Jackson Breaks Down the RB's

Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson updates the progress of his position group. Stephen Hopkins, Michael Shaw, Fitzgerald Toussaint, the cohesion of the unit.

Question: You said you are going to roll several guys in, but are one or two of them to the point where they are gaining a little more confidence?

Fred Jackson: "I would not allow them to know that because of the way I rotate them in practice right now. They are getting there, but the point I am trying to make is right now I'm rolling them all with ones and all with twos, so the competition and they are not aware of who I am trying to keep in a starter."

Question: On if Stephen Hopkins will see any time at fullback?


Fred Jackson: "(Stephen) Hopkins is a good football player. Hopkins can play fullback, he can play halfback. Hopkins is a really good football player. He has savvy. He has feet like (Chris) Perry. He is just a young guy, but he has got great mobility, change of direction for a guy his size. I'm very happy with what he has done so far. He has got all of the right stuff. He is going to be an excellent player for us."

Question: In the past you've coached guys who have carried the ball 250 times a year, how is this going to be different for you this year having four guys maybe rotating?


Fred Jackson: "It's going to be fun because it makes the practices so much fun. When a guy knows he is going to play I think the preparation is totally different when they know they are going to play. Regardless of what the situation is, they are not one dimensional. They know when they in there, you got to do whatever the offense requires and I've got four guys that I put in position that they can do those things."

Question: Will be a couple of guys that do a lot of those things well that take more snap?


Fred Jackson: "I think you're going to see the whole season where you're not going to know who is who. I really think so. Right now, I've got guys in tune that they can do everything. Sometimes in the past, you know this for sure, that we've had to use this guy for this down and this guy for that down based on their ability, but it is not that way. Not even Vince (Smith) and Hopkins, Vince being a smaller guy and Hopkins being the bigger guy. All of those guys are capable of doing everything, so it is going to make it so much more fun and the competitive part of it has got me excited. I'm very excited about the competition at that position right now."

Question: What is it like to have your son (Jeremy Jackson) out on the field? This time of year usually means less time and now you get to see him all the time.


Fred Jackson: "It is great to see him. He's a young kid, but he's doing everything they are asking him to do. He's playing like they say, a coaches son would expect him to play, playing smart football and I'm happy with that."

Question: Rich talked about Mike Shaw really showing up this fall camp; what have you seen from Mike?


Fred Jackson: "I've seen a mature guy who is not guessing or thinking, just playing and to me that makes you a better football player because a lot of times you get a guy with a lot of talent and they thinking and all of sudden, you say damn. It is like Anthony Thomas as a freshman, people telling me he is never going to play because he doesn't have this or have that just because he was thinking. Then when you let him play the game, feel the game and slow the game down because of knowledge. If you know what you're doing, you can make the game slow and that's the thing that Michael Shaw has been able to do this camp."

Question: Have you noticed it as being a guy that is going more north and south, hitting it a little bit harder going straight up the field?


Fred Jackson: "He better. I've told him that I'm tired of some of the things that we've done where we got a guy in a hole and we going to run around as opposed to going through him. So we're going through them. We're going to go through guys that is there as opposed to try to sidestep him and slide that sort of things.

Question: When was the last time you remember going in a year like this without one defined guy?


Fred Jackson: "If I had to go in with one guy, I could, but because of the way they are practicing I don't have to and I think I like it better this way because of the versatility of being able to play anybody. They all can catch the ball and they all can run it and they are pretty good blockers. I like it better this way. I know you wouldn't like it in other positions like quarterback, those kind of positions, but I like it this way. Right now I got four or five guys that I can put in. They are playing their butts off. They coming to work every day. Nobody is missing practices. They are playing with a high motor. They are consistent. So I like them all right now, because of the fact of what I just mentioned, they all doing what you want them to do."

Question: Do you feel like in Coach Rodriguez's offense that you need multiple running backs to get the job done?


Fred Jackson: "I don't think you need multiple running backs to get them done but I think we have them. I think that is the key right now."

Question: What about Fitz (Toussaint)? Rich said he has been injured a little lately, but how he was performing?


Fred Jackson: "Until he got a little banged up, and he'll be back Monday, until he got a little banged up he was very good. He was very good. I was very, very impressed with what he had been doing until he got a little banged up there. But he's ready to now and so we all set."

Question: What in particular about him impressed you so much?


Fred Jackson: "Michael Hart's ability with speed. Kind of guy that can do Michael's cuts, can sit down and sink his heat and explode without making steps and he is faster than Mike, that kind of thing. He is very, very tough guy like Mike was. He's a similar back to Michael Hart. He is very similar. He is not the type of inside runner Mike was, but he is going to get there just with his knowledge. Right now, he still thinks he is an off tackle guy, but he can go inside and outside."

Question: I guess Shaw is the one with the most experience here along with Vincent a little bit; does that help them or is it a situation where everyone is at the same place?


Fred Jackson: "Sure it helps them but I think the competition has been so great and the way I've been rotating them, it has allowed some of the other guys to sort of catch up to them. So it is fun as a coach to see guys, everyday I tell them I can't wait to get to the practice field to see what I'm going to see next. I always tell them, show me what you want me to see and they doing that and I'm having fun doing that. I'm having a lot of fun coaching these guys because they all eager, eyes are wide open every day, everybody is happy. No (sad or upset) looking faces, just having fun. I hate to go to practice who are not smiling and happy about practice because it really should be fun to them and I think I got guys like that. They've taken on the personality that I want them to take on."

Question: What kind of things do you do when a running back puts the ball on the ground in practice?


Fred Jackson: "All types of things. Things that I can't discuss at this point. A lot of things, I don't like that, you don't like that, nobody likes that."

Question: This spring, Shaw talked about the family atmosphere with the running backs.


Fred Jackson: "You know what they really are. Last night when I finished grading the film, I said you guys can go. It is about time you got to your family, those type of things. So I took off, went down to my office to get coffee and get a couple of things, I come back and they still sitting their talking. They could have been gone 20 minutes and I came back and they were still sitting there as a group. You can tell, there is something brewing there with those guys. They help each other. They pick each other up. Guys tired, they on each other. I think if anyone of you guys were coaches, you would like coaching these guys."

Question: Does that make it easier for them to go in and out then because they won't be resentful?


Fred Jackson: "There you go, to me that's what is good. That's a good one. You don't have that all the time. Sometimes you got a third guy hoping that the second guy gets banged up or he does something wrong so he can get a chance. I don't think I have that in the room and I sincerely don't believe I have that."


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