The Wolverine

November 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2022 THE WOLVERINE 65 M ichigan football has had incredible riches at running back through- out its illustrious history. The Wolverines have featured stars such as Tyrone Wheatley, Tim Biakabatuka, Anthony Thomas, Chris Perry and Mike Hart. They all sprinted their way not only into Michigan's record book but also into the hearts of the Maize and Blue faithful. As a result, there is no consensus as to which of these talented backs was the best or had the best season for Michigan. However, junior running back Blake Corum is trying to enter the conversation and change that. After a fast start to his sopho- more campaign gave way to in- jury and the punishing running of Hassan Haskins in 2021, nothing has slowed Corum this season. Through the first seven weeks, he led the nation in rushing touchdowns (13) and was second in rushing yards (901). In addition to racking up these total numbers, Corum also has been running efficiently down to down. Among players averaging at least 15 carries per game, he is eighth in yards per carry (6.17). Combining these stats with the dazzling cuts that he has put on film, he is the highest-graded running back at 92.9 by Pro Football Fo- cus (PFF). As a result, and as the offen- sive engine of undefeated No. 3 Michi- gan, he has placed himself at or near the top of the list of candidates for the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back, and the Heisman Trophy. If anything has slowed down Corum this season, it has been garbage time. In each of its three nonconference games, Michigan held 30-plus-point leads be- fore its offense snapped the ball in the second half. The Wolverines under- standably decided to rest Corum for most or all of those second halves. Af- ter halftime, he played only one drive against UConn, he had only one carry against Colorado State and he sat on the sidelines the entire second half against Hawaii. With Corum seeing such limited playing time in those halves, his num- bers were not eye-popping. After those first three games, he had posted only 34 carries (11.33 per game) for 235 rushing yards (78.33 per game). During the Big Ten season, though, there has been no time for rest for Co- rum, and he has thrived. In four confer- ence games, he has run the ball a whop- ping 112 times (averaging 28 carries per game) for 666 yards (166.5 per game) and 6 touchdowns. His production has been remarkably consistent, too. He has had at least 25 carries, 124 rushing yards and 1 touchdown in each of these four conference contests. He also has showcased consistent fireworks and an ability to deliver jar- ring uppercuts to opposing defenses. Four of his 6 touchdowns were at least 20 yards long, and it should have been 5 if the officials did not incorrectly mark him down short of the goal line on his 50-yard highlight scamper against In- diana. And his long scores against Mary- land, Iowa and then-No. 10 Penn State all were the knockout blows that gave Michigan the comfortable cushion to win. Corum has not been doing this against only the defensive patsies of the Big Ten either. Iowa is first and Penn State is 11th in Defensive S P + , a n o p p o n e n t - a d j u s te d metric that measures defensive efficiency. In fact, the Nittany Lions were fifth in rushing yards allowed per game before coming to Ann Arbor. But after facing Corum, they left ranked a measly 56th in that stat. If his body can hold up and stay healthy, which is a reasonable question when averaging 28 car- ries per game in his last four con- tests, Corum is on pace to have a historic season by a Michigan running back. If he can sustain his production from his four Big Ten games played through his re- maining five Big Ten games on the schedule, he would be projected to have 286 carries for 1,734 yards (6.06 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns after 12 regular-season games. That would break Michigan's single-season record for rushing touchdowns set by Haskins last year (20) and be the second-most rushing yards in a season by a Wolverine behind only Biakabatuka's 1,818 in 1995. And that would be after only 12 games, with at least one and maybe three more to go. Should that happen, Corum would likely be honored with the Doak Walker Award β€” the first Wolverine to win it since Perry in 2003β€”and heading to New York for the Heisman ceremony. With those type of numbers and those type of accolades, Corum would have arguably the best season by a running back in Michigan history. He may not have the longevity or career numbers of a Wheatley, Thomas, Perry or Hart, who were Michigan's bell cows for multiple seasons, particularly if he chooses to go pro after this year. But in terms of one season that stands out above the rest and causes U-M fans' hearts to swell the most, Corum is running for it now. ❏ INSIDE THE NUMBERS   DREW HALLETT Blake Corum Is Cruising Into RB Lore Staff writer Drew Hallett has covered Michigan athletics since 2013. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @DrewCHallett. Through the first seven weeks of the season, Corum led the nation in rushing touchdowns (13) and was second in rushing yards (901). He is currently the highest-graded running back at 92.9 by Pro Football Focus. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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