Michigan Anxious For Manningham's Return

By Adam Caparell - November 01, 2006

Michigan has been sans their deep threat wide out since Mario Manningham injured his knee against Michigan State and underwent arthroscopic surgery. And after watching the Wolverines without him, there’s no doubt that Michigan’s offense has suffered.

Quarterback Chad Henne’s even admitted that teams have been keying against the deep threat and his performance has declined without Manningham. Henne has thrown just two touchdown passes in the Wolverines last three games. He had 13 in Michigan’s first six games – nine of which went to Manningham - and hasn’t thrown a ball longer than 27 yards in those three games. Against Penn State and Northwestern, he completed only 50 percent of his passes.

Facing the Wildcats last weekend, Michigan only managed 17 points, tying their season low mark set against the Nittany Lions.

“The wind, the rain and weather had a lot to do with the way we played,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. “I think anytime you lose a player like Mike Hart of Mario Manningham, it impacts you. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

But Carr, Henne and Michigan fans should feel better knowing that Manningham could be back playing against Ball State Saturday. Carr said he would wait to reinsert Manningham into the game after watching him practice this week. But barring a setback, it looks like Michigan should have its home run threat back in his usual cleanup role.

- Not much of a surprise that John L. Smith has officially been given the boot, effective at the end of the year.

He was on the hot seat since he was given a vote of confidence after last season and didn’t live up to the expectations Michigan State officials had in mind for 2006.

But bottom line: the Spartans weren’t much of a defensive team heading into the season and haven’t proven otherwise. You have to stop teams at some point and no one has done a worse job of that in the Big Ten than Michigan State, giving up 30 points per game, allowing 38 points to Northwestern, the comeback by Notre Dame, the loss against Illinois and a near debacle vs. Idaho in the season opener. They haven’t been to a bowl game in two years and will struggle to make it this year.

The Steve Mariucci rumors will now be in full swing, but the Spartans job is not an overly desirable job. The Spartans are overshadowed – and that may be an understatement - by Michigan and will always play second fiddle to the Wolverines and be a middle of the rung Big Ten team.

They haven’t been to a Rose Bowl since 1988 and last won a share of the Big Ten title in 1990.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 05:29 PM on November 01, 2006

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