Saturday, November 04, 2006

Manningham a go!

Woot! According to the Detroit News, sources say Manningham is a go today, and will be used sparingly. This is incredible good news for the Michigan Wolverines, who have struggled offensively for the three weeks Super Mario was out of the lineup. The trick is to not rush Mario into the lineup too quickly, but if he's playing against Ball State, I'm sure the doctors and coaches think he is ready. I'm glad to see he'll be eased back into the lineup against Ball State, because Armageddon is looming large, only fourteen days away now, and it may take a few plays to work out the rust.

I really don't know what to expect with the Michigan offense anymore. Last week, the weather was miserable, and the Wolverines played an incredibly boring offensive set in order to minimize mistakes. It got the job down, but it was an ugly win against inferior competition. Ball State has the worst ranked pass defense in all of Division-I football, giving up over 289 yards passing per game. They are also 93rd overall in rush defense, giving up another 160 YPG on the ground. Last week, I predicted that Michigan would put up 500 yards of total offense, and this week, I mean it. I know Carr doesn't like blowouts, so don't expect the Wolverines to pour it on like the Buckeyes like to do week after week. What I'd like to see is Michigan jump out to an early 28 point lead in the first half, so the outcome is no longer in question, and then rest their starters for the rest of the game.

I'd like to see Breaston respond to all the haters out there this week. By now, everybody has heard Kirk Herbstreit's comments: "Breaston can go back to whatever he's doing these days, if they could ever find a way to actually apply him in the offense. He's worthless in my mind, outside of returning a few punts." It's harsh hearing that about your favorite player, and it's completely inaccurate. Sure, Breaston has had his rough moments this season. Earlier this season, Breaston had trouble holding onto passes, but he seemed to have the kinks worked out, with big games against Penn State and Iowa. Last week, against Northwestern, was his worst performance, dropping two easy passes, and muffing a punt to the Wildcasts in good field position. In Breaston's defense, it was absolutely the worst playing conditions out there. It was 38 degrees, raining, with 24 mile an hour winds, and a windchill of 29 degrees. Have you ever tried to catch a football when your hands are frozen, the ball is slippery, and gusts of wind are blowing the ball three feet of course. Carr came to Breaston's defense on the muffed punt, stating that after reviewing the tape he thought Breaston was hit before the ball reached him.

So, what has Breaston done this season? For starters, he is leading the team with 38 receptions. I'm not sure if they keep track of this stat, but I'm sure he has more first downs than anyone else on the team besides Mike Hart. Breaston has 384 yards receiving, 227 yards on punt returns, 198 yards on kickoff returns, and 60 yards rushing, which is good for 869 all-purpose yards, second on the team, behind Hart. Breaston responds in big games. He holds the all-time record for punt return yards in the Big Ten, and he broke O.J Simpsons record with 315 all purpose yards in the Rose Bowl vs. Texas. Herbstreit is a OSU homer, and wouldn't it just be poetic justice if Breaston returned a punt for the game winning touchdown on November 18th?

As for today, I'm not going to ask for miracles out of the Wolverines offense. It'd be nice to see the defense hold yet another team to negative rushing yardage, another pick from Leon Hall, and a big day from Steve Breaston. It's senior's day today, and the last chance to see Steve Breaston, Leon Hall, Prescott Burgess, Jerome Jackson, David Harris, Lamar Woodley and Rondell Biggs at home. Unfortunately, the game got relegated to ESPN-U, so not too many people will get a chance to see the performance.

My Prediction: Wolverines up big early 2nd quarter, Manningham gets a touchdown before coming out the game, Breaston gets his first touchdown of the season (on a punt return), Hart gets his 10th TD, the defense gives up it's first TD in three games.

Final Score: 35-10.