ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Two starts into his college career, Ryan Mallett continues to make strides in his role as Michigan's emergency go-to-quarterback.
The freshman led the Wolverines to a 14-9 upset victory over No. 10 Penn State when he completed 16-of-29 passes for 170 yards and scored Michigan's first touchdown on a 10-yard run.
Mallett's progression appears to be coming just as Wolverines senior starter Chad Henne moves closer to returning to the lineup.
Coach Lloyd Carr said at his weekly press conference Monday that Henne, who was injured in the first half of Michigan's 39-7 loss to Oregon, has been medically cleared to return.
When that happens, though, remains unclear. Carr did not announce who would start Michigan's first road game of the year Saturday at Northwestern.
"It's to a point now where the doctors will leave it up to Chad, how he feels and of course, it will depend on what I see and what I think," Carr said. "We're encouraged with where he is, but we have to continue to watch him. We want to make sure that when he comes back, his mobility is there.
"We're not going to do anything that's going to jeopardize Chad and his ability to react to the pressure that comes with that position."
Carr said Henne took snaps throughout the week leading up to Penn State, continuing to recover from the leg injury he sustained against Oregon.
While Henne was on the mend, Mallett was given more of Michigan's complex offense to digest after guiding a Wolverines to a 38-0 rout of Notre Dame.
In Saturday's victory over the Nittany Lions, Mallett continued to demonstrate the skills that made him one of Michigan's prized recruits. His steady progress quickly earned the respect of his teammates.
"Chad's a great leader and it's his huddle," offensive lineman Steve Schilling said Monday. "But Ryan did a great job of maintaining that. He's a leader beyond his years."
Carr said that while he sensed some early nervousness by Mallett, he was not intimidated, instead showing a grasp of the position. While saying that Mallett made more mistakes Saturday than he did in his first collegiate start against Notre Dame, Carr said the miscues came with an added work load.
"He did some things that excite you as a coach. But what we're trying to do is to get him to where he could perform on a more consistent basis," Carr said. "That entails getting him more repetitions. There's nothing like game experience to help a guy understand the urgency of doing the things that he has to do."
When pressed about when Henne could return, Carr re-emphasized the fact that the senior would not play until both coach and player felt the time was right.
"The only thing I can tell you is I'm not going to play him until I know that he's ready," Carr said. "That's the only thing I know to tell you. A part of that will be how he feels, a big part of it."