Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stretching the field

Through six games, WR Mario Manningham had amassed 24 receptions for 527 yards (22.0 avg.) and 9 touchdowns. Manningham's receiving yardage and touchdown totals led all Big Ten Conference receivers at the time. All of Manningham's nine (9) TD receptions came on passes of 20+ yards from Chad Henne. The quick strike abiltiy of Henne to hit Manningham with the deep ball "stretched the field" which opened things up for Mike Hart and the running game. However, in the game last Saturday vs. the Hawkeyes which Manningham missed with a knee injury, Henne's longest completion only went for 17 yards (and that was to TE Carson Butler). Not too much should be made of one game though as it could have been an anomaly. The previous week against Penn State (which Manningham also missed), Henne connected with WR Adrian Arrignton for a 25-yard TD pass as well as another 27-yard play. Additionally, Henne threw a 24-yarder to WR Steve Breaston. With Manningham probably still a couple of weeks away from returning it will be interesting to see how Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord calls the offense. As fans have seen, a deep threat can make all the difference in opening things up for the entire offense. Against Northwestern this week and Ball State next week, I would like to see Michigan try and go deep to true freshman WR Greg Mathews who has been emerging as a receiving threat. However, his longest reception this year has only gone for 12 yards. The next two games are a great opportunity to throw a couple of deep passes his way and give him some invaluable experience. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mario Manningham (86) scoring TD in Big 10 opener against Wisconsin by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News



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