ANN ARBOR, me. – When Michigan football brought in former five-star (according to 247Sports’ proprietary rankings) running back Donovan Edwards, the feeling was that the complexion of that room was finally changing.
Last year on paper, it appeared that the Wolverines had perhaps the best running backs room in the conference with Hassan Haskins, Blake Corum, Zach Charbonnet and Chris Evans. Though that still may be true on paper given what the two current Wolverines are doing along with Charbonnet’s breakout year with UCLA and Evans being in the NFL, the production didn’t match the potential.
Now we’re seeing the production, as the one-two punch of Haskins and Corum has given the maize and blue the fourth-best rushing attack in the nation through two weeks. But Edwards hasn’t quite gotten his shot just yet.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh had said that the big thing for Edwards was that he needed to learn more on how to run north and south compared to relying solely on his athleticism and bouncing it outside. According to running backs coach Mike Hart, that’s a common problem that nearly all backs have once they graduate from high school and join a college program.
“I think that’s always the issue with any back that comes from high school,” Hart said. “Not just Donovan, that was Blake’s issue last year. I’m sure it was Hassan’s issue when he was a freshman. That’s one of the biggest transitions when you get to college. Everybody’s fast, not just fast, but they contain the ball and there’s angles, right? So you have to get vertical.”
Through two games, Edwards has just 7 carries for 31 yards and in retrospect, Hart wishes he would have gotten him in more this past week against the Huskies. The Wolverines rushed 56 times for 343 yards, but the bulk came from the Haskins-Corum ‘thunder and lightning’ duo.
Still, Hart feels like Edwards has done enough to earn ample playing time and vows that fans will see more of him going forward.
“He’s doing a great job,” Hart said. “That’s one thing — I need to get him on the field more. He’s talented. I told him that he should have more carries in the game against Washington. Without a doubt. But we’ve just gotta get him in there, get him oiled up. We’ll try to get him in the game more.”
Edwards certainly will have an opportunity in Week 3 when Michigan hosts NIU and its porous rushing defense. The Wolverines and Huskies kick off at The Big House at noon EDT on BTN.
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Michigan football RB coach Mike Hart vows playing time Donovan Edwards