The Michigan Wolverines are one of the only two undefeated Big Ten teams left. The other, of course, is the Ohio State Buckeyes. Two teams that are undefeated yet very different. Michigan’s undefeated record may suggest that they are at Ohio State’s level, but watching them play in their first four games of the season would not suggest that. They have plenty to work on to get to that level.
The improvement of their running game could be the most important if the Wolverines want to compete in the Big Ten this year. They need to find their offensive identity, and this could be it, especially with a mobile quarterback like Devin Gardner.
Gardner has just about as many yards rushing this season as running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and only has one less rushing touchdown. If Michigan focuses more on running plays it will force Toussaint, the rest of the running backs, and even Gardner to step up and take charge of an offense that has not been great so far this season. It could prove very successful for the Michigan offense.
In their win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, the running game only combined for 113 yards on 35 attempts. That is only 3.2 yards per carry and will not cut it if they want to compete in the Big Ten.
Focusing on the running game is also a good idea because Gardner is prone to throwing interceptions when the Wolverines rely on their passing game. These turnovers have caused them to come close to losing to teams they should’ve beaten earlier this season, like the Akron Zips and Connecticut Huskies. The Wolverines had to rely on their defense late in the game to bail them out and seal the win. This is not always going to cut it in the Big Ten when you are set to face teams later in the season like the Buckeyes and the Northwestern Wildcats who both have explosive offenses led by mobile quarterbacks.
They have a lot to work on and they have a long way to go before they will have an offense that is in the ranks of teams like Ohio State and Northwestern. Concentrating on making their running game a bigger part of their offense is certainly a good place to start.