Mike Hart wasn’t sure what he had when he arrived at Michigan earlier this year, but he does now. He’s got three backs with great ability, and he’s pleased but not satisfied with what they’ve accomplished in two games.
Redshirt freshman Blake Corum is the current leader of the group, having run for 282 yards in his first two contests. His improved patience is the biggest reason for his success, along with the play of the offensive line.
“I think it’s an ideal start for this team. I think it’s what we needed — it’s good to come out and run the ball,” running backs coach Hart said. “Obviously, the backs are playing hard, but the offensive line is doing a great job, and I think that’s the most important thing.
“You saw last year; a lot of guys came in and out on the O-line. I think these guys know who they are. I think they know what they want to do … they’re big, they’re physical and they do a great job up front.”
And the backs have done a great job following their lead. Corum has made an impact both as a runner and a receiver.
“He’s grown. He’s not there yet, but I think he’s a lot more patient than he was last year,” Hart continued. “I think he gets settled into the game a little bit more. Sometimes he’s too fast, still, because he’s a fast, quick kid, but I think he understands the need to let those plays develop, give those linemen a chance to get to their blocks, get to the second level. When those guys do their job up front, which they’ve been doing a great job of, and he’s one on one with the safety, he’s hard to tackle in the open field.”
Hart then paid him the ultimate compliment when asked if Corum was the fastest back he’d ever coached.
“He’s the quickest, most explosive,” Hart said. “In the 100-meter dash, probably not, but he is fast now. He can go. But think of all those tools. There’s long speed, 100-meter guys. I’ve coached some guys that were 10.6, 10.7 from that standpoint. But what he brings, he can make a move full speed and burst.
“He gets from zero to 10 really, really fast. That’s what I think makes him so dangerous. When there is a crease, is a hole, he gets through it really fast and gets on the safety quick. I think it surprises the safeties.”
Haskins, meanwhile, has also done a great job in Hart’s eyes. A missed block in pass protection wasn’t on him — he actually saved the play, Hart said — and he ran hard again on his way to 155 yards. He has 225 through two games.
“He breaks tackles, has done a great job in short yardage situations,” Hart said. “He didn’t get the one on the goal line last week, but that wasn’t on him. From that standpoint, he’s done a great job in short yardage.
“Blake, his big plays are huge, especially in the run game. You pop those big plays off, it makes it a lot easier to score touchdowns.”
Donovan Edwards will get more carries too, Hart said, and has been solid. But all can do better, and they’ll get their chances.
“There’s always room for improvement. There are a lot of things you don’t see on film,” Hart said. “You see the big plays, all those things, but you get down to the details, intricacies of certain plays, what they’re’ supposed to do, mistakes they made, whether it’s a route, attacking safeties in the open field on certain runs …
“We can improve, but they’re doing a great job of what we’re asking so far.”