Michigan's 2007 backup QB
The Ryan Mallett-era has begun. National Letter of Intent Signing Day on February 7, 2007 was a bit anti-climactic with respect to Mallett considering the fact he early enrolled at Michigan and has been been attending classes since January. It is undisputed that the 5-star phenom from Texarkana, TX will be Michigan's next (great) starting QB once Chad Henne moves on. The question is whether Mallett would redshirt the 2007 season. With Henne as QB #1 for 2007, Mallett could learn from him while redshirting and then have 4 years of his own as Michigan's starter. At least that is the theory. However, Coach Carr dispelled that notion at his Signing Day press conference with these remarks about playing Ryan Mallett in 2007: "I think we'll try to play him some, if he is the backup quarterback and it may not be a lot. And it may be, you know, you never can predict that. But I think the advantage of playing some, knowing that it's not going to be a lot, or not planning that it's going to be a lot, the great thing about not redshirting him is that every single week, he's going to prepare like he's going to play, because he may. So mentally, the pressure is on him. I think his dreams are to be the starting quarterback here for three years, and I think in three years, you know, at the end of that time, you might say, well, we should have redshirted him. But he may not have stayed anyway, so there are no guarantees."
Coach Carr's points are well taken. He is absolutely right that there are no guarantees that Mallett would stay at Michigan for five years if he were to be redshirted. Coach Carr is also right that Mallett will practice hard this year knowing he could be called on for game action at anytime. However, there are downsides to having Mallett as the backup QB that go beyond "burning" a year of his eligiblity.
Having Mallett available to play in 2007 is going to cause needless distraction for the team as a faction of the Wolverine fanbase are going to try and create a "quarterback controversy." That faction is the segment of the rabid Wolverine fanbase that is dissatisfied with the performance of QB Chad Henne over the past three seasons. People will argue that Mallett is the QB of the future and at the first sign of trouble for Henne the naysayers will assert that the "future is now." The "reasoning" is that Mallett will be taking over anyway so he should take over now as Henne has had his chance (and allegedly failed to capitalize) and Mallett should start so Michigan can build towards a brighter future. Michigan's passing attack was almost non-existent (by design) for the first two games of the 2006 season as Michigan headed into the Notre Dame game. The aerial attack then exploded against the Fighting Irish. Remember, however, how much people were complaining about the passing game prior to the Notre Dame game. If that scenario occurred next season with Mallett available, the calls for Henne to be benched would be deafening. However, as fans learned in 2006, it was not Henne's performance that was holding the passing game back and when he was unleashed (as he was vs. ND) he was spectacular. Unfortunately, some fans seem to have short memories and I believe that Henne is in for a long year with the fans while Mallett enjoys his honeymoon with the Wolverine faithful. Go Blue!