Turel's U-M Spring Preview: Quarterbacks

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel is going through the Michigan football team, position by position: First up, the quarterbacks.

Sr. Chad Henne
Fr. Ryan Mallett
RS So. Jason Forcier
RS Fr. David Cone

Chad Henne enters his third and final spring practice as part of a 2007 Michigan offense that has a chance to be special. Unlike past springs, Henne will be more focused on knocking off the rust instead of having to adjust to a new offensive coordinator or learn more of the playbook. By now, the Pennsylvania native should be well versed in reading defenses, knowing the progressions of pass concepts, and being in tune with his receivers. From the standpoint of the passing game, the only two contributors that have departed are Tyler Ecker and Steve Breaston, and both are both replaceable. In fact, both positions may be considered to be upgraded if Adrian Arrington and Mike Massey are available. Add in the fact explosive wide out Mario Manningham is back, and the passing game is at no loss for star power. All in all, the spotlight won’t be on Henne like it was in past springs but there is no question he is the teams most valuable player.
            The main question at quarterback this spring is just who will be Henne's backup. Redshirt sophomore Jason Forcier is recovering from surgery and will face a big challenge from the number one quarterback prospect in the country in Ryan Mallett. Mallett is an early enrollee and his presence spring gives him a realistic shot of backing Henne up. There is no question he is the most physically gifted quarterback on the roster and has a much greater ceiling than either Jason Forcier or redshirt freshman David Cone. The problem is, it will be impossible for Mallett to be 100% mentally ready even with his early enrollment.
Generally speaking, most college quarterbacks say it takes at least two to three years to know the playbook inside and out. When Chad Henne started at quarterback for Michigan as a freshman, he ran a limited version of the offense throughout the season. The pass concepts themselves are not that tough to memorize.  The challenging part is knowing the read progressions against various coverages. Mallett's place on the depth chart will largely depend on how far along he already is and how comfortable the staff is with him. Jason Forcier has the obvious edge in experience with the team, but he hasn’t taken many game snaps. Mallet's physical talent and experience in a pro-style passing attack give an outstanding chance of unseating last year's backup.
            Thankfully for the Wolverines, Chad Henne has been extremely durable.  That said, all it takes is one play to get injured. We know the Michigan staff isn’t afraid to play a young player here and that only makes Mallett's chances greater.  Michigan headman Lloyd Carr stated pretty emphatically at his signing day press conference that his star freshman will see the field.  There is little doubt Mallett will be the starter once Henne moves on, so getting him some playing time this season appears to be high on the priority list.

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