ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It’s officially a three-way race on who’s the starting running back.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke acknowledged the ongoing competition in Monday’s press conference, just two days after saying senior Fitzgerald Toussaint would remain as his lead back.
Toussaint, who missed Saturday’s 27-19 triple-overtime win at Northwestern due to a concussion, will compete with freshman Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith for the bulk of the carries, said Hoke.
“I think we always have a competition,” Hoke said on the RB competition. “You got to give them credit though for how they played.”
Against NU, Green finished with 19 carries for 79-yards and Smith totaled 41-yards on eight carries.
“Both those guys (Green and Smith) are pretty much north-south runners,” Hoke said. “They have a chance of being north and south because of their size and their style. They had pretty good vision most of the time. ... For the most part they both ran hard.”
While the two freshman totaled a 120-yards rushing in the win, Hoke says Toussaint is still in the competition due his past success.
“Because Fitz has done so good at some of the things the last couple years, the last three years,” Hoke said. “So there is a fit for all three of them.”
When asked who will be the featured back, Hoke said he has taken notice of the improved freshman play and a decision will be made by week’s end.
“They did show (me more),” Hoke said. “I think we will have a pretty big decision to make at the end of the week.
“It was nice getting those two going a little bit. No question.”
Hoke did note that Toussaint’s concussion will no longer be an issue this week and shouldn’t miss any more practice.
“I doubt he misses anything this week,” Hoke said, but later addressed further why Toussaint didn’t play at Northwestern. “… he had a little bit of head concussion thing. But he practice late in the week. We just don’t think he was practiced enough. Let’s put it that way.”
Junior RB Justice Hayes played mostly in passing situations at Northwestern. Hoke said he was pleased with how Hayes did in pass protection.
“He came in and did a nice job in the protections,” Hoke said.
Hoke noted Iowa’s physical line of scrimmage when mentioning the Hawkeyes style of play.
“Have to be physical,” Hoke said.
Hoke on Shane Morris’ development and readiness to play: He is closer to 75-80 percent now (being ready.) In September he was around 45-50 percent ready.
Hoke noted that Willie Henry and James “Biggs” Ross have stood out on defense as of late.
When asked why is Iowa so tough to play at? Hoke replied: “They are right on top of you – it’s close. It’s a lot like East Lansing."