2011 Countdown: #43 Vincent Smith

2011 Countdown: #43 Vincent Smith


July 19, 2011
Vincent Smith (#2)

Name: Vincent Smith

Height: 5’6″
Weight: 180 lbs.
High school: Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #2
Last year: I ranked Smith #36 and said he’d be a backup running back.  He started 10 games, rushed for 601 yards on 136 carries with 5 touchdowns, and caught 15 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns.

I have no choice but to admit that I was wrong about Smith’s role in 2010.  He received a plurality of the carries given to running backs (quarterback Denard Robinson ran the ball most often), and finished with 4.4 yards per carry.  My frustration with the way running backs were deployed by Rich Rodriguez has been well documented, not least because from a purely mathematical standpoint, Smith was Michigan’s fourth-most explosive runner (behind Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michael Cox, and Michael Shaw).  Of the 21 players with over 100 carries in the Big Ten last season, Smith had the 17th-best yards per carry; he was #12 of the 16 Big Ten running backs.

Brady Hoke’s offense will likely put more of an emphasis on running the ball with power, and finally someone seems to agree with me in regard to Smith’s talents.  Hoke doesn’t seem to think that Smith is a feature back, either, which was evidenced by the seeming use of Smith as a third down-type back in the spring.  And for the record, I have no problem with that.  Smith is a third down back in almost every stereotypical fashion (good hands, willing blocker, quick and elusive in open space, etc.).  He could be very integral to the offense this season, and I wouldn’t mind seeing if he could help with punt returns.  Though he’s not extremely fast, his size and talents lend themselves to perhaps being solid but unspectacular in the return game.

Prediction: Backup running back; third down specialist

12 comments

  1. Comments: 21396
    MattC87
    Jul 19, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Smith should have been redshirted last year.

  2. Comments: 21396
    Anonymous
    Jul 19, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Should he have redshirted? Probably. But I'm not sure how much of a difference it would have really made. His final freshman numbers have fooled some people into thinking Smith is more than he is. But those numbers were an illusion. He averaged over 9 YPC against Delaware State, and 3.5 against everyone else.

    Smith is too small and too slow to be an every down back in the Big 10. He'd be a great 3rd down back though.

  3. Comments: 21396
    Anonymous
    Jul 19, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Magnuses gonna Magnus.

  4. Comments: 21396
    Jul 19, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I never really thought of Smith as a punt returner, but I guess Hemingway and Greg Mathews both filled that spot at some point and they don't exactly have burning speed.

    I'd much rather be solid and unspectacular than super fumble-y and sometimes good when it comes to returns.

  5. Comments: 21396
    Jul 19, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Smith's a decent RB, but using him as a returner is loco. I don't think he'd make my top 10 list for that job.

    Do you see any relationship between level of use for Smith and how frequently the shotgun is used? (i.e. if Borges runs shotgun more often than he said will we see more Smith) I ask because traditionally the shotgun is used more in 3rd down/passing situations (where you say Smith could potentially be used). Obviously, the Rodriguez offense was a different deal entirely.

  6. Comments: 21396
    BISB
    Jul 19, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    "Smith is too small and too slow to be an every down back in the Big 10."

    Seems to me that Michigan's all-time leading rusher was pretty small and not that fast. I'm not saying he's Mike Hart, but his type of game can succeed in this type of offense.

    As for the punt return thing, I only ask that he be able to HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BALL. If he can do that, I'd be fine with a 3 yard-per-return average.

  7. Comments: 21396
    Anonymous
    Jul 19, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Vincent Smith and Mike Hart are not even comparable. I am sick of hearing every short running back compared to Hart. Smith was a small shifty back who showed promise his first year. After the knee injury he didn't look the same. He didn't show much acceleration and wasn't all that great in space. Mike Hart was a beast who would run through tackles and never went down on first contact. Smith drops when a defender gets an arm on him.

  8. Comments: 21396
    Jul 19, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Smith's more like Jaime Morris than Hart. Not as good as either guy, obvs.

  9. Comments: 21396
    Anonymous
    Jul 20, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    @ BISB

    Mike Hart was 3 inches taller and 25-30 pounds heavier than Vincent Smith. There's a big difference between 5'6" 180 and 5'9" 205. Not every smaller back is Mike Hart.

  10. Comments: 21396
    andy
    Jul 20, 2011 at 5:09 AM

    Mike Hart also got to run behind the greatest left tackle in Michigan history. Nothing against Hart but i think my fat a$$ could have fallen forward for 2.5 yards a carry behind Long. The thing i never understood is why RR preferred to use the smaller backs in the spread when we all saw first hand what Minor could do in that offense. In his first year he used McGuffey over Minor and Brown when he obviously wasn't physically ready for the big ten. It felt like in year 2 he had to use Minor because he didn't have any other small backs to use, and last year he picked smith over other bigger and faster backs. It was just mind bottling at times

  11. Comments: 21396
    Jul 20, 2011 at 5:26 AM

    @ BISB 12:42 p.m.

    "His type of game" includes being unable to break tackles. Whether you're 5'6" and 180 lbs. or 6'2" and 240 lbs., when you can't break tackles in the Big Ten, you probably can't be a good running back. The comparison to Mike Hart is just kind of silly. The only things that are remotely similar about the two are height (Smith is 5'6" and Hart is 5'8") and willingness to pass block.

  12. Comments: 21396
    Anonymous
    Jul 20, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Smith is both small and very slow. He has great agility, balance and vision, but that only takes you so far. To me, his lack of speed is a lot more damaging than his lack of size. If he had legitimate 4.5 speed, he would be a legitimate Michigan-caliber starter. We had a lot of well-blocked plays last year that Smith took for six yard gains that a fast back might have taken to the house.

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