Michigan fans are waiting for Fitz Toussaint to break out. Toussaint, the Wolverines' junior running back, is waiting, too. It has been a tough 2012 season for Toussaint, who surged down the stretch in 2011, rushing for 818 yards in Big Ten games and 1,041 for the season, which put him 44th nationally in rushing average. He sat out Michigan's season opener against Alabama after being suspended for a drunken driving arrest, and he has yet to record a 100-yard rushing performance this fall after notching five as a sophomore. The good news: there's still time to step up, and Michigan, which hasn't scored a touchdown for two games, could use a lift from No. 28 on Saturday at Minnesota as the teams play for the Little Brown Jug.
ESPN.com caught up with Toussaint earlier this week.
How would you describe how this season has gone for you individually and for the team?
Fitz Toussaint: We're having a little bit of success, but it's also been us beating ourselves. As long as we go out there and do what we have to do as a team, we'll be successful. For me, I look at it as being a running back, you always have to be patient. Hopefully, things will open up soon. I think we're getting to that point.
Are things developing that could get you closer to that big game? This is the time of year where you came on strong last season.
FT: Definitely. It's slowly but surely developing. That's just part of going out there and doing what we have to do, day by day. I'm getting better every day, every week, and that's part of having good practices. If you don't have a good practice, you're going to play like you practice, so we really have to put the emphasis on having a good practice.
Why has it been such a struggle to get in the end zone lately, and how motivated are you to turn that around?
FT: We're definitely motivated. That's on the offense. We have to get more points. The defense is doing their job, but we're working on something good on offense. We're going to do what we have to do. We have to get more points on the scoreboard, and that's on the running game.
This game with Minnesota wasn't close last year. What are you expecting this time from the Gophers on the road?
FT: I'm not taking anything from Minnesota. They're a good football team, hard-nosed, a good group of kids. As long as we do what we have to do, watch enough film and practice the way we want to play, then we'll be successful.
You responded well from the losses earlier this season. What's going to be key for you to respond from the Nebraska loss this week?
FT: Just staying positive, staying together as a team and as a unit. We have to do everything right on the practice field. We still have one focus, and that's the Big Ten championship. In order to get there, we have to do what we have to do from here on out.
How is Denard [Robinson] doing after his injury?
FT: Denard's doing well. He's getting back, he's getting healthy. He's ready to go.
Do you as a team feel like you need to win out to get to Indianapolis?
FT: We just want to play it game by game. We don't want to rush anything, just play Michigan football and do what we do.
What have you learned this season as a player?
FT: I learned that you have to be more patient and trust the guys around you.
Are you naturally a patient person?
FT: There's some things you have to learn along the way. But I'm doing pretty good with that. I definitely think I've grown up a lot. Honestly, I just want to win for the seniors because I know those guys want to win for us. That's part of being a great team.