The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Ranking The ��� Big Ten Punters Last year, three seniors ����� Michigan State���s Aaron Bates, Illinois��� Anthony Santella and Iowa���s Ryan Donahue �����topped the Big Ten, with each averaging at least 44.6 yards per kick. Hagerup, then a freshman, was nipping at their heels, with a 43.6yard average. With those three gone, Hagerup had an inside shot at being crowned the best in the Big Ten. But his stock has dropped a bit, with his first-half struggles. These are the five best Big Ten punters through Oct. 29. 1. Cody Webster, Purdue: The Boilermaker Boot averaged 45.5 yards a punt through eight games, fifth in the country. He has landed eight punts inside the 20-yard line this year and tallied 11 50-plus-yard punts. Thanks to the sophomore���s leg and his hang time, Purdue is tops in the conference in net punting (40.8 yards). 2. Brett Maher, Nebraska: Maher, a junior, is that rare breed of specialist who handles the kicking trifecta: punting, placekicking and kicking off. He ranked second in the Big Ten, averaging 45.2 yards per punt and placing 11 inside the 20. He was also the Cornhuskers��� leading scorer with 84 points, hitting 82.4 percent of his field goals with a long of 50. 3. Ben Buchanan, Ohio State: Buchanan, a senior, stood sixth in the conference in average yards per punt (41.3), but few punters have done more for their teams this season. Only one other Big Ten punter had registered more punts this year than Buchanan (48) through Oct. 29. 4. Eric Guthrie, Iowa: The senior has averaged 42.0 yards per punt, but his effectiveness is more in his hang time, allowing the coverage team ample time to get down the field and make a play. Of his 24 punts, just six were returnable, for just 25 total yards 5. Dan Orseske, Minnesota: Like Buchanan, Orseske has put his leg to good use due to a struggling offense, registering 38 kicks through eight games. He was averaging 40.5 yards per boot. ��� Andy Reid 42��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 cult hero status that Mesko enjoyed during his career, but he immediately made an impact, punting in the first game of his freshman season, a 30-10 win over Connecticut. For Hagerup���s first punt, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez called for a rugby-style spread kick, one of just two stylized punts Hagerup kicked all year. ���I���m not going to lie, I was very, very nervous,��� Hagerup said. ���The week before, I couldn���t think about anything else. Even though most people see it as one play of a game, it���s ���It���s more really subtle things that can help you in certain situations,��� he said. ���Like holding onto the ball longer if you���re punting into wind, so the wind won���t screw with your drop as much. I didn���t do anything that major, but you can always tweak things, which I did and will continue to do.��� With fall camp right around the corner, Hagerup was comfortable with his punts. But that���s when Hoke sat the sophomore down and delivered the news �����he would be suspended for the first four games of the season, after violating teams rules. ��� Will Hagerup ���It���s more really subtle things that can help you in certain situations. Like holding onto the ball longer if you���re punting into wind, so the wind won���t screw with your drop as much. I didn���t do anything that major, but you can always tweak things, which I did and will continue to do.��� your whole position, everything. ���I feel some nerves before the game, which is natural. It���s a different position. It���s not like playing linebacker where you hit somebody and then you���re locked into the game. You sort of keep getting re-nervous.��� Hagerup got off a decent punt with a great roll �����it went 51 yards, not a bad debut. In the first few games, Hagerup was serviceable, but by the end of the year, he had solidified himself as one of the top young punters in the country. He posted a 43.64-yard average, one of two punters (Mesko, 44.46 in 2009) in program history to tally such a high single-season average with at least 30 punts. He even launched a 72-yarder against Purdue. In June, Hagerup felt off-kilter with his punts, which can become a serious problem when you���re working on such a specific skill based on repetition and muscle memory. All kickers, at some point, fight through the head game. ���You feel like you���re going through a little slump with your form or results,��� he said. ���You have to tweak little things just to get back into it. ���I felt that this summer I wasn���t as consistent as I���d like to be. I wanted to go back to basics with what I do well and change up a few small things.��� So he went back to camps, got back on the practice field, and started refining his form. ���There was a lot of frustration,��� he said. ���You want to be the guy out there. I���m a 19-year-old kid. I definitely have some growing up to do. And I���ve worked really hard at that in the last few months. I���ve gotten tremendous support from a lot of people that have helped me a lot. ���When it comes down to it, the team matters to me, a lot, and that���s helped me through this. It was obviously not a good way to start my sophomore season, but I got through it and am continuing to get through it. ���Most college students make mistakes, but it���s not like everyone finds out about it. I think what helps is the process that I���m going through now, which is working with my team and coaches to get back on the right track, continue to work hard and help my team out. I���m a lot better off now than I was before.��� In Ann Arbor, Hagerup was also receiving more attention. Special teams coach Dan Ferrigno has worked with kickers since 1987, and his knowledge of the position helped Hagerup shore up his technique. ���He���s just really passionate about special teams,��� Hagerup said. ���He works so hard to prepare us to do our best. He gets all the film ready, he does all the scouting stuff. And his enthusiasm helps the most. He really cares about punting. ���Obviously no coach wants to have to punt, but he cares about it, and he���s

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