Michigan Football: Wolverines Need to Use RB Fitzgerald Toussaint More

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 26, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines runs against linebacker Dan Fox #48 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Michigan has become so enamored with Denard Robinson that it has forgotten it has a running back that rushed for over 1,000 yards last season.

Junior Fitzgerald Toussaint, ranked No. 8 at his position in the 2009 class by Rivals.com, racked up 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last season for the Wolverines. Yet, despite Robinson's struggles against Notre Dame last week, Toussaint only got 13 carries.

With these 13 carries, Toussaint still managed 58 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and was able to break free for a 31-yard gain at one point. This was despite going up against a Fighting Irish defense that had allowed just 3.0 yards per carry headed into the contest.

Toussaint was a 4-star running back coming out of Youngstown, Ohio, in 2009. He also showed last season that he tends to get stronger the more carries he gets. He had four games with at least 20 rushes in 2011, and rushed for at least 138 yards in each of them. That included rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries against a strong Illinois run defense on Nov. 12.

Michigan faces Purdue next. Guess how many yards Toussaint racked up against the Boilermakers last season?

Just 170 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, including a 59-yard touchdown scamper. 

I understand that Robinson has the ability to change games with his legs (and, after the Notre Dame game, it's apparent sometimes his legs do more damage than his arm), but the Wolverines aren't doing themselves any favors by ignoring Toussaint.

Especially given Robinson's inconsistency in the pocket, it benefits the Wolverines to use their talented running back more and pick their spots in the passing game. Why not make your running game more of a threat, and then attack defenses when they are focused on the run? It would not only benefit Michigan, it would benefit Robinson.

The Wolverines still have a shot at capturing the Big Ten this season, but they have to be smarter with their play-calling and decision-making.

There's been a lot of criticism heaped on head coach Brady Hoke since the loss to Notre Dame. However, the fact of the matter is, he brought two programs (Ball State and San Diego State) back to life and coached the Wolverines to a 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl victory last season.

He knows how to coach.

The only problem is, coaches sometimes lose their way, and I think Hoke has lost his way early in the season, particularly against Notre Dame.

He can start guiding Michigan back to respectability by giving Fitzgerald Toussaint more carries moving forward.


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