Michigan football: It's time to give Blake Corum more Heisman love
Blake Corum needed mere minutes to let his emotions out following Saturday night’s events.
Strolling into the media room late Saturday evening in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s star running back grinned as he approached the podium following a 29-7 win over Michigan State. Having heard 3rd-year Spartans coach Mel Tucker run his mouth about being “the team” in the B1G, the junior didn’t hold back.
“I thought Tuck was comin’,” Corum said to reporters. “I thought Tuck was comin’. That’s what they said this offseason, right? All them shirts — Tuck was comin’. I saw him running.”
Corum comin’. Corum can score ’em.
In another month, several passers looking to make it to New York might not have as good a case as Corum. Outside of perhaps Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, does anyone else deserve the prize more?
Corum’s consistency makes him a front-runner
Michigan brought home the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the 1st time since 2019. The defense held MSU to 61 yards in the 2nd half in front of a packed Big House to close out October.
Offensively, it was the Corum Show. That’s the norm these days in Ann Arbor. Every Saturday, it feels like Corum is the headliner and everyone else is his entourage.
Wolverines fans aren’t complaining. Neither is Jim Harbaugh.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) October 31, 2022
Corum bounced off tacklers for 4 quarters to tally 177 rushing yards off a career-high 33 carries. Runs came in all forms. The 5-8, 210-pound ball of energy rattled off 3 consecutive runs over 5 or more yards in the 1st quarter to pick up a crucial 1st down. He scampered down the sideline for a gain of 17 to begin the 2nd quarter, thus setting up his 2-yard touchdown reception 5 plays later.
Corum totaled 5 runs of more than 10 yards and was credited for picking up 13 of Michigan’s 27 1st downs. He averaged 5.4 yards per run and scored both of the Wolverines’ touchdowns. Runs were a combination of physicality and elusiveness.
That’s Michigan’s identity. It’s like clockwork against B1G foes. So many have tried to contain the guy wearing number 2, only to find out he’s 1 step ahead. And it’s been that way since October and seems to be moving full-speed ahead entering November.
Corum is 1 of 7 players with over 1,000 rushing yards through 9 weeks. Of the 7, he’s 5th in carries (179), 4th in yards (1,078) and 3rd in yards per attempt (6.02). While he no longer leads the FBS rushing scores, his 14 rank 2nd only to Pitt’s Israel Abanikanda (16).
There were four Heisman Trophy reps on hand at Michigan today.
Heisman winner Derrick Henry through 7 games in 2015: 901 rushing yards, 12 TD's.
Blake Corum through 7 games this season: 901 rushing yards, 13 TD's.
— Will Burchfield (@burchie_kid) October 15, 2022
Derrick Henry was the last running back to hoist up the hardware, during the 2015 season at Alabama. Production-wise, there’s no denying he was dashing away with the award en route to a national title as he tallied 2,219 yards and 28 scores on 395 carries.
When comparing Corum and Henry’s production, they nearly mirror each other through 8 games. Entering November, Henry had totaled 1,064 yards off 180 carries and scored 14 touchdowns.
More yards? Corum. More attempts? Corum. Touchdowns? A tie.
A sign of what’s to come?
A strong November to seal the award?
Plenty would need to happen in the coming weeks for Corum to become the front-runner. Stroud, who leads the nation in yards per pass attempt (10.7) and passer rating (200.2), would need to implode in 1 of Ohio State’s final 4 games. Stroud’s inconsistencies against Iowa and Penn State opened the door slightly, but his strong finishes in those games likely is enough to keep him at the top of the list.
The same goes for Hooker, who has Tennessee on an 8-game winning streak while orchestrating the top-scoring offense in the nation. It’d take a slip-up game before championship weekend to cool his status in the voters’ eyes. The best chance for that to happen? Saturday against Georgia and its top-5 defense under the czar of defensive play designs in Kirby Smart.
INTERVIEW: Jim Harbaugh talked about calling for accountability after the tunnel incident with Michigan State, finding time to enjoy and celebrate Michigan's win, and Blake Corum's Heisman candidacy. pic.twitter.com/8AiJEpsxiK
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 31, 2022
That might open the door, but Corum’s production would need to remain steady.
He’s 1 of 3 B1G running backs who have rushed for 100+ in every conference game this season. Illinois’ Chase Brown is on pace to break his school’s single-season rushing record. So is Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim.
- Rutgers – 19th
- Nebraska – 115th
- Illinois – 2nd
- Ohio State – 10th
Three of the 4 programs mentioned have held opponents to under 110 yards per game on the ground. That was the case for Penn State too before Corum erupted with a 166-yard performance at The Big House.
Could he have that type of game again this Saturday? In 3 weeks against Illinois? In ‘The Game’?
Henry’s campaign wowed voters with 3 200-yard games in the month of November. And while that likely won’t happen with Corum due to Donovan Edwards’ impact, 3 150+ performances shouldn’t be off the table. At this point, 3 100-yard outings are expected.
Corum won’t get the national love or Heisman hype he deserves due to the position he plays, but just like Stroud and Hooker, he’s the reason his team stands where it does. He’s changed the outcome of games on more than 1 occasion. Just like Hooker. Just like Stroud.
He’s been an x-factor in multiple games, literally carrying his team to victory. And he should be a front-runner for college football’s most coveted award based on his impact on his program’s chances of winning a national title.
Just like Hooker. Just like Stroud.