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Michigan Football: Wolverines' Use of Toussaint, Refusal to Adjust Still Baffles

Wolverines running back Fitz Toussaint continues to struggle
Wolverines running back Fitz Toussaint continues to struggleEric Francis/Getty Images
Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIOctober 30, 2012

The Michigan Wolverines have to adjust.

It's really that simple.

Whether it's devising a game plan—or an exit strategy in some cases—when a star player goes down, or a player is not performing up to expectations and needs to get replaced, Michigan has to evolve on the fly if it's going to win the Big Ten Legends Division.

The inability to do both was evident Saturday during the Wolverines' 23-9 loss to the Nebraska Huskers. Backup quarterback Russell Bellomy floundered, but so did a former 1,000-yard rushing running back, Fitz Toussaint, who averaged 2.5 yards per tote.

While the Bellomy escapade was quite a joy, it was expected. Who really thought he'd manage the game? In essence, his failure was forecast.

But what about Toussaint?

Michigan can (and should) do something about him—the quarterback position, though, isn't so easy to fix. A somewhat reliable run game would have at least cushioned Bellomy's blow. By simply having a consistent runner, Bellomy could have at least found stability.

Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes each showed a glimmer of hope during Michigan's 45-0 trouncing of Illinois. The pair of Flint-area backs combined for 156 yards and touchdown (Rawls: 90 yards, 10 carries, one touchdown; Hayes: 66 yards, 10 carries).

Where is the logic behind keeping a sputtering player stuck in the mud? Why continue going to a dry well?

It was apparent that Michigan had two viable ball-carriers after its resounding triumph over the Illini—either Rawls or Hayes could contribute much-needed relief carries and prevent Michigan from taking two steps back each week by using Toussaint.

But yet, that's what keeps happening.

Rawls and Hayes don't have the experience that Toussaint has, sure. But they should be considered for at least a change of pace as the Wolverines (5-3, 3-1) head into Saturday's game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-3, 1-3). Rawls hasn't averaged less than seven yards per carry since Week 1 when he was smothered by the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Hayes averages close to 6.5 yards per touch.

There is only a limited pool of examples to pull from, but why not deviate from a Toussaint-heavy run game that just hasn't produced?

The Wolverines' blunder by using Bellomy, while somewhat embarrassing in the grand scheme of things, is nothing when compared to the continued strategy of giving a stagnant running back the ball more often than he should have it.

But how should Michigan incorporate Rawls and Hayes without straying from its said-desire of running power football?

Give Rawls shots on halfback dives or Power O-like runs. The dive and Power O are aligned in the I-Form, which are sets that Hayes could be used in for tosses and sweeps; he has get-to-the-outside speed.

It's common sense, right?

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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