Wednesday, August 23, 2023

2023 Season Countdown: #13 Donovan Edwards


Donovan Edwards (image via The Athletic)

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Name: Donovan Edwards
210 lbs.
High school: 
West Bloomfield (MI) West Bloomfield
Running back
Jersey number: 
Last year: 
I ranked Edwards #15 and said he would be a part-time starting running back (LINK). He ran 140 times for 991 yards and 7 touchdowns; and caught 18 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns.
TTB Rating:

Edwards was a borderline 5-star prospect in the class of 2021, and he has not disappointed. As exciting as his 11-reception day was against Maryland his rookie year, nothing compared to his two huge rushing touchdowns against Ohio State last year, breaking the back of the reeling Buckeyes. He had a 75-yard rushing touchdown, and that wasn't even his biggest play of the game; instead, it was the 85-yarder, which ranks as the #8 longest rushing play in Michigan history.

Edwards got his chance to really stand out after Blake Corum was injured against Illinois. Despite having a broken right hand that forced him to carry the ball exclusively in his left (non-dominant) hand, he had a huge game (216 yards) against Ohio State, ran for 185 yards against Purdue, and ran for 123 yards against TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. He was 9 yards away from giving Michigan two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.

The 2023 season should be another standout year for Edwards, who has now proven himself on some of the biggest stages of college football. While Corum does return and Edwards may be a nominal "backup," he should get plenty of opportunities in both the running and receiving phases of the game. There has been talk that he has been lining up in the slot, which makes sense because of the departure of Ronnie Bell. Michigan fans also hope that Corum can stay healthy for the entire season, because the outcome against TCU may have been a little different if Michigan's Heisman-caliber running back had been available for the playoff game. But Edwards is an excellent back in his own right, with game-breaking receiving abilities and big-play speed. There's a good chance that this will be his final season in Ann Arbor, so let's enjoy his wearing a winged helmet as much as we can.

Prediction: Part-time starting running back; 1,050 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns; 30 catches for 350 yards, 4 touchdowns


  1. Curious what you mean by part time starter. 2 RBs? Slot WR? Injury to corum?

    1. Ha, I feel like that insertion was directly for your benefit. For the record, I agree with it. Who was the starting RB for 2005 USC? I think we're looking at a similar dynamic here.

    2. You going to bring the best RB in Michigan history (or at least the few decades) off the bench? A Heisman contender who turned down a sure-fire NFL draft selection to cement his legacy? Corum seems like a high character kid but asking him to be THAT deferential? I'm skeptical.

    3. I think the "nominal" part is real and he'll be a backup. Unless Corum is hurt of course but if that's your logic the "nominal backup" applies to every player. Afterall everyone is an injury or five away from starting.

    4. I'm curious what Thunder thinks. For me, I would not be surprised if Harbaugh had a little fun and did the gimmicky 2 RB thing with Edwards or Corum spreading out wide. I just don't ever see it being a staple of the offense. More like a flea flicker (a few times a year) than a reverse run to the slot (which happens in most games and thus is a basic part of the offense).

      We talk about a lot of fun stuff (7OL, 3 RB, 2 QB, heavy Orji run package) but Michigan seems to throw that stuff out mostly just to keep opposing coaching staffs busy analyzing things they'll never see. Against OSU/PSU/TCU/GA they'll pull out some new tricks.

    5. I think the logic is "this guy will see as many touches / snaps as the starting RB on the vast majority of teams". Which I completely agree with.

    6. Lank, you often take people to task for the exact words they use. Your "Unless Corum is hurt of course but if that's your logic the "nominal backup" applies to every player." Very likely that Edwards has a far greater impact this season than the backup center, backup LB, backup CB, or even the backup QB. Unlike those positions, Corum is not going to play every down, despite his greatness. Between slot and RB, Edwards might be in for half the offensive snaps this year. So he is very much a nominal starter is a way that many/most backups are not. And it's not just Michigan. Many other schools have two lead backs but yes, Michigan runs the ball more than most.

    7. @Anon 1108.

      I would be surprised if Edwards matches Corum's touches. Mostly because I think so highly of Corum that I don't see him taking a huge cut in work. Combined with Michigan's stated desire to have 50-50 run/pass split (which I don't buy for a second but do think we'll see more passing than we did last year for many reasons).

      There's only one ball to go around and many mouths to feed. Corum, Johnson, Wilson all came back to college instead of turning pro, presumably not to take on a smaller role. McCarthy and Loveland are talented options too. Bryce Underwood is watching.

    8. @Kurt

      I don't agree with your assertion that Edwards will have a far greater impact than other backups. I think Edwards is roughly the 3rd most important "nominal" backup (behind the DEs who rotate far more than RBs). That's entirely because of how good he is, not because of the importance of the role.

      And even that is ignoring the backup QB (whoever that may be, he's THE most critical backup if an injury occurs), 3rd CB (whoever that may be, but historically someone who is playing more critical snaps than the backup RB, at a more important position) and the critical interior DL players (like Graham last year).

      Corum is not going to play every down - that is true. But it's also true at most positions besides QB, OL, and ILB.

      At other positions you NEED to rotate, even if you have a great player like Hutchinson or Turner. At RB it's more like a luxury - as we saw against TCU where the RB2 (Mullings) played single digit snaps with RB1 (Edwards) covering the vast majority. RB3 got one snap. You know which individual backups got more than the 10 snaps the backup RBs combined for? Here is the list:

      (DT4,5, and 6 combined for more than backup RBs in total also)

      So, that's a pretty long list of backups that are more important than the RB2 on a snap count basis.

      If you want to say the RB has more important role when he touches the ball - Mullings had 5 touches all on short yardage plays that arguably could have been handled by any capable RB. His job was to run straight ahead and not fumble. Yes, he failed at that - he had a hugely damaging fumble (when he was dubiously used as a FB after moving from LB) but the assumption that wouldn't have happened if Corum was healthy is undermined by a very unfortunate fact. Corum (as RB2) fumbled himself in the playoff exactly 1 year before. It happens.

      Finally, the assumption that Edwards is going to play slot WR is pure speculation. IMO it's more like we see more snaps from Orji at QB than Edwards at Slot WR. Considering that a major factor in the player evaluations seems dubious to me.

    9. @Kurt

      Michigan does run their RBs more than some but not all other elite teams. We're not THAT weird. OSU, PSU, and TCU all had about 400 RB carries last year. Georgia, Illinois, and Michigan had 500.

      I'll admit that 100 carry difference is not negligible but remember that MOST of that is happening in blowout victories. In the games that matter, in the downs that matter, all of these teams are going to see narrowing of differences and closer to balanced in distributing the ball between receivers, runners, and QBs.

      Georgia just lost their projected starting RB to injury for the season. When asked about the impact Kirby Smart said it had no effect on playcalling. Other guys will have to step up and in. That's exactly what will happen because they, like us, have an elite OL.

      The way that the Michigan offense is differentiated from their peers is not really about RB usage IMO. It's in our heavy use of TEs. Unlike almost anyone else we have 2 TEs on the field more often than not. So I'm much more amenable to the argument that our TEs are more important than other team's TEs (and WRs less important) than I am in thinking our RBs are so much more important than others.

    10. Snap count data is not available for all players but touches are. Out of 131 D1 teams last the middle teams (65th and 66th ranked) threw 48% of the time. These two teams are Clemson and Northwestern. Northwestern's RB1 had 270 touches. Clemson's RB1 had 250. Corum had 258.

      In other words, once he missed 3 games (2 of them post-season), Corum's workload was not all that high or unusual.

      Of course there is a range to consider, so for point of reference, the starting RB for TCU had 240 touches last year (though they were statistically a run-first team also at 46% passing, good for 85th in the country). MSU (which was 29th in the country in % of pass plays, because they spent most of the year playing from behind) had a much lower number, their RB1 had 170 touches last year. That's very low for a starter - but still more than what Edwards got as a "part-time starter" with 158 last season.
      So, to try to put a number to it. Touches that Edwards would need to be more involved than the "starting RB on the vast majority of teams" in the country is probably somewhere around 240 touches. and that's being VERY generous.

      Back to Michigan. Looking at last year:

      Our RBs, combined all together last year had 510 rushes and 35 catches or 545 touches. So if you split the duties perfectly between Corum and Edwards and didn't give a single touch to any of the many other RBs on the roster, you could get to both players being above the 240 mark, with a little bit of room to spare.

      Here's the thing - Corum was barely above 250 last year while missing 3.5 games. Even if you assume Corums utilization goes down to cede more carries to Edwards that likely gets things to balance out to look more like last year in aggregate distribution than a 50/50 split. And you still run up against the math the RBs are not going to get far above 500 touches.

      There's several very good reasons to think the top 2 RBs are going to get LESS carries this year than they did last year. 1 is the desire to get to a 50/50 run pass split, the other is a (projected) desire to get RBs 3-5 some carries to prepare for a likely starting role next year. 500 touches is probably more likely than 550.

      Optimistically for Anon's case you might distribute 550 carries as such:
      260 Corum (match last year)
      200 Edwards (increase from last year)
      90 mullings/stokes/hall/cabana/dunlap/walk-ons (decrease from last year even though there's 2 new faces and Mullings full time)

      So no, I don't think Edwards will get more touches or snaps than the vast majority of starters. I think 200 is optimistic for him, even if Corum does less than he did last year.

      Unless Corum is hurt. Which would make Edwards the starter.

    11. We could have simplified this quite a bit as we’re essentially arguing semantics. If Edwards gets 200 touches, I’m considering him a part time starter. If you want to argue that’s a backup, be my guest.

    12. @KURT

      I agree that there is a dropoff from Edwards to Mullings but if that is the dropoff from RB2 to RB3 it means 8 snaps where you can easily adapt. I don't think the TCU game is cherry picking - we've seen similar distribution of carries many times over the years when Michigan has one primary back they like a lot better than all their other options.

      Edwards WAS around last year. Corum still got a ton of carries. That was Michigan's choice. I'd love to see them NOT do that, because they definitely don't NEED to do that to beat most of the teams on their schedule. But Harbaugh's approach to load management is not mine.

      An elite RB2 us a nice-to-have, not a need. In games that matter - they lean on RB1. In games that don't - RB3 can do the job very well behind this OL.

      Edwards is replaceable - by Corum against good teams and by Mullings against bad teams.

      We don't need to have a 50/50 split among RB1 and RB2. We very well might do it that way - and that's great. But it's a luxury.

    13. @Anon. I don't think Edwards will get 200 touches. I was trying to make a case for your argument. The point was even that was a stretch.

      Unless Corum is hurt.

      BTW, unless he is assuming a big drop in YPC, Thunder's prediction above would be less than 200 touches also.

    14. I think people are treating Edwards like a starter because he started the last 3 games. He's an excellent RB! But the fact remains.....Blake Corum is on this roster and he's even better.

      So yeah we can change the split we saw last year when both were healthy (Iowa was Corum with 31 touches and Edwards with 9). We can turn 75/25 into 60/40 or whatever, but there's still only one ball, and that ball is still in good hands with either guy. Michigan wants to pass more and can pass more this year. Michigan has more/better RB depth this year than last year.

      Edwards is LESS important this year than he was last year. Even if he is individually better. That's also true for a bunch of guys like Colson, Barnhart, etc.

    15. @Lank 12o8, Edwards carries were low last year, and we now know he was hobbled by a knee injury since camp ... that Corum got 25+ carries in 10½ games demonstrates 1) who carries the ball is critical to this offense; and 2) without Edwards, that trust & confidence was limited to Corum

    16. oops, 6 out of 10½ games for Corum

    17. 170 carries for 1,050 yards (6.2 / carry) and 30 catches doesn't feel outlandish to me.

    18. @JE.

      No - snap counts and touches don't tell us at all "who carries the ball is critical to this offense". WITH Edwards, the trust was limited to Corum also. And you pointed out how many carries Haskins got in 2021. Michigan leans on its most trusted player at the position. Sometimes that's one guy and sometimes it's 3 or 4. But as we saw with Edwards stepping in for Corum, it doesn't at all mean that it changes outcomes.

      I don't think 200 is outlandish but I do think it's optimistic. Unless the projection includes Corum getting hurt - which he might I suppose but typically not a foundation for a TTB rank.

      What IS outlandish is the expecting that Edwards will get more touches than "the starting RB on the vast majority of teams". 200 touches (optimistic) doesn't get you there. I don't make the rules.

    19. Not sure what stats you're looking at, but 170 carries was 58th in the NCAA last year. So the point very much stands - Edwards will likely be one of the more important offensive skill players this year, assuming he stays healthy.

    20. Edwards averaged less than 10 carries a game last year when Corum was healthy. 130 carries on the season would be an increase from his pace last year. Unless Corum gets hurt. The 140 carries that Edwards got last year, more than half of them came in the final 3 games when Corum was injured.

      Corum getting hurt changed the narrative. If that hadn't happened people would still be saying Edwards wasn't ready for primary back duties.

      I'm old enough to remember when Corum wasn't ready in some people's eyes (even though as a true freshman he beat out Zach Charbonnet and Chris Evans for carries).

      If Corum stays healthy, I doubt Edwards breaks 150 carries or gets to 1K rushing yards.

      Not that it matters. He's a great backup and I'm glad we have him. His primary value is an insurance policy on another Corum injury, being an elite receiver out of the backfield, and well, being fun and entertaining to watch.

    21. BTW, 58th out of 131 is not more than a "vast majority". It's barely a majority at all.

    22. I agree that Edwards will be one of the more important skill positions players on Michigan. My rankings of skill position players by TTB rank (importance):

      1. McCarthy
      2. Corum
      3. Wilson
      4. Edwards
      5. Johnson

      But the game is won and lost in the trenches. Non QB skill position players are not as important as the attention they garner. On offense, I have Loveland, Zinter, and McCarthy as more important than Corum. Then Keegan, Wilson, and *Henderson ahead of Edwards.

      I put RB2 #3 on the list above and #20 overall. This is exceptionally high given positional value. RB is arguably the least important position on offense (along with TE) in the NFL. A typical RB2 on a typical team should be somewhere between the 25th and 50th most important player on a roster.

      Because of Harball, I put RB and TE higher and WR lower. Because of Edwards elite talent level, especially as a receiver out of the backfield, I put him higher. Because of this roster's difference in ability between RB2 and RB3 I put Edwards higher.

      All of that is worth considering. But not of it changes that we're talking about a backup RB and the backup to the greatest RB we've seen at Michigan on top of that.

      Even Barry Sanders only got 110 touches when he was Thurman Thomas' backup. (That 1987 Oklahoma State team notably QB'd by Mike Gundy)

      *Henderson is highly debatable because of our OL depth but I think for the OL to match last year's performance they need to replace Hayes at LT and Henderson is probably the most talented and highest ceiling guy to slot in there.

    23. @Lank o8o9, ill repeat: when Edwards was hurt last year, coaches only trusted Corum. When corum was hurt in 21, coaches almost exclusively trusted HH

      "Sometimes it's 1 guy, sometimes it's it's 3 or 4"
      Why? Is it because who is next up matters?

    24. To matter it has to affect outcomes. It hasn't.

      Not when Haskins left. Not when Corum went down. Not when Edwards missed time.

      Not when Michigan has 4 NFL backs or 1 NFL back. Not when it went from 1 to 0 halfway through Illinois. The offense was more successful at zero BTW.

      When Edwards was healthy last year the coaches trusted Corum. When he wasn't the coaches trusted Corum. Against Maryland when Edwards wasn't there - Corum had 30 touches. Against PSU when Edwards was there - Corum had 31 touches.

      Same story in 2021. Haskins had 28 touches against Washington (Corum was healthy) and Haskins had 28 touches against Indiana (Corum not healthy).

      The distribution of carries does not affect outcomes the way you insist it does. Michigan can decide to do a 25/25/25/25 split between RBs or an 70/20/10 split or it can do what it did against TCU and go 90/10. When you realize that who carries the ball doesn't change the outcome of the game is when the lights go on.

      Sometimes there is a big enough gap in one RB to another that it does matter. Not at Michigan - where we always have a stable of elite athletes at the RB position. As Thunder liked to point out WRT to Tru Wilson - even our walk-ons can be elite caliber athletes. As Thunder recently pointed out WRT to Mullings - even our position-switchers are capable of handling some RB duties. When you have a dominant OL like we have, it especially doesn't matter.

      It doesn't make sense to say RBs matter because of the coaches distribution of carries when sometimes they give the ball 90% to one guy, and other times 60/40 between a couple, and other times rotate between 4. That's bad logic because it points to the exact opposite conclusion, if anything.

    25. @ Lank 10:57 a.m.

      Sometimes you attribute things to me that I'm not so sure can be attributed to me. Tru Wilson was not an elite-caliber athlete. He was a Semper Fi All-American with military academy offers, but nobody ever evaluated him as an elite athlete. The Semper Fi game was like the third- or fourth-most highly valued all-American game.

      The position-switcher thing is weird, too. Wide receivers have played cornerback. Offensive linemen have played defensive line, and vice versa. But cornerback matters. And both lines matter. You've said so yourself about those positions.

    26. Also, I'll say this continue insisting that outcomes don't change when running backs change, but you can be refuted every time. You brought up Derrick Henry previously, but Tennessee was better with him than without.

      You keep saying the Corum-to-Edwards transition didn't matter, but Michigan was undefeated with Corum in 2022 and 1-1 without him. And most analysts agree that Michigan was a much more talented team and should have won that game. Not only that, but TCU got tossed around like rag dolls by Georgia the following game in a 65-7 loss.

      So...outcomes do change. If you're going to ignore it, that's fine...but pardon us if we stop taking your comments about running back seriously.

      You also said that Corum's workload of getting so many carries last year wasn't a big deal...and then he injured his knee after having workloads of 30, 29, 25, 28, 33, 20, and 28 carries in the seven weeks leading up to it, not including the 18 he had in two quarters against Illinois before getting hurt.

    27. It's almost funny. The outcome doesn't matter, even if it does

    28. @Thunder.

      Tenn wasn't better with Henry. Without him they ran for the same YPC as with him and the season outcomes were unchanged. Look at the micro or look at the macro.

      Michigan's offense got better without Corum. We averaged 44 points without Corum. We averaged 39 with him. Take out the 3 non-conference cupcakes and it was 34 points with Corum and 44 without him.

      You are attributing a loss to TCU where we gave up 51 points to Corum not playing which is preposterous. I assume you are NOT attributing the loss to Georgia in 2021 to Corum though?

      Outcomes don't change. Michigan's offense was just as good without Corum against Illinois. Michigan's offense was just as good without Corum against Ohio State. Michigan's offense was just as good without Corum against TCU. You insisting otherwise doesn't make it so.

      Back in the days of Ty Isaac you would have pointed out the YPC differential. But now that it doesn't suit your argument you aren't bringing up that the guy who replaced Corum averaged 1.2 ypc more than him.

    29. You'll have to remind me when I said Corum's workload wasn't a big deal. RBs are mostly replaceable but it's still a bad idea to put individual players under heavy stress load unless you need to do it. Michigan didn't need to.

      In fact, I thought they should have "load managed" Corum and McCarthy for the Illinois game. Benched them to focus on OSU. The stakes there, as I argued at the time, where inconsequential compared to the OSU game. I thought Michigan should try to keep Corum healthy for OSU. Turns out that didn't matter. A star RB mattered even less than I thought.

      The kicker is that the offense did better without Corum than with him, even within the game against Illinois. I hope the coaches were paying attention and I hope they load manage more intelligently this year.

      The one thing I've been consistently critical of Harbaugh on is his philosophy towards injuries. A point you and JE keep missing when you insist I say you can't criticize the coaches for anything. You have to instill a culture of toughness but you also can't shoot yourself in the foot to do it.

      Your Corum take was wrong against OSU and you are doubling down again even though you are very clearly wrong. Michigan lost Corum and still dropped 45 points on 2 of the 4 best teams in the country. He wasn't missed.

    30. "Michigan's offense was just as good without Corum against Illinois."

      I have no idea what game you were watching to have that take. That's just completely false.

    31. He likes to argue

      Lank: Corum is the best RB of my lifetime
      also Lank: Corum doesn't make a difference. Not one person in Schemmy Hall would agree, let alone keep from laughing at such foolishness

    32. @Anon

      First half with Corum: 5 drives, 3 punts, 1 turnover = 7 points
      Second half without Corum: 6 drives, 1 punt, 0 turnovers = 12 points

      These are the facts, results, outcomes, whatever you want to call it.

      Sometimes, narratives trump facts in popular opinion. That's human and expected. But set aside Corum's absense and remember that the entire team struggled against Illinois, but the offense struggled most in the first half with Corum.

      Things got dark when Corum went out, not because the offense struggled (the first drive of the 2nd half was a FG), but because Illinois scored 2 TDs in the third quarter to pull Illinois ahead 17-10. Suddenly we were playing from behind without our Heisman contender, but our defense got it together and our offense scored on most of it's 2nd half possessions (albeit FGs not TDs a "problem" that comes up on occasion including in 2021 when Haskins was fully healthy).

    33. @JE

      I like to argue with facts and data to support my argument. You like to dodge the points and talk about me.

      There's nothing inconsistent in my RB argument for the same reason as always - rushing success isn't based on RBs. Rushing success is predicated on, in order of importance, 1. OL blocking 2. Scheme 3. Pass Threats. 4. TE and WR blocking and finally, last, and certainly least -- 5. Individual differences in RBs between starters and backups.

      Same reason Denard was a difference maker at QB and just a guy as a RB. We have a lot of guys who can do the job the RB does at very similar levels. But the difference with Denard's rushing ability at QB position vs Tate Forcier was massive and had a massive affect on the offense.

      Haskins is awesome and he leaves and is not missed. Corum is awesome and he can go out and we move right along. In part because we have another awesome back and in part because the difference between an awesome RB and merely a very good RB (everyone at Michigan is an elite athlete by high school standards) is not that impactful to offenses at Michigan's level and beyond.

    34. @Thunder

      "third- or fourth-most highly valued all-American game" is still an all-american game and every player there is an elite athlete nationally. Does it mean you are an NFL 1st round pick -- no. But anyone there is one hell of an athlete objectively.

      RBs are typically the best athlete at a High School (depending on your definition, but if you are talking about speed, strength, and agility they are usually top 5 at the school). Michigan brings in 4 or 5 of these a year (counting walk-ons) from across the nation - so often among the top 10-20 athletes in their state. Even the 50th best RB (a generic 3-star) in the 247 database is probably a great athlete.

      And this can make a huge difference in high school where you can just juke everyone out of their shoes and then run by them. But Michigan isn't plaing against grocery stock clerks and pizza delivery guys -- at this level, just like in the NFL, the differential athleticism isn't there anymore. The fastest guys are the DBs, the strongest are the linemen, and there's a guy waiting to step in for you who is only 10% less athletic than you not 80% less athletic.

    35. you like to pick & choose your data ... like "the last two years we passed over 45%," then link to include 2021 & 20, but not 2022 😂

      That's purposefully misleading. It's a lie

      as for Illinois, the team has season low PFF grades (Corum was highest). Losing the best & most popular player on the team demoralized an already flat team. Play sports - or do anything competitive that doesn't include a keyboard - and you might be able to relate

    36. Corum had 108 yards rushing in the 1H and fumbled literally because he got hurt. If he doesn't get hurt, we very likely go up 14-3 and that game looks completely different. Corum ran for 6+ yards / carry in that game vs. 3.3 for Stokes and 2.0 for Gash. Your argument that the offense was better without Corum in that game is extremely misleading and totally false. And if you're going to try and argue that we scored more points or earned more yards in the second half, that's a garbage argument as well as we ran over twice as many plays in the second half, largely because we couldn't run the ball.

    37. @JE. I did not say we passed over 45% the last 2 years. I said we passed over 40% over the last 2 years. You are lying. And now, having failed to prove your point, leaning back to insults based on your fantasies. My version of competing is engaging - yours is drawing back and personal attacks.

      Another fantasy narrative is a demoralized team. The facts are that the offense did better without Corum so you are left grasping for straws blaming the defense's struggles on Corum.

    38. @Anon

      Yup - Corum ran for more ypc and the offense still struggled badly. That's why I pointed out the punts. Michigan punted on 3 drives with Corum in the first half. Even if we engage in reasonably optimistic hypotheticals and Michigan scores instead of Corum fumbling - we score on 2 of 5 drives. In the second half we scored on 4 of 6 drives without him. If we're engaged in optimistic projections - it probably could have been 5 for 6 if Harbaugh kicked a FG instead of going on 4th and 6.*

      Corum is substantially better than Stokes and Gash but the idea that there is a massive difference in results didn't hold up. It never holds up.

      We struggled all game. With Corum. Without Corum. Maybe that's credit to Illinois. Maybe it's because of injuries. If we're going to blame the performance on injuries on Michigan's side - let's not forget that we had 2 NFL players out in Keegan and Schoonmacher on top of missing All for the season. All game long.

    39. Again, completely disagree. We generated over 200 yards of offense in the first half and very likely would have scored 14 points. Corum averaged 6 YPC behind an OL missing it's starting OG and against a very good defense. Our running game was completely ineffective in the second half and we needed 4 field goals - one of 46 yards and one of 41 yards - in order to win that game. I don't know how you can argue that Corum's absence didn't play a massive part there.

    40. @Lank, I misremembered. Oops

      You purposefully linked 2021 (skipping 2022) and said we were over 40% ... there. I was wrong about your lie, but the lie did happen

      Honest question: do you think we "did better" in the second half v I'll because Corum left the game? Be honest

    41. I'm kind of lost in this argument, because Lank has said both that a) Corum is a difference-maker and b) his absence didn't make a difference.

      I suppose if you play both sides of an argument, you're guaranteed to win.

    42. You say that as if this is something new

    43. @JE

      I linked to 2021 because we were over 40% in 2021. I was talking about the 2 years in aggregate. Nobody ever said we were over 40% in 2022. We were 42% in 2021 and 39% in 2022. I didn't crunch the numbers beyond that.

      I don't have to have an opinion on the 2nd half of Illinois because it's not a matter of opinion. The results are very clear. The offense was more successful and productive in the 2nd half of Illinois than the 1st half.

      Do I think our offense is better with Stokes and Gash than Corum? No. But in this game it did not hinder Michigan to lose Corum, even with Edwards out. Maybe it was luck, or maybe the coaches adjusted. That's a matter of opinion, but Michigan was scoring more often in the second half than in the first.

    44. @Thunder

      It's very hard to make a difference at RB even for a special player like Corum. I don't know why this is seen as contradictory or too hard to follow.

      Imagine we had the best long-snapper that ever played the game - would you notice if he was replaced by another one who was just pretty good? What about a kicker? Would you notice or would the coaching staff adjust it's decision-making to make it mostly irrelevant.

      A RB is more like a long-snapper or a kicker or a fullback than a critical piece like QB or DE.*

      *Except Barry Sanders

    45. For the record I did not say here that Corum is a difference-maker. I just said he was awesome.

      I am still undecided if Corum is a difference maker or not. I am not undecided about him being the best Michigan RB of my lifetime.

      RBs don't matter (in general, with rare exceptions). If it was up to me it would be different but it's not. I still very much like watching them run. Especially tackle breakers/dodgers like Mike Hart, Deveon Smith, and Blake Corum. More fun to watch than the run fast and straight guys like Wheatley and Edwards. But like I said years ago - if your OL is crushing the opposition the latter becomes more important. Corum can do both so that's part of why he's the best.

    46. I certainly think it’s an opinion that the offense was more productive in the 2H without Corum, because you haven’t provided any legitimate evidence for it.

    47. @Anon

      "We generated over 200 yards of offense in the first half"
      We generated over 170 yards in the second half. Is this what you want to hang your hat on?

      "very likely would have scored 14 points" in the first half
      But IRL scored 7.
      Did score 12 in the second half.
      Very likely would have been 15 if Harbaugh had kicked instead of going on 4th.

      "Our running game was completely ineffective in the second half"
      Our running game was mostly ineffective in the first half too. We did great on the scripted first drive and Corum broke a big run on the first play of the game. Not much after that from anyone besides Stokes' 17 yarder. A lot of carries for 0, 1, and 2 yards. I have to think it was a record for Blake Corum to have that number of carries with no gain.

      "we needed 4 field goals - one of 46 yards and one of 41 yards - in order to win that game."
      Because we scored 7 points in the first half and gave up 14 in consecutive possessions in the 3rd quarter. Only the first part is Blake Corum's fault.

      "I don't know how you can argue that Corum's absence didn't play a massive part there."
      It's mostly because of the results. It was 7-3 at the half. Second half we scored more points than the first half.

      I'm sorry - I just do not believe that the defense gave up 2 chase brown TDs in the third quarter because Blake Corum was out.

    48. @Anon

      The fact is that Michigan led by only 4 at the half because the Blake Corum led offense punted the ball 3 times, Blake fumbled when he was hurt, and they only scored once. Barring a 2nd half shutout it wasn't enough.

      In the second half, Michigan drove past the Illinois 40 time and time again. That resulted in 4 field goals and one loss of downs. But they only punted once. They ran an effective 2 minute drill, complete with a huge 4th down catch by Isiah Gash, to win the game. That drive could have been a touchdown except all they needed was 3 points.

      The offense was better in the second half. You can talk YPC till you are blue in the face but they scored more points in the 2nd half, they didn't turn it over, and they only had to punt once. Those are better outcomes than they had in the 1st half.

    49. You're just completely ignoring context and how Michigan attempts to play these games. If you honestly think that Corum's absence was a non-factor in that game, then this argument is completely pointless.

    50. It took three weeks for you to clarify using that link to 2021 stats, and your excuse is "you went with aggregate" (but also didn't want to crunch numbers)
      It's either misleading, misrepresentation or good ol fashioned lying

      Lank: I don't have an opinion
      also Lank: spends every day of the year, firehosing his opinion (esp about RB)
      It's either misleading, misrepresentation or good ol fashioned lying

      Blake Corum was voted team MVP
      In a league with CJ Stroud, he was named MVP of the B1G. He's a team captain (not our returning QB, who could be a higher draft pick) ... of course his injury impacted the team

      You say "it didn't make a difference" but
      what difference did we see when three of our OL missed multiple games? Does anyone even know which games they missed?
      what difference did we see when we switched from our B1G Champion QB? We won more games
      what difference did we see when we lost our 1st Rd DEs? We got more sacks (we also got more sacks in 2019, the last full season before they blew up)
      what difference did we see when we lost our returning starter and Team Captain TE? We now have a potential All American there
      when was the last time we had a WR make a difference?

      Your logic is silly. Every coach, player & analyst has the same data your looking at, but none would make such a statement. The opinions you have are unique ... maybe not lying, but almost like trolling

    51. @Anon

      If you say so. The facts speak for themselves. You are entitled to an alternative opinion.


      It took you 3 weeks to understand something simple. That's on you. Either that's intentional on your part or not. Up to you to figure that out.

      LOL. Me having no opinion on one topic doesn't mean I have no opinions on any topics. You know that well so you are "either misleading, misrepresentation or good ol fashioned lying"

      "of course his injury impacted the team" - except you can't show that because the offense increased it's scoring by about 10 points a game without him. (*excluding cupcakes)

      The OL was heralded for it's depth (justifiably) in advance of the season while everyone worried about RB (not justifiably). When RB depth got tested results were unaffected. That's mostly true at OL too! Because the primary shift was Jones for Barnhart (a camp battle, so it was close) and then a high end talent in El Hadi stepping in for Keegan a few times. But dig a little bit and you'll notice that arguably our worst game of the year on offense relative to expectations was Rutgers when we were down 2 OL and Keegan was shuffled out to play Right Tackle. Rutgers sucks and we prevailed but it was a slog until the Rutgers offense started handing us points. Illinois was missing Schoonmacher on top of Keegan and can be credited (mostly) to a good defense, but that's the closest comparable to missing 2 guys off our line.

      There were a couple of exceptions (Maryland when Keegan was replaced by El Hadi being most notable) but otherwise the offense scuffled in the middle part of the year when it had to change parts on the OL and when it missed multiple guys there was a dip. It thrived when everyone was healthy (early and late in the year or when there was stability PSU and MSU had Barnhart established as starter), regardless of the Heisman contender RB being around or not.

      Just because you aren't paying attention to the OL doesn't mean it doesn't matter JE.

      We got better as an offense from 2022 to 2021 and the biggest reason was JJ McCarthy. That's a difference.

      Our DEs in 2019 were Danna, Hutchinson, and Paye so yeah I will go ahead and agree with you that there wasn't all that much difference to 2021. What about 2022? Well, Mike Morris ascended into a draft pick so that was a big factor and when he went down we gave up 50 points. But the coordinators talked about the need to blitz more and the loss of organic rush. There was a difference.

      TE is similar to RB - it's hard to make a difference there.

      When was the last time a WR made a difference? How about 2017 when our lack of WR was a massive issue and our returning starter at QB seemed to regress noticably?

      The analysts are telling you that RBs don't matter in the NFL. You just don't want to pay attention. It's OK you aren't alone. There are many in the "college is different because well... because" camp

    52. @Anon

      I'm not sure how context explains punting the ball on the 3 drives immediately after the opening scripted drive. Illinois is a good defense, we were down Keegan and Schoonmacher and we struggled. Corum had an unusually high number of carries for not many yards.

      Our struggles on offense were there in the first half. You may have FELT better because we had a lead and Corum was healthy. You may have found punts less frustrating than field goals because we were farther removed from a touchdown. But this is not about your feelings.

      This is about results - so even if you swap out a fumble for a TD you still end at a 12 point second half vs a 14 point first half (or maybe it would have been 10). In other words the outcome did not change very much.

      It also didn't change against Ohio State or Purdue or TCU. The offense kept plugging right along producing better than it did in the preceding games with Corum.

      So we have here a 3 game sample before and after Illinois (38 points a game vs 44 points a game) and you have the two halves of Illinois (7 points and 12 points) and they both tell you a story that Corum's absence was not felt by the offense.

      RBs dont matter as much as you think. <---- One reasonable conclusion.
      RBs are incredibly important and the above conclusion is stupid because I have made a narrative based on my feelings <-------- another conclusion

    53. Agree to disagree I suppose. Just because you disagree with the evidence that I've put in front of you doesn't mean it's not there.

    54. I don't disagree we had 200 yards in the first half or that the offense struggled in the second half. I disagree that it was meaningfully different in the two halves.

    55. Lank, it didn't take me three weeks, I replied right away. You're lying again

      You have an opinion (mostly contrarian) on everything here. There's an entire library here to back it up

      Everything you're writing - in multiple threads - is that we're a better team without Corum, and our sloppy 1st Half is on him. The B1G coaches & media voted him league MVP, Harbaugh trusts him with nearly 25 carries a game, the players voted him Team MVP. Even YOU list Corum among your most important players on YOUR countdown

      We all have the same data. No on agrees with you. Not even you😂

  2. Let me start by saying that I love me , some Jim Harbaugh. But gripes I had even before he reestablished MICHIGAN among national elite is that - while he gets the most out of very good players - he doesn't exactly make the "rashan gary's" into jadaveon clowneys ...

    Edwards is a Reggie Bush like talent, who I could imagine Urban Meyer making a Player of the Decade type candidate. I'm doubtful we'll see anything more than all-conference out of him, and not just bc of Corum sticking around

    A year ago, he talked about the time he invested in the weight room. It's fair to assume he & the coaches saw opportunities in strength & balance, and these were addressed. This year, Edwards has lofty goals, and recognizes he could be more shifty ... if this thing man is determined as he is optimistic, I have little doubts he will realize his dreams ... just not while in Ann Arbor

    1. I think that narrative is weak sports-radio fodder. I don't know where we are drawing the Jadaveon Clowney line but Harbaugh has only had a handful of 5-star type recruits. The strongest argument against his development of elite talent is probably a transfer - Shea Patterson. A solid player but very far from nationally elite. Meanwhile guys like Devin Bush and Blake Corum and Zak Zinter are all americans and Jabril Peppers is a heisman contender and 1st round pick. Very few 5-stars do that.

      As for Gary - his 3 years at Michigan mirror Hutchinson's 3 years at Michigan. Statistically unimpressive playing SDE/Anchor in Don Brown's system, but everyone paying attention knew he was a beast and was going to go in the first round or two. Even battling through a season long injury he was first team all conference in 2018 junior year. Of course the big difference is Hutchinson's senior year. Hutchinson made that choice, helped IMO by the fact that he is a legacy with extensive local family support.

      The narrative ship on Gary has sailed but he was a 1st round pick, and had 2 seasons of first team all conference and another season as an impact backup on a national title contender. Dude did way more in his career than most and even if adjusting expectations to a top 10 national recruit - he was still more productive than the majority of similarly ranked players. Harbaugh, Mattison, and Brown did their jobs with him, as his 22.5 NFL sacks by age 25 have proven out at the next level.

      Even the bad things that people say about Harbaugh are eminently swat-able. Dream come true head coach.

    2. I would say the sample size is very small on "truly elite" talent under Jim. You could argue that Gary underachieved. And probably DPJ. But Peppers was a Heisman finalist. Dax Hill I would say achieved at a level somewhat consistent with his ranking. Edwards has at least met his expectation. And JJ is well on his way if not there already. What other truly elite players have there been? There just have not been many top-30 level guys.

    3. @ Kurt 11:07 a.m.

      Chris Hinton did not meet expectations for being the #31 overall recruit in his class. I agree with your point overall, but that's the guy I would point to most and say he never did what he should have done. He's a guy who should have spent another year in school.

    4. I think Thunder is hitting on a key point bringing up a 3-year guy. It's mostly outside of Harbaugh's control that guys like McGrone, Hinton, and Gary are going pro after 3 years when they have whatever reasons they may have to do so.

      NIL maybe changing Harbaugh's influence on that to some degree (e.g., Zinter, Corum). Still, the 3-year guys are obviously going to have a harder time building a multi-year legacy than guys sticking for 4 or 5 years. For example, Taco Charlton was just a backup for 3 years and achieved very little until year 4. Ojaba did similar things in 3 years. Hinton might have been on a Charlton track but made a different decision. I don't see any of that as being on Harbaugh regardless of their starz.

      The thing that Harbaugh CAN control is DPJ. I think that is less of a factor of his under-acheiving and more of a factor that he was underutilized.

      I think the reality here is that our expectations as fans is the real issue more than anything else. Hinton was a starter on a big ten champ and playoff team and now he's a legit NFL player. I would say it's hard to call him a disappointment when you consider that he was only around for 3 years, even if we all would have liked for it to be 4. I don't agree with the Thunder that he "should have spent another year in school". I do agree with thunder that I WOULD HAVE LIKED IT IF he had stayed in school. Those are different things.

      Anyway, this just comes with the territory of recruiting top 50 guys -- many of them are going to be gone in 3 years. We'd all like them to be guys like Gary or Dax Hill who put up production for all 3 of those years but sometimes that's just going to be 1 good year (like Hinton). IMO we shouldn't view 1 year guys as disappointments, because if that 1 year is their senior year we wouldn't ever do that. It's only a disappointment because we are left wanting more.

      Bottomline - we don't like when guys leave before they hit some kind of ceiling of expectations.

      I would argue that Harbaugh has done a fantastic job of getting a lot out of his star players at every level - 3, 4, or 5 stars.