The Michigan Wolverines started the season with a bang on the ground, rushing for 242 yards and six touchdowns in a season-opening win over the Central Michigan Chippewas. Then just three weeks ago, they bested that mark with 248 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in a record-setting performance against the Indiana Hoosiers. In the two games since then, however, Michigan has netted minus-69 yards rushing and have lost back-to-back games. What has happened to the Wolverines’ rushing attack?
All season long, Michigan has been able to rely on the tandem of running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and quarterback Devin Gardner to break off big plays on the ground to keep the offense rolling down the field. Last week, the Michigan State Spartans overwhelmed the Michigan offensive line and held the Wolverines to minus-48 yards on 29 attempts. Toussaint managed just 20 yards on the day while Gardner was stuffed for an ugly net of minus-46 yards on the day.
This week, the Nebraska Cornhuskers copied that gameplan and found just as much success. Toussaint has just six yards on nine carries on the day while Gardner once again was harassed behind the line of scrimmage and finished the day with minus-32 yards rushing and the Michigan offense managed just 13 points because of the lack of balance. Without Gardner giving anything to the running game from the quarterback position, the Michigan offense has looked helpless and unable to sustain anything offensively.
Brady Hoke was supposed to finally have his team in place to run the offense he wanted to at Michigan in 2013. However, with the Wolverines moving backwards in the last two weeks when trying to run the football, this isn’t the offense that anyone wanted. Can Michigan right the ship and get back on track in the running game?