Henne Reflects on Journey as U-M QB

With one season left in an already eventful and successful Michigan career, Chad Henne looks back on his opening days as the Wolverines field general, discusses the improvements he made heading into his final campaign, and looks ahead to the future with Ryan Mallett.

Q: Go back to the week your freshman season in which you first learned you were going to start. When you got on the field for your first snap, what were you thinking?

Chad Henne: "It was nerve racking, but I was enthusiastic about it. I remember sitting in Coach Carr’s office on Thursday morning before the game against Miami of Ohio. Matt Gutierrez’s shoulder obviously went down that week. I busted my hump all summer for that and was right where I needed to be, but you never know what it’s like until you go into that stadium. Getting into the huddle and saying the play out there, you’re kind of just browsing around because you’re really there. It’s a good thing that the offensive coordinator called three running plays in the first series even though we didn’t get a first down (laughing)."

Q: In that first season, was it more difficult learning the playbook or getting into the huddle with upperclassmen and trying to get them to follow you?

Chad Henne: "Getting the respect of the players in front of me. We had David Baas and a lot of fifth year seniors there. They were in charge of the team and having a freshman coming in and looking at them straight in the eye telling them what to do to get the team going was difficult for me. I’m sure it was for them too, but they were very supportive of me. I think they really carried me through that season."

Q: Coming out of the spring, one of the things you talked about was your improvement on your movement in the pocket. Talk about that a little bit.

Chad Henne: "If the protection isn’t where it’s supposed to be, getting out of trouble to find a receiver, or even scramble, is important. You see Tom Brady do it. He’s one of the best guys in the NFL with pocket movement and I’ve been studying him and watching other Michigan quarterbacks. It’s what the games turning into now. Protection isn’t always going to be solid all the time and the quarterback needs to be able to move around in the pocket and make plays."

Q: Are you pretty comfortable in the shotgun? Will we see more of it this year?

Chad Henne: "I did the shotgun in high school. We got away from it when I was here in my first year, but we’re bringing it back because it was successful in the two-minute drill against USC last year in the Rose Bowl."

Q: You’ve had the benefit of having a lot of talented receivers. Talk about the receiving core coming into the coming season.

Chad Henne: "We’ve got Mario Manningham coming back with all his talents. He’s a speed guy that can run great routes with good hands. We have Adrian Arrington, the big body. He caught a lot of balls last year and had his best year yet. There’s more to come with him. We’ve got Greg Mathews and Laterryal Savoy and some freshman coming in. These guys are really stepping up and we should be well rounded at wide receiver this year."

Q: We talked about the pressures on a freshman quarterback. There’s another big time QB that just hit campus and now you’re the guy helping his transition. How have you tried to help Ryan Mallett along?

Chad Henne: "Ryan, he’s definitely talented and gifted as a player. He’s tall as a statue and definitely has a great arm. For him, all the fundamentals that Scot Loeffler teaches us, we just try and give it back as a player like Matt Gutierrez and Spencer Brinton did for me. It’s a great tradition at quarterback here at the University of Michigan. For me to help him out and ease him through the transition could only help make him a better player in the future. I don’t think any university across the country bonds like us. All the tradition that goes into this program really settles in as a team and being a part of it is a great opportunity for me."

Q: If we lined Chad Henne up at the goal line with Ryan Mallett and told you both to throw it as far as you could, who gets the ball the furthest?

Chad Henne: "I don’t know about the furthest, but his velocity is definitely a lot stronger than mine. I pride myself on having a good arm, but you’ll see it if he gets in a game this year. It’s amazing. You’ll see. There is just a great future ahead of him."

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