ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan running back Derrick Green has a broken collarbone and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
The team’s leading rusher was injured Saturday night on a 21-yard run up the sideline in the fourth quarter of a 26-24 loss at Rutgers. It was the latest blow in a dreadful season so far for the struggling Wolverines (2-4, 0-2 Big Ten).
No timetable was given for Green’s return when Michigan coach Brady Hoke discussed the injury during his Monday news conference. Hoke, however, had previously made it clear he did not want to talk about player injuries this year unless they were season-ending issues.
”Derrick’s attitude has been very good,” Hoke said. ”He knows the expectation for him is to help coach those young guys and be integral in what we’re trying to get done. . We’ll miss Derrick, but like anything else in competition and sports, the next man has to step up.”
Green has 82 carries for 471 yards in six games this season, including the first two 100-yard games of his career against Appalachian State and Miami (Ohio). The sophomore had 12 carries for 74 yards against Rutgers.
In his absence, sophomore De’Veon Smith, junior Justice Hayes and sophomore Drake Johnson will likely get more playing time.
Smith has 47 carries for 282 yards and four touchdowns this season.
”He has been prepared to carry it as many times as need be all season long,” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said. ”It’s a matter of circumstance, at times. Derrick has done a really nice job, and De’Veon hasn’t gotten as many touches. But if you look at the productivity of his touches, it has been really good.”
Hayes has primarily been used in third-down situations, in part because he is the most consistent pass blocker in the backfield. He has 19 carries for 101 yards this season.
Johnson, who tore a knee ligament in the 2013 season opener, has almost no game experience.
The Wolverines may also focus more on fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner’s running abilities in order to bring another element to their ground game.
Gardner has 47 carries for 131 yards this season. He showcased his rushing talent at Rutgers with two touchdowns, including a 19-yard scamper.
”You never want to take the caliber of player that Devin is with his athletic ability and restrict that,” Nussmeier said. ”Any time you can use the quarterback as an effective running weapon, it creates another dimension the defense has to defend. On the same side, you have to be conscious of protecting the quarterback.”