Offensive Recap: Smith, Run Game Make Strides

The Michigan Insider's Josh Newkirk & Sam Webb breakdown U-M's offensive performance in its 35-7 win over Oregon State.

Story by Josh Newkirk

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – With Michigan’s offensive line willing its way physically, De’Veon Smith wanted to ball more. He knew if he kept running the hard, Oregon State’s defensive front would wilt.

He was right.

Smith ran the ball 23 times, finishing with 126 yards and three touchdown runs, as Michigan dominated OSU, 35-7, in its home opener.

U-M had 42 yards rushing at the half, then, well, an energized Smith took over in the third quarter, rushing for 72 yards and a TD.

“You want the ball more. Give me the ball more. You can tell the defense is wearing down, you want the ball more,” Smith said. “Because I feel like for me personally my strongest quarter is the fourth quarter.”

Today, Smith only needed three.

Adding: “I felt like the offense wore the defense down a lot. We started grounding and pounding it. When you have more than one big back, the (defense) is going to start getting tired.”

Michigan outgained Oregon State 225-59 on the ground. Smith would finish with his third career 100-yard rushing game of his career.

Big Catch

On Michigan’s first TD drive, Smith caught a key fourth down catch that he would take 20 yards to OSU’s 8. What was the play call exactly? Well, Smith explains.

“No, it wasn’t a delay route,” Smith said of his fourth down reception. “Just had to read my progression. I’m happy I got the ball this time. Last week I dropped the ball. That’s one thing I wanted to work on was catching the ball and getting up field.”

Was he the first option? Not exactly, he says.

“No, I think I was the last option,” he said with a smile.

Coached Up

A self-described “power” runner, Smith said it wasn’t U-M coach Jim Harbaugh who got on him after his Utah game, but his position coach – Tyrone Wheatley.

“He was making me understand what I could’ve done better,” Smith said of Wheatley. He taught me about having patience with reading the holes and helping my vision out.

“Yeah we all made mistakes during that game last week, but we got to come out this game this and make sure made a great statement to the world today.”

Michigan (1-1) plays host to UNLV next Saturday at noon ET.

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