Saturday, May 27, 2006

'75 team also featured 5 of the top 25 all-time rushers

In a post yesterday, I compared the depth at running back on the 2006 roster to the amazing depth at that position that U-M had in 1981. As I posted yesterday, the 1981 team featured 5 players that are in the top 25 career rushing yardage leaders. The 1981 team boasted running backs Butch Woolfolk (#4 all-time), Larry Ricks (#10), Stan Edwards (#17) and Rick Rogers (#22) as well as QB Steve Smith (#24). I thought such outstanding depth on one team was unprecedented. However, a little research revealed that the 1975 squad also featured 5 players who are in the top 25 all-time career rushing yardage leaders:

  • Gordon Bell #8 in career rushing yards; 1,390 yds., 5.1 yds. per carry in 1975
  • Rob Lytle #6 in career rushing yards; 1,030 yds., 5.3 yds. per carry in 1975
  • Harlan Huckleby #11 in career rushing yds.; 228 yds., 7.4 yds. per carry in 1975
  • Russell Davis #13 in career rushing yards; 179 yds., 4.5 yds. per carry in 1975

In addition to the four running backs listed above, the 1975 freshman QB sensation Rick Leach (#18 in career rushing yards) ran for 552 yards averaging 4.9 yards per carry that year. Overall, in comparing the depth of the 1981 team to that of the 1975 team I say they are very evenly matched. Of note, though, is the fact that in 1975 the Wolverines had two one-thousand yard rushers in the same season (Bell and Lytle). The tandem of Woolfolk and Edwards came close to duplicating the feat in 1980 when Woolfolk rushed for over 1,000 yards and Edwards rushed for 901 yards. To see how the times have changed all you have to do is look to the fact that in 2005 the top two running backs rushed for a combined total of a little over one-thousand yards (1,176 yards to be exact). Nevertheless, I believe that we have good depth at the running back position once again this year and we should see good production out of the backfield even though we won't be seeing the numbers put up by the 1975 and/or 1981 squads. Go Blue!

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