Why Michigan Needs To Stick with the Run Game Down the Stretch

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Why Michigan Needs To Stick with the Run Game Down the Stretch
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Michigan has long been recognized as a defensive football team that likes get a lead, control the clock, and run the football.

That all changed when Rich Rodriguez arrived on campus in 2008 and quickly "spread" the word about his new offense.

Glimpses of improvement have been seen in Ann Arbor this season, and good performances out of young players give evidence that better seasons are coming.

However, for the rest of 2009, Michigan needs to stick to what works.

That is, try and control the clock and run over defenders.

Senior running backs Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown need to be put at the forefront of each game plan and need to stay there even if the Wolverines start trailing in the remaining Big Ten contests.

Both Brown and Minor looked good at times against Penn State, and once Michigan started trailing on the scoreboard, they were long forgotten. They have been a key to success all season and need to be recognized once again as the leaders of the offense, even if passing uses up less clock.

Freshman Tate Forcier was expected to shoulder another load against PSU, and this time he couldn't come through. He completed only 13-of-30 passes and threw one interception. He was also sacked five times.

So, in turn, Michigan needs to try and lean on its seniors for the rest of 2009.

Minor and Brown need to get the ball and often.

This way, Michigan can control the time of possession game and limit the turnovers that Forcier and freshman Denard Robinson are committing. The two freshmen combined for three turnovers in the defeat to the Nittany Lions.

Controlling the clock would also keep the defense on the sidelines and rested.

Michigan's defense has had issues in 2009, and any help the offense provides could help lift the defensive unit.

The Wolverines are pitted against two of the worst teams in terms of rushing defense in their next two games.

Illinois is dead last in the Big Ten in rushing defense (185.3 yards per game), and Purdue is ninth in the conference in stopping the run (156.2 yards per game).

After that, Ohio State and Wisconsin are two of the better teams against the run; however, if Michigan had any wits about how it is going to win those two games, it should recognize its senior leading rushers.

This goes against much of what Rodriguez has been trying to do this season.

He has routinely tried to catch opposing defenses off-guard by hurrying up the line and using the no-huddle, but perhaps he should let go of this concept for the rest of 2009. Getting to a bowl game is a must for the Maize and Blue after such a horrific season last year.

Michigan's only conference win this season, against Indiana, saw Brown and Minor rush for over 130 yards with two scores. Brown also had a 61-yard touchdown catch in that game, and Michigan rushed 50 times against just 24 pass attempts.

With both Michigan senior backs rushing over 4.7 yards per carry, there is no reason that the Wolverines should not lean on the pair.

It's been a roller-coaster ride for the Wolverines this season, and Michigan needs a huge upswing at the end of the season for 2009 to be considered a success.

Perhaps Michigan needs to return to smash-mouth football once again.

Even if just for the final four games on 2009.

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