The Wolverine

December 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2017 M ichigan's running game got back to the basics in a 27-20 overtime win at Indiana Oct. 14, using more power and isolation, and less zone, to cruise to 271 yards on the ground, with 200 from junior running back Karan Higdon. U-M sputtered to 103 yards on the ground in a loss at Penn State, but rebounded to eclipse 300 rushing in blowout wins over Rutgers and Min- nesota (334 and 371, respectively), before going for 160 yards in a 35-10 blasting of Maryland. "It's taken huge strides forward ev- ery week," offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said on the weekly coaches' show on 97.1 The Ticket, Detroit. "I think they're settling in and get- ting to understand our concepts better and understanding the techniques and working with each other. I think that's huge. "The backs are getting a feel for how we're blocking up front and letting the play express itself. They're making strides every week." Higdon ran for 200 yards a second time this year in the 33-10 win over the Golden Gophers Nov. 4, and he's still got another level to reach, Drevno said. Sophomore Chris Evans added 191 yards on just 13 carries in the mashing of Minnesota. "He's playing at a high level right now," Drevno said of Higdon. "Those backs against Minnesota, I've never seen anybody break so many tackles, yards after contact. They saw the hole well. They let the play express itself when the ball was handed off. "Karan is playing at a very high level, and Chris Evans had a breakout game." Higdon nearly eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage against Maryland Nov. 11, despite leaving with a minor injury in the second quarter. He fin- ished with 50 yards on the ground and 48 more on two receptions, while Ev- ans also had two catches (for 29 yards) and totaled 80 yards and two scores on the ground. That gave the second- year rusher 569 yards on the year and the Wolverines a trio of 500-yard rush- ers this season, joining Higdon (854) and fifth-year senior Ty Isaac (548), who did not play against Minnesota or Maryland. The Wolverines had not had a trio reach that threshold in the same season since 1991, when Ricky Powers, Jesse Johnson and Tyrone Wheatley did so. — Chris Balas DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH CONTINUES TO EVOLVE, IMPRESS Some of Michigan's young defensive linemen have stepped up to provide depth on a line that's been a strength of the team. True freshman defensive tackle Au- brey Solomon has played in every game and is the latest to earn a start- ing nod, having opened the contests against Rutgers and Minnesota, join- ing another former five-star in sopho- more end Rashan Gary, fifth-year se- nior nose tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. and redshirt junior end Chase Winovich to form a formidable front. Gary paid his dues last year, playing behind a pair of high NFL draft picks (Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton) before emerging as a force this year. Solomon notched three solo tackles, including a half tackle for loss, in his first start, a blowout win over Rutgers, while frosh end Kwity Paye is playing more and more. "Aubrey has steadily improved since he got here," defensive line coach Greg Mattison said. "He's improved every day. "The older guys have really men- tored him. You can see it every day — you get [redshirt junior] Bryan Mone coaching him on what he should be doing, Mo Hurst … guys will be watching film and they'll say, 'That's really good,' or, 'Step this way.' "He's really a great, great young   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Running Game Has Taken A Huge Leap Forward Sophomore Chris Evans became the third U-M back to eclipse 500 rushing yards this year against Maryland, giving the Wolverines a trio to reach that threshold for the first time since 1991. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 2017 MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Sept. 2 vs. Florida* W, 33-17 Sept. 9 Cincinnati W, 36-14 Sept. 16 Air Force W, 29-13 Sep. 23 at Purdue W, 28-10 Oct. 7 Michigan State L, 14-10 Oct. 14 at Indiana W, 27-20 (OT) Oct. 21 at Penn State L, 42-13 Oct. 28 Rutgers W, 35-14 Nov. 4 Minnesota W, 33-10 Nov. 11 at Maryland W, 35-10 Nov. 18 at Wisconsin Noon/FOX Nov. 25 Ohio State Noon/FOX Dec. 2 Big Ten Championship^ 8 pm/FOX * at Arlington, Texas; ^ at Indianapolis

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