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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Point/Counterpoint: Manningham's Injury

The MZone is proud to announce the first of a recurring segment: Point/Counterpoint, where Yost takes one side of a topic and I try to point out where he's full of shit. Today, Yost and I take a look at the ramifications of Mario Manningham's injury for the Wolverines.

YOST: Benny, I think this a huge blow for the Wolverines. People forget that, in my opinion, the main reason we went 7-5 last year was due to injuries (with Jake Long and Mike Hart out most of the season). And while this isn't as bad, it's big. Manningham was the guy that stretched the field. He's the one that kept folks from putting 8 or 9 guys in the box to stop Hart. Sure, a team could do that before, but then watch out for the deep ball. Now, I'd do just that and make Henne beat us without Super Mario.

BENNY: This is a blow to Michigan, but not a huge blow. Though Manningham has been stellar so far this season, wide receiver is probably the deepest position on the team. Did you see that grab Adrian Arrington made against Sparty? The injury also opens up an opportunity for stud freshman Greg Mathews to show off his talent. I can hear the naysayers: "You're going to count on a freshman?" Well wasn't Mario Manningham a freshman when he helped beat Penn State last year?

YOST: Mannigham led the conference in receiving yards and is tied for first in the nation for TDs for receivers. You don't replace that, especially with an untested freshman. And we're not just talking about a guy helping out while the star is injured. In college football, where EVERY game matters, we're talking about the difference between a good season (which we can certainly have without him) and a special season (which this is/was shaping up to be). Look, I think we can and should still beat Penn State and Iowa. However, it just got tougher and Manningham's absence could be the difference.

BENNY: The stats certainly show how great Manningham's been. But the expectation is for the position, not the player. At Michigan there's plenty of talent to replace an injured player, and this is particularly true this year at WR. I'm certainly not happy the injury happened. But it's a great opportunity for Manningha'ms replacement and the team as a whole. Knowing that their top WR is out will force every facet of the offense to be sharper. It will force the defense to make a few more plays, knowing the offense might not be quite as explosive. It might be the tonic the Wolverines need in this game following a major rivalry game and before the toughest game left (other than November 18). It forces the rest of the team to raise their game. They're capable of it, and should embrace the challenge.

YOST: Benny, you ignorant slut. We didn't lose just another WR. We lost, not only our best, but one of the best IN THE COUNTRY. This isn't just a loss, it's a BIG loss.

BENNY: Whatever. Why don't you go complain about the keys. Like we haven't heard enough about that.

YOST: Blah, blah, blah. How 'bout you go Photoshop a picture of you kissing my ass, bitch.


PB said...

Hate to do it, as I've really grown fond of this year's Wolverine squad, but...

I'm siding with Yost here. Not on the extremes - only in the sense that it's something to be terribly concerned by.

Speaking on my own experience, when we lost our starting cornerback Tarrell Brown to boneheadedness for the Ohio State game, we extolled the wonderful depth in the secondary that Texas enjoyed from great recruiting. We noted the opportunity for others to step up. And so forth.

And we watched Ohio State's receivers abuse our replacements. The loss of Brown was huge.

One of the things I've noted every week as the Wolverines have climbed up my own voting ballot, as well as noted in my MaxwellAward voting, is that Manningham changes the Michigan offense by keeping the opposing defense truly, truly honest. It opens up so much for the talented Mike Hart who, it really seems to me, is a -terrific- complimentary weapon in an offense, but isn't particularly well suited to be a primary weapon. He's most effective with a player like Manningham keeping safeties honest with a wary eye over one shoulder.

Let's hope Mario's back in the minimum, with no lingering aftereffects.

BK said...

I'm siding with Benny. The reason we have been so good through the air this year is 75% system and Henne accuracy and only 25% Manningham. Arrington looks like he's coming in to his own, and Breaston is still a threat. We need the Matthews/Tabb replacement to have a game, though. And Yost, it's quite silly to taunt Benny's photoshop skills, as I have said before he is unrivaled and will likely make a fool out of you.

srudoff said...

uhhhh Breaston hasn't been a threat since 2004. all he does now is catch wide receiver screens, runs 5-7 yards and gets hit. wow - i tried to look up his last 100 yard game and, you gotta be shitting me - he's had ONE 100 yard game??? in his career?? and that was in the second game he ever played in (you know, the one at Oregon when Carr refused to shake Belotti's hand). so I take that back, as a receiver, Breaston has NEVER been a threat.

also to quote Benny "Did you see that grab Adrian Arrington made against Sparty?" key words there: "against Sparty".

i think with no one to stretch the field and keep the defense honest, the going just got a lot tougher the next two weeks - not saying they'll lose necessarily, but i'd be pretty pumped if i were a Hawkeye or Nittany Lion fan.

rob. said...

Let's look at Manningham's scoring impact on the games:

vs Vanderbilt, 1 TD, Michigan won by 20;
vs Notre Dame, 3 TDs, Michigan won by 26;
vs Wisconsin, 2 TDs, Michigan won by 14;
vs Minnesota, 1 TD, Michigan won by 14;
vs Michigan State, 2 TDs, Michigan won by 18.

So only Wisconsin could possibly have had a different outcome based purely on the points Manningham has accounted for. Sure he opens things up for other receivers and for Hart, and he has made some catches to keep drives going, and has taken any and all pressure off the defense, but there is no doubt that the key to Michigan's offensive success has been their run game and their ability to keep the opposing offense on the sideline. Manningham isn't out there creating these touchdowns; he's simply running past defensive backs and catching near perfect passes. Arrington has shown the ability to do the same thing. In most cases this season, they have used Manningham because they can, not because they need to.

While this obviously isn't a good thing for Manningham to be injured, putting Michigan's defense in more important situations now might be.

Penn State doesn't have a team that can compete with Michigan, even minus Manningham. Michigan could score 14 points and win this game. Morelli turnovers will probably give Michigan great field position too.

I panicked when I first found out, but the more I think about it, the more confident I am in this team. GO BLUE!

BK said...


Penn States defensive backfield isn't much better than Sparty's, and Arrington had a nice catch against Wisconsin also. And when I said Breaston is still a weapon, anyone who saw the Rose Bowl against Texas can confirm this, he's due to break a punt return. If Debord keeps his current system in place, the long ball will still be there and Arrington , while not Manningham, will be a worthy replacement.

Q said...

I think I sort of take the side of Benny on this one. Some commenter in a thread on one of the Michigan blogs said "this team has yet to have its 1997 Iowa moment where its back is against the wall." I fully agree with that. I think this will certainly test us, and we need to know that we can overcome some adversity. If we can't beat Penn State without Manningham, I don't think its reasonable to expect us to beat Ohio State with him.

Yeah, this game might have several moments where we're ready to jump off the ledge. But hey, if this is truly a great team, we'll respond. That said, I'm nervous as hell. I think last week was the week where everyone finally bought in and decided this team is different. And now this. We'll find out exactly what we're made of.

Allaha said...

I agree with Yost and PB. Manningham forces the defense to put fewer players in the box and more in coverage, thereby opening up the running game and giving the QB more time to throw.

Even very good college teams generally have limited depth, and in close games the absence of a playmaker can of course be critical. Manningham was likely on his way to an All American season, and that level of skill is hard to replace.

My hope is that UM continues to beat inferior teams and Manningham can return at full strength against tOSU.

Aladouche -- don't get too excited about Manningham's injury. He still is not going to let you give him a sponge bath.

Dezzi13 said...

This injury isn't as big a blow as people think. Could've been worse if it was Henne (knock on wood)... If I recall... against Sparty, we didn't even throw to our TEs. Now, I know we don't have an all-world TE, but I feel that Michigan installs the play action to one side of the field, naked boot by Henne, throw to the WIDE OPEN TE that is running all alone in the opposite direction. You can put 8 in the box, but given that we haven't shown that play in so long... this injury makes it all the more possible.

Breaston may not have big stats, but he's never been the "go to" receiver. He's not going to have 100 yard games unless he breaks a lot of those WR screens. However, if he's consistently getting 5 yards on those, we're gonna be in positions of 2nd and possibly 3rd and short... which is good for our offense that has both a running game and a passing game.

Honestly, I think that Henne has made Manningham look good (not saying he isn't...) based on the fact that minus the tipped pass in the MSU game, Henne has been pretty much spot on with his throws. Manningham hasn't run any spectacular routes that get him open, normally he just runs right by a DB. I think that Carl Tabb or Greg Matthews could do the same... and as long as Henne continues with the accuracy, our backup WRs should be able to make the catches.

I'm not too nervous about Penn State, even though it is away and at night. I think the key is no defensive letdown... if we play like we have before on defense, we'll give the offense field position that they won't need a long throw to Manningham. Also, Morelli isn't a running QB, so I'm not scared yet... Iowa and Drew Tate make me more nervous.

As long as Manningham is back to full speed for the OSU game, I'm fine with that....

Zach Landres-Schnur said...

manningham is the only guy I liked writing about in the Maxwell Pundit. Fuck!

Though Michigan will be fine (says the outsider). Ugh, Steve Breaston. Hello!

The Dish

srudoff said...


you said Breaston is still a threat in context of Michigan being able to replace Manningham. That would mean (to me) that you considered him a threat as a WR, not as a returner.

Richard Cranium said...

Arrington was out of bounds and if John L. "Crazy Bitch" Smith would have challenged it would have been ruled that way too. I agree with Yost it is a huge loss as Breaston hasn't had the year you would like and Arrington is still young with talent. Good luck Bitches and I now hope that in addition to undefeated that you will have Mario back come November so we can whip a full strength UM

surrounded in columbus said...

Yost & Benny,
first & foremost, this team is fueled off of its defense. we crush the run. we make other teams throw the ball A LOT (c'mon tosu fans- how many things can happen when you pass? and how many of them are "bad"?), and force bad plays, turnovers, and field position.

losing mario won't effect that. this D will still stifle PSU/Iowa and will give the O opportunities and field position. we'll win or lose our next two games because the D shows up (or doesn't).

second, the offense will miss him-
any time you lose a "star", it leaves a hole. but let's remember that two seasons ago all the buzz in A2 was about AA. he was supposed to be the heir to Braylon, the future #1, and the next big thing. it was his injury that gave super mario the opening (which he has clearly taken advantage of).

the loss of #86 will hurt not because we don't have a "real" deep threat (we still do), but because we only have one now. that will effect the scheme some, but not turn it upside down.

finally, this offense is still at its foundation all about 3 yds in a cloud of shredded tire dust. we're committed to running the ball, even w/ nine man fronts. the offense thru the air- accurate passing and throwing vertically when the opportunity presents itself- only compliments the running game. i think AA will take advantage of those opportunities when they come along.

Anonymous said...

Yost- Great way to fit in Akroyd's, "Jane, you ignorant slut" line from classic SNL. That's awesome!

BaggyPantsDevil said...

I have to side with Benny on this one. Mario Manningham is indeed talented and having a fantastic season. The threat of the deep ball to Manningham opens things up for Mike Hart to run, just as putting eight men in the box leaves some poor, hapless cornerback out on an island trying to catch up too—I mean cover—Manningham. It also doesn't hurt that when throwing deep, Chad Henne pretty much drops the ball into Manningham's hands. My point here is that it's a team effort whether Michigan runs the ball or throws deep and that Manningham—however excellent he's been—is one part of an overall team effort.

I think the effectiveness of the deep passing game is the result of three things:

1) Manningham's speed and ability to get separation from the cornerback trying to cover him.
2) Safeties playing in close to stop the run and not being able to help out the cornerbacks.
3) Henne being able to drop the ball right into his waiting hands.

Since two out of the three are still present—and Adrian Arrington has looked pretty good at getting open himself—I think Michigan's ability to throw the ball deep is still there for this game.

I think this highlights the difference between Henne the junior and Henne the freshman. In Henne's freshman year, if you were to take Braylon Edwards away, yes, the passing game would virtually disappear. Edwards carried Henne. Many of Henne's throws were simply to Edwards' general vicinity and it was Edwards making the effort to go up and pretty much steal the ball from the cornerbacks and safeties. This year, it's Henne bringing along a less experienced Manningham. Henne still struggles with short throws and so does Manningham who has dropped several short passes the last couple of games.

If Manningham was going to be missing the Ohio State game, yes, I'd be worried. Michigan will need to be 100% in that game. Against Northwestern, Ball State, and Indiana, hell, I could probably start at wideout and Michigan would still cruise to another effortless win. Against Iowa and Penn State, I think there might be a drop off in passing and the game may be closer, but I think Michigan still wins AND Adrian Arrington gets a chance to really step up and some of the other guys get some game experience which may actually help out later against Ohio State.

Oh, and at last, there's some drama and tension to the game! And, this is good drama, a team having to play on without their star wideout, not the bad drama like a team struggling because they mailed it in against a cupcake. So, get out there and win one for Super Mario!

Anonymous said...

1. Defense
2. Hart
3. Henne
4. Manningham

We'll be fine if the first three do what they are capable of...

Anonymous said...

Richard Cranium said...
Arrington was out of bounds

No, he ain't

Paul said...

Penn State is not nearly as good as last year. Michigan is much better in ALL aspects of the game. IMO they are better than the 1997 team at this point in the season WITHOUT Manningham. Look for Michigan's other WRs to score deep. If only to make an in your face statement to the doubters.

Michigan 38
Penn State 10

The King said...

You can never tell who's going to step up in light of injuries. It may look bad now, but you just don't know what the replacements will do. It's unfair to say that they can't possibly replace Manningham and use his stats as proof, because if someone else had started there, they very well may have put up similar stats. We've got a fantastic running game that sets up an excellent long ball, and it's very possible that someone else will step in and catch it.

Does anyone else remember what happened when star reciever Derrick Alexander was lost for the season over a decade ago?

Oh that's right, Desmond Howard won the Heisman.

14 and Ohhhh said...

Manningham schmanningham - he'll be fine, you'll be fine, UM will be fine. One person doesn't make a team - no matter how great he is.

Hurry up with the freaking picture already, Benny!

Anonymous said...

I posted on a differnt thread, but nobody wants to answer me. Why was tacopants named tacopants & who named him?

Yost said...

I'm confused - who was named tacopants in the first place?

surrounded in columbus said...

last March, MGoBlog did an spring football/preseason assessment. in the reference to Henne he stated:

1. Chad Henne.

It's not an exaggeration to say that if Chad Henne was even average last year, Michigan would have ended up at least 9-3. Games against Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Minnesota were there for the taking if only Henne could have thrown to Jason Avant instead of Tacopants, Avant's imaginary eleven-foot-tall friend....

that's the only "Tacopants" reference i can recall.

ross said...

i'm with benny, i'm looking for them to pull it out

A2saint said...

I would love to see Carl Tabb play more. He is a hero to us otherwise under achieving Huron high school grads. Yeah I know, he actually graduated from Commie high but he played for Huron!

Oh Yeah, and F*** Pioneer!

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, it seems like so many people are willing to write UM off now because Super Mario is down. Did everyone see who had two break away grabs at minny? #16 will step up, or should I say step out of the shadow, Tabb, Mathews, The big blue will be fine, if we lose in Mario's absence it will not be because he's gone. I just hope Henne has the faith to throw the ball down field to some of these guys like he did Super Mario. Penn State will be no cake walk but if the secondary would play it began the season UM will be just fine.