It didn’t take long for Chad Henne to become the big man on campus. After an injury knocked out starter Matt Gutierrez for the first game of the 2004 season, the true freshman took over the starting job. 2,743 yards, 25 touchdown passes, and a Big Ten Championship later, the former Pennsylvania star is the center of attention a lot sooner than he, or anyone else, ever predicted. All of the off-field attention his performance has garnered has been a little daunting for the youngster. “Being recognized around campus is kind of bothering me right now," said Henne. “It gets on your nerves, but you just have to deal with it for how you played last season and take it day by day. You pretty much don't want to say your last name in class. You just want to say your first name. You don't want to be known."
By comparison, Henne's on-field adjustment to being "the man" has been much easier. Though he experienced some growing pains as a freshman, they helped him prepare for this season. “Our offense is pretty difficult," Henne explained. "Getting to know which plays go against which defenses and trying to think in the back of your mind, 'don’t mess anything up, try to stay calm, and do your best.' Last year, I don't even know if I was at 50 percent [of the playbook]. They would give me a play and I would just run the play. This year I'm understanding why we're going to run the play, what defense's they're going to give us, and what plays go against that."
Helping the talented field general in his transition to becoming a college starter was/is one of the best quarterback coaches in college football. Henne credits Scot Loeffler as the guiding light in his continuing maturation. "Before every game we prepare very well," Henne said. "I just went through a lot of film work, and Coach (Scot) Loeffler was helping me along the way."
Loeffler’s guidance combined with the experience he gained last year should help Henne deal with the pressure and expectations his initial success has inspired. "The pressure being in front of all those people and different stadiums last year will help out this year” said Henne. "You have to be like that. You always want pressure on your shoulders because that's when you perform your best. That's how I feel."
Despite the loss of his favorite target from last season, Henne is confident that the Michigan offense can still be explosive. While no one returning player can equal Braylon Edwards' production, Henne feels the collective talent at the skill positions will keep things on the right track. ”If your in the right rhythm each play and you know where they're going to be, you can always count on them catching the ball and making a play” Henne said of his receivers. “With Mike Hart, Kevin Grady, Max Martin and also the other running backs in the backfield, it’s going to give us a balanced attack. We have a lot of great players back on offense. It's going to be a great experience again. I can't wait!”