I said this last week and I will continue to say it until it happens. The Michigan Wolverines need to improve their running game if they want to compete in the Big Ten. Their four-overtime loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday proved me right.
The Wolverines could not get their running game going against a Penn State defense that allowed a total of 486 yards and 150 yards rushing in their loss to the Indiana Hoosiers last week. It should’ve been simple for the Wolverines, but it wasn’t. Most of their rushing yards came from quarterback Devin Gardner, and too much is being put on his shoulders. This running game needs to get going.
Michigan ran 54 times for 149 yards, which is only 2.8 yards per carry. Gardner himself had 121 of these yards, and the rest of the Wolverines’ “running game” accounted for just 28 yards.
Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has not been playing up to his potential dating back to last season. He needs to get it together and take some of the pressure off Gardner’s shoulders. He ran 27 times for 27 yards against Penn State. Toussaint only has one 100-yard rushing game this season, when he ran for 120 against the Connecticut Huskies. He didn’t have any 100-yard games last season but had five in 2011.
Penn State wanted to limit Michigan’s running game to just Gardner. In reality, the running game is Gardner right now, and he ended up with a 100-yard rushing game. They did, however, succeed in stopping a struggling Toussaint.
Michigan has the Hoosiers coming to Ann Arbor next week, and they can be dangerous, as Penn State found out last week. If the Wolverines want to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive, then they need to get their running game going and not depend on Gardner to be both their running and passing game. Nobody will know how good Michigan really is until they find a solution to this problem.
Related links: Michigan Wolverines Need to Improve Their Running Game