Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Henne Knows Way To Pasadena

Michigan trailed at the half. The offense had been bogged down with the exception of one drive. The defense was tired, they had been out on the field for the majority of the half. The Big Ten Championship was dangerously close to slipping away from this group of Wolverines. That's when Carr made the switch. Mallett out, Henne in-for the rest of the game. In an article I wrote at the start of the season I said that this was Chad Henne's team, with or without being named a captain. When times got rough the 10 other players in the huddle would look to Henne to lead the way, and that is exactly what happened last Saturday in Evanston.

Henne started the game and lead the team with ease down the length of the field for an easy touchdown. Then, assuming the team didn't need their senior quarterback, Carr handed the reins to Mallett. From the moment he entered the game the offense was not the same. Mallett finished 5 of 11 for just 69 yards and a fumbled snap. As Michigan's offense sputtered Northwestern was able to grab a lead by wearing down a tired Michigan defense. Now don't get me wrong, I think Mallett is going to be a great Michigan quarterback, the plays he made in the 4th quarter against Penn State were phenomenal. but he has talent but he is young and raw. The difference between Penn State and Northwestern was Mike Hart. When Hart is taken away from Mallett it plays a huge affect on the way Mallett plays. When Hart is taken away from Henne it doesn't affect him one bit.

This was proven Saturday when Henne reentered the game at the start of the second half and Michigan opened with 4 straight passing plays. Henne was calm and confident standing in the pocket and picked apart the Northwestern secondary by spreading the ball around to all three of his receivers, Manningham, Arrington, and Matthews. Henne led the offense to 3 scoring drives (all touchdowns) and should have had 4 if it weren't for Gingell missing a 4th quarter field goal.

A part of me is happy by the struggles of Mallett, it will benefit him down the road, but more importantly it put to rest any discussion of a QB controversy, one I did not partake in for one second. After watching Mallett struggle no true Michigan fan can say this team is better off with Mallett as the QB rather than Henne. If it weren't for Henne Michigan probably doesn't come back to win that football game, what exactly did Mallett show to make you think otherwise? He lost his touch, he locked on to one receiver, and he was hardly accurate. When Henne reentered the game the play calling changed, less runs, more throws, and it looked like Henne hadn't been out for a single snap. The offense was crisp, it moved the chains, and for a a few minutes it showed the brilliance that it can achieve.

There is only one more goal lef tin the 2007 season and that is to win the Big Ten and head to the Rose Bowl for the 4th time in 5 years. While Mallett might one day find the directions to the Pasadena, right now he is struggling just to unfold the map and locate southern California. Henne has those directions memorized and is piloting the plane back for one more trip.

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