Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brown's injury and what it means for Iowa

Word out of practice this week is that Carlos Brown, Michigan's leading rusher, is a little dinged up--something with his knees apparently (?). This, though seemingly not that bad coupled with Brandon Minor's healthiest week since spring camp, is actually a really big deal for Michigan's game plan and chances against an Iowa team that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown in the last 33 quarters.

It's not that Minor isn't a capable back, or that he's taken a marked step back this year after his breakout, crushing performance last season. It's his style of play against an Iowa defensive front that thrives against pounding, brutebacks the likes of Minor. Brown seemed to have cured his fumbling woes this year and has had a good season by utilizing his 5-star speed and burning linebackers and safeties for big gains. Minor, well, wrecks fools:

That running works against Indiana. It won't work against an Iowa team that is stronger, deeper, and bigger.

Brown's injury will open things up for some younger players on the offense, and fortunately, Michigan has a whole mess of sparkplug options. You should expect to see a fair amount of carries for Michael Shaw whose proven himself the #3 back behind Minor and Brown. If Shaw can't get anything going (and this is mostly assuming that Minor is held to 3-4 YPC), expect to see bite-sized Vincent Smith get a few touches.

The most interesting bit of information comes by way of The Michigan Daily and will have most Michigan fans drooling:

In the last rotation, Forcier ran the play at quarterback again, but with Robinson at running back. Though it wasn’t practiced during the first part of practice, the play could potentially give the opportunity for Robinson to pass the ball to a receiver off the pitch.

Robinson’s speed — coupled with Forcier’s quick success and the fact that the country’s No. 1 quarterback recruit, Devin Gardner, is poised to join the Wolverines next season — has constantly raised questions of if Robinson may eventually move to slot receiver or running back. But this season, both he and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez have continued to maintain that Robinson is solely a quarterback.

This was a fairly obvious progression. We knew it was going to get here eventually, even if Rodriguez had spent half of his time at press conferences saying that Robinson was definitively a quarterback. This doesn't mean that he's not a QB anymore, but it does open up a huge section of the playbook that Rodriguez hasn't even been able to think about using since he's been here. I expect to see this formation maybe once or twice. More likely, you'll see a 65/25 split between Minor and Shaw with a little bit of Smith and Brown sprinkled in. That is, unless Brown is healthier than he has been this week. Fortunately, with Michigan's running back situation, there's no need to hurry anyone back.

Update: MGoBlog has reliable sources. Curses. I should buy some of those. Brown likely out because of a concussion in practice. Also predicts a lot of Michael Shaw.


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