While Michigan fans have had a chance to digest a wild 27-19 triple-overtime win over Northwestern, one of the biggest takes from the game should be freshman running back Derrick Green. The highly touted recruit finally got his hands on the football and made the difference in the ballgame.
Quarterback Devin Gardner continued to struggle through most of the game, wide receivers were dropping passes left and right, and the coaching staff made several questionable decisions. In what looked like another devastating loss for Michigan, Green quietly carried the ball 19 times for 79 yards:
Granted, those statistics aren't earth-shattering and certainly don't match the excitement of a last-second 44-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons. However, each of those yards were key in the Wolverines pulling out the victory.
Like his 23-yard run that moved the chains late in the third quarter. That drive didn't result in points, but the run did help swing the field position, which allowed punter Matt Wile to pin Northwestern at its own 1-yard line.
He also had three rushes for positive yardage on the opening drive that resulted in a field goal. For the first time probably all season, the Wolverines offense actually moved the ball at will and looked like a respectable football team.
That type of consistency couldn't continue, but Green did prove that he is the real deal. He consistently bounced off of contact, kept his feet moving and showed great burst for a runner who stands in at 5'11", 220 pounds.
The 19 carries were the most of his young career, and this performance indicates that it is only the beginning. Likely the beginning of something special. Each run didn't move the chains and sometimes he was even stopped at the line of scrimmage, but it seemed like Green was just a block or two away each time from taking one of those touches the distance.
With Fitzgerald Toussaint on his last legs and a batch of other runners struggling to emerge from the pack, Green was able to separate himself on Saturday.
It wasn't a performance that will go down in Michigan history, but it was the beginning of what should be an extremely successful career.
Green has arrived.
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