The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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174 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY ANDY REID T here aren't many programs in the country that have lost a placekicker as consistent as Brendan Gibbons that still feel as good about their kicking situation as the Michigan football team. In the last three seasons, Gibbons hit 44 of 55 field goals, including a program-record 16 consecutive makes, and 143 of 144 extra points. But the Wolverines have senior Matt Wile, who has patiently waited for his time in the spotlight since he first arrived on campus. After Gibbons struggled mightily in 2010, Rich Rodriguez's last season in Ann Arbor, hitting just 1 of 5 field goal attempts, Wile had a chance to win the job as a true freshman. Instead, Gibbons emerged as the go-to guy. Wile filled in as a punter in 2011, while then-junior Will Hagerup was suspended for the first four games of the year. Wile also served the Wolverines' kickoff specialist. "I have always liked him as a field goal kicker," Michigan special teams coach Dan Ferrigno said. "When we came here, we recruited Matt as a field goal kicker, because we really didn't know what we were getting. We had heard horror stories about their kicking situa- tion in 2010. But the little left-footed guy [Gibbons] got pretty good in a hurry. The fact that he felt the competition from Matt was part of it, but he improved tremendously." Now, it's Wile's turn — but he does have in-game experience in all three kicking facets of the game. When Gibbons missed the last two games of the 2013 season, Wile was juggling all three: kickoffs, punts and field goals. In his career, Wile, who has been Michigan's choice for long- distance field goals, is 5 of 8 on field goal attempts. He hit on tries of 48 yards against Michigan State and 52 yards against South Carolina as a sophomore, and he added makes of 49 yards at Michigan State and 22 and 26 yards against Kansas State. "Matt has only kicked a handful of field goals, and they have all been bombs," Ferrigno said. "We know what we have, and he is pretty good. He gets the ball up, and he hits it hard. He's going to be fine. The fans really haven't seen him kick the shorter ones, but he is going to be fine. He's very good." He booted five point-after attempts against Ohio State last season. Wile also averaged 40.6 yards on 61 punts, with 16 that hit inside the 20-yard line, and tallied 37 touchbacks on 76 kickoffs. "I really think that is hard to do," Ferrigno said of Wile's diverse responsibilities at the end of the year. "You're better off if a guy can concentrate on one or two things: field goals and kickoffs or punts and kickoffs, rather than doing it all. I look at last year, and we had specialty period before practice every day, and Matt is running around like a chicken with his head cut off, going from one drill to the next. He wanted to get a certain amount of punts, kickoffs and field goals up every day — and that is hard when you're spread out over so many duties. "Each specific position has a skill set that has to be refined, and it is tough when you're doing all of it." Although Wile would rather handle all of the duties himself — he doesn't want to give up any of his responsibilities — he will have some help next season. Hagerup, now a fifth-year senior, is back in the fold after nearly losing his place on the team. He worked hard to get back in the good graces of the Michigan coaches, served a one-year suspension, during which he did everything asked of him and kept himself out of trouble, and is ready to get back to it. Hagerup won the 2012 Big Ten Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Full Steam ahead The Wolverines Have Plenty Of Talent And Depth On Special Teams ST Senior Matt Wile, who served as U-M's punter and long-distance field goal specialist last year, will take over all placekicking duties in 2014. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Year-By-Year Kicking Leaders PUNTING FIELD GOALS Year Player Att. Avg. Long 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 2009 Zoltan Mesko 52 44.5 66 Year Player Att. Avg. Long 2008 Zoltan Mesko 80 43.0 63 2007 Zoltan Mesko 70 41.1 68 2006 Zoltan Mesko 50 41.6 64 2005 Ryan Ross 52 38.3 64 2004 Adam Finley 64 43.0 68 Year Player Att. Made Long 2013 B. Gibbons 20 15 47 2012 B. Gibbons 18 16 52 2011 B. Gibbons 17 13 43 2010 S. Broekhuizen 9 3 37 2009 J. Olesnavage 15 11 51 Year Player Att. Made Long 2008 K.C. Lopata 15 10 50 2007 K.C. Lopata 12 11 42 2006 Garrett Rivas 20 17 48 2005 Garrett Rivas 26 19 47 2004 Garrett Rivas 24 19 47 174-177.STs.indd 174 6/19/14 3:14 PM

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