Starting at Nebraska, it seems like we've started letting punts roll to our detriment, even when they could be caught, and sometimes even returned. Maybe just a case of confirmation bias, or maybe we've just been getting really bad luck with the rolls, but it sure seems like we are letting a lot of yards/field position get away from us.
Punt Returns -- Letting it Roll
I agree with your post except for the "starting at Nebraska" part. It seems to me this has been an issue for us for a long time. Not sure if it's coaching or Gallon's decision making.
FGs are good, but KR coverage, PR coverage, KR blocking, PR blocking, and fielding punts are all pretty bad.
Here are the season-to-date totals:
After today, the season totals for punt returns are 14 punts for a total of 130 yards, or 9.3 yards average per return. Believe it or not, sorted by average return, that's 4th in the conference and 43rd nationally.
Interesting. I wouldn't have guessed that.
Does that include punts that are not fielded at all, though? Does it include punts that are fair caught? Given that your total is 14 punts (less than 1.5 per game) I'm guessing the answer is no. So, we're somewhat above average on the punt return when we have a punt return, but what about the rest of the time?
if you could have fielded a punt at the 35 and had no return, but let it roll to the 15 (this happened today), both show up as "NR" in the stats, but the former is actually +20 vis-a-vis the latter in terms of field position.
Shallow, meaningless statistic that indicates Michigan has the best passing defense in the country.
I've seen far too many fair catches on punts that are clearly end zone bound.
punt today wasn't really fieldable. It was a shank Gallon would have had to run 15 yards forward into the sun to catch. Having an up man may be the solution, much like the Dileo play a few weeks back.
Agreed the punt today that ended up bouncing to the 12 wasn't really a punt that was able to be fielded cleanly. It was an awful shank and there was no way a sprinting Gallon was going to get up to a cleanly field that kick, shitty luck it ended up bouncing that far downfield.
Gallon's return in crunch time occurred largely because we had two men deep. At the very least, twice as likely to fair catch as the field is cut in half. Odds of blocking a punt are 1 in 50 with 10 up and our odds of mis-fielding are 1 in 4. Better to forego the 1 in 50 gain and eliminate the 1 in 4 penalty by 9 up and 2 back.
Overall Gallon is probably being a little too cautious, but having the offense on the field anywhere is better than trying to make a diving catch and turning it over.
It wasn't too many years ago that we were screaming "Catch the Damn Ball" and would be happy with a punt being left alone rather than routinely fumbled.