Fri. w/Webb: Coach J Analyzes his RB charges
Sam Webb: Here with Fred Jackson, Michigan running back coach. Fred first things first, you get your running backs, they got their feet wet in game #1 last week, just sort of assess there overall performance.
Fred Jackson: "I think when you look at overall what they did, they did a pretty good job in terms of the reads. They blocked decent. I think there is a great room of improvement. If you had to give them a grade, I would say we were around a B in that game, but I expect a lot more. I expect us to get a lot better in game two."
Sam Webb: Let us talk about individuals. Fitzgerald Toussaint got the start, what was it about Fitz's camp that made you think he was the one to go with?
Fred Jackson: "Overall more consistent than the rest of the guys. Not necessarily saying the other guys were that bad, it is just the fact that he was a little bit more consistent and he took care of the ball a little bit better, showed a little bit more toughness and I decided that's the guy to go with."
Sam Webb: When you look at the other guys, Mike Shaw he got in there and got a few carries, busted one, what did you see on that play and what did you think of him individually?
Fred Jackson: "First of all, Mike, I never had any issue with Mike running the football, got to get him better pass protection. But in terms of him running the football, you expect those kinds of things and I think if you could add to his blocking abilities and get him a little better there, he's going to be excellent for us."
Sam Webb: You still saw Vince Smith in there. Brady said he is your third down back. What does he bring to the table that uniquely qualifies him for that role?
Fred Jackson: "When you think of a third down back, you think about a young man who can actually look at a secondary, go from the secondary to the edge of the defense and then over to guards and tell what's coming and tell where the cheats are coming from to allow you to get a jump on the blitz. He's very good at it. That's why he is a third down guy. On top of those things right there, when he gets to you, he's going to sting you. He's not a big guy, but he's going to put a sting on you."
Sam Webb: You get Stephen Hopkins back this week. How do you incorporate Stephen to the mix and what does he bring to the table for your position group?
Fred Jackson: "The thing he brings the most is a big physical back that right now runs with his pads down, about 230 pounds. I think he would give you a short yardage advantage. I think he gives you a guy in there who can also play some fullback for you and do some things that way. He can catch the football. He is an added dimension in this offense and glad to have him back."
Sam Webb: A guy that we haven't seen a guy that a lot of people were talking about. You got a freshman by the name of Thomas Rawls, tell us about Thomas from practice. We aren't in practice. We weren't in practice before he got he injured. We heard Coach Borges say that he got an injury in practice during fall camp. What did you see from him during fall camp before that injury?
Fred Jackson: "I saw a young man that reminded me of kid by the name of Chris Perry. He had the same kind of feet. He's not quite as tall, same body stature, pretty physical football player who could see the field. That was very impressive and not just see the field but see the field and go north and south after you see it. That was an advantage I saw him in that I hadn't seen in a freshman in a while."
Sam Webb: I'm not asking you to say he is going to start or anything like that, but can you say…do you think Thomas Rawls is going to play his freshman year?
Fred Jackson: "I feel there is a great chance that he will play his freshman year. Because of the fact that he is progressing. He knows the offense and he's a young man that catches on real well and I think with his physicalness and the way he operates in terms of how he is with the offense, I think he is going to play this year for sure."
Sam Webb: It is interesting, a lot changes but one thing that stays the same is Fred Jackson. The longevity, give us some tips out here in the world. How do you hang on so long?
Fred Jackson: "This is one of those things that you got to have a little luck. Still, I think when you do a good job, people recognize that you do a good job and hopefully that is one of the major reasons and another thing is that you put yourself in position to have success by doing the right things and I think I've done that over the years and that helped me."
Sam Webb: You talk about doing a good job and there is no question your track record as a running back's coach speak for itself with the NFL guys that you've had to the All-Big Ten players you've had. You've also been a successful recruiter. I know you can't get into specifics talking about guys, but man they put you in Michigan and all I can say is wow with the job. Just talk about your success getting back closer to home here.
Fred Jackson: "I think it has a lot to do with those 20 years of being at Michigan and you know a lot of people, a lot of the coaches that are going to help you. Plus, I sort of know what kids look for in a university and I can sell this university and these kids have been wondering about Michigan all their lives. I can touch the right points and touch the things with them to have a great interest and I think that has helped me tremendously."
Sam Webb: Do you think it is definite that you will take a running back in this class, not talking about any specific guy. But will you take a running or might there be a chance that you don't take a running back in this class?
Fred Jackson: "I think there is a chance that maybe won't. We not going to take a back just to take a back and if you don't get the guy you want, the one or two people that's out there on the charts that you really feel can help us come in and win right away then, I think you skip and go to the next year. I'm not going to say we're definitely going to take one because I don't think that's true."
Sam Webb: You've coached in a few different offenses now. Do you think the running backs in your room in this style, one of the things that we often debate back and forth is maybe this style caters to the skill set of a few of your guys a little bit more. Talk about that a little bit and what is it about this style of play that appeals to you as a coach so much.
Fred Jackson: "It appeals to me because the running back has a major contribution factor in terms of you win and lose. What I love about the offense overall, the backs get to run the football, you're a major contributor in pass protection, you get to catch the football. So it prepares you to go to the next level if you're good enough to go to the next level. Also, gives you an opportunity to take the game and make a fast game real slow by knowing some of the things that is necessary to be a successful player."
Sam Webb: Do you think what you guys do now maybe caters like I said to the skill set to the guys in your room a little bit more than maybe what you used to do?
Fred Jackson: "I'm about half and half. I've got some guys who was recruited to be the backs in the spread. A couple of guys we got now who were good enough, big enough and strong enough to be backs in this offense. I think the work ethic and the kind of kids that I have in that room, they're going to tie in and we're all going to be fine."
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