Michigan Football Team 135 Preview: Running Backs

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

A strong run game has long been one of the traits that have defined some of the best teams that the Michigan football program has ever put on the field, and even if it doesn’t seem as if this current group has the ability to live up to those standards, that could prove to be false.

Talent is not the issue with what the Wolverines have in their backfield. There are a ton of factors that have played into why their run game has not been as strong the last few seasons, but this is a position group that needs to do more than it did last season.

If you want to chalk up their poor offensive performances to how the offensive line has played, there is not an issue with that. If you want to blame former offensive coordinator Al Borges for the way plays were called, well, that’s fair too.

What kind of impact will the new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have on this group? Will the run game be what carries the offense this year? Follow me through the jump to find out.

Nussmeier will be simplifying the run game and the offense should feature more north and south playcalling. While there may be a change in philosophy in that area, the Wolverines have the guys to get it done.

When breaking down the running back position and who will have the biggest impact in this area, sophomores Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith are the two guys that will fight it out for the biggest workload.

Just because a player is named a starter doesn’t mean that the guy behind him will not get any reps. Both Green and Smith will be getting a ton of carries.

Based on performance last season and throughout this spring, I would give the edge to Smith as the guy who is the better of the two backs right now. From what I’ve seen, he seems more decisive and finds the opening faster than Green.
There is still a ton of time until the season hits, but that’s the one-two punch that the Wolverines will feature.

As far as guys behind those two on the depth chart, Drake Johnson and Justice Hayes will get some carries from time to time. I’m not exactly sure what role they’ll have in the offense, but they both have contrasting styles to the guys above them on the depth chart.

Johnson could be a sleeper at the position. The staff was high on him last season prior to his ACL injury early in the year.


As is the theme with many of the position groups on this team, the talent is there for this to be a strength of the team if everything comes together.

For the Wolverines to be successful. On offense, they have to lean on the run game a bit in order to balance things out and open up the passing game. Obviously, the development of the offensive line will be a major factor, but its time for this group to produce after a poor showing last season.

Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.