Vincent Smith appreciation thread

Submitted by Ezeh-E on September 3rd, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Hopefully by now everyone has come back from their existential crisis over Alabama turning us into a nice pulpy drink.

It is also time to stop whining about referees, play-calling (Hoke said it best: we couldn't establish the line of scrimmage), and individual performances (Denard can't bathe in magical dilithium dust before every game he plays).

It is time to look at a few of the bright spots: bubble screens did occur, Denard connected on the long ball to wide-open receivers (instead of double-covered Hemingways), Will Campbell will be a solid-to-good player this year, and Vincent Smith kept us calm.

Yes, you heard me right, Vincent Smith.  I know he only gained 33 yards.  But when it came down to it, Fitz got in trouble, Rawls was either hurt or not ready for the big-time yet, and the rest of the options were true or redshirt freshmen the coaches weren't ready to throw into the fire.  So who stepped up to play running back against the most physical defense we'll face all year? 5'5" Vincent Smith.  Vincent Smith who was recruited to play jitter-bug back in the wide-open Rich Rodriguez offense.  Vincent Smith who tore his ACL playing when he was already injured against Ohio State.  Vincent Smith who has been Denard's lead blocker on so many quarterback ISOs.  Vincent Smith who has chopped down blitzing 240 lb linebackers play after play and year after year.  Vincent Smith who has to know his odds of making the NFL are slim and still puts his body on the line as a senior in every play of every practice and game.  Vincent Smith who, when Brady Hoke was looking more lost than I've ever seen him, was too busy to notice because he was putting up fingerguns to let the Alabama future NFL LBs know that they'd be chopped down on their blitz just like so many before them.

Vincent Smith will never work his way into our collective conscious the same way as Anthony Thomas, Tim Biakabatuka, or Mike Hart. He's not the same type of make you remember where you were when you saw him make the catch like Desmond Howard or Charles Woodson.  But if they had a way to measure "heart", he'd end up in consideration for a Legend's patch.  I don't know if it's just something in the Pahokee mud, but Martavious Odoms had the same fire, flying past Denard on the missed end around of his first collegiate snap to crack a 300 lb. defensive tackle at full speed without allowing his brain to realize the physical reprecussions of what he was doing.  I've never heard Vincent Smith complain. I've never heard him talk about himself.  All he does is what he's asked to do, with no fear, and no ego.  If anyone ever asks me what a Michigan Man is, I'll start talking about Vincent Smith.



death by trident

September 3rd, 2012 at 3:51 PM ^

That's fine and all, but you didn't touch on any of the really impressive things he has done.  You picked "he has heart", "makes fingerguns", and "can block a linebacker" as your reason to appreciate him.

Vincent Smith has a unique skillset that allowed him to be the only U-M player to "hat trick" in the modern era.  Running, throwing, and recieving a touchdown in the same game?  Unreal.  He is 9th all time recieving yards for running backs in U-M history.  I guess I just appreciate him in a different way.  Fingerguns are a great meme, but not the reason I respect this often misused talent. 

death by trident

September 3rd, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

You're right.  My original response was a knee-jerk reaction to your post.  The way I read it made it sound like Smith has never done anything amazing at Michigan.  He just has a big heart and is a little dude who does what he is asked.  That's great and all, but should pretty much be an expectation to set foot on the field at Michigan.  In that way, he isn't much different from anyone else.

However, he is different from anyone else on the team.  He also serves more of a purpose than described in your post.  He is a specialty player that when used correctly can sift through traffic in the open field.  He is a great threat on a screen pass.  Given the ball in the correct way, he is more than just some dude wearing #2.  Alongside of being a great blocker, being dutiful, and playing with heart, he can be an offensive weapon that is difficult to deal with.


September 3rd, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

As great as it is to have Fitz to really put defenses on their heals even when the O-line completely botches it Smith just has so much spirit.  I know we probably won't seem him play at the next level.  In NFL terms he's just not fast enough to make up for his size, but for us he's been wonderful, and will continue to be for the rest of the season.  His blocking, be it blitz pick up or run-blocks, are 2nd to none; regardless of physical stature.  As a result of such blocking his backfield chemesty with Denard has been wonderful and a source of comfort on tough 2nd and 3rd down passing situations.

Even if he never gives us an insane signature moment, we'll always have the throwback screens and the 240 pound linebacks stopped dead in the tracks by a tiny little mountain goat from Pahokee.  He warned them with his finger guns, but they just didn't believe him.  We believe.


September 3rd, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

Vincent Smith is fearless. Jeremy Gallon just makes plays. Dennis Norfleet is shifty and quick. Devin Gardner is a beast, once his route running is crisper, he develops some "moves" to get open and works on his hands & hand-eye coordination he'll basically be unstoppable.

Not as worried about the defense either. Had a bad game, 14 of those points were basically off INTs - one pick 6 the other INT in their redzone.


September 3rd, 2012 at 4:41 PM ^

Vincent Smith is fearless. Also, he is extremely reliable. It seems like every time we need somebody to step up and just play hard, he always does. I realize that his stats against Alabama were not good, and that his stats have never incredible, but the guy plays hard and runs to the best of his ability-that's all you can ask for in a football players.

Also, his blocking is awesome. He does all that he can to protect the QB, and that's a great thing to have.


September 3rd, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

There were a few players that stood out this past Saturday night. Vincent was definitely one of them. When others looked just plain lifeless, Vincent gave his all every play.

I have no problem rooting for him. Others could learn a lot from his attitude.


September 3rd, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

His numbers don't get talked about too much because Denard and Fitz were the most prolific rushers in 2011, but right below them is Vincent Smith. He even garnerd 11 catches for 149 yards  last year and returned kicks now and again, including 5 at UTL on his way to nearly 130 all-purpose yards in that game, as I recall. He's doesn't bear the brunt of the work in any particular role, but when asked to play that role, he's done it very well and even comes up big on meaningful downs. A hard worker with who plays hard to boot, and like someone said, he seems "fearless" when he is running. He may not have typical RB size, but you would want someone with these traits on  your team, I suspect. 

Further, in the spirit of being a well-rounded Michigan player, he also does this:


September 3rd, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

This is getting annoying... I'm going to make a thread and say the exact same thing you said in about 2 hours...just give it a different title....enough with this

snarling wolverine

September 3rd, 2012 at 5:28 PM ^

He's a terrific third-down back: he's very good in pass protection (much better than you'd expect for a guy his size), has good hands, and is a good runner in the open field.  

He's not a great every-down back, but unfortunately for us, Fitz Toussaint made a selfish decision (driving under the influence) that took him out of the picture, and I'm not sure any of our other backs were ready for prime time.  


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:46 PM ^

He is the toughest player on the team.  I have alot of respect for Vince Smith.  I'll never forget his triple threat game against minnesota last year.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:27 PM ^

My assessment of Rawls is he still thinks he's in high school trying to run through people. He'll be fine once he figures part out. It'll be refreshing to get Fitz back, but thank you Vincent Smith for giving all you have and had for Michigan

matty blue

September 4th, 2012 at 9:43 AM ^

i LOVE vincent smith.  absolutely love the guy.  he's one tough sonofabitch.

but, like...oh...EVERY PLAYER ON EARTH, he has limitations.  if you put him in the right spots, he can help this team.  he HAS helped this team.  get him in some space, flip him into the wings on swing patterns, keep him in to block (well, obviously), he can be terrific.

but if you ask him to do things he can't do - get to the edge on his own, run between the tackles - well, he's not going to be successful.  and neither will the offense.  that would be like putting will campbell on the edge rushing the passer, or your middle linebacker right behind the nose tackle...or asking the best runner on your team to go under center, or be a dropback passer.  #diealborges