ANN ARBOR, Mich. – When junior running back De’Veon Smith was listed as the clear number one running back on the depth chart the first week of the season, it was the first time in his Michigan career where he would he would be the feature back.
For Smith, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise he was named starter. He put in the work during fall camp to put him in a position to start. He knows it’s a crowded backfield and is well aware of the opportunity at hand.
“I always go into the games hoping I get a lot of carries,” Smith said. “Any running back in our room right now expects to get a lot of carries. It really wasn’t a surprise for me, it was more so of a humbling experience. First game, first time I’ve really started while at Michigan. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m just trying to get better every week.”
Those mistakes? Simple things, in Smith’s mind, that can be fixed after watching to film. It primarily starts with vision.
As far as how Smith ranks his personal performance, he was not pleased. Many times mentioning how he missed cutback lanes due to poor vision, one in particular where, in his own words, he said he could “drive a bus through.” He graded himself as a “C.”
“Just reading my gap, reading the holes,” Smith said. “I’m trying to improve my vision because the vision I had watched on film, watching myself, that wasn’t really how I play from the point of seeing stuff. That’s something I’m definitely trying to improve on this week.”
Smith said the entire offense watched tape together as well as the running back group as well. It brings a sense of great accountability to everyone. By doing that, it opens up even more mistakes that he previously couldn’t spot if he were to fully watch everything on his own.
It’s clear what factored into his mistakes.
“Missing holes, dropping passes, not getting out quick enough in protections into your route,” Smith said. “It all comes into a factor. I watched the game as soon as I got into the bus and noticed every little mistake I did. When you watch it with the team, you see how many more mistakes you make and coach points it out to you and he tells you what we should do to try and fix it and to move forward from it.”