The Man-ningham

first_imgThe University of Michigan has a long tradition of churning out elite wide receivers that dates back to the late ’70s when Anthony Carter could be seen every Saturday tearing apart opposing secondaries. Their reputation as “Wide Receiver U” has been enhanced over the years through the recruitment of an elite assemblage of wide outs including Desmond Howard, David Terrell, Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, Tai Streets and Amani Toomer. If the beginning of the 2006 campaign is any indication of what the rest of the year holds, it appears an heir to the throne has been found. Sophomore Mario Manningham has amassed an impressive 321 yards on 16 catches for a staggering six touchdowns. In the process he has garnered back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week accolades, making him only the second Wolverine to do so. In the process of putting up such unexpected statistics, Manningham has gone from a relative unknown to a Heisman candidate seemingly overnight. His secret, according to Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, is his ability to catch the ball in front of defenders and quickly accelerate past off-balance cornerbacks. Carr summed up the notion when describing Manningham’s most recent performance.”The one thing you’re going to say is ‘don’t let Manningham behind you,’ and yet he was able to do it,” Carr said. In response to his ability to simply outrun defensive backs, defenses have been forced to cheat their safeties toward his side of the field in an effort to slow down this young phenom. However, as teams start to focus on one receiver the rest of the field begins to open up. “Our system is designed to hit the open receiver,” Carr stated. “We won’t force it.” Look for Michigan’s other talented wideouts, Steve Breaston and Adrian Arrington, to break out in the upcoming weeks.Hoeppner set to returnIndiana coach Terry Hoeppner knows what it means to overcome adversity. In recent weeks, he has been hampered by a tumor in his brain that required him to have immediate surgery. Having been missing in action from his team’s last two home games, Coach Hoeppner is just getting back to full strength. He returned to the practice field this past Monday and received some good news from his doctor when he was given no restrictions for the upcoming week. “I enjoy the preparation, I enjoy the recruiting, but my passion is coaching football games, so it’s good to be back,” Hoeppner said, affirming his love for the field. When asked whether he would be at full strength come Saturday, he responded strongly. “No question in my mind, I’m ready,” Hoeppner said. Coach Hoeppner told his players, “Don’t be soft, but don’t be stupid.” He is attempting to model that sentiment in the upcoming weeks.Hoosier QB controversyThe Indiana Hoosiers are in the midst of a full-blown quarterback controversy. Last year’s starter, junior Blake Powers, has been solid, however, injuries have only allowed him to make appearances in two games. Last year’s top backup, senior Graeme McFarland, was passed on the depth chart this spring by super recruit, true freshman Kellen Lewis. In the wake of Power’s recent struggle with injuries, Kellen has been given the offense’s reigns and has done quite well in the process. With Powers returning to the practice field this week, head coach Terry Hoeppner is undecided as to which signal caller he will start. His preference is to pick one quarterback and stick with him throughout the year; however, if no clear victor emerges from this week’s battle he may be forced to platoon the position. “If both play well, this won’t be a problem,” Hoeppner went on to say. Quarterback platoons have had a mixed history of both success and failure. The most notable example of a working quarterback controversy may be the 1995 Ohio State Buckeyes who effectively rode Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine all the way to the 1996 national championship. However, more recently such controversies have doomed teams to disappointing seasons, oftentimes due to the lack of an established leader on the field. Whether or not the platoon will work in Indiana is yet to be seen.last_img

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