Wheatley: RB's 'Moving in Right Direction'

Michigan running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley has high expectations for his group, detailing his thoughts on the production through three games and what he hopes continues Saturday against BYU.

Regardless of the level of competition, Michigan's rushing attack has shown life through three games to start the 2015 season.

Despite struggling to get the ground game going in a season opening loss at Utah, in wins over both Oregon State and UNLV, Michigan eclipsed the 200-yard mark both times.

Led by starting tailback De'Veon Smith, who has rushed 53 times for 206-yards and three touchdowns to lead the Wolverines, Ty Isaac also enjoyed the first break out game of his career Saturday with 114-yards on eight carries, including a 76-yard touchdown run.

Overall, running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley is pleased -- not satisfied -- with the progress out of his unit.

"I wouldn't put a grade or a measuring (stick), we still have a long ways to go," Wheatley said. "That's just me being the coach.

"We could end the year with 3,000 yards rushing and I still would probably say we still have a long ways to go.

While Michigan will all but certainly fall below 3,000-yards on the ground for the season, the progress is apparent.

Facing the most challenging front seven of the season to this point against the Utes though, Michigan finished the contest with just 76-yards on 29 attempts. Since that time, the Wolverines have found success.

"To go from game one to now, I would say we're progressing in a good way," Wheatley said. "We're going in the right direction.

"Each guy is still going in the right direction. Each game we're improving and picking up on little things that we're getting better at."

In full control of his running backs room, Wheatley is clear and concise about his expectations for the position every Saturday.

Although his backs haven't been perfect just yet, Wheatley knows exactly what he's preaching and looking for.

"Each week is pretty much the same thing for us in the backfield," Wheatley said. "Reduce negative yards rushing, try not to leave any yards out there, hit the right tracks and right marks, right cuts and not leave any yards out there.

"And pass protection, protect the quarterback, not try to give up any hits or forced passes."

Perhaps the best statistic for the running backs through three games is the word zero, as in zero fumbles from a tail back in 180 minutes of football.

When asked about having no fumbles so far this season, Wheatley briefly walked away to knock on some wood, undoubtedly hoping this trend continues against BYU Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

"I make this joke every year and every time a back carries the ball, there's two ways to get put on the bench," Wheatley said. "A. is to get the quarterback hit and B. is to put the ball on the ground.

"You can't gain yards when you're on the ground so a back that's always tripping and stumbling, you can't gain yards you won't play and you've never seen a running back run without (the ball). You stress it in that way."

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