The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 83

NOVEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 29 29 in East Lansing, Nov. 26 at Ohio State, in a playoff, the bowl game or before — that the Wolverines will need their kickers, however. "I never thought it was ideal to have Kenny do the punting, kickoffs and the field goals," Harbaugh said. "It's a lot — it's probably too much. This will be an opportunity for Ryan Tice to step up and carry that duty." Allen, however, was back on the field handling extra-point duties in the blowout win at Rutgers. Tice and freshman Quinn Nordin, who had been "working through something" the first five weeks according to Har- baugh, also traveled to New Jersey. "Kenny was the one we were go- ing with first tonight," Harbaugh said after the win. "I thought he was good [on extra points] tonight. We saw part of the problem. He's rushing some of his kicks. He rushed one, and we had it on the stopwatch and reminded him. "That's the biggest issue. You want to be in that 1.25-, 1.3-second opera- tion time. He was getting down in 1.1. That's the identifiable thing. We'll keep working on that and get the timing right in that sweet spot." PUNT GAME AND COVERAGE UNITS HAVE BEEN SOLID Allen may be struggling in the kick- ing game, but he's got the punting as- pect down. His coffin corner kick to the 1-yard line led to a series deep in Rutgers territory on which the Scarlet Knights fumbled; one play later, the Wolverines were in the end zone up 21-0 and the rout was on. He was averaging 43.2 yards per punt at the halfway point and has dropped seven of his 22 kicks inside the 20. Six of his punts have gone for 50 or more yards, with a long of 56. "As long as he's the best at all three — which he has been … until some- body beats him out in one of those jobs, he'll be doing all three," Har- baugh said of the kicking duties earlier this season. "It'd be great if someone could take one of those duties off his shoulders. "Kickoffs would be the place that we'd love to see that happen. But until it does — as long as he's the best at all three — then we owe it to our team to have him doing all three duties." When opponents did get the oppor- tunity to return kicks, U-M's coverage teams had been up to the task. Michi- gan ranked 48th nationally with a 19.74 yards per return average on kickoffs, more than respectable. The Wolverines were 89th in punt return average al- lowed (9.67 yards) but hadn't given up a big play on nine returns despite be- ing 82nd in net punting (36.55 yards). They were also tied for eighth na- tionally with one blocked punt, had gotten hands on two others and forced the one bad kick against Colorado with pressure. Meanwhile, they checked in tied for fourth nationally with three blocked field goals. Overall, the special teams have been a net plus with Partridge, Jay Har- baugh and cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich collaborating together. "There's a good chemistry there with all three us working together.," Jay Harbaugh said. "Maybe Chris has this insane idea that's nuts, and I kind of talk him back a little bit and we get somewhere that's a little more con- ventional. It's a good balance, and we work well together." It's all about finding ways to put their players in a position to make plays and do the things they're good at, he explained, and so far it's work- ing out well. ❏ Michigan at least deflected four kicks against UCF, including two blocked field goals from redshirt senior Chris Wormley (No. 43). PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

Articles in this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - November 2016