Thomas Rawls has no choice but to step up for injured Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint
Ready or not, here he comes.
Michigan's running back situation hasn't been pretty for most of the 2012 season, and entering its regular-season finale against Ohio State, the Wolverines will be one man down as Fitz Toussaint continues to recover from season-ending leg surgery.
Thomas Rawls, you're up.
As we examined earlier in our "Issue of the Week," Michigan now finds itself in an interesting situation at running back Saturday with Rawls being pressed into starting duty and the newly-created versatility of senior Denard Robinson.
The staff won't say a word about Robinson one way or another. As far as Rawls goes, though, Brady Hoke and company seem to believe there's only one thing to say.
"I don’t know if Thomas has a choice," Hoke said earlier this week when asked if he felt Rawls was ready for added responsibility during the biggest game of the season.
The 5-foot-10, 218-pound Rawls made plenty of headlines in August after running backs coach Fred Jackson compared him to a combination of Mike Hart and Chris Perry.
Rawls split carries with senior Vincent Smith in the team's season-opener against Alabama, but did next to nothing with them. From there, he never found a way to surpass Toussaint in the team's starting lineup.
He did begin to see split carries with Toussaint at Minnesota, but has just 66 yards on 27 carries over the past three games.
“(He) seems fine," Hoke said of Rawls earlier this week. "Pretty confident. Most guys who have ability at this level, they’re pretty confident in their abilities.”
Ready or not, Rawls will have to be a big part of Michigan's offense Saturday during the biggest game of the season.
But will Robinson find his way into the backfield also? He started last week's home finale against Northwestern as the team's lone setback, and Michigan ran several plays with Robinson standing in the backfield either behind or alongside quarterback Devin Gardner.
Apparently, though, everyone will have to wait and see -- because the Michigan coaching staff simply isn't talking about it.
"I’m not addressing that issue, I refuse to," Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said earlier this week. "The best thing is don’t even try anymore.
"As far as that (dual-quarterback package) goes, that’s game plan stuff and I would never (discuss it publicly)."