The Wolverine

2020 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 119 SPECIAL TEAMS "They've done a good job," Kornblue said. "Anytime there's that chemistry, you want to keep it." Punters Look To Rebound Hart had his ups and downs punting last season, however, to the point that the redshirt junior Robbins, coming off a back injury, saw action late in the season against Ohio State. This position will also be wide open in 2020, and either could win it. Hart averaged 47.0 yards per punt two years ago to earn the Big Ten Eddleman- Fields Punter of the Year award, with 19 of his 43 kicks traveling more than 50 yards. His averaged dipped to 44.2 last year on 51 punts and didn't have the same level of consistency, though he still notched 15 kicks of 50-plus yards. "Who will win that job? That's a great question," Kornblue said. "I don't know. I do know they are both very capable. "Robbins kicks a higher ball, and Hart has more of a line drive punt and gets more distance like Will Hagerup (2010-14) used to. Hart doesn't necessarily always have the best net average, but he did a great job two years ago." At the same time, he noted, Robbins has elite potential. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection as a freshman in 2017 (40.4 average) and kicked four times against OSU (42.8 average) after Hart booted his only attempt through the end zone. If Robbins is going to win the job, his touch might be the reason. He has a huge leg, but was also adept at keeping the ball out of the end zone in his first year. He dropped PRESEASON ANALYSIS: SPECIAL TEAMS STARTERS ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Veterans Quinn Nordin and Jake Moody remain one of the best 1-2 kicking combos in the country, and punters Will Hart and Brad Robbins have the potential to be, as well. The Wolverines have a number of explosive athletes capable of returning punts and kicks. DEPTH ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Whoever doesn't start at kicker and punter will be waiting in the wings for their opportunity. It wouldn't surprise to see all four get opportunities early in the season. Sophomore Giles Jackson seems to be the guy at kick return, and the punt return competition should be fun to watch. X-FACTOR Who replaces Donovan Peoples-Jones at punt return, and can he protect the ball just as well? There's opportunity for improvement here — Peoples-Jones averaged only 7.2 yards per return last season. OVERALL ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ This is Jay Harbaugh's baby now after having shared the duties with Chris Partridge, who left to become the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. Special teams have been a net positive since Jim Harbaugh has been in Ann Arbor, and it shouldn't be any dif- ferent this year. YEAR-BY-YEAR KICKING LEADERS PUNTING Year Player Punt Attempts Avg. Punt Long 2019 Will Hart 51 44.2 61 2018 Will Hart 43 47.0 65 2017 Brad Robbins 64 40.4 58 2016 Kenny Allen 54 43.3 67 2015 Blake O'Neill 53 41.3 80 2014 Will Hagerup 53 42.9 63 2013 Matt Wile 61 40.6 69 2012 Will Hagerup 33 45.0 62 2011 Matt Wile 17 41.6 58 2010 Will Hagerup 33 43.6 72 FIELD GOALS Year Player FG Att. FG Made Long 2019 Quinn Nordin 13 10 57 2018 Quinn Nordin 16 11 50 2017 Quinn Nordin 24 19 55 2016 Kenny Allen 23 19 51 2015 Kenny Allen 22 18 47 2014 Matt Wile 21 15 48 2013 Brendan Gibbons 20 15 47 2012 Brendan Gibbons 18 16 52 2011 Brendan Gibbons 17 13 43 2010 Seth Broekhuizen 9 3 37 QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Jay Harbaugh (sixth year). Returning Starters: KR Giles Jackson (13 career starts at KR), PK Jake Moody (26 as kickoff specialist, 9 as PK), PK Quinn Nordin (29), LS Camaron Cheeseman (39) and P Will Hart (29). Departing Starter: PR Donovan Peoples-Jones (34). Projected New Starter: PR Ronnie Bell. Top Reserves: P Brad Robbins (10 starts), KR Michael Barrett and PR/KR Mike Sainristil. Wait Until 2021: LS Will Wagner and Robbins. Newcomers: PR/KR Roman Wilson and PR/KR A.J. Henning. Moved In: None. Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: None. Most Improved Player: KR/PR Ronnie Bell. Best Pro Prospect: Nordin.

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