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Monday, October 02, 2006

9/30/2006 - Michigan 28-14 Minnesota - 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

When you're a freshman in high school, your English teacher -- the one people call "Thunderthighs" behind her back, because they are cruel children -- teaches you all about the idea of conflict, in a literary sense. Man vs. Man: Mike Hart disposes of tacklers. Man vs. Nature: Steve Breaston battles through stone hands and willow-thin legs to become a highly useful player. Man vs. Self: Chad Henne, no explanation needed.

There is little drama in the first two -- Hart is Hart and Breaston is Breaston at this point -- but Chad Henne's seemingly never-ending battle with hennebriation has had Michigan fans quietly muttering prayers to whatever deities they possess for almost two solid years. As they should. Henne makes an outstanding object of worship, but in an Old Testament sense. He possesses within himself the power to bring great joy but, like rain and women and most things that are fearfully worshiped, Michigan's quarterback has been cruelly fickle with his attentions. Thus last year's cottage industry dedicated to coming up with ways to describe his insufficient performance just so. Warren St. John chipped in "hennebriation". I invented Tacopants, Jason Avant's invisible, 11-foot-tall imaginary friend. A Google search for "Henne" over at RBUAS turns up all manner of evocative comparisons, the best being this one:
For the most part I thought what I had thought all year. That “Henne # 7” was just a jersey, and that various talents ranging from NFL quarterbacks to high school band members put it on at random points of a game.
Which was the aberration: Wisconsin last year? Or OSU last year? We all live in fear of Evil Henne and sometimes wonder if he was the real one.


Passing         Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Henne, Chad 22-13-1 220 3 69 2
Henne, Chad 25-18-3 211 2 38 2
Henne, Chad 24-17-0 284 3 41 1

...this is the point in a movie that takes "Man vs. Self" in the most literal sense possible when the man who jumped through the mirror or grew from Bruce Campbell's shoulder finds itself on the wrong end of a shovel blow and collapses wheezing to the ground. Evil Chad is on the verge of expiring. He has taken one laser-guided smart bomb too many. Seen Good Chad look off one safety too many. Seen Tacopants starve to death.

And, right, we're not allowed to think that because to do so inevitably brings tragedy. But it's true.

Bullets Much Akin To The Ones Chad Slings Downfield With Regularity:
  • I disliked DeBord's playcalling against UW, but against Minnesota it was brilliant. I get the impression it's far easier to look brilliant against Minnesota than Wisconsin, but still. Devoid of anything resembling a short field or a Minnesota turnover, Michigan drove the length of the field five times, often because DeBord was willing to take advantage of Minnesota walking a guy up to the LOS. I hesitate to give the coaching staff credit for playing tight against UW because they had nothing to fear from their offense when Occam's Razor states it was just Michigan being Michigan, but it's a possibility.
  • We punted on fourth and fourteen from the 35. I don't hate that call, since it was fourth and fourteen, but I do think it's slightly wrong. If you have faith in Zoltan the Inconceivable to sky the ball a million yards in the air and land it at the one -- that was some Orin Incandenza stuff right there, BTW -- then it's the right call.
  • Speaking of that play: is the college touchback the least understood rule in the game? Everyone assumes that it's the same as the NFL, but all college cares about is where the ball is. Steve Brown didn't know the rule, and neither did the refs, though they got it right on review. Almost every punt that can be downed around the one across college football features some guy who thinks he can't put his foot in the endzone.
  • Yeah, Mike Hart is slow. I'll deal.
  • Adrian Arrington is kind of good. Hopefully his ability to get open deep was due to surprising speed instead of general Gopher incompetence.
  • Morgan Trent did not play because of a hand injury suffered during the Wisconsin game. He was on the bench with a cast on. Charles Stewart was not inspiring in his stead.
  • I would characterize the Minnesota surge after it was 28-7 more "irritating" than anything else.