The Michigan football team’s offensive identity is based around the run and the duo of sophomore Blake Corum and senior Hassan Haskins. Ranked fifth in rushing yards per game and 10th in rushing attempts per game, it’s easy to say it’s rushing offense dominates, but how does it compare to the Big Ten? And how does it stack up against the rest of the top teams in the country?
To answer these questions, The Daily’s football beat teamed up with the Data team, to put in perspective the uniqueness of this offense.
Michigan’s emphasis on rushing the football is intentional. Last season, the 2-4 Wolverines ranked 43rd in passing yards per game, but just 96th in rushing yards per game. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis blamed the imbalance on himself and sought to construct a unit that would play “complementary football” in 2021.
Ironically, through four games, Michigan’s offense is a reverse image from last season. The Wolverines’ success has been predicated on their ability to run the football; the “thunder and lightning” backfield duo of Corum and Haskins has paced Michigan to 290.8 rushing yards per game, the most in the Big Ten by almost 70 yards.
“That warms the cockles of the heart to be able to do that, run the ball that way,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the Wolverines gashed Washington for 236 rushing yards in a 31-10 Week 2 blowout.
On the flipside, the passing unit is averaging just 164 passing yards per game, second-to-last in the conference. The lack of production is in large part due to a lack of opportunities. But, in Saturday’s game against Rutgers, junior quarterback Cade McNamara and company could not beat the Scarlet Knights’ defense through the air, with McNamara throwing for just seven second half passing yards.
As the season progresses, the Wolverines will surely look to develop the type of “complementary football” that Gattis envisioned in the offseason. For now, here is how Michigan’s run-pass disparity stacks up against the rest of the country.
The circle size represents the average number of yards per game.
Data Journalist Eric Lau contributed.