Winning feels good. I don’t really care that it was Rutgers. I don’t really care that it took three overtimes. I don’t really care that I had to stay up until midnight to watch the finish. I went to bed feeling . . . maybe not happy, but relieved.
Remember, remember, the 23rd of September . . . On September 23, 2017, quarterback Wilton Speight’s back got broken on a dirty hit by Purdue. In stepped backup John O’Korn, who completed 69.2% of his passes for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception for an offense that had been disappointing up to that point. He was the savior! The following week he threw 3 interceptions against Michigan State and would finish with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on the year. The Purdue game was Fool’s Gold. So I have that in the back of my mind going into the next section.
Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . the running back with the hot hand. Hassan Haskins had the best game on the ground for Michigan, rushing 8 times for 56 yards (7.0 yards/carry) and 1 touchdown. He had the hot hand for a team that’s trying to spread around the carries. In a close game, you need to stick with the hot hand. I like Zach Charbonnet’s speed and toughness, and I like Blake Corum’s quickness and vision, but Haskins was doing well, and the staff just forced the other guys in there. Why is a guy who’s getting 7.0 yards/carry only running the ball 8 times when the quarterback is only getting 5.9 yards per attempt passing the ball?
Name: Hassan Haskins Height: 6’1″ Weight: 220 lbs. High school: Eureka (MO) Eureka Position: Running back Class: Redshirt sophomore Jersey number: #25 Last year: I ranked Haskins #64 and said he would be a backup running back and special teamer (LINK). He ran 121 times for 622 yards and 4 touchdowns; he caught 6 passes for 40 yards; and he made 3 tackles on special teams. TTB Rating: 74
Haskins was one of several breakout offensive players in 2019, along with Jalen Mayfield and Ronnie Bell. As a freshman in 2018, he bounced back and forth between running back and linebacker. Then with some injuries and the suspension of Chris Evans, he was suddenly thrust into the mix at running back once again and performed admirably. He topped the 100-yard mark twice (Illinois, Notre Dame), but he seemed to be pretty unstoppable against the Fighting Irish, a team many thought would be a difficult matchup for the Wolverines. In a rainstorm, he ran the ball 20 times for 149 yards (7.5 yards/carry) and 1 touchdown, also notching a season-high 49-yarder and leapfrogging a Notre Dame safety.
Despite the breakout season, I have Haskins down here at #40 when he was the primary backup last year. Why? Well, the aforementioned Chris Evans returns to the team after a one-year hiatus, and Evans is a little more versatile. Haskins can be slippery and powerful, but his big-play ability is lacking and he doesn’t present a mismatch for linebackers in the passing game since, well, he’s been a part-time linebacker himself.
I imagine Haskins will take a step down on the depth chart this year, leaving room for Evans and Zach Charbonnet to take the bulk of the snaps. He will probably be the third running back, but the #3 back in 2019, Tru Wilson, handled the ball fewer times (44) than in any of the five seasons since Jim Harbaugh arrived (previous low: Derrick Green’s 47 in 2015).