Michigan Wolverines: Fred Jackson

What we learned: Week 4

September, 22, 2013
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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Late in the game it looked as though Connecticut would serve up Michigan's first loss of the season, but a few well-timed plays down the stretch gave Michigan a 24-21 margin over the Huskies. However, the game was quite telling. Here are three things we learned about the Wolverines:

1. Akron was not an apparition. Michigan had said the reason it had that kind of a showing against the Zips was because it hadn't prepared well enough in the week leading up to the game. Last week, with a new and excited focus, the Wolverines said they hit the practice fields harder. The result was largely the same, however. The Wolverines can't blame this one on preparation. There are larger issues facing the Wolverines and the most troubling news for them is it's not just one thing or one position group -- it's physical, mental, chemistry and all the above at some positions.

2. The bye week couldn't come at a better time. Sometimes you just need to get away. Obviously Michigan isn't going to go anywhere during the bye week, in fact, Michigan coaches will likely run some guys even harder considering they don't have to field a team next weekend. Mentally, however, (and because a few of the players are banged up) Michigan really needs this bye week right now. Leaving the fans, stadiums and Saturdays for even one week can be such a re-energizing factor in a game. And the fact that the Wolverines have their first bye week the week before they start conference play seems to be perfect for them.

3. The run game has some life. Michigan has been going back to Fitzgerald Toussaint over and over again. And early in the season, some thought that by this time true freshman Derrick Green would be taking the majority of snaps. But Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson are sticking to their senior RB and giving him the ball over and over again. And he seems to be gaining confidence by the carry. There were a few times that he just didn't have a hole or completely missed it, but at other times (namely, his 35-yard TD run), he showed great vision and patience.

WolverineNation Mailbag

August, 21, 2013
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We’re almost in the single-digit countdown to the start of Michigan football. You know what that means: Students will start arriving en masse to Ann Arbor in the next few days so if there’s anywhere you wanted to go on South University or State Street before then, get there soon.

If you haven’t left your computer to go to Bivouac or Rick’s, we can start talking football now.

[+] EnlargeMichigan's Fitz Toussaint
Rick Osentoski/US PRESSWIREWill Fitzgerald Toussaint be able to hold up for an entire season?
1. NKnieling via Twitter: Will there be an exclusive back on this season's team, or more than likely a RB-by-committee type of thing?

A: Brady Hoke, Al Borges and Fred Jackson would much prefer a featured back. Last season they had Fitzgerald Toussaint from Day 1, but two years before that, they kind of tested the waters with multiple backs before settling on Toussaint a few games in. The issue they’ll face this fall is that they have two guys who both present very unique and different issues. Toussaint will likely start against Central Michigan, but his health is a concern. He has been healthy through fall camp but when those practice piles turn to opponents and Big Ten linebackers and defensive linemen, will his body be able to hold up? Then you have Derrick Green, whose vision and football IQ need to catch up to the college game before he’s really ready to tear apart any defenses. It sounds like that’s what has held him back so far. Because both concerns are likely present, I’d imagine we’ll see both getting snaps until only really, really separates himself (but knowing the other one also has game time experience this season).

2. June Whitfield, Inkster, Michigan: Any mention of Chris Bryant in the mix within the offensive line?

A: Recently I’ve been hearing good things about Bryant at left guard. He sat out of Saturday’s scrimmage because of a knee injury, but I had heard that he had been taking more snaps with the first team than redshirt freshman Ben Braden. Assuming the knee injury isn’t a big concern, I could see him getting the start against Central Michigan. It's crucial to find someone that will mesh well with Taylor Lewan and find instant chemistry since Michigan will be running to the left behind Lewan often.

3. KentMazingerHw via Twitter: When will we see a new commitment?

A: The next big visit date for Michigan will obviously be the Notre Dame game. In the 2014 class, both Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) -- the No. 1 defensive end in the nation -- and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic) -- the No. 3 athlete in the nation -- will be in attendance. That kind of atmosphere and energy will be huge in showing those guys how exciting and big Michigan football is as they’re both from outside the area.

4. RyanMassengill via Twitter: What team is the biggest threat to Michigan this season besides Ohio State?

A: I’ll pick a home and away game for this one. Home -- I’ll go with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers return quarterback Taylor Martinez, who will be a challenge for any defense. However, their defense is going to be replacing several starters in the front seven so Devin Gardner could have a field day, too. This could be a fun day to watch some explosive playmakers on offense. And as far as an away game, Michigan State will always be one to watch, but also ... don’t sleep on Northwestern. The Wildcats’ offense keeps defenses on their feet and their defense should be stout up front, which would force Gardner to pass and receivers to step up. It’s not necessarily a huge road game since there’s such a Michigan presence in the Chicago area, but still.

5. Sammy, Ann Arbor: Which Big Ten-related account makes you consistently laugh?

A: It's a parody account, but, @FauxPelini. His avatar should be enough to convince you.
Before Monday, Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point 2015 linebacker Cameron Townsend had not heard from or spoken to anybody at Michigan.

As a result, he had no idea of the Wolverines' interest level in him. He found out on Monday.

Big RBs signal change in offense 

February, 7, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Despite coaching for more than 20 years at Michigan, there are a few years for running backs that stick out to Fred Jackson.

There was 1992 with Tyrone Wheatley, Tim Biakabutuka and Jesse Johnson. There was 2003 with Chris Perry, Kevin Dudley and Braylon Edwards.

To Jackson, these are the years that stick. Because those are the teams that had a significant run game and made it, unsurprisingly, to the Rose Bowl.

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While Greg Mattison might be recognized as the best recruiter among Michigan assistants, it is clear that running backs coach Fred Jackson deserves some recognition, as well.

Not only has he been on the Michigan coaching staff for 20-plus years -- working with Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke -- but given the recruits he was able to bring in for the 2013 class, fans will enjoy a more streamlined run game.

As dazzling as some of Denard Robinson’s jaunts were, Michigan hasn’t really had an up-the-middle, smashmouth run game in the recent past, but Jackson is convinced that with his three 2013 running back signees, the Wolverines will be able to do just that.

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How Michigan will use Dennis Norfleet 

February, 9, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- He was a last-minute decision, a quick-trigger addition to a class that looked mostly full. Yet running back Dennis Norfleet (Detroit/Martin Luther King) might be one of Michigan’s most important overall additions.

While Norfleet doesn’t fit the style of running back Michigan is attempting to recruit -- big, bruising backs with speed -- he does serve another key role. When the Wolverines dismissed Darryl Stonum for violations of team rules in January, Michigan was left with a big hole in the return game.

It is a role Norfleet could slip into almost immediately.

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As part of our package of stories reflecting on the life and legacy of former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, two of the Wolverines current coaches who knew him took time to tell their favorite Bo stories.

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke: “When I got hired here [as an assistant coach], he didn’t come back until we started spring football, and I can remember just talking football with him. He always wanted to know how your guys were doing, how they were playing and what you thought and then he would always give his two cents, which was more like a million dollars when you got something back from Bo as far as a critique. How he treated the kids when he was here, and he was so iconic.

“His former players, they had a significant reunion of Bo’s Boys and the 20-year period he coached, I think in 1999, they had a thing here on campus. It told you an awful lot when you saw how many guys came back and what kind of man he was and a leader and mentor and teacher and father.”

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