Michigan star tailback Blake Corum has been ruled out for the remainder of the Wolverines’ season prior to the Big 10 Championship Game against Purdue. Corum suffered a knee injury in Michigan’s second-to-last game of the regular season against Illinois before rushing only twice against Ohio State. He’ll undergo surgery after spending a large portion of the season as a top three Heisman Trophy Candidate.
This means Donovan Edwards is now Michigan’s main man in the backfield and will now be the leader of what was once a two-headed monster of a rushing attack.
For the Wolverines, there’s not much drop-off here; Edwards is averaging a whopping 7.5 yards per carry (687 yards on 92 attempts) and has scored six touchdowns behind Corum’s 1,463 yards on 247 attempts. In his first game as the featured back, Edwards dropped 216 yards and two touchdowns on the Buckeyes in 22 attempts. Almost ten yards a carry in your first game in the spotlight (and against your main rival AND on the road) is none too bad.
Purdue, whose rush defense is a respectable 37th in FBS, has to be feel a lot better knowing that their opponent in the conference championship game is missing their main guy. The front seven has typically done better defending against rushers with Edwards’s style of play (big, powerful backs) rather than elusive, speed backs like Corum. Without half of a complimentary rushing attack, it’s easier for the defense to know what to expect. Of course, that didn’t help Ohio State, but at least Purdue has some film on Edwards.
Without Courm, Michigan is forced to be a bit more one-dimensional and makes game planning a tad more simple for Ron English and Nick Hagen. Like Corum, Edwards has elite top end speed, but he’s isn’t quite as explosive. At 6’1”, he’s more of a long strider with building speed, as opposed to the 5’8” Corum, who seemingly hits top speed on his 3rd step. There’s still plenty to be done when it comes to scheming against a big, talented tailback like Edwards (who is also a capable receiver out of the backfield) but at least the Boilermakers know who will be toting the rock for the Wolverines on every play.
I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make because Michigan’s offensive line blows open holes large enough for my slow, lanky 6’6” self to run through, but Purdue needs every bit of help they can get to pull the upset on Saturday night.