ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Brady Hoke has said it over and over again since arriving at Michigan; if possible, he’d prefer to have one featured back carry the football 25 plus times a game.
On Saturday in Michigan’s 52-14 win over Appalachian State, 25 carries wasn’t necessary but both Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith provided a rushing attack that hadn’t been seen in Ann Arbor in quite some time.
While Green got the start, it was Smith that broke free for some of the first big gains on the ground beginning what certainly looked like a practice in “anything you can, do I can do better” between the barrel like sophomores.
“The competition between the both of them and, I don’t think they were, you’re not in their head, you don’t know if Derrick had a good run and thought to himself you know De’Veon you’ve got to do that,” Hoke said Monday.
“But the explosive plays, I think we had 17 of them, and a lot of that was the job the receivers did down the field.
“Those guys really did a nice job and I think we talked after the game a little bit, Derrick and De’Veon are both big backs but they’re different in some ways. Again, we just played one football game and we got to continue to compete and challenge.”
And Green and Smith will do the same.
Admittedly good friends off the field after both having their struggles as freshmen in 2013, on the field, and in game situations, its all business with maybe just a hair of fun.
“When we came to the sideline we just congratulated each other,” Green said. “We’ve got this little handshake that we do and like I said, everybody knows we love each other, we’re brothers, so on game day there’s no competition.”
Still, with Smith making a cut up the middle of the field for 61-yards, Green took it upon himself to top that with a 62-yard scamper of his own down the right sideline.
“When he breaks a long one, I want to break a long one,” Green said. “That’s just how it is but at the end of the day we’re going to congratulate each other and we’re happy for each other.”
Green finished with 15 carries for 170-yards and a score, Smith tallying eight carries for 115-yards and two touchdowns.
Despite currently being listed at second string, Smith and position coach Fred Jackson have a little nickname for his backs.
“The decision is still up to Coach J if he wants to go with one back,” Smith said. “As of right now I know he calls us the one-two punch.”
For first year Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, he’s pleased to have relatively interchangeable options in Green and Smith.
“I thought they both did a really nice job,” Nussmeier said Monday. “And both of them have things that we can do a lot better but really from a production standpoint you look at the way they produced and the things that we asked them to do, it was a really efficient and effective game for them.”