Who do you want to win the RB position?

Submitted by cargo on August 10th, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Was wondering what everyone's opinion is.  Personally I hope Shaw wins it.  When healthy he in the past two years has been a strong runner with few mental mistakes.



August 10th, 2011 at 8:17 PM ^

Who do I think is the best back?  Shaw

Who fits the staff philosophy best? Hopkins/Cox

Who I think will start?  Committee

Who I want to win?  Rawls.... if a freshie wins the job, we gots a stud on our hands



August 10th, 2011 at 8:37 PM ^

Look at Borges' resume.  He ain't looking to turn us into Wisconsin.  Just because Coach Hoke uses the MANBALL buzzwords doesn't mean the staff wants to or is planning on using a big power back most of the time.  Borges loves guys who can make plays in space and catch the ball out of the backfield (as he just said in his most recent presser). 

This is starting to remind me of when people thought of Lloyd Carr as a boring "three yards and a cloud of dust" guy when in fact our offense threw the ball a ton, often had the top passing offense in the conference, and actually wasn't all that productive on the ground (especially after the first string tailback) during much of the second half of his tenure. 


August 10th, 2011 at 9:25 PM ^

That team ran it a lot because they didn't have to throw it (or do much of anything for that matter) on offense since the D was so good.  In the few games where we actually needed to score (first half against ND, OSU, and SC), nobody carried the ball except Hart and we were definitely a pass first team if/when we had success.

Also, you know, one year out of many and all that.


August 10th, 2011 at 11:27 PM ^

But when we threw, we threw it far. That's what matters.

Criticism of the passing game under Carr can't be reduced to number of passes thrown, but rather the type of passes thrown. In 2005 for example, we largely gave up on having vertical passing game, throwing flats all game long.


August 10th, 2011 at 9:59 PM ^

Staff philosophy probably wasnt the best word.

I feel the staff wants a back who will break arm tackles, something our ballcarriers didnt do a whole lot of last year.

Switching gears:

It will be interesting to see how much the staff changes blocking technique this year.  Outside zone was one of our base plays and a lot of the qb draw plays which were drive blocking technique played off of the spacing created by the outside zone-bubble-playaction combo.

If the staff keep spread concepts, I wonder how they will mesh with the pro-style parts of the offense.  I imagine we are keeping the qb lead draw and its PA counterparts, but will it be as effective without the threat of outside-zone keeping the LB's spread.  Will our ability to create a numbers advantage in the box by attacking horizontally dissapear? 

All of Rodriguez's plays complimented eachother.  Each base play had its counters to the defenses counter.  With Borges mentioning the keeping of some spread concepts from last year coupled with Hoke's insistence on abstaining from zone blocking, will we see a coherent and logical usage of spread packages.  Or just plays here and there.

Smart Football is a big proponent of picking a philosophy and sticking with it and having base bread-and-butter plays and 'constraint plays' off of that to keep the D honest and not cheating assignments to make plays.  Will a hodgepodge of different concepts compliment eachother well enough to work?  


August 10th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

Fitzgerald because i've always wanted him to realize his potential. Such a great combination of power and speed (when healthy)

so, in my dream scenario...

Touissant is main 1st and 2nd down tailback. 

Shaw is backup 1st and 2nd down tailback. 

Smith is 3rd down back

Hopkins/Rawls are fullbacks swinging out in the flats/blocking/short yardage.

Cox fills in for Fitz and Shaw, as well as Hopkins and Rawls - wherever he's needed most

Hayes redshirts because hopefully we can have dileo continue to be a reliable returner. Hell, if Hopkins and Cox can fill the fullback/short yardage gig, maybe we can have Rawls redshirt too. 

Geez, i really don't know anything, but i am DAMN excited for this season!!!


August 10th, 2011 at 8:26 PM ^

One of Michigan's biggest problems is that there's no "homerun" tailback.

In fact, it's been a while since Michigan had one (Chris Perry).  Mike Hart rarely went the distance as he was not particularly fast, just durable as hell with a ridiculous motor.

I think Fitz could be the homerun guy. And Shaw is a perfect TB in this offense - good mix of speed, balance and pass catching ability.  Also not to shabby blocker.



August 10th, 2011 at 8:37 PM ^

In 19 career carries, Cox has a 57-yard touchdown run, a 35-yarder, and a 24-yarder.  Add that to the speed he showed on his 68-yard TD run in the spring game (where he torched Marvin Robinson and Josh Furman), and I think you've got a homerun back right there.

Now...does that mean he's the best?  I think he is, but he might not be the best overall tailback.  But we've got a homerun threat.  He just hasn't seen the field much.


August 10th, 2011 at 9:04 PM ^

All those runs came late in games against Delaware State (his ypc in that game were the lowest of the four running backs who got carries), Bowling Green (Denard had 129 yards on 5 carries before leaving the game), and EMU (Carlos Brown had 187 yards on 13 carries before leaving the game).  By that standard, Toussaint's 61 yarder against BGSU (on a bum wheel) looks just as impressive.

Cox has a lot of athletic ability and I hope he gets a shot to prove himself in a "real game" before he leaves, but I don't think anything he's done so far warrants getting too excited about.


August 11th, 2011 at 6:01 AM ^

Of the stuff on touch the banner on cox. I could not agree more i think more of the problem why cox has not started is that rich rod did not recruit him. Second point i think sure there may have been problems in the past with the playbook but i really find it hard to believe seeing what i have saw from cox that he has not seen the field more. I am of the opinion that we can not keep trying to jam square pegs in round holes it wont work. I have watched michigan football religously since 1988 and seen alot of great to good running backs. I have to say i think cox fits the mold of the michigan back of old. I think what we saw in the spring from him is just the tip of the iceberg of what he is capable of. The dude flat ran over brandon herron for a 60 yard touchdown. He will start, thomas rawls will not start nor will he see more than 50 carries the whole year.


August 10th, 2011 at 8:47 PM ^

So he had a lot of hype coming in, but hasn't played due to injuries.

Anyway in the BG game he was still recovering from a knee injury and was wearing a brace.

Having said that, that game didn't show much of what he can do.  The two runs he had in that game he had huge holes for.

Mr Miggle

August 10th, 2011 at 8:51 PM ^

Touissant should be more of a home run back without that big knee brace he was wearing vs BGSU.

I think Carlos Brown was the biggest home run threat at RB we've had in a long time. It's too bad Shaw's career has had so many parallels to his. Hopefully Fitz will stay healthy and we'll see what he can do.


August 10th, 2011 at 10:35 PM ^

You're just being an ass. The problem with Cox has nothing to do with his physical ability to be the every down back. His problem seems to be either mental or maturity or both. That's a big deal, but I don't think Magnus is off base by saying Cox is more talented and better suited for this offense. Unlike Magnus, I think smith has the potential to do some damage in this offense.


August 10th, 2011 at 8:29 PM ^

Toussaint because I feel bad for him. The other guys have had the opportunity to take hold of the starting position in the past. Fitz never really got that opportunity until now because of injuries.

Hopefully someone emerges by September.


August 10th, 2011 at 8:31 PM ^

Sam Webb, IIRC,  said that even the other RB's said he's the most athletic of the group.  I don't know why he didn't see more PT under RR.

After that, probably Shaw.  He's put on muscle and with his speed he could be a great RB. 



August 10th, 2011 at 10:20 PM ^

I like Toussaint, but he wasn't full speed last year.  I think a lot of people are down on him because of what they saw, but he was probably only 80-85%.  Regardless, I think Cox and Shaw are better right now, at least until we see Toussaint at full speed again.  Who knows?  Maybe he won't regain what he had before the injury.

Full-time back:
1. Cox
2. Shaw
3. Hopkins
4. Toussaint
5. Rawls

Third down back:
1. Smith
2. Shaw
3. Hayes


August 11th, 2011 at 1:06 AM ^

I'm curious how you can make the argument that the coach who engineered (arguably) the best running game we've had in decades had no idea how to select the best RB. I'm not saying you're wrong, but it seems rather arrogant to assert that you know better than a guy who is renowned for his innovative offenses.

Of course, you'll always have the counterfactual on your side; it's easy to argue that Cox was obviously the better choice when it's impossible for anyone to argue against you since it is a hypothetical.

It seems to me the "dithering" with respect to the running back position has been the result of injuries and the (injury-aided) inability of a back to separate himself from the pack, rather than the coaching staff's ignorance.


August 11th, 2011 at 6:44 AM ^

a) The best running game we've seen in decades came from Denard Robinson, a quarterback.  In his three years at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez never had a running back gain more than 533 yards.

b) Vincent Smith was not a Michigan caliber running back.  He couldn't break tackles or long runs and averaged the lowest yards per carry on the team.  McGuffie was in the same boat.  Yet both played ahead of Brandon Minor, and Michael Shaw was a superior runner to Smith, too.  We all knew that Smith wouldn't be back to full speed for 2010 due to his ACL tear and that he might not be the best back when healthy, but he still got the majority of the snaps.


August 11th, 2011 at 9:31 AM ^

These are fair points, but Minor was reportedly suffering from a case of the fumbles in fall camp early in that season. I completely agree that Minor was the best back we've had (imagine him and Denard in the same backfield!), but he, like everyone it seems, was injured a lot. McGuffie was obviously not ready to play, but his issues were between his ears rather than physical ability. He showed flashes of being the perfect back for what RR wants.

Shaw and Toussaint have been habitually banged up, as was Carlos Brown. Cox (reportedly) has been very inconsistent, showing flashes of ability mixed in with not knowing where to be or what to do on any given play. Smith is obviously not a Michigan-caliber back, but like Kovacs, seems to do all of the little things right that makes him hard to completely displace.

Aside from Smith, all of these guys have (or had) the ability to be THE guy if they can stay healthy and be consistent, but the simple truth is that none of them have been able to do that. In my e-pinion, that leaves any coaching staff without an obvious choice. Rumblings from the current staff have basically reflected this, and that's even when everyone is healthy!


August 11th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

No offense, but I'm not interested in rehashing all the arguments about Minor in 2008.  I know I brought it up, but I'll just say that I'm not a fan of Rodriguez's running back choices and leave it at that.  I've written thousands and thousands of words about the RB situation over the last three years.


August 11th, 2011 at 6:17 AM ^

I have never disliked rich rod but he was a horrible at picking the starting tailbacks. He wanted vincent smith to be like steve slaton or noel devine. Guess what it hasnt worked out very well. The guy does not have homerun speed. Period he has been caught from behind several times. And that is without knee braces lol. Magnus i am liking you more and more to bad i live a thousand miles away otherwise sharing a beer and some michigan football talk would be right up my alley. I can say this I SURE HOPE WE CAN LAND BRIONTE DUNN HE IS THE ANSWER TO OUR 2014 RB QUESTION.