116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Eight rushes of 20 yards or more. An average of 7.5 yards per carry.
Nine touchdowns this season, two last week. Thirty carries last week for 243 yards.
An additional 11 pounds.
Sift through those above sentences regarding Michigan running back Blake Corum, and understand how the latter number there might have something with the former ones. The Virginia native and former Maryland prep star has emerged as one of the top backs in the Big Ten Conference after gaining strength and weight in the offseason.
He’s listed at 5-foot-8 and 210 pounds.
“With my mindset, I feel like I always was able to carry the ball that many times,” Corum said last Saturday, after his huge production allowed the Wolverines to get past Maryland, 34-27. “But 100 percent, I prepared in the offseason for a reason. You really want to talk all the yards I had, but the offensive line killed it today ... But, yeah, the 11 pounds I put on definitely helped.”
Corum definitely will be a challenge for Iowa’s defense when the teams meet Saturday morning at Kinnick Stadium. And vice versa, considering the Hawkeyes have limited opposing runners to a 2.2-yard per carry average and haven’t given up a rushing touchdown this season.
Who gets the better of this matchup might swing the game.
A junior, Corum has more rushing touchdowns through four games than any player in Michigan history. His 243-yard game last week was the highest for a Wolverine since Denard Robinson had 258 in a 2010 game against Notre Dame.
He has produced over one-third of Michigan’s explosive plays this season (8 of 24), an explosive play defined as one of 20 yards or more. According to Pro Football Focus, 165 of Corum’s 243 rushing yards last week came after contact, which Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh said is an indication of what makes Corum potentially special.
“There is an old saying in football that a running back who can miss somebody by the narrowest of margins is an unbelievable talent,” Harbaugh said. “Blake can get so close to a defender, a would-be tackler, within inches, and then make the slight move where somebody that close doesn’t even touch him.
“Some backs will make the cut a yard away, or 2 yards away. Blake Corum gets to the point where he can smell their breath and then make the slight 6-inch cut, miss by the narrowest of margins. It’s incredible. The vision, the low center of gravity, players talk about just having a hard time finding him. But the real key to his success is how close he can get to a defender and then just miss them by the narrowest of margins.”
Corum hadn’t been needed to play much in the second half of Michigan’s first three games, all blowout wins, which allowed him to rack up so many carries against Maryland. An injury to another back and an early fumble by yet another gave Corum the chance to have as much, well, run as he could possibly get.
“He's tenacious, doesn't give up,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “Had an unbelievable game Saturday. It's not surprising. He's a high-motor guy. Another example that you can't measure guys with a yardstick and all that stuff. Football players are football players, and he certainly is one.”
“He’ll never show you that he’s tired,” Michigan tight end Joel Honigford told local reporters this week. “He’s always ready to go. He’s super electric to watch on the field. He’ll get on a guy’s toes and make him miss from a foot away. Sometimes we put him in bad spots by missing blocks, and he finds a way out of it. That’s why he is so good.”
Will Corum get another 30 carries this week? Doubtful.
But he’ll likely be a key to whatever Michigan does offensively Saturday.
“I think the really good running backs, the great running backs, a running back like Blake, that has that kind of (ability), I think they crawl out of the crib with it,” Harbaugh said.
“This team is great,” Corum said last Saturday. “We have a great team, and we’re building something really special.”
Comments: (319)-398-8258, firstname.lastname@example.org