Michigan Looking to Strike Balance Between RBs Corum & Edwards

June 09, 2023

Athlete Studio

Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards are two of Michigan's most explosive running backs. Corum, who could have been a Heisman finalist and NFL draft pick, missed some of Michigan's biggest games due to injury. Meanwhile, Edwards became the Wolverines' home-run hitter during those key games, stuffing the highlight reel with long touchdown runs.

With both healthy and available to play this fall for Jim Harbaugh's team, the question remains: how will Michigan manage to maximize what they have without running the risk of injury?

Harbaugh recently revealed his thinking at a press conference in Detroit. He confirmed that he advised Corum to leave for the NFL after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee during a November win over Illinois. However, Corum wanted to have a full offseason to train and prepare to be at his best when he went to the combine. Harbaugh describes Corum as "maniacal in his preparation," and his injury gives him an opportunity to take his time and get it right.

Corum's injury has coaches thinking twice about the number of carries he gets in games. He averaged nearly 21 carries per game in 2022, a figure that includes the two-carry game against Ohio State in which he tried playing through the knee injury. That's among the most in the country in one of college football's most run-heavy offenses.

Harbaugh says it's important that their playmakers get touches, but he wants to manage that on a game-by-game basis. Between Donovan and Blake, he hasn't settled on the exact number, but it's going to be maybe nine or ten each. He doesn't want to wear them out either.

Corum made the most of his 247 carries last fall, rushing for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per attempt. He was Michigan's featured back in nearly every situation—on first down, third-and-short, and goal-line plays—and difficult to bring down.

But all those carries come with a price, especially at running back, a position that endures a lot of wear and tear on the body. Corum's knee injury forced him to sit out most of the Ohio State game, miss the Big Ten title game against Purdue, and Michigan's College Football Playoff run.

Donovan Edwards, a sophomore who played through his own injury to help put Michigan over the top, was a second elite back at their disposal. With a cast over his right hand, Edwards rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns—including scores of 75 and 85 yards, respectively—in the victory over Ohio State. He followed it up a week later against Purdue in the Big Ten championship by rushing for 185 yards and a touchdown—highlighted by a 60-yard run. Against Texas Christian in the Fiesta Bowl, a game in which the Wolverines lost, Edwards broke a 54-yard run.

When healthy, Edwards can also be a weapon in the passing game—catching 18 throws for 200 yards and two touchdowns last season. He figures to be a part of the aerial attack again this fall, making him a unique presence in the Michigan offense.

Sherrone Moore, Michigan's offensive coordinator who takes over as the sole play-caller this fall, will have a tall task in managing Michigan's running backs and better incorporating quarterback J.J. McCarthy and the passing attack. A balancing act will have to play out, but luckily for Moore and the rest of the staff, the Wolverines aren't without plenty of options.

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