Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Wolverine offense a challenge for U

October 20, 2000
MSU senior cornerback DeMario Suggs, left, tackles former Michigan wide receiver Marcus Knight last year at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Wolverines 34-31. —

On paper, Michigan’s offense reads as deadly as any in the country.

Through the air, quarterback Drew Henson has great options wherever he turns. Wide receiver David Terrell already has 39 receptions and eight touchdowns and wide receiver Marquise Walker has 26 catches with four touchdowns.

On the ground, running back Anthony Thomas has run for 946 yards and 10 touchdowns behind a veteran offensive line, led by All-American candidate Steve Hutchinson.

“They’re very versatile in that they run and pass the ball equally well,” said MSU defensive line coach Brad Lawing. “They can keep you off balance.”

MSU senior cornerback Renaldo Hill guarded Terrell last year, and likely will guard him Saturday. He expects a formidable challenge.

“Terrell is one of the better receivers in the nation,” Hill said. “I just need to pay attention to detail.”

While the Spartan offense has been stagnant lately, scoring 26 points in the last two games, Michigan’s offensive attack has scored 89 points in that same span.

MSU head coach Bobby Williams knows what kind of weapons Michigan’s offense throws at opponents.

“Drew Henson is a very fine quarterback, and they have a huge offensive line and those receivers can hurt you downfield,” Williams said. “Anthony Thomas is a great power back with good speed. He’s a little like (MSU sophomore running back T.J.) Duckett with his good vision and hands.”

When Henson broke his foot before the season, freshman John Navarre was thrust into the starting role. Navarre played admirably, beating Bowling Green and Rice, but ran into problems at UCLA where Michigan lost 23-20 versus the Bruins on Sept. 16. The Wolverines won the following week at Illinois when Henson returned.

During the year, the two quarterbacks have combined for 15 touchdown passes and only one interception.

But now there is no question Henson is the starter. Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr has been very pleased with the Brighton native since his return.

“Drew Henson has done a tremendous job,” Carr said. “If you look at the way he’s played after being out for a month, he’s throwing the ball extremely well and making good decisions.”

MSU junior linebacker Josh Thornhill said players have to step up and make plays to turn around the Spartans’ recent skid.

“We had a tough game against Northwestern and then we had two games we should have won,” Thornhill said. “It’s not fair to criticize Coach Williams because although he makes the game plans, we make the plays. It takes a whole team to lose.”

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