Two 1,000-yard rushers this season?

Submitted by jmblue on November 13th, 2011 at 3:32 PM

We've got a shot to get two 1,000-yard rushers this season.  Denard leads the team with 910 yards, while Toussaint is coming on strong with 753 yards.  Denard's pretty much a lock if healthy, while Toussaint needs to average 82.3 ypg from here on out, which seems about 50-50 to me. For him to reach 1,000 while only being our featured back for part of the season would be very impressive. 

Anyone know when was the last time we had two 1,000-yard rushers?  I don't think it ever happened under Carr or Moeller, but I imagine it did under Bo at some point.




The Baughz

November 13th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

Wow, I did not realize Fitz had that many yards this season. That would be really impressive if he could eclipse the 1000 yard mark. Denard is a lock barring injury. I think that would say a lot about this offense if it could produce two 1000 yard rushers. Hopefully Fitz can keep it rolling against the Huskers.


November 13th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

A related statistic, for anyone who is wondering. The career rushing yds for a QB record in the  Big 10 is currently held by Antwaan Randel El with 3895, and Denard currently has 2878, with 16 games left in his career (assuming a bowl game next year). That means Denard must average 63.6 yds/game for the rest of his career to break that record. He already holds the Big 10 and NCAA records for rushing yards for a QB in a season.

M Fanfare

November 13th, 2011 at 4:05 PM ^

I think it's interesting that given the history of great offensive linemen, great running backs, and run-oriented offenses, Michigan has yet to produce a 2,000-yard rusher (Biakabutuka topped 1800 in 1995). An incredible feat, to be sure, but it has been done 14 times in NCAA history, all in the last 30 years. Here's the list:

Barry Sanders Oklahoma State (1988): 2,628 (7.64 yards per carry)
Kevin Smith UCF (2007): 2,567 (5.70)
Marcus Allen USC (1981): 2,342 (5.81)
Troy Davis Iowa State (1996): 2,185 (5.44)
Ladainian Tomlinson TCU (2000): 2,158 (5.85)
Mike Rozier Nebraska (1983): 2,148 (7.81)
Matt Forte Tulane (2007): 2,127 (5.89)
Ricky Williams Texas (1998): 2,124 (5.88)
Larry Johnson Penn State (2002): 2,087 (7.70)
Byron Hanspard Texas Tech (1996): 2,084 (6.15)
Rashaan Salaam Colorado (1994): 2,055 (6.90)
J.J. Arrington California (2004): 289 2,018 (6.98)
Ray Rice Rutgers (2007): 2,012 (5.29)
Troy Davis Iowa State (1995): 2,010 (5.83)


November 13th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

I don't know if that's it.  Most of the guys above played in conservative offenses as well.  You pretty much have to run the ball a ton to have one guy get that many yards. 

To have a 2,000-yard back, he has to stay healthy all year and not get substituted very often.  If you're winning lots of games by 30 points, he probably won't get enough carries.  It takes just the right combination of factors.

The Barwis Effect

November 13th, 2011 at 6:13 PM ^

As jmblue said, for someone to rush for 2,000 yards, that guy has to pretty much be the only guy.  Traditionally, U-M has always had a stable of talented backs -- guys that might be backups on U-M, but would start on virtually any other Big Ten school.  

So while U-M has certainly had RBs with the talent to rush for 2,000, it's always been their style -- at least in blowouts -- to reward their talented backups for all their hard work in practice with some carries in garbage time.  

This playing time may come at the expense of the starting RBs stats, but it serves to keep team moral at a high level, and as we know, Michigan has always been about THE TEAM, not the individual.


November 13th, 2011 at 9:44 PM ^

Looking at most of those stats, you also get a sense that you either have to play against pretty mediocre competition (witness some of the lesser-known schools on that list) where you can have those monster 200+ games, or you have to just be a workhorse.  I forget off the top of my head, but I think Kevin Smith's yardage was at least partly due to carrying the ball the most times in NCAA history, which may have shortened his pro career a bit (see his struggles in the NFL with injuries).  If you give a decent RB 30+ carries a game, you'll see numbers like this.

Luckily, UM has never really needed to do that in recent memory, save for that Chris Perry game against MSU when Carr tried to kill someone.


November 13th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

Looking at the Stats since 1980, it was interesting that some of Michigan's most successful years (1997 for example) the team had 0 1000 yard rushers...but for the most part... having 2 guys close to 1000 meant a very good season....and not (1984 for example) were the bad years... so run the football = success


November 13th, 2011 at 4:39 PM ^

Definitely would be a nice feat if they can both get 1000 in the same season. To me, however, they don't really seem like a 1-2 punch at this point. I feel like either one or the other has it going at one time, I don't recall any games when they were alternating long runs or both finished above 100+ unless it was early in the non-conference. Hopefully in these next two games we can capitalize on the emergence of Fitz and force the defense to lock in on both.

El Jeffe

November 13th, 2011 at 7:00 PM ^

Interesting point. One of the more minor but persistent knocks on RR was that he wasn't developing a RB to be Slaton to Denard's Pat White. Many of us true believers thought Dee Hart would be that guy, alas.

But this year it doesn't seem like that's happening either. It is true that a significant chunk of Fitz's yards are coming off of either zone reads or shotgun plays that at least force the defense to think about Denard. But I guess what's more interesting is that Fitz's ascendance doesn't appear thus far to have taken some of the heat off Denard. I guess it's hard to say, since He hasn't had a whole lot of attempts of late (conditional grrr...), but still.


November 13th, 2011 at 6:46 PM ^

It was called near the end of the 3rd quarter.  I think the NCAA rule requires games to go at least three full quarters for the statistics to count.  I can maybe understand that when it comes to team statistics (playing only three quarters can lower your team averages), but I don't see why individual players' stats shouldn't count. 


November 13th, 2011 at 7:11 PM ^

But the NCAA also keeps track of per-game stats and records for individuals, and those could be affected just as much as team stats if the stats from a shortened game were included. Why would it make any sense to count one and not the other?

I think you either count all the stats or you don't count any of them. You're correct that the NCAA rules state that a game has to go three quarters to count as official.


November 13th, 2011 at 7:09 PM ^

Not sure how much of a lock Denard going over 1,000 is.  He's running less and less and getting fewer YPC.  Realize that over the past 4 games he has 190 yards.  Now getting set to go up against Nebraska and Ohio?  Those are two pretty dang good defenses.  Not to mention teams more and more are keying on the run and trying to make UM beat them with the pass.

Yes, barring injury, Denard only needs 30 yards per game over the next 3 games.  Well, that's all he got yesterday and while he was "injured", he was also ineffective which kept him on the sideline.  You heard Hoke say he could have played.  Unless Denard makes better decisions and hits creases better and converts in the red zone, it will be easier and easier for Hoke to keep him on the sidelines even if an injury is small.

It may happen - for both - and I hope it does, but there is going to have to be some better play-calling and decision making for it to happen.


November 13th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

Oddly enough, that game is pretty big in multiple ways.  Not only the debate about whether the stats should be kept or not, but if the game would have finished it's possible that both players could have racked up even more stats in the final 16+ minutes.  Fitz had 80 yards in less than 3 quarters.  He may have been pulled for some freshmen but, at the same time, he could have had another 20-30 yards no problem.  And at that point on the season, the way Denard was running, one more snap could have gone for a big gain.


November 13th, 2011 at 11:53 PM ^

2010:: Total: 8, Scoring: 25, FEI: 2

2011:: Total: 40, Scoring: 37, FEI: 17

Total yardage has probably been affected by better ST and D, the scoring dropoff is because our youthful inexperience has been replaced by transitional inexperience - so we still are a bit inconsistent and turnover-ridden.

The FEI is most indicative I think - we went from an O with the potential to be great (if we had any kind of ST and D) to one that is just very good. I think after Borges was hired, this is sort of where we expected to be offensively. Credit to Borges and the players is due for not taking a bigger step back.

Just to reiterate Mattison's awesomeness, here's the D:

2010:: Total: 110, Scoring: 107, FEI: 108

2011:: Total: 16, Scoring: 5, FEI: 17

These leave me very hopefule for 2012 - we graduate big-time contributors (Molk on O, the tackles on D) but we still return a ton of people (10 on O, 7/8 on D), and the O should (FINALLY) cut down on the turnovers and inconsistency. (We're finally going to have the same QB and the same system for two years in a row).


November 13th, 2011 at 9:10 PM ^

Look at Rex Burkhead - 212 carries and 1,000 yards already and 2 games left, at 5.1 ypc.

Fitz has received half of that : 114 carries and a sick ypc - 5.9.

I doubt Michigan has a 1,000 yard rusher this season, which is disappointing.

But for the first time since 2006 Michigan has had a pretty healthy stable of backs (knock on wood).




November 13th, 2011 at 11:17 PM ^

This was already covered above. ESPN is using the official NCAA stats, which don't include the results from the rain-shortened WMU game. Both Michigan and the Big Ten are still counting the stats from that game, so according to them, Toussaint has 753 yards so far this season. (Toussaint had 80 net yards in the WMU game.)