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Shock Value
AUSTIN MURPHY
September 25, 2006
By opening up its playbook and turning big-play wide receiver Mario Manningham loose, Michigan stunned Notre Dame with an easy win in South Bend
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September 25, 2006

Shock Value

By opening up its playbook and turning big-play wide receiver Mario Manningham loose, Michigan stunned Notre Dame with an easy win in South Bend

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Henne's detractors were in full throat after his first pass of the game, a strike to Ndukwe. The Notre Dame safety returned the ball 51 yards to the Michigan four. Two plays later Quinn threw the first of his three touchdown passes, to backup fullback Ashley McConnell. Henne responded to that disaster by leading touchdown drives on four of his next six possessions.

Far more surprising than the travails of Notre Dame's defense was the egg laid by Quinn, who moves, for the time being, to the fringe of Heisman consideration. Asked what the Wolverines had done to confuse him, he replied, "Nothing. We flat out didn't execute."

Quinn can shoulder all the blame he wants, but Michigan has a seriously ornery defense. Under glowering, intense first-year coordinator Ron English--whose motto is "Swarm"--the Wolverines are much more aggressive than they were under his predecessor, Jim Herrmann. They are also blessed with one of the finest linebacking corps in the country. Shawn Crable made the quarterback's life miserable, sacking him once and pasting him after a pass on another occasion. Prescott Burgess, a former strong safety whom Carr benched recently to get the senior's attention, responded by intercepting Quinn twice, returning the first of those picks 31 yards for a touchdown on Notre Dame's second play from scrimmage. And LaMarr Woodley delivered the coup de grace by returning Quinn's fumble 54 yards for a touchdown with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The only Wolverine who had a more spectacular game than Burgess was his former Warren G. Harding High teammate, Manningham, who was a sophomore at the Ohio school when Burgess was a senior. "That was the year [Manningham] scored four touchdowns against Massillon-Washington," recalls Thom McDaniels, coach of the Raiders. "One on a punt return, one on a kickoff return, and two touchdown receptions. We won 31-28. You can't tackle that guy in a phone booth. He's the best receiver I've seen in 33 years of coaching."

He may also be the most reticent. Asked what routes he had run for his touchdown receptions, the sophomore replied wearily, "I can't remember." He then invoked a mild medical emergency. "I just drank a bottle of lemonade too fast," he reported, "and now I've got a really bad stomachache. I need to get on the bus."

How are you going to argue with that?

And how are you going to argue that the Wolverines, who dominated every phase (except punting) against the No. 2 team in the nation, didn't deserve to jump from No. 11 in the polls to No. 6? Wouldn't it be something if, when Michigan visits Ohio State on Nov. 18, the ancient rivals are undefeated? If return artist Steve Breaston can develop into a bona fide receiving threat opposite Manningham--Breaston's hands are a trifle suspect--there's no telling how far the Wolverines can go. Because they've got everything else.

Including Weis's respect. As a sort of prologue to his postgame analysis, before addressing his team's shortcomings, Weis gave it up for the Wolverines. It's only proper, he pointed out, to give props "to an opponent who just kicked your butt."

Hail, in other words, to the victors.

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