Michigan leans on De'Veon Smith, and he delivers

Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Michigan running back De'Veon Smith has his helmet ripped off during a fourth quarter run.

Ann Arbor — Quarterback John O’Korn, after making his first start for Michigan, put his hand on senior tailback De’Veon Smith’s shoulder after the game and said that because of the weather conditions, he knew the team would have to rely on the running backs.

Smith came through in a big way with a career performance in his final game at Michigan Stadium and scored two touchdowns to lift the Wolverines to a 20-10 victory over Indiana.

Smith had 158 yards on 23 carries and averaged 6.9 yards a carry.

His first touchdown was a 34-yard run with 4:02 left in the third quarter, and with 29 seconds left in that quarter, he scored on a 39-yard run.

“It was a very important game for us seniors and our team wanted to go out with a bang,” Smith said after the game.

He was soft-spoken when it came to describing his touchdown runs.

“The offensive line got a great push. Really not much to say,” Smith said. “They were sending somebody off the edge, you’ve got to speed up the footwork as a running back. The offensive line did a great job and the receivers did, too.”

Safety Dymonte Thomas said Smith’s performance was fun to watch.

“He plays hard the way he was running the ball,” Thomas said. “The way the offensive line was blocking for him it was something beautiful. They took five, six, seven minutes off the clock at the end of the game. That’s something special, something our defense needed.”

Thomas played against Smith as little kids in Ohio. What people are seeing now is what he saw way back then.

“I’ve known De’Veon since he was little,” Thomas said. “I always knew he ran hard. He was tough to tackle when he was younger. We were both like 6, maybe 7. We beat his team, 60-6, so I talk trash to him all about that all the time. He’s always been a hard runner.”