The running game of the Michigan Wolverines has struggled this season despite many changes to the offensive line to fix the problem.
Going into their game on Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers was no different. The Wolverines added two freshmen to the offensive guard spots and it seemed to work for them, for one game. They had 248 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground against the Hoosiers, which is their best performance this season.
This same plan may not work for the Wolverines against other teams. They will need to change it up again against better defenses as Indiana has the worst defense in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines need to find a way to make sure that their running game can be successful in any game and not have to change things up every week. It’s hard for an offense to get into a rhythm when there are different players coming in on the offensive line every week. It could be a long process.
Up until this game against the Hoosiers, quarterback Devin Gardner has been Michigan’s running game. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been struggling all season, but he looked more like himself Saturday as he ran for 151 yards and four touchdowns. Gardner ran for 81 yards, but with Toussaint carrying the load for the running game, Gardner was able to concentrate more on the passing game as he threw for 503 yards.
The spread formation that Michigan ran opened up plenty of holes for Toussaint, more than in any other game this season. If they can continue to be successful with it, then their running game should be more successful as well. It all depends on the strength of the defense they are facing.
The next game for the Wolverines will be in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans on November 2, and the Spartans have the best defense in the Big Ten. The Wolverines will need to use their bye week this week to figure out how to go from being successful against the worst defense in the Big Ten to being successful against the best in the conference.
It will be a tough test for the Wolverines, maybe the toughest one they’ve faced all season.