Veteran Running Backs

Submitted by Hard Gay on October 1st, 2008 at 1:32 AM

Am I the only one who thinks Minor, Grady and Brown should get more looks?  

It seems that any time Minor gets a handoff, he goes for at least 10 yards if not a touchdown.  He had that fumble against Utah when he was already down, and then the backwards pass from Threet that wasn't all his fault.  It just seems anytime he can actually get the ball he is extremely productive.

Brown was being hyped up so much throughout the off-season, but has done so little.  I realize that he has been injured and with the great depth at running back, there would be no reason not to sit him out.  I just hope when he's finally at 100% he can contribute more.

And Grady, sure, he had that costly fumble against ND, but it was forgivable.  It was a monsoon and half of ND's personnel on-field were clinging to him.  The man carried a linebacker 7 yards into the endzone.  I'd like to see him in more situations than the incredibly surprise run up the gut on 4th and 1.  

I like McGuffie as much as the next guy, but it just seems he tends to go down on first contact a lot and not to mention his blocking sucks.  ND was hailing as his break-out game, but I'm sure anyone of our backs could have put up those kind of numbers against that defense.  

I really do hope the veteran backs get more looks.  



October 1st, 2008 at 2:28 AM ^

Why does everybody seem to think that he wasn't down when he fumbled in the Utah game?  They showed the replay three or four times -- he clearly dropped the ball before his knee was down.


October 1st, 2008 at 6:23 AM ^

It's obviously not as "clear" as you think it is, because a bunch of people (including me) disagree with you.  I think Minor's forearm hit the ground, which jarred the ball loose.


October 1st, 2008 at 8:33 AM ^

Ball was loose before his arm (and knee) hit the ground. That's what I saw (and what the refs saw too, if that means anything).

On "any" RB being able to get those numbers that McGuffie had vs. ND...maybe, but they didn't. You know what "any" RB vs. ND could've done, too? Fumble, and McGuffie didn't. They didn't show in practice they were worthy to play, so why the heck does this keep being brought up? Minor gets stuffed regularly, doesn't have the vision you'd expect a 3rd year player to have, and his blocking isn't exactly Hartian either. They'll play more when they earn it in practice or on the field. McGuffie is getting a lot better on running on contact and showed it vs. ND so I think it's an exaggeration to say he always goes down on contact. Any back will go down on contact when they're hit a second after they get the ball.

To borrow a line from your post, anyone could've ran in for that TD that Minor did last weekend. Does it take away from what he did? No, he got the TD and hustled. But it was a very solid play from the OL and he didn't have to do anything extraordinary to get into the enzone.

Hard Gay

October 1st, 2008 at 10:06 AM ^

Minor is nearly doubling McGuffie's YPC, has just as many rushing touchdowns with about 1/7 of the carries, and both of his rushing touchdowns came on runs for 15 yards or more, whereas McGuffie's were under 5.  I think he should get more looks until he proves that he isn't more productive than McGuffie or Shaw or somebody else.

And as for the performance in practice, Sheridan was named starting quarterback and Warren the punt returner based solely on their practice performances, and obviously that did not turn out well.



October 1st, 2008 at 10:10 AM ^

And then they both decisively lost those spots when they proved to RR they couldn't make that practice performance translate.


Also, I want you to run Minor's and McGuffie's YPC stats again - take out Minor's run against Wisco because you are nuts if you think McGuffie wouldn't have scored on that play - and take out the times McGuffie has been tackled by one of his own lineman in the backfield, since Minor isn't going to be make those plays into anything either. Then tell me who has a better YPC. 


October 1st, 2008 at 10:21 AM ^

The idea is that Minor's run was luck of the draw. He happened to be in a play that was wide open. Do you really think McGuffie/Shaw/Brown/Horn/Grady wouldn't have scored as well? So is it realistic to point to that play, which is surely distorting his YPC a ridiculous amount, as an indicator of future performance?


I guess it comes to down to whether you believe another back would have made that play. I happen to think they would have. If you don't, ok. 


And I was wrong - you should throw out anytime Minor is stopped by his own line as well. I'm not saying you take out all negative plays, but eliminate the ones where Molk or someone is literally taking the RB down in the backfield. The fact they can't escape the crush of their own line being destroyed doesn't tell us much about how good of a back they are. 

Hard Gay

October 1st, 2008 at 10:28 AM ^

I see what you did there.

I feel that Minor's other TD run against Miami was the more impressive of the two, and that is the one that I don't see McGuffie or Shaw being able to pull off.


October 1st, 2008 at 8:52 AM ^

I do want to see these guys get more looks. I am a big proponent of a varied rushing attack, with varied meaning multiple threats back there. I will always point out a TD drive vs OSU in Bo's last game in 1989 as an example. Michigan marched down the field in a 13 plays--all rushing attempts--and five different guys carried the rock.

That said, to ehco what kgh10 said, there must be something going on in practice....especially with Carlos......or else these guys would get more reps.

I actually think we saw more of them this week, Brown, Grady and Minor all played throughout the second half. Grady and Brown contributing like they did after hearing for two weeks that we should banish them becuase of fumble issues, really made me happy.  Actually Grady has been featured in the backfield in each of the last three second halves since coming back from his suspension. My gut feeling is the coaches really trust him and like his "power game," more than the fans do.

Michigan will need across the board contributions like that in order to achieve their true potential this season.


October 1st, 2008 at 8:57 AM ^

Grady is getting quality playing time as the short yardage back and it's very well deserved.  Brown seemingly offers nothing over any of the other RBs, thus doesn't play much and is injured a lot.  Minor, well, I'm not a fan of Minor's at all and it's well documented.  I think he's the best pass blocker, and should take some handoffs while in just so the opponents defense stays honest, but come on, you can't seriously think he's deserving of many more carries a game.


Edit: I think people that insist the upperclassman play must be threatened by a younger coworker.  Either that or insist that "experience" is worth more than anything else, like being better at whatever it is the discussion is about (football, work, making widgets, w/e).  I mean seriously, Rich Rod went 60-26 at WVU with 2/3 star talent and stomped Oklaholma and Georgia.  I think he knows more about talent evaluation than you or me.  We're not at practice, we're not breaking down film.  I don't see how anyone can say with a straight face that he should play person x more based on anecdotal or nostalgic evidence.  It's mind boggling.


October 1st, 2008 at 9:52 AM ^

.....It had nothig to do with upper vs underclassmen.

I've mentioned this before, but I want to see all our quality guys play. And, get touches. I dont care what class they are in.......although I will grant from an Emo standpoint, i do like seeing upperclassmen who have not been in a starring role before, rise up and make plays.....Thomspon and Stewart's play on D this past Saturday, to me, is what really thrills me about college football....but, I digress.

I hated how Lloyd shortened his bench the back half of his career. And, I like how RR does not do that.

But, remember, when I say I'd like to see more carries for all our guys, that does mean they need to be featured. Minor being sent in the game in the fourth quarter in Sautrday, for example, and getting the call is exactly what I am want as far as not shortening the bench and letting all our quality guys touch the ball.

Hard Gay

October 1st, 2008 at 10:10 AM ^

"but come on, you can't seriously think he's deserving of many more carries a game."

I do seriously think he deserves more carries.  He's doubling McGuffie's YPC and has just as many rushing touchdowns with only 10 carries.  Why on earth would you not put him in more when he is that much more productive?  Ok, it's only 10 carries, but if he gets more looks and shows to be less productive than McGuffie or someone else, take him out.  I don't see what Rich Rod has to lose by putting him in more.


October 1st, 2008 at 8:56 AM ^

Shaw and McGuffie are just the type of backs that Rodriguez likes.  There's your answer. 

Also - Minor was banged up to start the year so he was behind and didn't get the reps, Brown has ALWAYS been injured and then McGuff dropped a bomb on ND.  But - I think you might see more Minor as we get into the Big Ten (11).


October 1st, 2008 at 12:54 PM ^

I really think that this is the biggest part of this argument.  Jackson and likely Rich Rod think that Shaw and Sam are the best backs, BUT I do think that the other backs should be worked in for situational reasons, including just a change of pace.  Shaw likes to just outrun people to where he wants to go and Sam likes to juke people out of their shorts.  That leaves a HUGE gap for a bruiser to fill in to change it up and soften the defense.  That is where Grady steps in as the Run-away beer truck.  He can pound people and he did look very impressive against ND on that run.  There is also a need for a good pass blocker who can run powerfully when called upon.  This is a great spot for Minor.  What I truly hope for is that, on one play, we can get Threet Matthews Stonum Grady McGuffie and Shaw or Minor on the field at once.  Then I think that we can motion those backs around, as Minor Shaw and McGuffie can all play the slot.  With that many weapons on the field it would give the defense fits as to who to cover.  Think about it, it makes sense


October 1st, 2008 at 9:57 AM ^

said he plans to play the junior rbs more but our time of possesion has been pretty bad and McGuffie has been the best looking back in games (and practice according to the coaches). Tough to get a bunch of guys carries when we are 3 and out and then throwing more to come from behind.

Jim Harbaugh S…

October 1st, 2008 at 10:03 AM ^

I really like the role/amount of touches Grady had in the Wisconsin game - that 4th and one conversion was huge.

I'm with Jamie Mac on the idea of spreading around some carries.  "I hated how Lloyd shortened his bench the back half of his career."  Agreed - if Perryand Hart were healthy they got all of the meaningful carries it seemed like.  I'm all for giving your best running back the vast majority of the carries - but a change of pace would be nice once in a while.


October 1st, 2008 at 10:08 AM ^

I always had a perception during the Perry/Hart era that they were just that much better than the other RBs on the roster. When the ugly Voltron like creation of Underwood/Rembert/Jackson tried to step in after Perry, it confirmed it.


Looking back, however, I wonder how much of that was just the fact the other guys never played. And when they did play, they were at the disadvantage of being tossed into the game cold and with little experience, and yanked after the first mistake. 


In conclusion, I like the current philosophy. Give it to the guy you think is best in that situation. I don't see how relying more on any one player would have changed our situation this year. 


October 1st, 2008 at 10:18 AM ^

How many snaps did we have in the first half against Wisco?  Only 24 plays.  And 9:47 of TOP.  In the second half we ran 41 plays and had 14:09 of TOP. 

Until we can control the football better, we will not see a great number of running backs. 


October 1st, 2008 at 10:27 AM ^

Dex's point is that McG suffered from some of the worst OL blocking I have ever witnessed.  In the first half against Wisco, there were men in the backfield everytime he got the ball.  Maybe Barry Sanders could have turned those plays into something, but no one on our team.

All he is suggesting is that the data be reviewed to eliminate outliers that greatly sway the results.

Minor seems to be getting the second most snaps among the RBs, trailing only McG.  And from my perspective, that seems about right.  


October 1st, 2008 at 11:02 AM ^

I know McGuff is a Carr commit, but I'd imagine the pros/cons that Carr saw in him are a little bit skewed from what RR saw as his potential.  I'd guess that McGuff would be riding the pine behind Jonas Gray, the 2008 ND commit that I'm pretty sure would have been a lock for Michigan had Carr stayed.  At 215 lbs from Detroit Country Day, running a 4.44 40, that dude would have been our all-down back the week after Grady/Minor proved incompetent to handle the rock.  Had Carr stuck around, what we'd have now is Gray or Grady in the Hart role, and Minor or McGuff in Minor's role from last year, with Ryan Mallett giving Carr seizures from the sidelines instead of Threet giving RR seizures (tho he's improved!).

You guys saw Hart at the game on Sat. You could put 3 McGuffie's behind that dude and all you'd see would be Hart.  There are simply all-down RBs out there who want the ball every play, and they fit systems like Lloyd's.  They accept scholarships so they can be all-down backs.  If they can't be all-down backs at School A, they'll go to School B.  Christine Michael is like that in the class of 2009.  Lloyd's penis would've rocketed off his body for a RB like that.  Enjoy that visual.


October 1st, 2008 at 11:23 AM ^

Somebody brought this up on another site, so I'll regurgitate it here:

 Minor has 10 carries this year.  Three of them have been "big plays."  One was the 34 yard TD against Wisconsin, one was the 21-yarder against Utah, and one was the 15 yard TD against Miami.

Anyone who puts out a long run/TD on 1/3 of his carries deserves more plays.  It's somewhat ridiculous that his production - and his work ethic, since he was a leader in the conditioning program - hasn't garnered more than 2.5 carries a game.


October 1st, 2008 at 12:51 PM ^

Mesko and shaw.

Shaw - 8.1 YPC

Mesko - 13 YPC

If your opinion is based on yards per carry, this is your backfield.

If you seriously think that McGuffie's YPC is in direct relation to his running ability, than you might want to check out other sports. It's very hard to gain yardage when the team that's trying to stop you is already 2 yards past the line of scrimmage ON YOUR SIDE.

Hard Gay

October 1st, 2008 at 1:11 PM ^

Mesko ran it off a fake punt, not quite the same as getting the handoff from the QB.  

I agree, Shaw needs to get more looks as well.  But I'm saying Minor is dealing with the same Offensive line as McGuffie and is seems to be more successful.  I'm not saying Minor should permanently replace McGuffie, but I he should get more looks to see whether he is just happens to get lucky with the blocking or whether he can actually consistently perform better.


October 1st, 2008 at 2:40 PM ^

as the original post. You quantified YPC. Those are the leaders in yds per carry.

And as for "veteran", I'm not sure Grady and Minor qualify as veterans, seeing how they have as much time IN THIS SYSTEM as the rest of the backs. Neither Grady or Minor have more than 170 carries tota(which is low for a season, not to mentio 2 or 3 seasons)l, because they played behind Hart. If "veteran" means being on campus, and a member of the team, then yes, that would fit.

What's the difference between one attempt and 10 ?

I'm pretty sure the guy that came up with the offense recognizes the personnel that he wants to run it.

Hard Gay

October 1st, 2008 at 3:26 PM ^

Threet nor Mesko play in the running back position.  The reason I brought up Minor's YPC vs. McGuffie's is because the play the same position.  Threet and Mesko got their runs from the defense not respecting their unusual running ability.  If you lined either of them up at tailback and gave them the hand off, they would not be the to leaders in YPC for the team.

When I said veteran, I was mostly referring to the fact that they have been on the team longer, not that they had so much more experience.  Then again, you can't say their amount of playing time amounts to nothing because of a new system.  Sure it's a new system, but the fact is Minor, Grady, and Brown had all seen playing time against D1 defense.  Just because it's a brand new system doesn't mean they completely forget what its like playing in a college game.


October 1st, 2008 at 1:00 PM ^

Here's what it boils down to man-with-the-moves (what?) - I bet Coach Rich Rodriguez has a pretty good reason for playing McGuffie over Minor. I don't know what all his reasons are, but I have a feeling he knows his shit.  That may change for upcoming games after seeing Minor make that long run, but he and his coaches feel that McGuffie is the best option for a majority of the carries, and that Minor can be successful when given a handful of touches a game.  So far, they've been right. 

It takes more than moves to coach a football team, man.