The Michigan Wolverines running game is in some serious trouble after losing leading rusher Derrick Green for the season to a broken clavicle. Through six games, Green ran for 471 on 82 carries with three touchdowns. Green, who started all six games, had been one of the lone bright spots during the team’s 2-4 start.
With quarterback Devin Gardner at the helm Green was expected to be even more of a home run threat, but an injury to his shoulder late in Saturday’s 24-22 loss to Rutgers spelled danger for the sophomore running back. Green has been formidable at best, but the inconsistencies on offense are impossible to ignore.
The former five star recruit still has two years of eligibility and should be able to return to form for the 2015 season.
Head coach Brady Hoke, whose future in Ann Arbor is certainly jeopardized by the Wolverines’ 2-4 start, addressed the issue in a statement.
“Derrick’s attitude is very good. He knows it’s an expectation of him to help coach those young guys and coach guys being integral in what we’re trying to get done. We’re going to miss him,” Hoke said.
Green has had nearly double the amount of carries that back up De’Veon Smith has, but Smith will now be relied upon to carry most of the offensive burden. Still, there are two other running backs, Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson, in the mix. That duo has carried the ball a combined 22 times for a cumulative total of 129 yards.
The Wolverines face a daunting task ahead of them, squaring off against Penn State on saturday. Penn State boasts one of the toughest defenses in the nation and Michigan will almost undoubtedly have trouble moving the football. Michigan will get their chances however, as Penn State’s offense has been dreadfully inconsistent, best characterized by their 29-6 loss at home to a middling Northwestern team.
*Section Photo credit to Gregory Shamus, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Andy Morrison, Toledo Blade