Friday, May 26, 2006

'81 team featured 5 who are in top 25 all-time in rushing

This year's team has good depth at running back with Michael Hart, Kevin Grady, Mister Simpson and freshman Carlos Brown. However, this fearsome foursome can't match the firepower of the quartet of backs Bo had in 1981:

  • Butch Woolfolk #4 in career rushing yards; 1,459 yds., 5.8 yds. per carry in 1981
  • Stan Edwards #17 in career rushing yards; 446 yds., 4.8 yds. per carry in 1981
  • Larry Ricks #10 in career rushing yards; 413 yds., 4.8 yds. per carry in 1981
  • Rick Rogers #22 in career rushing yards; 128 yds., 5.8 yds. per carry in 1981

In addition to the depth at running back in 1981 U-M also showcased a quarterback who could run. Steve Smith is #24 in career rushing yards. He ran for 674 yards averaging 5.0 yards per carry in 1981. To put this in perspective, consider that in 2005 U-M's leading rusher was running back Mike Hart who gained 662 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. That means the top running back in 2005 gained less rushing yards and averaged a 1/2 yard less per carry than did the 1981 QB.

Butch Woolfolk was Michigan's career rushing leader for six years until he was passed by Jamie Morris in 1987. Butch still ranks fourth all-time with 3,850 yards in his career which amazes me considering how many carries he shared with Edwards/Ricks/Rogers/Smith all of whom are also in the top 25 all-time rushing yardage leaders. Once Woolfolk and Edwards graduated in 1981, Lawrence Ricks took over the tailback spotlight and he rushed for 1,388 yards in 1982 which is the 11th best single-season mark in Michigan history. Once Ricks graduated in 1982, then Rick Rogers (a freshman in 1981) moved up to be the featured back and he rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1983.

These days with increased parity and reduced scholarships you don't see schools, even Michigan, stockpile talent like they once did. Those were the good ol' days when the next thousand yard rusher was just down the depth chart. These days if kids don't think they are going to be "the Man" they will transfer (exp., Justin Fargas & Max Martin). The depth we have at RB this year is about as deep as I think we can expect to get. Hart is a superstar, Grady is solid and Carlos Brown is brand spanking new but he is immensely talented. I look for good things from this group but they will be hard pressed to match their brethren from 1981. Go Blue!

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