy who went down quickly at first contact, not a guy who can turn nothing into one yard and two yards into five by breaking tackles. 

And it's telling that, after chopping out the top 10% of Jackson's carries, you still got 2.9, which is better than Green's non-big run average and enough to give the Rams a manageable 3rd-and-4 or 5 every time. I dare say that if you cut out the top 10% of the carries of Barry Sanders or Chris Johnson you'd probably lose more than 30% of their ypc average.


September 3rd, 2013 at 12:50 PM ^

I normally agree with you, but in this case there are two mitigating factors: First, we are trying figure out who the superior backs are using a very small collection of data, so every step counts and there hasn't been a chance for things to average out; second, the nature of his long run was that he was given a MASSIVE hole and was able to take advantage of it without any of his unique skills coming into play. That is to say, a number of Michigan's running backs could have produced a similar result, given the same hole.

Honestly, the run reminded me of a preseason run by Lawrence Phillips when Phillips was trying out for the 49ers. The right side of the line blew a massive, Hummer-sized hole in defense (Dolphins, maybe?). Phillips turned on the burners and ran, untouched, to the endzone. Did that mean that Phillips was a great back that the 49ers had to keep? Nope. He was cut a week later, as he should have been. Because running through large holes with no linebackers filling is something that most high-level backs can do and do well.

None of this is to say that Green isn't the second-best back on the team right now. I loved his goal-line touchdown run and thought he was quicker to his holes than I was expecting. Still, he often went down on first contact and isn't the type of back to make that first contact miss. He reminds me a bit of freshman Anthony Thomas, who we knew was talented but needed to improve every season to become the great back he was in 2000. 



September 3rd, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

run on video that blew up the internet, it would be silly to call it an outlier and take it away from the result. But when a guy averages 2.8 yards a carry except for one run that literally every single back on Michigan's roster would have broken just as well, then that one run IS an outlier that should be factored out.


September 3rd, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

Nobody is denying that Green had a good run; the problem was the other 10 runs he averarged around 4 yards.  That does matter, especially with such small sample sizes.  With more sample the outliers get brushed aside, but if you are going to base your confidence in Green based on averaging 5 yards a carry that was buffed up significantly by 1 run against a mediocre MAC defense, go right ahead but don't expect me to follow.