2017 Season Countdown: #36 Karan Higdon

2017 Season Countdown: #36 Karan Higdon


July 27, 2017

Karan Higdon (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Karan Higdon
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 189 lbs.
High school: Sarasota (FL) Riverview
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #22
Last year: I ranked Higdon #72 and said he would be a backup running back. He had 72 carries for 425 yards (5.9 YPC) and 6 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 73

Higdon was not very productive in limited time as a true freshman (1.7 YPC), so his 2016 season could be considered a bit of a breakout. He averaged 5.9 yards/carry and moved up the depth chart to #3, behind De’Veon Smith and Chris Evans. He had his first career 100-yard game against Rutgers (108 yards, 2 TDs), and followed that up with a 106-yard effort (1 TD) against Illinois the following week. In fact, in a string of three consecutive games in which he participated, he totaled 295 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns, with that third game coming against Penn State. Unfortunately, his production dropped off during the second half of the season, when he averaged just 2.2 yards/carry over the final six contests.

There have been rumblings that he was not 100% healthy going into the 2016 season, and maybe that explains the fact that he was lingering below 190 lbs. He showed an improved burst in 2016, but he still needs to break more tackles. With Smith graduated and Drake Johnson out of the picture, the depth chart seems to have cleared up a little bit and now it seems likely that Higdon will be the #2 guy going into the season. With Chris Evans slotted to be the starter, Higdon will be the second back in at times (with Ty Isaac likely rotating in regularly, too). If the offensive line can open holes for the running game, then Higdon has enough burst to make some chunk plays.

Prediction: Backup running back; 80 carries, 440 yards, 5 TDs

17 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 528
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Jul 28, 2017 at 1:46 AM

    No. Wrong. Terrible projection. I’ll have Thunder a personal bet that the yardage is over 750 yards assuming he isn’t out more than 1 game in the season. Here is why this is completely misguided.

    1. Evans is not a 30 carry a game back. It’s going to be a rotating back scenario where Higdon is going to get 12-15 carries a game. Evans is not going to be nearly as effective being worn down during the course of the season.

    2. The difference between Evans and Higdon isn’t as great as some people want to believe. Higdon is more of a homerun hitter.

    3. Higdon is also (imo) a tougher back. I see a very close performance between the two backs.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 28, 2017 at 9:30 AM

      Evans isn’t a 30-carry-a-game back, and neither was De’Veon Smith. Nobody at Michigan has seen 30 carries a game in a long time, if ever.

      If Higdon gets 750+ yards, it would literally be the first time in Harbaugh’s coaching career that the #2 back got 750 yards.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 528
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Jul 28, 2017 at 3:48 PM

        Good point. Very good point. That being said, Harbaugh had some high end big bruising guys at rb if I recall and I don’t think Evans fits that bill at all.

        I have watched Evans and I like him but his main strength is elusiveness and he can’t barrel forward against bigger/stronger defenders. I think Higdon gets plenty of carries on 3rd and 3, etc.

        Going to be interesting. Both of these guys need each other. I don’t think Higdon can stand up to game in and game out 20+ carriers either because he does plow ahead. I would personally like to see Isaac become the 3rd and 1 guy.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3849
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 28, 2017 at 9:18 PM

          I don’t think Evans fits that bill, no, but other than Toby Gerhart, he hasn’t had big bruisers. Frank Gore is 5’9″, I wouldn’t call De’Veon Smith a big bruiser, and Stepfan Taylor isn’t that big, either.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Jul 28, 2017 at 8:16 AM

    Higdon certainly has some real enthusiastic fans. One of my Cass Tech buddies, having been fed a beer, can give you 8-15 minutes on everything that is right about Higdon.

    I don’t see it. I think he’s a nice complimentary back that has a place in this rotation, but he’s far from anything approaching a feature back and probably gets the same 72 or so carries he got last year along with about the same yards.

    I think that at least one bigger back slides by him, and maybe two. Unless of course, he’s the guy who stands Devin Bush up when it goes live ….. I don’t think that’s happening.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 528
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Jul 28, 2017 at 3:45 PM

      We will see. I see a guy who can glide and is strong. If he was running behind Mike Hart then I think the 2nd back projection is about right but with Evans who is more of an elusive hybrid guy then I see Higdon splitting time. I would be surprised if it fell below 70/30 Evans/Higdon and expect it to be around 60/40.

  3. GKblue
    Comments: 359
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Jul 28, 2017 at 8:38 AM

    I tend to agree with all three of Michy’s points. Evans is quick, more the rabbit; Higdon seems a little stronger.

    As for the projections, thanks for them (always thought provoking) and most of the discussions that follow on after each. I’d like a little less of the mean girls crap within the debate club.

    Basic questions are what I keep coming back to in our running game. How will our OL develop as the season progresses? Does coach Harbaugh junior really have anything to offer with respect to pass blocking, reads, and timing to the hole? Does Isaac show up finally? Can Walker contribute? Samuals? Will Taylor become a new Vincent Smith? Can the pass /run games compliment and facilitate success of the other?

  4. DonAZ
    Comments: 523
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Jul 28, 2017 at 9:53 AM

    For what it’s worth, umbig11 over at MGoBlog indicates Higdon may be closer to #1 RB than some realize: “Honestly, Higdon is much closer to RB1 than expected. He may take it away altogether with a strong camp.”

    http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/fall-camp-0

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 28, 2017 at 10:37 AM

      Might this be another case of manufactured competition?

  5. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 28, 2017 at 10:34 AM

    IMO, this is about the right rank for a #2 back. Even if we got here by viewing the #3 back as a near-equal – which I don’t think will be the case.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 28, 2017 at 10:48 AM

      I like Higdon. He seems like a prototypical Harbaugh back in some ways. I do think the people expecting greatness are going to be disappointed. Higdon, like a bunch of other backs, could put up big numbers if running behind a strong OL. Michigan doesn’t have that, barring a miracle from Drevno/Frey.

      There is an opportunity for him to emerge as #1 if Evans falters or is hurt. Michigan needs a between-the-tackles complement and Higdon’s the best bet. We’ve seen 2 years of him though and we pretty much know what we have – a solid player, a reliable option, but not a play-making back. T

      The area for improvement to earn more snaps is probably blocking/blitz-pick-ups. This was something we saw improve pretty reliably under Fred Jackson with almost every back (at least the ones who played). Would be good if we could see it from Higdon/Evans/Isaac.

  6. JC
    Comments: 313
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Jul 28, 2017 at 10:41 AM

    Really like the spot for the #2 back, when there are 2 other backs who should be capable.

    I think a second back could have 700 or more yards depending on what they do when we’re up. If they throw in freshmen to get their feet wet, maybe not. I don’t care who is getting the yards, as long as we’re getting the yards.

    2016 rushing yards
    Smith – 846
    Evans – 614
    Higdon – 425
    Isaac – 417

    Really depends on the line development and how carries are distributed. I might freeze myself for the next 2 months just so football comes faster.

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 33
    Joined: 8/21/2015
    AA7596
    Jul 28, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    Regarding the RB projections: The numbers should be down this year. Not necessarily YPC, but the totals, especially those of the 3rd and 4th guys.

    Michigan had a *ton* of garbage time last year—they led the nation in scoring margin. That inflated the number of carries. U-M (44.2 carries/game) ran the ball basically as much as Ohio State (44.9), even though OSU’s pace was faster and Michigan’s OL was suspect.

    This year, it’s probably going to take longer to put teams away. And even though Michigan has been quite liberal about distributing carries, it’s a lot easier to do that when it’s 31-0 at halftime than when it’s 17-14. My guess is we’ll see more of whichever two RBs the staff trusts the most and very little of everyone else.

  8. Avatar
    Comments: 528
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Jul 28, 2017 at 3:24 PM

    I see a combo type tandem depending opponents and who is hot. Neither one of these guys are Mike Hart or Leroy Hoard or Chris Perry who can carry the ball 25 times a game.

    If I had to venture a guess I would say Evans/Higdon (60/40) between the two guys. I expect UM to rely on a good defense and play ball control with such a young receiving corp. I also expect better pulling guard play.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 28, 2017 at 3:53 PM

      This OL does not appear capable of supporting a ball-control offense. Going to need some quick passes, experienced WR or not. Lot on Speight’s shoulders.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 523
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Jul 28, 2017 at 6:01 PM

        Yeah, I tend to agree. My gut sense is this season is going to be high-variance: we’re talented, but young. Some games will be up, some games will be down. In the midst of it all is Speight, and we really need him to (a) stay healthy, and (b) keep a good head on his shoulders.

  9. Avatar
    Comments: 528
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Jul 28, 2017 at 9:15 PM

    For the first time in awhile I think this OL is going to be built more to run than to pass block. I believe it will take some time to gel but the better part of line to me is going to be inside and not the tackles. Losing Newsome will hurt and I just don’t see UM strong at the tackle spots along with questionable blocking TE’s for the most part.

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