Commentary

Vincent Smith puts on variety show

Running back passes for touchdown, runs for one and catches another in rout

Updated: October 1, 2011, 7:37 PM ET
By Chantel Jennings | WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Call him a Renaissance man.

After running back Vincent Smith's performance against Minnesota, it might be the best way to describe him.

Three of the first four scores for the Michigan football team involved Smith -- but in all three plays, he played a different role.

[+] EnlargeVincent Smith
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireVincent Smith joined some elite company with his unique big day.
"He does everything you want him to do when you look at him as a football player and how he prepares," coach Brady Hoke said. "Vince is a guy that you know you can count on."

On Michigan's first drive, Denard Robinson handed the ball off to Smith for a short 3-yard run for a touchdown. On the Wolverines' third drive, they ran a halfback option pass with Smith, who threw the ball to Drew Dileo for a touchdown.

Smith followed that up by catching a short pass from Robinson and turning it into a 28-yard touchdown play to put Michigan up 28-0 midway through the second quarter.

"That's exactly what we expect out of him," fellow running back Fitzgerald Toussaint said. "He's a hard worker, and he's capable of doing those types of things."

"And he can pass," backup quarterback Devin Gardner added with a smile.

The scoring trifecta hasn't happened at Michigan in modern football history and was accomplished just three times last season in the FBS -- Ohio's Boo Jackson against Buffalo, Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor against Eastern Michigan, and Kentucky's Randall Cobb against Auburn.

Jackson and Pryor are both quarterbacks, and Cobb is a wide receiver. But it's a little different when you see a player who's primarily a runner cocking his arm back for a pass into the end zone.

"I was just put in the right place at the right time," Smith said. "The coaches know what I'm capable of. Whatever I have to do for the team to help them out."

Up until this week, Smith has mainly helped out Michigan by being one of its most reliable running backs. So far, he has amassed more than 200 yards on the ground.

But Smith wasn't the only running back to impress in the Big Ten opener. Toussaint had his first 100-yard game, and Thomas Rawls rushed for 74 on 10 carries. In total, the Wolverines rushed for almost 400 yards.

But for the running back corp, it was Smith who brought a multidimensional element, which, after Saturday's game, looks like something to be expected from the Wolverines.

When Smith was asked about how many different looks fans could expect, Robinson jokingly chimed in saying, "Don't tell them anything."

But Smith said his role going forward in the Big Ten was to stay positive and contribute in whatever way he could for the team.

On Saturday, he ran, caught and threw, proving to everyone how multidimensional the Michigan offense really is.

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com.

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