Thursday, December 21, 2006

Double Trouble

Michigan has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the country in Mario Manningham (M2) and Adrian Arrignton (A2). However, the Wolverines Rose Bowl opponent-the USC Trojans- are able to counter with their own dynamic duo of Steve Smith (S2) and Dwayne Jarrett (DJ- no double initials here). Smith and Jarrett were both named first-team All-Americans this year and Manningham was a Heisman Trophy candidate until he went down with an injury midway through the season. When Manningham went down, Arrington really stepped up his performance for the Wolverines as he scored 7 touchdowns in the final eight games of the season. With these four gamebreakers on the field, there is a potential for this to be a high scoring Rose Bowl game.

Dwayne Jarrett (junior/junior) had 58 receptions for 773 yards and a team leading 10 receiving touchdowns. He is the Pac-10 Conference career leader in touchdown receptions with 39. He broke the old all-time conference record of 32 this season and he is only a junior. Jarrett has caught at least one pass in every game (37) he has played in during his career and he has gone over the century mark in receiving yardage in a game twelve times. He was a consensus All-American pick for the second consecutive season.

Steve Smith (senior/senior) was the Trojans leading receiver with 64 catches for 975 yards this season and he scored 8 touchdowns. Smith is USC's #5 career receiver and he has posted eight 100-yard receiving games during his time with the Trojans. His best game this season came against conference foe Oregon State when he caught 11 passes for 258 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was a consensus first-team All-American selection in 2006.

Mario Manningham (sophmore/sophmore) missed three games due to injury but still managed 32 receptions for 624 yards (19.5 avg.) and 9 touchdowns. "Super Mario" led the Big 10 conf. in receiving yardage and touchdowns when he originally went out with his injury. After missing three games, he returned for very limited action versus Ball State before playing against Indiana and Ohio State to end the season. The Wolverines hope to have him back up to tip top shape for the Rose Bowl because no one in the nation is better at stretching a defense than M2. All but one of his career touchdown catches have come from beyond the redzone. The one that was inside the 20-yard line was the catch he made last year with no time left on the clock that defeated Penn State. Even with the emergence of A2, a healthy M2 is Michigan's go-to guy.

Adrian Arrington (junior/sophmore) had 36 receptions for 510 yards (14.2 avg.) and 7 touchdowns in 2006 after missing almost all of last season after suffering a season ending injury in the first game. Arrington had a spectacular season, scoring- as previously noted- seven touchdowns in the season's final eight games. Michigan's offense never missed a beat when he seamlessly transitioned into the role of #1 receiver while M2 was out for a few games in the middle of the season. If the Trojans try to double cover M2 in the Rose Bowl, Arrington will likely make them pay by scoring multiple times. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Adrian Arrington by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

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