Michigan football has rotated liberally at running back this season.
But on Saturday, the Wolverines mostly relied upon one player: Hassan Haskins.
The redshirt sophomore handled 66% of his position group’s carries, rushing 22 times for 110 yards and a touchdown in U-M’s 48-42 triple-overtime win at Rutgers.
“You talk about heart, I thought all our players played with great talent and heart,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “The amount of runs that Hassan had that were yards after contact in this game, tough, efficient, outstanding runs. Just tremendous.”
Throughout the offseason, the Wolverines said they would rotate among four running backs in Haskins (the team’s second-leading rusher in 2019), Zach Charbonnet (the team’s top rusher in 2019), Chris Evans and Blake Corum.
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Haskins entered the game as the team’s leading rusher on the season with 21 carries for 163 yards and three touchdowns through the first four games. During that same span, Corum had 19 carries for 38 yards and two touchdowns, Charbonnet had 13 carries for 98 yards and one touchdown and Evans had 11 carries for 34 yards and one score.
Against the Scarlet Knights, Haskins had more carries than the other three backs combined — and for good reason. He consistently created extra yardage by fighting through defenders and was a big reason why Michigan’s struggling run game churned 148 rushing yards on 3.4 yards per carry.
In the second half and overtime periods, Haskins ran for 95 yards, and scored the winning touchdown by diving over the goal-line on fourth-and-goal at Rutgers’ 1.
Haskins said after the game he “kinda knew” that he would receive more carries Saturday based on how many carries he was receiving during practice. And with his production, he’ll likely continue to receive a majority of the carries.
“I just got into rhythm,” Haskins said. “It was a good thing, getting more carries. Any carries, I’m good with. Twenty-two (carries), that’s a blessing.”
Cam McGrone, Brad/ Hawkins hurt
McGrone’s injury could be significant, as he was carted off the field. Harbaugh did not have an update for him after the game and says an MRI will be conducted.
The Wolverines went with former walk-on Adam Shibley as McGrone’s replacement, just as they did against Michigan State when McGrone left that contest due to a separate injury. Shibley finished with five tackles, including one tackle for loss, and earned praise from Harbaugh on multiple occasions.
“I thought Adam Shibley came in and played really well,” Harbaugh said. “He does a really good job of not overrunning the play and made a couple good tackles.”
Hawkins’ replacement, former walk-on Hunter Reynolds, also received a shoutout from Harbaugh after the game. Reynolds recorded four tackles and made one of the bigger defensive plays in the game, breaking up a would-be touchdown on third down to force a field-goal attempt.
Michigan’s offensive line gets even younger
The Wolverines were without both starting offensive tackles in their previous two games. Both players missed Saturday’s game — and there was also a third absence along the offensive line, as starting center Andrew Vastardis did not play due to injury.
Michigan inserted redshirt freshman Zach Carpenter in Vastardis’ place. True freshman Zak Zinter made his third consecutive start at right guard, while redshirt freshman Karsen Barnhart did the same at left tackle.
The offensive line did allow two sacks and numerous pressures, and several run plays were blown up. At the same time, the passing attack was effective, especially in the second half, and Michigan ran for over 100 yards for the first time since the Michigan State loss on Oct. 31.
“I thought there was some really good play in the line,” Harbaugh said. “There was just a time in the game where the line was coming off the ball in a way that they hadn’t up until this point. There was a switch that really flipped. Zach Carpenter, also a redshirt freshman, true freshman Zak Zinter, thought he flipped the switch in a way that was tremendous. And Karsen Barnhart, redshirt freshman.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football’s Hassan Haskins takes lead in running back rotation