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September 26, 2005 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-26

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 26, 2005


Continued from page 1A
No, it wasn't Vince Young running wild
for 192 yards and four touchdowns in last
year's Rose Bowl, but it gave me a case of
duja vu when Wisconsin quarterback John
Stocco kept the ball and crossed the stripe
for the winning score in the final minute.
For all the talk centering on the Wolverines'
inability to stop running quarterbacks, I
thought it was pretty ironic that a pocket
passer would clinch the game on a draw
play. Afterward, Lloyd Carr even admitted
that he expected a handoff, while the Michi-
gan defenders displayed various levels of
confusion on the field. It's pretty clear that
the quarterback scramble is still a big prob-
lem for this team.,
And don't even get me started on
Michigan's inability to contain talented
running backs this season. After North-
ern Illinois's Garrett Wolfe ran for 148
yards in the season opener, you would've
thought the Wolverines would be prepared
for Brian Calhoun. But after holding the
Wisconsin rusher to 64 all-purpose yards
in the first half, the Michigan defense col-
lapsed. Calhoun picked up another 102
rushing yards and 48 receiving yards - to
go along with a touchdown - in the final
30 minutes alone. Screen passes and quick
runs to the outside did the Wolverines'
defense in.
Michigan just didn't seem to have
anybody fast enough to catch Calhoun,
who accounted for an amazing 214 of
the Badgers' 287 total yards of offense.
That should raise some red flags.
It sure seems to me like Chad Henne is
in the middle of the dreaded "sophomore
slump." To tell you the truth, I didn't pay
much attention to the preseason talk that the
Michigan signal-caller would flounder in
his second campaign. I had no doubt that his
record-setting freshman year would be fol-
lowed up by even greater accomplishments.
Well, it's fair to say that I'm looking pretty
foolish for my false sense of security. Henne
is not the same player we saw last season.
In the Wolverines' only two games against
quality opponents, Henne hasn't even com-
pleted half his passes, and he's only thrown
one more touchdown pass (3) than intercep-
tion (2). Last year, Henne completed over
60 percent of his attempts, and he had more
than twice as many scoring tosses as picks.
Something doesn't compute, and I'm start-
ing to think that things aren't turning around
anytime soon. Henne's arm has been under-
whelming, with passes thrown too deep, too
short and generally off target. At times, it's
been hard to believe he's actually aiming at
one of his receivers.
Both interceptions this season came at
crucial moments. The first, against Notre
Dame, was picked off on the goal line
to end a promising Michigan drive. The
second, in the fourth quarter on Saturday,
temporarily stalled a drive with Michigan
down by three and looking to regain the
lead. In both cases, Henne made poor deci-

sions to throw the ball into coverage. These
weren't flukes. Only cornerback Grant
Mason's interception of a Stocco pass two
plays later preserved the Wolverines' hope
and set up Henne's flea flicker to true fresh-
man Mario Manningham. Suffice it to say
that I'm not sold on Henne right now. I'm
confident we're on the same page here.
I'm also worried that Steve Breaston
might have picked this season to do his best
Invisible Man impersonation. You remember
Breaston, right? The guy everybody kept
calling the most exciting player on this team?
-Maybe even one of the best playmakers in
the country? Yeah, I know you've been com-
plaining about him, too. But let's look at the
numbers anyway. Against Wisconsin, he had
one catch for negative-one yard. That's right,
negative one. He actually moved backwards
over the course of the game.
I guess that's even worse than being
invisible. For the season, he has six catches
for 43 yards. Manningham picked up more
yardage than Breaston's season total on one
catch Saturday night - the 49-yard flea
flicker. Five Wolverines have more receiv-
ing yardage than Breaston, who thus far has
struggled mightily in his attempt to slide
into a deep threat role. Even in the return
game, where Breaston has made the most
noise during his Michigan career, the red-
shirt junior has been an unmitigated flop.
Aside from a 72-yard return against
Eastern Michigan, Breaston isn't even
averaging five yards per punt return. On
kickoffs, he's gaining almost nine fewer
yards per return (15.7) than he did last
year (24.6). Whether this drop-off is due
to injury, pressure, expectations or more
attentive coverage, I'm not one to say.
All I know is, I feel like I just got a great
present. But when I opened the box, the
toy was broken. You know what I mean?
I'll avoid the traditional complaints
here. I'm sure you don't want to hear about
over-conservative play-calling or the team's
inability to win big games. It's all been
said before. But I'm not beating around the
bush. Michigan has some problems. And
they need to be addressed quickly, or we
could be looking at a catastrophic season
by Michigan standards.
You, the doubters, will be the first to point
out that the Wolverines are well on their
way. After all, when things go wrong for the
Maize and Blue, you're never reluctant to
criticize, point the finger or call for sweep-
ing changes. Usually, I nod my head while
politely ignoring your ranting and raving.
But I have to admit it: I'm thinking
about changing my tune, at least until I
see some evidence to the contrary, some
proof to believe that things will turn
around. And with no apparent hope in
sight, I've got a question for you:
Where do I sign up?
Respectfully yours,


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