The last time John Navarre stepped onto a Pac-10 team”s field was a day that he”d rather forget.
Following up two strong games against Bowling Green and Rice, Navarre was getting used to the role of starting in the place of an injured Drew Henson.
Then came the Bruins.
Navarre completed eight of 28 passes with one interception including a 1-11 mark in the second half as Michigan blew a fourth quarter lead en route to a 23-20 loss to UCLA.
The interception came with just under a minute and a half remaining, with Michigan in field-goal range. The Wolverines needed only to stop the clock.
Suddenly, the cheers that Navarre had drawnat Michigan Stadium were turning to shocked boos. Fans were desperate for Henson”s return.
This weekend, Navarre is going back out west, this time to Washington.
“Personally, I have to study last year and take it as a positive learning experience,” Navarre said.
After the UCLA game, Navarre would start the next game at Illinois, but when Henson returned for the second half, he was a backup again.
Since then, he”s had a year to dwell on the mistakes that he made in the Rose Bowl, and coach Lloyd Carr thinks that it”s prepared him for this year.
“There”s no question that the UCLA game will help him in preparing for this week,” Carr said. “I feel very confident that he has learned some things since then. He is a much better quarterback today that he was a year ago.”
On the surface: On Saturday, Michigan will play its first game on a new field surface that Washington has installed in Husky Stadium.
FieldTurf is an innovative artificial turf that is widely considered the best substitute for grass. It is an extremely well-mixed conglomerate of grass and artificial turf. From the stands, it looks remarkably similar to grass, and even on the field, players say that it handles like a natural surface.
“I like it,” quarterback John Navarre said. “It”s softer, and I like the fact that you can wear any type of shoe on it.”
The reason that Navarre and the rest of Michigan”s squad know enough about the surface to draw an opinion is that FiedTurf has been installed in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, Michigan”s indoor practice facility.
“I think the fact that we practice on it will help us a lot on Saturday,” linebacker Victor Hobson said. “I actually started out wearing turf shoes, but I have now switched to cleats. It really doesn”t make a difference each shoe gets the same amount of grip.”
One that got away: This weekend, the Michigan coaching staff will get to see a blue-chip recruit that slipped away at the last minute.
Reggie Williams, a wide receiver out of Tacoma, Wash. chose Washington at the last minute after mulling between the Huskies and Michigan.
The 6-foot-4, 215 pound Williams was considered among the top wide receiver recruits in the country. In the end, he decided to stay close to home.
“Reggie will play this weekend,” Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said. “How much, we will have to wait and see. But he has been what we expected, he is a talented young man who has learned quickly, so there”s no reason to save him.
“I wouldn”t be shocked to see him play anywhere from 20 to 25 plays. I think he deserves that kind of time.”