RB Vincent Smith looking for opening from Hoke

Associated Press
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke looks on from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Eastern Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Michigan head coach Brady Hoke looks on from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college …

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Vincent Smith is used to getting overlooked.

Looks like it's happening again.

The junior ran for 118 yards — trailing only his career-high total against Delaware State two years ago — on nine carries in a 31-3 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke, though, isn't ready to say Smith can be the Wolverines' lead running back.

"Until you analyze it, look at it and really evaluate, I would hate to say that," Hoke said in his postgame news conference.

The Wolverines (3-0) broke into The Associated Press college football poll for the first time this season at No. 22 Sunday. They host San Diego State, Hoke's former employer, after the Aztecs beat Washington State 42-24 and improved to 3-0 for the first time in 30 years.

When Hoke made his debut as Michigan's coach, he chose Fitzgerald Toussaint to start in the season-opening win against Western Michigan. When Toussaint was injured and didn't play against Notre Dame, Michael Shaw and Stephen Hopkins got a shot.

Smith had only one carry in the first half against Eastern Michigan and made the most of it with a 38-yard gain. After Toussaint didn't gain a yard on his first attempt of the second half, Smith ran for 27 yards on his first carry, 5 the next and ran for 14 yards on a pitch in the scoring drive.

"It's all about the team," Smith said when asked about his performance.

But Smith sounds as if he's ready to carry the load if needed.

"How many ever carries I need for the team to win, that's how many I can handle," Smith said.

While Hoke wouldn't commit to giving Smith a shot to be the No. 1 running back, he did say Smith's ability to complement Robinson's rushing attack helped against the Eagles.

"That's huge," Hoke said.

Smith is not.

The 5-foot-6, 180-pound native of Pahokee, Fla., is small, but really strong for his size and is regarded as the best blocker out of the backfield.

"He's one of those guys that he's not afraid to put his face on Mike Martin coming up the middle or somebody's that twice his size," offensive lineman Patrick Omameh said. "He's just a real gritty guy that loves to do the dirty work."

Teammate Kevin Koger was glad Smith earned a chance to do more against Eastern Michigan.

"I see it every day in practice how hard he works, so it's just a testament to what he does every day," Koger said. "It's good to see him get a few more carries because he's a shifty guy that can make a lot of guys miss."

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