I did not make this headline up
The first step in fixing a problem is realizing you have a problem. Coach Baxter seems to be horrified by Michigan's special teams play and aims to fix it.
Didn't see this on the board. Posted mainly because we don't hear much from Baxter or about special teams in general.
Look for Michigan to hire an assistant that will coach special teams exclusively. No position— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 7, 2015
This is thread-worthy, I think, because I'm pretty sure that this is Sam's way of saying something without revealing the name of the person who is going to take the job...
EDIT: Balas seems to be indicating that Ty Wheatley is our new RB coach:
Tyrone Wheatley officially in as Michigan's RB coach? Sounds like it ($): https://t.co/6VzBjjy9BA— Chris Balas (@Balas_Wolverine) January 7, 2015
Shop Smart Shop pointed out in a thread that there were only 10 players on the field during a punt against Rutgers but I didn't see any definitive screen shots on that thread so I thought that I'd use MGoVideo's video to grab some for the benefit of the board (GoBLUinTX usefully pointed out the key moment).
Here's the key image, labelled (click all images to embiggen in a new window). Norfleet is off the screen (I don't think that the ref is Dennis Norfleet).
Here are two shots from the end zone immediately before the punt (the clock isn't running because Michigan had called a time-out):
Just before the punt, the camera angle changes:
and with labels:
Just before the punt, Delonte Hollowell (#24, my number 3) moves to help out with the gunner on the top of the screen (the boundary) and Rutgers punts:
With labels (numbers are the same as above):
And here's the 11th player running onto the field late just before the punt, early in the 3rd quarter (the ball was punted at 12:58):
Today we look at special teams play from the weekend Miami series.
We start with a 5-3 powerplay. From right to left, Moffie, Merrill, Treais, Moffatt and Di Giuseppe. Michigan is not set yet, Moffatt is skating through and Di Giuseppe is screening. Moffie takes a one timer that get blocked and come right back to him.
Moffie passes across to Merrill who sends it down to Treais, Miami has picked up Moffatt in front of the net.
Michigan has set up in perfect position, Di Giuseppe is playing backdoor for anything that gets through and Moffatt is covered by a lefty. Since the stick is in his left hand he has no real chance to make a play on the puck, unless he uses his skate.
Unfortunately for Miami, Reichard tries to make a play on the puck and catches it at a bad angle, sending it into his own goal.
Miami special teams were awful this series and this PP was no exception. A Miami skater comes on late and has no idea where he is supposed to be, the two players to the right are mixed up and try to cover the same assignments.
The puck is cycled from the corner boards to the pointman Jon Merrill. The Miami players have confused their alignments and left Luke Moffatt free to screen, even if the save is made no one in red is there for the rebound.
Merrill gets the shot down on the ice and Knapp sees it at the last second, he goes down but Moffatt gets a beautiful tip and sends it over his shoulder.
Michigan gets a very lucky bounce here. The defenseman is thinking the puck is going to be rolled down the boards, but it's chipped up into the air. With the Miami forwards still in the zone Michigan has nothing to lose by trying a rush in the neutral zone, except Miami was playing to agressive and got caught so no one is there.
Notice the direction of his head, he's looking down the goalie. That freezes the defensemen, since he is seeing shot his priority is shot blocking. Except Luke sends a beautiful no-look pass to moffie.
I continue to see the defense and special teams developing, and becoming a strength for the Michigan team.
- It is interesting to hear Hoke quoted as saying:
I think our defense is playing pretty good, to be honest with ya.
- Looking at the scoring defense, Michigan is averaging 10.33 points scored against per game, which would be good for somewhere around 8 or 9th in the country. Of course, things will change soon, but that is a great start. This is a tremendous reflection of the bend, don't break philosophy. (Note: I have no clue how to calculate this stat. Do you include WMU or not? Do you amortize the WMU score over four quarters instead of three? Regardless, we are not getting clobbered by other teams on the scoreboard.)
- It is great to see the emphasis in practice this week on better play on kickoffs, and the huge improvement by Matt Wile. This apparently is falling under Mattison's review. This is a huge between games adjustment. We are not only seeing adjustment during games, but during the season.
I am especially looking forward to the defense UFR this week.
While it would be a mistake to be too positive, it would be hard to think of a more favorable schedule.
- Minnesota seems as easy of a game as possible to start the conference schedule.
- This will also give Michigan at least one game to scout and prepare for Persa and Northwestern.
- Michigan is due to win vs. Michigan State, but more than being due, MSU appears greatly weakened on the OL.
- Purdue is not frightening.
- Iowa appears vulnerable, with their loss to ISU.
- Illinois is Illinois. They are stronger than last year, but so is Michigan.
I can't believe Michigan will win all these games. But we could run the table in October, and split Iowa / Illinois, leaving us to close out at home with the two strongest teams we face, Nebraska and OSU.
Honestly, I don't care if we lose, as long as we're in the game. And Mattison is maximizing the defense to keep us in the game. More than that, the favorable schedule allows us to grow the defense, to heal up as necessary (exhibits A & B, Cam Gordon, Troy Woolfolk,) to give experience to Freshmen (Blake Countess,) to teach BWC how to play. It also limits the burden on Denard.
In the aftermath of Dan Ferrigno's hiring, a lot has been made about Michigan finally getting a new special teams coach. This should help shed some light on the past performance of Coach Ferrigno.
Caveats- The data is incomplete. NCAA archives only go back to the 1999 season, where Ferrigno was in his fourth season as special teams coach at Cal. He spent 1996-1999 as special teams coach at Cal, moved on for the same job at USC for the 2000 season, and then did not go back to coaching special teams until 2009 at San DIego State under Coach Hoke.
Just a memory jolt, because the overall strength of the team obviously has a huge impact on their special teams play.
1999- Cal 4-7 (3-5) Unranked. Later forefitted victories due to ineligible players.
2000 USC 5-7 (1-7) Unranked.
2009 SDSU 4-8 (2-6) Unranked.
2010 SDSU 9-4 (5-3) Unranked.
|Team||Net Punting||Punt Return||Kickoff Return|
|1999 Cal||9 (39.7)||30 (11.0)||12 (23.7)|
|2000 USC||110 (36.21)||63 (9.19)||62 (19.49)|
|2009 SDSU||18 (38.05)||92 (6.31)||97 (20.10)|
|2010 SDSU||49 (36.93)||93 (6.04)||107 (19.34)|
Let's take a look at Michigan under Coach Rodriguez:
|Year||Net Punting||Punt Return||Kickoff Return|
|2008||5 (39.34)||64 (8.62)||56 (21.44)|
|2009||3 (40.93)||62 (8.67)||23 (23.80)|
|2010||69 (36.07)||67 (7.43)||68 (21.44)|
One thing to remember is that special teams rankings are very fickle. .2 yards can decide the difference between the 20th ranked team and the 60th. Anyway, I hope this adds something to our regime change analysis.
Michigan (under RR):