Game MVP "Super Mario" Speaks

A star was born yesterday at Notre Dame stadium -- sophomore wide receiver Mario Manningham. Michigan fans already know about Mario, but for the college football world it was a coming out party for "Mayday Mario" as he was being called on ESPN -- we prefer "Super Mario." Here is what he said outside the lockerroom after the game.

Arguably the Player of the Game on Saturday was Mario Manningham, the sophomore wide receiver from Warren Harding High School in Ohio. Manningham had just four catches for the day, but three were over-the-top receptions for touchdowns, of 69, 20 and 23 yards . All three TD catches were in the first half as Michigan broke the game open 34-14 at the break.

Mario was poised with his post-game questioners, and he seemed determined to keep the limelight off of himself and onto the team.

"We fought hard today, and we played well."

"We were the underdogs coming in, and you just don't do that with Michigan."

Was he especially proud of his performance for the day?

"I just want to win. Me, Adrian Arrington, Steve Breaston, any one of us can make a play. If I don't have any catches -- if the other guys get all the catches -- and we win, that's fine with me."

All three of Manningham's touchdowns were deep passes -- bring back the Wolverine long ball, missing since the departure of Braylon Edwards in 2004, into the Michigan offensive repertoire.

Manningham was asked if Michigan knew they could go over the top on the Notre Dame defense.

"Yeah. We knew they were going to pack the box on us. So we planned to go over the top of their defense."

And on his long-ball catches in the first half: "Those plays were all designed to go deep."

On his quarterback, Chad Henne:

"Chad is a great player, you saw that today, and he is going to do nothing but get better and better."

On this Michigan team:

"I want to point out our defense. Everybody doubted our defense. But those guys really get after it."

At Notre Dame stadium, the bands sit right on the sidelines in the corner of the endzones, and on Mannningham's third touchdown catch, in the second quarter, he slid into the Michigan band and crashed into some chairs. He came out of the game at that point, and missed the third quarter as well. When he came back in for a key catch late in the 3rd quarter, to break what seemed to be the beginning of some Irish momentum, he had his right wrist wrapped. After the game the wrap was off the wrist, and he said:

"I just fell on it a little. It's not big deal, it's fine. I actually wrapped it myself (not the team trainers)." And he demonstrated that his wrist was okay by flexing it for the press.

Super Mario, after all, as we all know, is indestructable.

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