I am not a stat geek, but it doesn't matter in special teams. An idiot can see that our special teams are a huge liability. Looking at ESPN's rudimentary stats, we have the following rankings for Michigan in 2010:
- Field goals: #120. This is out of 120 teams. What a travesty.
- Kick Returns: #22.
- Punting: #105.
- Extra Points: #17.
- Punt Returns: #107.
These statistics average out to 74. Frankly, I don't think we are #74 in the country in terms of special teams play. In an un-related ESPN article, it mentions the following rubrics for ranking NFL teams:
Football Outsiders evaluates special teams based on five categories -- field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kick returns, punts and punt returns -- and then compares them to the league average to develop leaguewide rankings.
I'm wondering first, if one of you who is statistically minded can do the same thing with Michigan to figure out our ranking in terms of special teams. I'd guess that we are in the bottom quartile. This is a huge detriment, and has somewhat been neglected in our focus on the defense and the defensive secondary.
Second, what are we doing to improve our special teams for next year? As a Chicagoan, the Bears, while not a great team, rank #1 in the NFL in special teams. This allows them to win some games they wouldn't otherwise. And as teams avoid kicking to Hester, the Bears begin many series with great field position.
If our special teams play was much improved, it would help the team out tremendously. The morale of the team must be shot with bad special teams play. Getting the ball to the red zone and scoring nothing is a huge downer. Scoring a TD, and then having your opponent score a TD on the ensuing kickoff (See: tOSU game) takes the wind out of your sails.
I, for one, would rather have an extra kicker than another QB at this point in time. And I don't know how you coach it, but for all areas of both punt/kickoff coverage AND returns to improve is critical.