The Wolverines’ ground attack has become a staple behind Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, but has come up small in the CFP.
Dec. 31, 2022, as afternoon gave way to evening at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, one of the most sought-after interviews within a desolate Michigan locker room was reserve running back Kalel Mullings.
A swath of reporters engulfed the linebacker-turned-ball carrier for what everyone knew would be an uncomfortable series of questions. Mullings’ goal-line fumble in the second quarter had robbed the Wolverines of a chance to narrow TCU‘s double-digit lead in a game they ultimately lost by six points.
“I mean, honestly, it still hurts sometimes,” Mullings told FOX Sports on Saturday morning, nearly a full year removed from arguably the lowest moment of his career. “But that’s just life. You’ve got to let things go. We’re here again, it’s a new year, and a new opportunity to win. What happened last year doesn’t matter. Even if we won it all last year, it wouldn’t matter right now. So we’re just looking at where we are right now, being where our feet are, and attacking it day by day.”
Had Michigan enjoyed a bit more luck on the injury front last season, Mullings would never have been in that position at all. It was No. 1 tailback Blake Corum who paced the Wolverines with 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns as the bell cow for a rushing attack that ranked fifth in the country and second among teams from the Power 5 conferences. And when Corum suffered what proved to be a season-ending knee injury in the penultimate game of the regular season, it was No. 2 tailback Donovan Edwards who roared to life with 401 yards and three touchdowns total in wins over Ohio State and Purdue. But when a lingering hand injury left Edwards sporting a small cast during the team’s second consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff, the decision was made to entrust Mullings with short-yardage and goal-line opportunities — one of the many ill-fated choices by head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff that afternoon.