Who is the starting RB on this team?

Submitted by Dreisbach1817 on January 20th, 2011 at 7:22 PM

In my mind is the most important spring battle, but also the least talked about.  Last year the RBs were below average.  Michigan's offense got a lot of credit but we never developed a solid run-game from the TBs to complement Denard's runs.  I think it really hurt our spread sometimes when defenses could focus in on Denard.

It seems like Shaw and Hopkins fit the best in this new system, along with maybe Fitzgerald if he can stay healthy.  I really don't see Vincent Smith getting a bulk of carries in this offense.  Nor do I see a freshman coming in to make an immediate impact.  Hayes and possibly Rawls will be very very good down the road, but I am not sure if they can play right away.  I could be wrong, of course.  SDSU had a big time frosh RB, but it's a different league here.

This should be a very interesting position battle, esepcially with the conversion from the spread to the Gulf Coast.  And remember that SDSU's offense really opened up this year with the addition of that Freshman RB.

If it's Shaw, Hopkins, and Fitzgerald, who gets the edge?  Is it more by committee or does someone seize that job?

EDIT: Consensus is ..... it is WIDE open.



January 20th, 2011 at 10:33 PM ^

I think Shaw has to be the favorite going in because of his experience and style. I do agree though, those three will likely be the three competing for the job initially. Hopkins sort of serves a different purpose and won't likely be the "featured" back, btu he will get his too because no one else brings the hammer like he does. Of course, he could prove me wrong, lose a couple pounds, get faster and just be impossible to consistently stop. I'm a big fan of Hopkins but also relize he isn't a huge big play threat.

I do feel bad for Vincent Smith in this whole deal too. It seem to me like he will be squeezed out and I don't know where he goes from there.

los barcos

January 20th, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

forget our "insider" FormerWolv predicted cox to start the year.  obviously he was wrong, but fromerwolv was arguably closer to the action than all of us and still came to that opinion.

(not too mention the other rbs on the team gave a lot of credit to cox, too)


cox may still have a small sample size against weak competition, but im still eager to see what he can do if given another opportunity.  


January 20th, 2011 at 10:00 PM ^

I remember him saying just before the end of fall camp that Toussaint appeared to have taken hold of the No. 1 RB job -- then he got hurt, of course.

I don't remember the comment about Cox (not saying it didn't happen, just that I don't specifically remember it). But I do think Cox, Toussaint and Shaw will all be given plenty of opportunities to earn the starting job.


January 20th, 2011 at 10:11 PM ^

when in reality, he doesn't deserve to be on the field.  When you have 4-5 RBs in front of you see time on the field in a significant action, well you know that you're not good enough to see time on the field.  It's different if you're a backup but to be buried in depth chart as a 6th string RB, whole different story.


He may have the natural ability, but he doesn't have the mental side down pat.  If he knows the playbook and do his assignment correctly on a consistent basis, he'd be the starting back.


January 20th, 2011 at 10:22 PM ^

The numbers don't lie, my friend.  You shouldn't spend your entire career on the bench when you're averaging almost 9 yards a carry as a running back.

Denard doesn't know the whole offense and/or can't run it effectively.  He was taken off the field when we needed to pass late in the game against Iowa, right?  Didn't we almost completely give up on the I-formation in 2010?

Make sure that Cox can run 10 plays.  Put him in the game once in awhile, run a few of those 10 plays, then take him out.  You don't have to master the entire playbook to make an impact.  I don't see Ronnie Brown taking 5- or 7-step drops down in Miami.  Why?  Because he's the Wildcat quarterback, runs it effectively, and then goes back to his role as a running back. 


January 21st, 2011 at 5:23 AM ^

Not really.  Are you convinced that Vincent Smith is the best back?  I doubt it.  Are you convinced that Hopkins is?  I doubt it.  Are you convinced that Shaw is?  Maybe.  Are you convinced that Toussaint is?  Probably not.

I thought people on this board would understand the implications of the word "arguably" but I guess not.


January 21st, 2011 at 9:51 AM ^

I’m convinced that people can put “arguably” in front of just about anything so when called out they can refer to the fact they weren’t 100% sure about it.

In that case they are all “arguably” the best back on the team based on little evidence. Denard is arguably the best back because he had the most carries. Fitz is arguably to the best back because he averaged 10.9 YPC. And on, and on…

The Impaler

January 20th, 2011 at 8:02 PM ^

Alright I can finally say something now that I am a former manager, but Cox did not play because he did miss lots of assignments.  Michigan4Life has heard correctly.  He does have the most physical gifts out of any one of the rbs, but has lacked the mental side of things.  Magnus probably knows the most of any one of the posters on this site, probably because he has insider info.  However, he does not know everything.  I hope Cox can find a way to thrive in the new system, but if he continues to go left instead of right he will never play.  Thanks for listening.


January 20th, 2011 at 8:07 PM ^

Denard Robinson missed a lot of assignments, too.  But he still got on the field because, well, he was the best option.

Smith went the correct way...and fumbled the ball a bunch of times.

I'd rather have a dude go the wrong way once in awhile than hand the ball to the other team.


January 20th, 2011 at 8:41 PM ^

I agree.  I'm not arguing that a missed assignment is inconsequential.  It's surely a bad thing.  But Vincent Smith proved to be a fumbler, regardless of Rodriguez's insistence otherwise.

Like I said, I'd rather take a chance with a missed assignment than a fumble from a guy who's not even that great of a runner.


January 20th, 2011 at 10:41 PM ^

I disagree somewhat. A missed blocks consequences could be so much worse. If he missed and gave someone a clean shot at Denard from the blindside, that could be terrible. A fumble is just one play. The missed block could be the season. I know what your saying but those mistakes aren't equal in consequence.



January 20th, 2011 at 9:42 PM ^

...seems to like Carter a lot.  

Maybe they rave like this for every recruit (apologies if so), but some there are some pretty strongly positive statements from Andy Reid (but not that Andy Reid):

Overall review:

I don't really have much to criticize from what I see here. They have tape of him defending myriad routes, in different positions on the field, and he shows the ability to defend all of them 

He's only a three-star, but I don't see much to criticize. I think he may have flew under the radar a bit. It's a big get for Hoke and his new staff.

Player Comparison:

Based on natural instinct alone, I'm going to say Leon Hall (starting CB from 2003-2006). I know that's a very lofty comparison, because Hall is one of the best cornerbacks Michigan has had in recent history, but I see that kind of natural ability in Carter


Edit: Link: http://michigan.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1178818


January 20th, 2011 at 8:37 PM ^

I have frequent contact with a recent graduated Michigan RB, one who has worked out with Cox (and Barwis).  At the start of this past season I asked him who the most talented RB was, and he immediately responded Mike Cox.  Howeva.......  he did say that Cox had some issues when it came to learning the playbook.... I really hope he gets more chances to prove his ability this season.  I like what I have seen from him thus far.


January 20th, 2011 at 7:24 PM ^

I would say a mix of Cox, Fitz, and Hopkins.  I'm really hoping for Fitz to have a breakout year, but that would require him to stay healthy first.

Mr Mackey

January 20th, 2011 at 7:26 PM ^

I'd like to see Hopkins assume a Brandon Jacobs role, one that he seems able to fill out nicely. I think it should definitely be by committee unless someone pulls out as a clear #1, whether it's Shaw, Hopkins, etc. I completely agree that Smith shouldn't be getting many carries in this type of offense, but it's not up to me, and he could potentially surprise us.

I'm hoping that we have a 1,000 yard RB rusher for the first time since Hart (I think that's correct?), but I don't think it's going to happen with our RB by committee. Hopefully someone can step up


January 20th, 2011 at 7:31 PM ^

Maybe it is just me, but I hate the way he acts like Ray Lewis coming out of the tunnel every time he makes a play.  He could have a 10 yard run and hell throw the ball flex hard and start screaming like he just Denarded the entire defense.  I like his plays, but I'm so scared he is going to get us a penalty I would rather him do the Barry Sanders and just hand the ball to the ref.

In reply to by magnus_caerulus (not verified)


January 20th, 2011 at 11:18 PM ^

i didnt realize how many drops he had. he must've had a lot for you to make that assumption. 

but with his mixture of size, speed, power, toughness, and pass blocking ability, i think he is the most complete back on this roster.

In reply to by magnus_caerulus (not verified)

Blue in Yarmouth

January 21st, 2011 at 8:50 AM ^

Did you watch any games that he actually played in last year? I saw him get plenty of tough yards and one particularly that stands out. I forget the game but he had a long TD run that he finished off by dragging two defenders the final 8 yards into the endzone.

If you don't like Shaw that's fine, but don't try to disqualify him from the debate by making things up.


January 20th, 2011 at 7:34 PM ^

 I have always loved big running backs.  Maybe cause I grew up on Wheatley, Thomas, Biakabatuku, Perry ect. ect. so im loving Hopkins, but I hope it's a good mixture of small and large.  It is so hard to pick one or two cause we have so many and have yet to see the potential of a lot of them.


January 20th, 2011 at 7:30 PM ^

I know that Hopkins is not the fastest but I just really like the way that he plays. He is a tough bruiser of a back and I have always liked guys that could run like that. Adam Robinson at Iowa was like that and I enjoyed watching him.