Michigan football RB Blake Corum's career day comes easily in rout over UConn

Tony Garcia
Detroit Free Press

In some ways, what Blake Corum did Saturday afternoon almost didn't seem special.

Michigan football’s junior running back touched the ball just 12 times, exactly what he averaged through the first two weeks. He finished with 71 yards — and only recorded one run of more than a dozen yards — the fewest of any of his three games this year.

But then he was in the end zone; again and again and again and again and again.

Corum’s five touchdowns were not only a career-high, it tied a school record with Ron Johnson (1968) and Hassan Haskins (2021) as U-M steamrolled Connecticut, 59-0, in their final nonconference game of the season. 

"No I haven’t heard from (Haskins) yet," Corum said postgame with a smile. "I’ll call him a little later."

MICHIGAN GRADES:Nearly straight As vs. UConn, except for this 1 aspect

PASSED WITH EASE:How Michigan's J.J. McCarthy fared in first start since winning QB derby

RUNNING OVER THE COMPETITION:Michigan finishes nonconference slate with 59-0 dismantling of UConn

It’s been hard to learn much about Michigan through the first three weeks, as it combined to outscore opponents 103-0 over three first halves in what proved to be an extremely weak nonconference schedule. 

“I don’t know how good we are,” Corum said. “I feel like we look good, but we haven’t faced no adversity yet. I can feel it. I feel like we’re going to be great, but I can’t tell yet.

"But I’ll tell you by the look of things, the sky is the limit for this offense."

That said, it doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few tests.

Michigan’s fellow star running back Donovan Edwards was in street clothes on the sideline during walk-throughs Saturday, signaling he was out for the game. It provided an opportunity for Corum to show he can be a feature back. 

After two pass plays to open the game got the Wolverines deep into Huskies territory, Corum ripped off a gain of 8 yards before he scampered up the left sideline for a 20-yard touchdown run just more than two minutes into the game.

Exactly 10 minutes of game time later, Corum jumped up and over the pile from 1 yard out to extend the Wolverines' lead to two scores.

Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) scores a touchdown against the Connecticut Huskies during the first half at Michigan Stadium, Saturday, September 17, 2022.

That became a theme for Michigan’s 5-foot-8, 210-pound back. He scored from 1 yard out two more times in the second quarter helping U-M to a 38-point lead at the break.

“People were like, ‘Dang, who’s going to be the short-yardage back?’” Corum said after the Week 1 win against Colorado State when outsiders questioned who would replace Haskins. “That’s why we lift weights. That’s why we put all that weight on the rack.”

Corum is the only Wolverine to run for four touchdowns in the first half of a game since Ed Shuttlesworth’s did so against Minnesota in 1972.

But even in his first opportunity as the lead back as opposed to part of a one-two punch, he said he didn’t change his approach.

"My mentality has always been the same," Corum said. "I consider myself a hard runner. I don’t think I’m a first-, second-, or third-down back, I think I’m a complete back. I feel like I can run hard, juke in space, fast as well.

"But my mentality’s the same, I prepared the same, went into the week the same."

Corum had 1,093 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns a season ago. He scored two touchdowns on 31 touches as a freshman.

But, like Corum, Michigan's offense seems to be on another level.

Saturday's final score was the eighth-largest margin of victory in program history and it capped off the first time Michigan has ever scored 50 points or more in its first three games of a season. Then again, none of the Wolverines' first three opponents have a victory over an Football Bowl Subdivision team. Hawaii and Colorado State are winless, and Connecticut's lone victory came against Central Connecticut, a Football Championship Subdivision program.

So, what does it mean, for Corum and the greater picture?

"You can only play your schedule, you know? So we treat every game like it's a championship game," Corum said. "We're just playing the schedule, we're having fun, we're out there balling.

"It's been great, but Big Ten is on the way."

Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) scores a touchdown against the Connecticut Huskies during the first half at Michigan Stadium, Saturday, September 17, 2022.