Blake Corum, Wolverine

Blake Corum, Wolverine


June 27, 2019
Baltimore (MD) St. Frances RB Blake Corum (image via 247 Sports)

Baltimore (MD) St. Frances running back Blake Corum publicly committed to Michigan on Thursday afternoon. He picked the Wolverines over offers from LSU, Maryland, Ohio State, and USC, among others.

Corum is listed at 5’9″ and 180 lbs. He recently ran a 4.44 forty. As a junior in 2018, he ran for 1,415 yards, caught 280 yards worth of passes, and scored 20 touchdowns.

RATINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 82 grade, #18 RB, #173 overall
Rivals: 4-star, 5.9 grade, #11 RB, #135 overall
247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #32 RB, #454 overall

Hit the jump for more.

Corum grew up in Virginia, started high school at St. Vincent Pallotti in Maryland, and then transferred to St. Frances; he had fifteen offers by the time his freshman year was over. Corum was offered by Michigan, along with a bunch of other St. Frances products, probably in part because former Michigan staffer Biff Poggi is now the head coach at St. Frances. Not that those players weren’t talented, but Michigan doesn’t always zero in on one school like they have with this one. Corum took an official visit to Ohio State in mid-June and followed it up with the Ann Arbor visit a week later. The Wolverines now have four commitments from that one school, including offensive tackle Micah Mazzccua, linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green, and linebacker Osman Saveage.

You may consider this be a death knell for Corum’s career, but I really like him as a prospect. He’s built low to the ground, has good short-area change-of-direction skills, and has good long speed. He shows the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and return punts, and he’s a tough runner who can shake off arm tackles.

The guy I think of when watching Corum’s film is former Maryland running back Ty Johnson, a guy I had my eye on for a few years who went in the 6th round to the Detroit Lions. Johnson’s worst yards per carry in his career was the 6.4 he averaged in 2017, and his highest was 9.1 in 2016. He ended up listed at 5’10” and 212 lbs., so Corum has a way to go weight-wise before he gets there, but he can do that and maintain his speed if he does his nutrition and weightlifting right.

As mentioned above, Michigan now has four commits from St. Frances in the 2020 cycle. Corum joins new commit Eamonn Dennis as potential running backs in the 2020 class, though Dennis could end up in the slot.

TTB Rating: 83 (ratings explanation)

58 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 164
    Joined: 9/15/2015
    ragingbull
    Jun 27, 2019 at 5:47 PM

    great pickup. i struggle to find a comparable michigan RB in recent memory given his size, skillset, etc. theyve recruited some smaller, quicker RBs over the past 20-30 years but its usually been the bigger dudes actually earning carries and impacting games. he looks a little quicker than hart, and hart was more of a power back in terms of style (though obviously we all hope corum proves as effective in the hole and pushes hart in the production category – and ball security-wise). maybe jamie morris with his stature, quickness and cutting ability?

    bottom line, hes an intriguing prospect with a skillset michigan hasnt used much. should be effective running zone behind the big boys and also in the pass game. always nice to have a back able to catch checkdowns and consistently beat a defender in the open field (if his ability translates). hell be interesting to watch as he develops and enters the S&C program but a promising addition

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5445
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jun 28, 2019 at 3:28 PM

      “its usually been the bigger dudes actually earning carries and impacting games”

      Karan Higdon was 5’10 190.
      Fitz Toussaint 5’10 185
      Chris Evans 5’11 185
      Christian Turner 5’11 185
      Tru Wilson 5’11 185

      All technically bigger than Corum 5’9 180, but not by much. The backs that HAVE been significantly bigger are a whose who of disappointment.

      Kareem Walker 6’1 220
      Ty Issac 6’2 215
      Derrick Green 6′ 220
      Kingston Davis 6’1 225
      Haseem Haskins 6’1 210

      The only bigger back that panned out was Deveon Smith and he was still pretty short (5’11 215) and maybe if you want to stretch you can include Drake Johnson (6’1 205).

      I would say that Corum’s size is pretty typical of the backs producing at Michigan. The overwhelming majority of dudes earning carries and impacting games are coming in at 5’11/190 or less.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3317
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jun 28, 2019 at 7:31 PM

        Ty Isaac’s career stat line: 232 carries for 1,406 yards (6.1 yards/carry), 10 touchdowns; 11 receptions for 127 yards (11.5 yards/catch)

        But of course you include Christian Turner (career: 20 carries for 95 yards, 4.75 YPC, 0 TD; 1 catch, 16 yards) as someone who “gets carries” and “impacts games.”

        De’Veon Smith was a big back. If you come out of high school at 215 lbs. and play your senior year at 228, you’re a big back.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5445
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jun 29, 2019 at 9:45 AM

          You didn’t disagree with anything I said. I said Smith as a “bigger back”.

          This is a list of similar sized players vs big backs. Look at the 5 big guys and the 5 little guys. Add up their stats.

          It will be fun to repeat the exercise after 2019. Maybe Charbonnet can change the distribution. Maybe he’s not the next Green, Walker, or Issac — guys who never came close to your expectations for them. Given the talent at the other 10 spots, I think there’s a pretty decent chance it happens.

          I’ve always said that backs with long speed and big YPC are more valuable when the OL is blasting open big holes. Some teams are better off with A-Train, others with Mike Hart. Guys like Hart and Smith are more important when you need your RB to make his own yards. Guys like Wheatley and Thomas are more valuable when you need a source of big plays.

          Still, past history says Turner or Wilson-sized players will get more playing time and that’s where I’d put my money.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3317
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jun 29, 2019 at 12:59 PM

            Except here’s the actual top 5 list of productive backs vs. unproductive backs:

            PRODUCTIVE
            Karan Higdon was 5’10 190 (small)
            Fitz Toussaint 5’10 185 (small)
            Chris Evans 5’11 185 (small)
            Ty Isaac 6’2 215 (big)
            De’Veon Smith 5’11” 228 (big)

            UNPRODUCTIVE
            Kareem Walker 6’1 220 (big)
            Tru Wilson 5’11” 185 (small)
            Kingston Davis 6’1 225 (big)
            Hassan Haskins 6’1 210 (big)
            Christian Turner 5’11 185 (small)

            I’m not really sure Haskins and Turner should be even included on these lists, since they just finished their freshman year (and Haskins spent much of it at linebacker), but this is a more honest list.

            40% of the productive backs are big guys, and 40% of the unproductive backs are small guys. It’s a much narrower margin than what you’re implying.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 54
              Joined: 10/3/2015
              UM2013
              Jun 29, 2019 at 6:32 PM

              Ha, Lank isn’t going to like this post. The inclusion of Isaac in the “Productive” section is going to draw some ire i’m sure.

              For the record, I agree that Isaac was highly misused – I had more confidence that he would create yards than any other RB on the roster. For some reason people seemed to always take issue with “the way” he was generating those yards (i.e., he doesnt run yard enough, etc.)

              • Thunder
                Comments: 3317
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Jun 29, 2019 at 6:38 PM

                Yep. They assumed that because he was a big back, he should be running over people. And if he wasn’t running over people, then 6.1 yards per carry just wasn’t good enough.

                Personally, I don’t care how you gain yards, but the guy who gains the MOST yards is going to get the ball the most.

                • Avatar
                  Comments: 54
                  Joined: 10/3/2015
                  UM2013
                  Jun 29, 2019 at 6:45 PM

                  How much “favoritism” for lack of a better word, do you think there really is in CFB? Do you think Isaac’s lack of playing time was due to his perceived lack of “toughness”? I legitimately couldn’t understand his lack of playing time over the course of his career. The Iowa game in 2016 comes to mind immediately – he seemed to be the only RB gaining consistent yards and the playing time was just never there. I’m not a football coach so I’m not familiar with what else goes into playing time decisions beyond “this guy is consistently gaining more yards in the actual game”. I have a hard time believing that Harbaugh is SO stubborn that he would prioritize “toughness” over production, but I cant come up with a better explanation.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 4:22 PM

                  Isaac had 1 carry against Iowa.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 5445
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 08, 2019 at 3:55 PM

              haha. Yes, a guy who graduated is generally more productive than a freshman. And a 5-star recruit is generally going to get more chances than a walk-on.

              There is nothing more ‘honest’ about this comparison.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 5445
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 08, 2019 at 3:57 PM

                Which, as a reminder, is grouping people together by size (nothing remotely dishonest there) in response to the assertion that bigger = more productive.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 3:59 PM

                  Trying to turn this into Ty Isaac vs some freshman and a walk-on is comedy.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 4:00 PM

                  As is you using Deveon Smith (a player you spent years badmouthing) to try to support your argument.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 5:55 PM

                  Regarding my use of De’Veon Smith, that’s how bad your argument is. You purposefully excluded him from your “big back” list even though in the 2017 draft (the one he was eligible for), he would have been the 7th biggest back out of 26 drafted, behind D’onta Foreman, Joe Mixon, James Conner, Samaje Perine, Devante Mays, and Elijah Hood. For some reason you felt the need to qualify his production separately, while choosing not to qualify your inclusion of someone like Christian Turner (20 career carries) as a productive back or Kingston Davis (one season at Michigan before transferring), among others, as being unproductive.

                  It’s cherry-picked data. If you want to make a sound argument, use some sort of reasonable rationale or parameters to definite it.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 5:36 PM

                  What’s dishonest is your choice of whom to include in your list.

                  I could say short quarterbacks are all good because of Doug Flutie, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson, but tall quarterbacks are bad because Dan McGwire, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler. It’s a dishonest argument, because I cherry-picked the data.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 6:39 PM

                  RE: Cherrypicking:

                  1. Turner and Wilson were mentioned because they are the top 2 returning backs and in-line for a starting spot.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 6:40 PM

                  2. I specifically mentioned Smith as a bigger back. You keep ignoring that for some reason. I literally said “bigger back”. I spent 2 years saying good things about the guy and defending him, but he is 5’11, so while he has weight he is not the kind of ‘big’ that gets 80s nostalgia junkies excited while watching guys run around without pads.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 6:40 PM

                  3. I split players into 2 categories. A) 5’11 or less and 185 to 190 pounds. and B) 6 foot or more and 210 or more. Tall and heavy vs short and light. Similar to Corum and not. That’s not cherry-picking. That’s identifying 2 groups based on physical profile. Then I listed notable backs in between (Smith was short and heavy, Johnson was tall and light).

                  I probably missed somebody but these are the players that came to my mind when I thought of recent notable Michigan backs who fit these physical categories.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 6:41 PM

                  4. If it makes you feel better to ignore height in favor of weight go ahead. Let’s ignore Haskins and put Smith in the bin and compare then.

                  The point still stands! The big guys have disappointed, with Smith as the one notable exception — and he’s the guy you wanted to see less of every week, and the little guys have not. We’re including a walk-on for crying out loud!

                  Michigan, counter to the OPs point, tends to give the ball to sub 6′ backs and most of them come in weighing less than 200 as recruits. This is not even worth arguing about it is just fact.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 6:41 PM

                  5. This isn’t even that recent of a development. Jaimie Morris was the most productive back of the 80s. Biakabatuka was short (6′) and only reached 215 when he got to the NFL – smaller for his era and probably came in under 200. Mike Hart beat out a bunch of 5-star backs who disappointed.

                  This is a natural thing — the big guys are going to draw more attention than the little guys and get a bunch of hype and accolades because of it — but it’s not actually beneficial for production unless you have the skills to make something of it.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 6:43 PM

                  6. If you want to make this about Ty Isaac and him putting up stats in fluff situations well OK we can have that argument for the 115th time if you want but the fact remains he always sunk on the depth chart. For good reason.

                  You can total up the stats all you want but guys like Drake Johnson and Tru Wilson were trusted to get the ball against Ohio State and guys like Isaac and Green were not. Because — they are not good running backs.

                  If it was about Michigan coaches misdiagnosing talent those guys would have done better elsewhere, but that’s not what happened is it? Isaac was an end of rotation guy before and after Michigan — at USC and in the semi-pro league. Green was an end of rotation guy at Baylor (or wherever he went).

                  Did they get the short-end of the stick? No – it was the opposite. These guys got chance after chance after chance, because some coaches, just like some fans, are enamored with size and like to base their analysis on how people look in highlights.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 8:07 PM

                  I’m not making it about Ty Isaac. There are numerous people that I switched around/re-labeled from your lists, and he just happened to be one of them. He was much more productive than your guy who “gets carries and impacts games,” Christian Turner. Those are just two of the several faults in the logic you applied here.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 7:05 PM

                  If you are talking about playing RB:

                  Blake Corum’s size is an asset.

                  Ty Isaac’s size is a liability.

                  Effective RBs avoid tackles. Being longer, wider, or heavier doesn’t help that in the majority of situations.

                  You do probably need to be a certain threshold size to not have your bones crushed by a DL, ball stripped by a DB, or be caught from behind instantly by LB, but being in the 5’9-6′ range is generally the ideal physical profile for the position.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 7:43 PM

                  Size is not an asset or a detriment.

                  Performance is the most important factor. This is the same argument as “how” running backs gain yards, a.k.a. running over people vs. running past people vs. making people miss. It doesn’t matter if you’re 6’2″ or 5’9″; if you gain yards consistently, you’re better than the guy who doesn’t gain yards consistently. Period.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 8:15 PM

                  You’re also wrong on your last point — it’s about who makes the plays WHEN IT COUNTS. It’s who helps you WIN. Who managed to make a long run against Bowling Green or Delaware State when the game was already decided is amusing maybe but not meaningful to season outcomes.

                  Drake Johnson and Vincent Smith will always be a more impactful players than Ty Isaac and Mike Cox, no matter how many times you trot out the YPC stats. Those guys were in when it mattered because they were better football players, even if they were shorter, slower, whatever.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 8:20 PM

                  I’m not even going down that rabbit hole.

                  I’ve already said what I need to say. Christian Turner, Ty Isaac, and others shoot holes in your argument. It’s a bad one. Hassan Haskins didn’t do much as a freshman? Neither did little guy Fitzgerald Toussaint, but somehow Haskins is unproductive while Toussaint is productive. The list doesn’t work.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 8:25 PM

                  I must have missed the part where I said Turner was more productive than Isaac.

                  I made 2 groups and invited you to compare the results. The small group outperformed the big group. Smith or no Smith. Turner or no Turner. Isaac or no Isaac. “Cherry pick” differently, same conclusion.

                  You’re quibbling over details, making up arguments about methods, all the while dodging the point. Except where you agreed with it:

                  Corum’s size isn’t a problem.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 08, 2019 at 8:45 PM

                  You always bring up Vincent Smith as being in there when it counted, but 16% of his career rushing yards came against FCS teams, and 19% came against MAC schools. That’s over 1/3 of his career yards coming against decidedly inferior conferences/teams. Against Power 5 teams, he ran the ball 179 times for 698 yards (3.9 YPC).

                  Vincent Smith is like the definition of “average” or “below average” starter in my TTB Ratings. You could throw virtually any FBS running back into his role, and you’d get the same production – and that includes Walker, Isaac, etc.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 1:59 PM

                  Yes, Smith was an average back as a runner. His best attribute was his skills in the passing game. Which is pretty dang important.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 2:38 PM

                  I bring up V Smith because he was chosen ahead of the speedier option with fancier YPC that you argued for (Shaw). This decision was made by two different coaching staffs with very different philosophies. Hoke and Rodriguez both saw value in Smith beyond his YPC. That won him playing time over guys who might have been better pure runners and probably would be better kick returners, corner backs, or wide receivers.

                  That result echos the D.Smith/Isaac situation. Same argument (look at YPC in a backup role, ignore reliability/blocking/etc because anybody can surely do that). Same result.

                  The coaches are making decisions that don’t jibe with the arguments being made on message boards. Not just here but elsewhere – where people wanted to put Deveon Smith, a fringe NFL caliber RB, at FB to make room for…guys who aren’t that.

                  I don’t think the coaches are dummies. Yes, they make mistakes sometimes, but when the same line of thinking gets trotted out over and over and it gets refuted at every level (multiple coaches, multiple teams, multiple leagues) it’s probably time to reconsider the argument that YPC over a game or even a season is meaningful differentiation for overall RB ability.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 5445
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 08, 2019 at 8:07 PM

                Yeah, that’s not the point and you know it. A 6’6 300 guy is more likely to block a rushing end than a 5’11 120 pound guy. A 6′ 170 pound dude probably runs faster than somebody who is 5’9′ 275.

                Physical profiles matter. There are always outliers — and outliers are fun — but NBA execs aren’t out hunting for the next mugsy bouges and NFL teams aren’t trying to find the next Harold Carmichael.

                The point here is not that there are physical prototypes, because obviously there are, but that the physical prototype is being misidentified here.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 5445
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 08, 2019 at 8:34 PM

                haha. It’s not a rabbit hole to remove freshman from the debate.

                If you want to talk about them Turner is clearly ahead of Haskins right now. Maybe that will change but I doubt it.

                Wilson is more productive than Walker.

                D. Smith was/is better than bigger faster backs like Isaac and Green.

                V. Smith was a better player than Mike Shaw.

                This here is just reality.

                • Avatar
                  Comments: 54
                  Joined: 10/3/2015
                  UM2013
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 10:55 AM

                  By what measure was Smith a better player than Isaac? You seem to use playing time as the sole measure of effectiveness – there have been plenty of instances of less productive players playing over more productive backups when you look across CFB and the NFL. I’m not going to cede that Smith was the better player solely because Harbaugh decided to give him the ball more, particularly when the results were never there despite the frequent attempts.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 1:55 PM

                  Playing time matters more than YPC.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 1:56 PM

                  Smith also played more than Isaac in that semi-pro league. Same as at Michigan – Smith is the better RB. Asserting otherwise is just putting on blinders and refusing to admit you were wrong.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 54
                Joined: 10/3/2015
                UM2013
                Jul 09, 2019 at 10:40 AM

                Isaac had one carry for a 7 yard TD. Smith had 12 carries for 28 yards. Kind of makes my point – Issac literally did all that he could with his one carry and that didn’t earn him any additional PT despite Smith being clearly ineffective?

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 1:54 PM

                  No one carry doesn’t prove your point at all. The coaches have more than 1 carry to go on. They have countless practice reps and by this point they knew very well who they could trust to produce in the offense and who they couldn’t. Iowa is a good run defense.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5445
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jul 09, 2019 at 2:15 PM

                  Isaac never finished a season as a starter or even a top 3 backup anywhere. Not at Michigan, not at USC, not in the pros. The NFL has no interest in him.

                  Smith repeatedly beat out Isaac at Michigan, was a meaningful contributor in the pros (same league as Isaac) , made an active NFL roster a couple times and is floating around NFL practice squads.

                  At what point do you stop referencing one context-dependent stat when many dozens of pro coaches and elite college coaches are all saying the same thing?

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 248
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Jun 28, 2019 at 1:18 AM

    When I watch film I typically pick a few things that he may lack after the first few highlights. I knew the speed, quickness and vision were there early. What I wanted to see was toughness, hands, ability to break tackles and blocking. I didn’t see much of the blocking other than a couple blind side hits. The other questions were answered. He does break tackles by keeping his legs moving and using his vision. He caught the easy passes. Blake also lowered the shoulder when needed. Can he take on blitzing LBs? Can he keep his quickness and speed with added weight? A few questions that aren’t deal breakers for a commitment. I’m pleased to see UM taking a smaller quicker back to complement their current enrollees. TTB’s rating seems fair at 83. He’s not going to be an everydown back but can make a juke step and take it to the house!

    • GKblue
      Comments: 319
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      GKblue
      Jun 28, 2019 at 5:41 PM

      Juice have you caught this info on Corum? I first saw it in GBMW and maybe MGOBLOG.

      • GKblue
        Comments: 319
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        GKblue
        Jun 28, 2019 at 5:42 PM
        • Avatar
          Comments: 248
          Joined: 12/19/2015
          Extrajuice
          Jun 28, 2019 at 9:34 PM

          I hadn’t seen that. Some good stuff especially the blocking at the end. I still question his frame but, regardless, great vision and heart. I’m looking forward to seeing him in a maize and blue jersey. Thanks for posting.

        • 17years
          Comments: 275
          Joined: 2/6/2018
          17years
          Jun 29, 2019 at 10:58 PM

          Watching that video, it seems he will be an awesome fit with Ed Warinner!

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5445
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 09, 2019 at 2:27 PM

    Back to the point of my argument which I will repeat here for clarity.

    Blake Corum’s size is not a problem. Over the last decade of Michigan RB history says that backs closer to his size produce while the big backs disappoint. We can go year by year and the smaller backs keep winning out, despite expectations to the contrary. The coaches mistake here isn’t who they chose to play it’s who they choose to recruit. They keep hunting for bigger backs (e.g., Davis) and they probably shouldn’t bother.

    I sincerely hope that Charbonnet turns this trend around. I really do because I think we have an offense that is set up for success and am not super excited about a walk-on RB even if he’s one that has proven to be a decent backup. That said, I was disappointed that Eric Gray left the class because, based almost purely on size and the similar recruiting rankings, I thought he would do better than Charbonnet.

    But that’s in the past. As was agreed upon above, production it what matters and this offense, with this OL and this QB, and these bad-ass receivers, looks like a situation where a big back with long speed could do some big things. I hope we see Charbonnet be the star that people imagined Isaac, Green, and Walker to be, even after they proved to be nothing special.

    Though my guess is that Turner will lead the team in yards, I would absolutely love to see a 6’2 back running wild through opposing secondaries.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 54
      Joined: 10/3/2015
      UM2013
      Jul 09, 2019 at 4:44 PM

      I don’t care who “wins out” at RB, as long as we see consistent production from that position. If our starting RB is averaging <4.5 YPC over a large sample size, I would hope to see someone else receive carries, particularly if that "someone else" is averaging north of 5 YPC. I don't care how "tough" our RB is or how "hard he runs" if he's running for 4 YPC.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5445
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 09, 2019 at 5:09 PM

        This is more about the offense and the OL than the RB. You can’t just assume the backup RB is going to come in and change the run game production. That rarely happens and I would guess it’s typically a freshman when it does.

        I would love to hear examples of backup RB changing an offense in college. Presumably most of these players will not be seniors or 5th year. Presumably most of these players will not be guys that the NFL can’t even bother to invite to a camp. I’d really like to see those examples.

        Mike Hart’s probably the only example I can think of at Michigan of a backup RB that made a substantial difference on team production. And Hart’s last game as a backup didn’t show it — against ND (5 carries for 17 yards). Pierre Rembert had better YPC in both of the first 2 games.

        In 2004 the starters struggled and the backups had respectable YPC in limited snaps — did that mean Rembert or Hart deserved to start? No. The coaches saw the practice reps the week after ND and THEN Hart was made the lead back based on that. The rest was history.

        One of the guys Hart replaced (Jerome Jackson) wasn’t a terrible back and he had equivalent or better YPC most seasons but he was clearly not as good as Hart.

        Then in 2005 Hart averaged only 4.4 YPC so I guess it’s a good thing the coaches didn’t subscribe to the better than 4.5 YPC rule suggested above…

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5445
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 09, 2019 at 5:45 PM

        It’s very common to have backups average over 5 ypc. It happens nearly every year with any competent offense, not because they are good players necessarily but because they get more of their carries in favorable situations.

        2018: Samuels, Evans, Wilson
        2017: Evans, Isaac
        2016: Evans, Isaac, Higdon
        2015: Johnson, Isaac
        2014: Johnson, Green

        A guy like Wilson is not going to replicate his 6 YPC as a fulltime starter. You can see that in his YPC changing depending on competition.

        Yes, if the starter is struggling and the backup is doing well in his opportunities OF COURSE he should get more opportunity in practice and in games. But a handful of carries isn’t enough to make that kind of a call in a team game and YPC doesn’t capture things like missed block assignments and game-changing fumbles against MSU.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 54
          Joined: 10/3/2015
          UM2013
          Jul 09, 2019 at 7:37 PM

          I’m not going to argue that yards against MAC teams are some telltale sign of a successful running back, so I agree with the majority of the guys that you listed above – I was never clamoring for Samuels to see more carries. Isaac had legitimate production against Florida, Air Force, Wisconsin in 2016, Penn State in 2016 – it wasn’t like his YPC was strictly a function of playing against bad competition. And how many of our RBs have had a “game changing” fumble over the last few years? Nearly all of them…

          My larger point is just that Harbaugh seemed to have some sort of stubborn streak when it came to Smith, and I hope that trend doesn’t repeat itself.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5445
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 09, 2019 at 10:12 PM

            Do you think it’s possible that “toughness” had something to do with holding onto the ball in practice?

            Isaac got chance after chance. In 2017 he looked like the lead back against Florida, Air Force and Cincinnati but he was a 5th year player by then and had earned whatever reputation he had after 4 years.

            Tate Forcier looked like a Heisman contender after 3 games – that didn’t mean much when the going got tough and being resilient counted.

            The defenses of florida (33rd), air force (124th), and cinci (68th) weren’t exactly elite. The next 2 games purdue (32nd) and msu (11th) Issac barely managed 2 ypc. The MSU game was the last straw after countless opportunities over multiple seasons.

            Harbaugh played Smith because Smith was the best back available to him. That’s not being stubborn – he gave plenty of chances to other backs because Smith clearly wasn’t a speed back. But like any coach Harbaugh didn’t want the ball on the ground and wanted a RB who could manufacture yards consistently – not just make a highlight. Count up the carries of Smith and Higdon and count up the fumbles — they were very rare.

            The only back that MIGHT have been better than Smith is Higdon, who was 2 years younger and also went undrafted. Next up is would be Evans. Both of those backups outperformed Issac in 2016 in YPC (and playing time).

            If Harbaugh was stubborn about anything it was giving Isaac another shot in 2017 when there were better backs on the roster. It didn’t work and he adjusted.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3317
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 10, 2019 at 5:13 AM

          How about game-changing fumbles against South Carolina on the Gamecocks’ 6-yard line?

          • Avatar
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            Joined: 10/3/2015
            UM2013
            Jul 10, 2019 at 9:06 AM

            If we take that point as given (Harbaugh thought Smith was more capable of churning out tough yards and less likely to fumble) you’re still missing the point that Michigan lost 3 games in 2016 in which Smith was clearly ineffective. He averaged <3 YPC against Iowa, OSU and FSU that year. Scraping out additional yards on the ground could have likely been the difference between winning and losing the games. Sure, maybe Isaac is incrementally more likely to fumble than Smith, but at some point you have to take a risk and give the superior runner an opportunity when the “conservative choice” is so obviously ineffective.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3317
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Jul 10, 2019 at 10:00 AM

              This is exactly my point. You can have your starter, but if he’s not getting it done, try someone else. This has been my point with a bunch of backups going back to the Michael Cox days. If your main dude is getting 2.0 yards a carry or so, somebody else can probably do better.

              I know it was high school and all, but we had a guy several years ago averaging 1.9 yards per carry. I was not in a position to make a switch, but it was frustrating the heck out of me. One game the powers that be put the backup in (whom I had been secretly pining for)…and magically he ran about 20 times for 161 yards, including 2 touchdowns, one of which was about 60 yards or so. Of course he had this great game and the next week suffered an injury which prevented him from carrying the ball the rest of the year, but you get the point.

              When your main dude at the position isn’t getting the job done, you find someone else, even if only temporarily. You do it with pitchers in baseball. You do it with your goalie in hockey sometimes. You do it with your basketball team. Why not do it with running backs in football?

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 5445
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 10, 2019 at 12:24 PM

              Your assertion that it is the RB who is not effective is what I disagree with. You’re talking about 3 strong defenses who are going to do their job on most plays, regardless of the RB. Are you going to also pull your OT and QB when the offense struggles, even though you know they’re the best option?

              You’re essentially asking for the coaches to base their playing time decisions on tiny sample sizes (random) rather than their months and/or years of player evaluation, practice performance, etc. This would be insane and anyone who did it would be rightfully mocked as an unstable nut.

              A good RB is a good RB. He doesn’t wake up one morning and become a bad RB. A mediocre RB doesn’t one day wake up and be great. But if you look at tiny sample sizes and game to game variation in YPC you can draw these sort of conclusions.

              Isaac is not a better RB than Smith. Continuing to assert this over and over again against the face of the many years of evidence is something.

              Anyway, the coaches already rotate backups in regularly. They’re already doing what you are talking about except the rotations tighten up in the most meaningful games. This is what happens also in the NBA playoffs, MLB, NFL. You lean on your top guys harder when it counts.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 54
                Joined: 10/3/2015
                UM2013
                Jul 10, 2019 at 8:26 PM

                “A good RB is a good RB. He doesn’t wake up one morning and become a bad RB. A mediocre RB doesn’t one day wake up and be great. But if you look at tiny sample sizes and game to game variation in YPC you can draw these sort of conclusions.”

                That’s a bit of a ridiculous statement – RBs can’t have bad games just like any other position player might? Aside from that, you’ve even conceded at times that Harbaugh may have preferred Smith to Isaac for reasons other than simply YPC (things like pass blocking, ball security, etc.). My point is that, if you have a sufficiently large sample size of in-game carries (Smith had 12 carries against Iowa, 21 against OSU and 16 against FSU) and those carries are largely ineffective, continuing to trot out the same player is stubborn. In an earlier comment you made the point that Isaac’s ineffectiveness against MSU and Purdue in 2017 resulted in decreased playing time (despite his 3 straight games of 6+ YPC) – why was the same not true for Smith? At what point does Harbaugh need to say “this guy is clearly not getting it done, lets make a switch and see what happens”? Are you arguing that practice supersedes in-game performance in perpetuity?

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5445
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 10, 2019 at 12:45 PM

            I can not find reliable stats for fumbles but I know that Higdon had 471 carries at Michigan while Isaac had 192.

            Higdon fumbled 3 times, as far as I know. Twice in 2017 and once in 2018.

            Isaac fumbled at least 3 times (twice in 2015 against Maryland and then the MSU game in 2017). He also fumbled twice in a game in high school (where the defense couldn’t stop him otherwise — 6 TD runs!), contributing to a 45-70 loss.

            https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-xpm-2011-11-26-ct-spt-1127-prep-foot-5a-final-20111126-story.html

            These are far from complete stats but it seems like one guy has a fumbling issue while one does not. IF those fumble totals are correct, it would mean Isaac fumbles twice as often as Higdon.

            As for Deveon Smith, I only found 1 recorded fumble, though – again – the data is pretty scant. Seems likely he had more than that in his 495 career carries. He also didn’t fumble in his 5 games in the NFL or in the AAF.

            ——————————-

            Again, the coaches see these guys in practice every day. Smith and Higdon had a reputation for being tough and reliable and one did not. This wasn’t a fan generated thing it came from inside the program. The arrows all point in the same direction.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3317
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Jul 11, 2019 at 5:34 AM

              LOL @ using high school stats and DeVeon Smith’s “5 games in the NFL” (a.k.a. one game where he touched the ball, which consisted of 3 receptions).

              I have it on pretty good authority that Karan Higdon fumbled three times in 7th grade, and he also dropped a tray of spaghetti while serving food at a church dinner fundraiser.

              Fumbles might be an issue sometimes. Also an issue: gaining 2 yards a carry.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 5445
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 11, 2019 at 10:19 AM

                Yeah, I agree but those aren’t really the main points of the argument. They are additional bits of info from trying unsuccessfully to google the actual fumble stats. Isaac was benched for fumbling at Michigan and maybe cost his team a championship by fumbling in High School. That seems relevant.

                When you talk about averaging 2 ypc you could be talking about when Ty Isaac got lead back duties against Purdue and MSU.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3317
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Jul 11, 2019 at 10:26 AM

                  That’s fine…then put in Smith or Evans!

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