Michigan Football: Spring Game Analysis of the Running Backs
The running backs looked decent at the Spring Game. They did not power people away up the middle, not against the Michigan first team, and likely not against any other premium defenses without significant improvement. When given a crease the guys found the second level, but excepting Ty Issac, no one found that deceptive (for Michigan) third level. Michigan worked a nice little counter off of a loaded formation and about every back found the seam. Ty Issac looks like he does not run and then he breaks that crack off tackle and boom, into the end zone he goes. Ty is better than some think, and while he may not hit many 70 yards, and struggles against tough fronts, he can do damage.
Below are some thoughts on the backs from previous material.
The running back group lost one contributor, DeVeon Smith, a true Michigan type of guy who played his tail off for four years. The rest of the running back stable returns. Each has individual positives. Karan Higdon hits the hole very well and has put on muscle in the off season. Karan is similar to some of the recent Indiana backs, except he has not shown the breakaway speed or ability to break the edge.
Chris Evans has wiggle and promise. He had a decent year in 2016. Chris is said to be above 200 pounds by some, but is he really big enough to show the strength of Higdon? Evans could benefit from zone blocking if he shows the vision and acceleration to break the edge on the cutback that zone outside presents. Like all of Michigan’s backs, his the level of success will be directly related to the success of the offensive line.
Again Ty Issac is a real possibility. He appears to be the ultimate jack of all trades and master of none. There are times Issac looks good for a play or two and then he is pulled. There are times he avoids contact or appears to run a little soft. This is his last go around and the belief here is that the staff will give him some early opportunities and then make a decision as to how much he fits into the eventual rotation.
It seems that Kareem Walker is out of the doghouse. If nothing else, last year should have made it brutally clear that playing time will only be obtained by hard work and beating out other backs that are now ahead in the rotation.
Drake Johnson is again the wild card question mark, simple as that.
Michigan has a good set of backs, workman like backs, but perhaps only Chris Evans has the ability to get to the third level and bust some big gains. Of course, Michigan’s backs must get enough blocking to enter the second level or this discussion is moot.
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