Monday, August 29, 2011
Wolverines' No. 1 running back still TBD
By Adam Rittenberg
While several Big Ten quarterback competitions have spilled into game week, Michigan is still waiting to determine its starting running back.
Mike Shaw and Fitzgerald Toussaint are listed as co-starters on Michigan's Week 1 depth chart for Saturday's season opener against Western Michigan. Shaw emerged in preseason camp and appears to have the inside track to start against the Broncos, although coach Brady Hoke said Monday that Toussaint still could win the top job.
Shaw has been a fairly solid back at Michigan, averaging 5.04 yards a carry with 11 touchdowns in his career. Toussaint came to Michigan as a heralded recruit but redshirted in 2009 and missed much of last season with various injuries.
Vincent Smith is clearly Michigan's third-down back, but it will be interesting to see how the carries are dispensed between Shaw and Toussaint on Saturday.
A few other depth chart notes:
- Will Heininger is listed as a starting defensive end opposite Craig Roh, even though walk-on sophomore Nathan Brink drew praise from the coaching staff throughout camp.
- I'm a little surprised to see Brendan Gibbons handling field goals ahead of freshman Matt Wile. Gibbons made only 1 of 5 attempts last season as the kicking game really hurt the Wolverines. Wile came in with some strong prep accolades but will handle kickoffs, punts and possibly longer field-goal attempts for the time being.
- J.T. Floyd and Courtney Avery are listed as co-starters at cornerback opposite Troy Woolfolk. Floyd likely will get the starting nod against Western Michigan.
- Kelvin Grady will join top kickoff returner Jeremy Gallon, while four players are listed as potential starters at punt returner: Junior Hemingway, Drew Dileo, Gallon and Martavious Odoms.
- Sophomores Mike Jones and Cam Gordon, along with junior Kenny Demens, are listed as the starting linebackers ahead of older players such as J.B. Fitzgerald and Brandon Herron.
- Aside from Wile, the depth chart includes only two freshmen in backup roles: cornerback Blake Countess and strongside linebacker Jake Ryan. Freshmen running backs Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes aren't listed on the chart.