Thursday, November 22, 2007

Did Chad Henne take too many snaps?

QB Chad Henne started every single game for his first three seasons. Michigan amassed a 27-10 record during Henne's 37 starts. As noted in a previous post, Michigan's record with Henne at the helm put him in good company. Michigan was 26-10 from 1981-1983 during the Steve Smith-era while the Wolverines amassed a 28-6-2 record during Rick Leach's first three seasons from 1975-1977.
Not only was Henne a dependable starter, he was also a durable player. He took almost every single snap during his first three seasons (2004-2006). It is widely known that the coaching staff had no faith in last year's backup quarterbacks (Jason Forcier and David Cone). As a result, Henne played almost every single down even when a game was well in hand. Forcier only took a handful of snaps all of last season (completing 3 of 6 passes over the course of the entire season while doing so) while Cone never touched the field in 2006. Henne hardly missed a play much less a game. That is until his senior season.
The number of snaps Henne played in his first three seasons may have taken its toll on his body. Henne's senior year was injury plagued. He missed three starts and was severely limited in other games due to both a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament of the right knee and a sore right (throwing) shoulder. In the Ohio State game this season, Henne's arm looked shot as his throws were fluttering all over the field as the Michigan offense sputtered all afternoon. Michigan only managed a mediocre 5-4 record in games Henne started in 2007 and it was a rare occasion when Henne looked like the "Henne of previous seasons." His injuries severely limited his effectiveness this season even when he was able to gut it out and play. He had his moments of course. (see the MSU game). However, on the whole, Henne struggled like never before in his college career. Henne finished the 2007 season having completed 137 of 239 passes for 1,565 yards, 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His completion percentage was 57.3% while his QB rating was 125.80. By way of comparison, in 2006 Henne threw 22 touchdown passes while throwing only 8 interceptions on the season. Also, he had a completion percentage of 61.9% in 2006- more than 4.5% higher than it was this season.
Henne's injuries clearly limited his effectiveness in 2007. What is not as clear is if whether he had saved some wear and tear on his body by coming out of games during his first three seasons, he could have made it through 2007 without suffering so many debilitating injuries. Although I have always admired Henne's dedication, his body can only take so much. His spirit was strong this year but his body betrayed him. That was especially evident in the OSU game and it was difficult to watch. I just hope he can heal sufficiently so that he is able to play up to his capabilities in the bowl game. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) & Jake Long (77) by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News from the 9/29/07 Northwestern game



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