Michigan coach Brady Hoke isn’t saying whether running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is going to play Saturday against Alabama. At least not yet. His decision is expected some time before kickoff, though nothing more specific was said to the press as of yet.
Toussaint has pled guilty to drunken driving and is due to be sentenced in October. He could be sentenced to 93 days in jail, but since this appears to be his first offense, it’s unlikely he’ll get the maximum sentence. Toussaint was only recently reinstated to the Michigan Wolverines after being suspended after his arrest.
He is also apparently listed first on the depth chart at running back, so it seems pretty likely that he’ll play Saturday. There would be no point in keeping him on this week’s depth chart if Hoke had no plans to play the junior running back. No one likes a tease, after all.
Toussaint ran for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry in 2011, his sophomore season. He was expected to heavily contribute to the Wolverines’ offense again this year before his arrest.
Toussaint’s status doesn’t really affect Michigan’s chances against Alabama anyway. The Wolverines are two-touchdown underdogs and only an all-time great performance from quarterback Denard Robinson can save them.
He’ll have to do it with his arm, however. This is Nick Saban gameplanning for him after all, so it’s extremely unlikely Robinson will be given much room to run at any point Saturday night. Expect the Tide to give him all the time he needs in the pocket, but to swarm quickly if he tries to scramble. I’d be shocked if the blitzed as much as normal or in the same way that they blitzed Jordan Jefferson in the title game against LSU. But what do I care? Saban is the genius. I just get to second guess and analyze afterwards.
One has to wonder just how important Toussaint is to the offense anyway. He clearly has skills and ability to run, but how much of that 1,000 yard season was due to every defender chasing the more explosive Denard Robinson? It also seems a little crazy that a player can get arrested for DUI, plead guilty, be reinstated by the second week of training camp and not miss any playing time. Even if it’s just the first half or something.
So while I have faith in Denard Robinson’s abilities, it’s much more likely that the Tide will create a blueprint for how to consistently limit his contributions and expose whether Robinson has made any progress as a passer this offseason.