Ohio State-Michigan Position Preview: Running Backs and More

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst INovember 20, 2008

Running Backs

If Ohio State didn’t have Beanie Wells, the matchup would be a whole lot closer. That said, OSU does have Beanie and a capable Boom Herron. Michigan has approximately 37 players that could run the ball, most likely sideways, and none of them do it effectively.

Sam McGuffie (could be a threat, someday) apparently had a death in the family and won’t be playing in the game. If that doesn’t fuel rumors of him transferring, I don’t know what will.

Beanie Wells and Boom Herron vs. Brandon Minor and...Michael Shaw?

The real difference is Beanie. He laid down 222 on Michigan last year, hurt, in the cold, Michigan knew it was coming, and they were better last year. Boom came in as the backup to Beanie and did as well as anyone could have imagined with the poor offensive line play.

With McGuffie out, Minor has played Ohio State before, ineffectively, and Michael Shaw is a true freshman that leads UM running backs in YPC at 5.8 yards on 30 carries.

Reserves: Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine vs. Carlos Brown and Kevin Grady

Michigan has a lot more players that could run the ball than Ohio State. It’s sort of a product of the spread, but also not having an elite back to get a majority of the touches.

Maurice Wells is in his final stanza of eligibility after coming to Ohio State with Jim Tressel his first year (ha). Mo Wells has always been this close to being a legitimate option for OSU, but he has really not provided fans nor coaches a lot to cheer about. Brandon Saine is still on the team, I guess, after a season and a half of being a guy that Tressel occasionally calls a play for (bootleg!).

As for Michigan, anyone at anytime could run the ball. Whether it be QBs, WRs, HBs, or FBs, Michigan is built on side-to-side confusion (we’re going to run the spread!).

Carlos Brown could be dangerous but has never proven it, and he could even see time at QB. Justin Feagin, or the Poor Man’s Terrelle Pryor, has burned his redshirt and can run the ball for the Wolverines. Kevin Grady is a human bowling ball (he’s short and stocky and runs into his own blockers) and still thinks Mickey Mouse is a cat.

Head Coach

Both men have had their hardships this year. Let’s start with Tressel, whose senior-laden team came out of the box and struggled with Ohio, got devastated by USC, and now has an offense that’s just finding its way...11 games into the season.

Tressel’s done a good job preventing a Lloyd Carr/Kirk Ferentz free-fall, but the offense scored a total of three TDs in its biggest games and is trying to look BCS-capable with a blowout of Michigan.

Rich Rodriguez has reasons to make excuses, but not as many reasons as you have been lead to believe. Let’s face it, Michigan should be able to lean forward and pick up 3.5 yards against Toledo.

Jim Tressel vs. Rich Rodriguez

I would like to give this as a runaway success to Jim Tressel. He’s a man who has had four championships in Div. I-AA, one in Div. I-A, and two other appearances (results not withstanding). Rich Rodriguez almost had that one that West Virginia blew its opportunity against Dave Wannstache and Pitt.

But then again, Jim Tressel’s team lost to Ron Zook last year. Yikes. Rich was at WVU and no one expected them to be as good as they got (at least with Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Noel Devine).

What sets these two men apart is the ability to adapt. Jim Tressel was the kid that put all the right shapes in the right holes and got an A, while Rich Rodriguez was the one pouting in the corner because the square wouldn’t fit in the circle hole.

Jim Tressel has lost some of his luster after the Florida debacle and the LSU game (not to mention USC), but no question he adapts to his players. If that means off tackle and prevent defense for 60 minutes, he’ll do it. Rodriguez, on the other hand, lost to Toledo. 'Nuff said.