UM RB Ty Isaac says he’s slimmer, more effective

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Ty Isaac

Ann Arbor — While Michigan running back Ty Isaac is motivated knowing he is entering his final season of college football, he is not dwelling on a last-go-around theme.

Isaac, a 6-foot-3 transfer from USC who sat out the 2014 season per transfer rules, will be one of the backs the Wolverines rely on this season, which begins Sept. 2 against Florida in Arlington, Texas. Chris Evans and Karan Higdon, along with Isaac, likely will be the primary backs in the rotation, and Kareem Walker is working his way in.

“He’s just doing everything right,” running backs coach Jay Harbaugh said this week of Isaac. “Running the ball well, been great in protection, reliable hands, taking care of the ball. He’s a little bit trimmer, so he’s moving a little bit more swiftly.”

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During the 2016 season, Isaac dropped close to 15 pounds to 215 and as he’s gotten leaner he feels he’s running better.

He’s also improved with experience. Isaac said he’s more physical, and blocks, catches and runs well.

“I feel like I’ve been more consistent,” Isaac said. “Other than that, I don’t think too much has changed since the spring. I think that’s the biggest thing — coming in day in and day out doing the same things.”

A top priority for running backs at Michigan is pass protection. Harbaugh said he has seen all of the backs improve in that area, but Isaac has stood out.

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Ty (is) the most improved just in terms of being able to use his size to his advantage,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a very big back, so being able to shoot his hands and be a physical presence on backers on interior rushes, that’s been a big thing.”

Isaac said he likes Harbaugh’s approach, which has the players work through on-field issues. This is Harbaugh’s first year coaching running backs, taking over for Tyrone Wheatley who is now coaching in the NFL.

Not only have the backs worked on pass protection, but they’ve put a huge focus on ball security, since no back wants to be the one who makes a critical turnover. Isaac said the backs have been the best in ball security during camp.

“But I’m a little biased,” he said.

While Isaac said he’s not going to dwell on this being his final year of college football, in the spring he spoke about a sense of urgency.

And with the season starting Sept. 2, he said everyone is feeling that excitement and urgency.

“It’s excitement but at the same time, it’s like you can feel people start to get more focused because you realize, ‘All right, we don’t have 20 more practices. There’s a finite amount of time left. We can’t be making mistakes.’ We’ve got to dial in because Florida is doing the same thing as us. They want to beat us bad, so we have to come prepared.”