ANN ARBOR -- Michigan's offensive struggles to open the 2007 season have been well documented. After opening the season with two consecutive losses, and putting just one touchdown on the board against Oregon in week two, questions from all over the country were coming at an offense that was expected to be one of the top units in the country.
As a fifth-year senior and second-year captain, offensive tackle Jake Long, who was named a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award earlier this morning, fielded the brunt of the blow, and, along with fellow captain Mike Hart, became the rock in getting the Michigan offense back on track.
"Yes, definitely," Long said at this week's press conference when asked if he thought the offense was improving. "I thought we came out strong and we came out fast. The defense gave us the ball with a short field the whole day and we capitalized on it. We scored touchdowns and we had great effort on both sides of the ball."
Against Purdue this past weekend, Long, and the rest of the Michigan offense, put together their best outing of the season. With quarterback Chad Henne back for his second full game, the offense round into form behind four touchdowns in the first two quarter of play.
"It was definitely our best game on offense," Long continued. "It was our most complete game. We got the run game going and we protected Chad pretty well all day and got our receivers open. We just have to keep getting better at that."
This weekend the Wolverines get their next chance at improvement when the Maize and Blue head to Champaign, Ill., for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff against the Illinois Fighting Illini. With a pair of teams both still fighting for a potential Rose Bowl bid, Long, and the rest of the Wolverines, expect the game to be a dog fight.
"Illinois is a great team. We are playing at their place at night," Long said. "They're going to be fired up and ready to go. They are a good team on both sides of the ball so we're going to have to come with our best.
"We are going to watch film tonight on them. I know by watching them on TV before that they have a great linebacker and good defensive ends. They are quick; they play hard and are a good defense. We are going to have to play good and just get through this week and make sure we don't have any mistakes and just come out and play our game."
Entering this weeks contest, Illinois sits No. 27 in the nation in run defense and No. 22 in the nation in total defense. Michigan's offense enters the week No. 22 in the nation in rushing and No. 50 in the nation in scoring offense.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 on ABC.
"It is going to be fun," Long concluded. "It is going to be a hostile environment under the lights. It is going to be fun."
Offense Moving in Right Direction
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