CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - At first glance last night early in the Illinois game, it appeared to be dj vu all over again as Chad Henne headed toward the locker room with two Michigan trainers closely behind.
The scene was reminiscent of Henne's early departure because of a right knee injury in a 39-7 loss to Oregon in the second week of the season.
This time, however, Henne emerged from the corner of Memorial Stadium still in uniform only a short time later, and his return came just in time for the Wolverines.
Henne exited after being gang tackled in the backfield by a pair of Illinois defenders on third down on the Wolverines' second possession of the game. Henne wasn't limping noticeably as he left on the sideline, but his presence was sorely missed.
Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett ended up spending just one series under center, but Illinois had built a 14-3 advantage during that time.
On Henne's first possession back in the huddle with less than 10 minutes left in the half, he led Michigan on an 80-yard, six-play scoring drive that took only 1:57.
Henne passed on five of the six plays in the series, capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham with 8:01 left in the half.
Then on the Wolverines' next possession, Henne found Adrian Arrington in the corner of the end zone with 45 seconds left in the half for a 14-yard touchdown pass that was initially ruled incomplete but later reversed.
Henne finished the first half 11-of-15 passing for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
BROWN STEPS IN: Despite being without injured back Mike Hart, the Wolverines still opted to go with the run more times than the pass in the first half against Illinois.
In their 32 plays from scrimmage before the break, Michigan logged 20 running plays compared with 12 pass plays.
Leading the ground attack in the first half was sophomore Carlos Brown, who carried 10 times for 36 yards. Also chipping in was Brandon Minor with 15 yards on five carries.
NICE LEG: In his only punt of the first half, Zoltan Mesko boomed a season-long 67-yarder that pinned Illinois on its own 4-yard line 8:27 into the first quarter.
Before last night, Mesko's longest punt was a 60-yarder three weeks ago against Northwestern that pinned the Wildcats on their 1-yard line.
Mesko, not your typically sized punter at 6-4, 242, is fourth in the Big Ten with a 41.1 yard average per punt.40.1142 -88.2435