Preview 2018: Special Teams

Preview 2018: Special Teams Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2018 at 4:57 PM

[Bryan Fuller]

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Tackle. Interior Offensive Line. Defensive Tackle. Defensive End. Linebacker. Cornerback. Safety.

Depth Chart

Kicker Yr Punter Yr Kickoffs Yr Punt return Yr Kick return Yr
Quinn Nordin So.* Brad Robbins So. Jake Moody Fr. Donovan Peoples-Jones So. Ambry Thomas So.
Jake Moody Fr. Will Hart So.* Quinn Nordin So.*    Oliver Martin Fr.* Donovan Peoples-Jones So.   

Kickers can kick far, but not always straight. The punters cannot kick far, and not always straight. Donovan Peoples-Jones can field some punts, but not other punts, unless he can this year. It's special teams, people, predictions are for rubes.


Rating: 4, but maybe 5.


this one is for the haircut [Bryan Fuller]

It all happened so fast with QUINN NORDIN. One day he was a promising redshirt freshman; the next he was already on Michigan's leaderboards for most 50+ yard field goals in program history. Around these parts we have what I call a "bet" and Ace calls "certainly an OSHA violation" where he has to get a Wild Thing haircut if Nordin hits two 50-yarders in one game. Because Nordin has—probably had at this point—that haircut.

We didn't listen.

The haircut whispered dark tidings like "hey maybe miss this one" into Nordin's ear and he listened enough to create a mid-season swoon severe enough for Harbaugh and Nordin to have a bit of a public spat after his third straight miss. "Hey! Make a field goal!" Harbaugh probably said, and Nordin probably said "That's what I'm trying to do!" in response, as one does. Then both said "DANGIT" at the same time and "JINX" at the same time three seconds later and everything was fine again.

Compounding the field goal misses were three missed extra points, one of which was going to be the way Michigan lost to OSU until they found a different way to lose.

The good news is that Nordin banged in all four of his attempts in the bowl game, including a 48-yarder, and finished the season 19 of 24. These days hitting almost 80% isn't an incredible feat, but it's still pretty good. FEI's Field Goal Efficiency Metric, which takes distance into account, ranked him 25th in D-I.

Having expectations for kickers is a rube's game but let's be rubes: the heart of a wide distribution here is another season exactly like the one Nordin had with maybe one extra point miss. And maybe one absolute bomb from halfway across the state. Here's the bit where the spring game field goal goes:

Good from 70. Easy.

FWIW, Michigan did bring in JAKE MOODY as a grayshirt. He got a scholarship this fall after some attrition but is probably on a first-come-first-serve basis until he gets a starting job. Moody has a giant leg himself, with three field goals of 55+ yards last year, and unlike Nordin he got to use it. His 39 field goals is a state record.

Since the James "Doug" Foug  tactic has been nerfed by the NCAA—you can now call a fair catch inside the 25 on a kickoff and it counts as a touchback—the play on kickoffs is to blast them out of the back of the endzone. Moody seems like a good candidate to do that, and good backup plan if Nordin has a full #collegekickers meltdown. Which is unlikely. But, I mean... yeah.

[After the JUMP: aaargh you punt the ball farther than that]


Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Ohio State

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Ohio State Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 1st, 2017 at 12:00 PM


someday I hope to be as happy as Robert Landers (far left) [Fuller]

Ohio State’s punt coverage team is pretty good. Drue Chrisman, Ohio State’s punter, is really good. As a unit, they’ve allowed four returned punts for a total of 55 yards this season. Forty-two of those yards came on this play.

[After THE JUMP: more on both returners, parsing the punting, appreciating James Foug]


Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 24th, 2017 at 6:32 PM



Formation/substitution notes: Uche made an impact, charting for the first time after (per the official site) playing on ST the previous two weeks and against Air Force. Had to look that up because I thought this was the first week they were using him on kickoff.

Otherwise, things remained the same. Michigan brought pressure on their punts when they had Wisconsin pinned deep, otherwise dropping at least one man post-snap. They doubled a gunner on punt return coverage once again this week; Wisconsin was deep in their own territory, and it worked fairly well.

[After THE JUMP: what could be more BIG TENNNN than the mere existence of a ST UFR? EXTENSIVE DISCUSSION OF THE PUNNNTTTTEEERRRR]


Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Penn State Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 27th, 2017 at 12:01 PM



Formation/Substitution Notes: Nothing of note this week. All of the easily identifiable personnel stayed the same: Thomas and Hawkins as returners on kick with one of them plus Mason forming the two-man wedge, Peoples-Jones at punt returner, Robbins as the punter and Poggi the personal protector in a pro-style punt, and Foug and friends on kickoff. There’s not much to talk about in this section, so I’ll leave you with something that does warrant discussion: a Michigan kick returner creating something out of nothing.

[Large enough sample size to draw early conclusions about the kick return unit after THE JUMP]


Wednesday Presser 10-25-17: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 10-25-17: Chris Partridge Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 26th, 2017 at 8:05 AM

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[Ed. A- I was too sick to make the trip in yesterday, but thanks to 247’s Isaiah Hole I had video from which to transcribe.]

“I thought after the first big run that he has we did a decent job of containing there. They hit some big plays. Quarterback’s phenomenal. Hit some big plays on us in the pass game and kind of flustered us a little bit and then we couldn’t get re-settled down in terms of that. I don’t think we paid too much attention, though.”

What happened to Quinn on the missed extra point? Crowd was booing him pretty heavily but did that affect him?

“No, I mean, that’s unacceptable. That can’t happen. He knows that. He just let his emotions get carried away and kind of kicked the ground a little bit and pushed it and that’s got to be fixed immediately from a mental standpoint. Can’t have that ever happen again.”

Ambry [Thomas] seems to really be progressing in kick return. Talk about what you’ve seen from him.

“He’s explosive, fearless. He’s what you want back there. It’s a really good combination we have now. We got Ben Mason, Brad Hawkins, Ambry, three true freshmen working together, getting to know each other, feeling each other out, because all three of those guys could get the ball and two of them have to be a blocker on every kick. Really, really happy with that unit’s progression and how those guys are really coming together and feeling each other out and stuff like that. Really happy with that group.”

[After THE JUMP: Rashan don’t read this, he wants you to keep the chip on your shoulder]


Upon Further Review: Special Teams vs Indiana

Upon Further Review: Special Teams vs Indiana Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 20th, 2017 at 4:32 PM



Formation/Substitution Notes: Not much at all. No noticeable substitutions. In terms of formation, Michigan would drop a couple of wings a few yards back on punt when Indiana stacked the line. Michigan also brought the gunners in tight and staggered two wings when it looked like Indiana was going for the all-out punt block with a little over a minute to go in regulation.

max pro

[After THE JUMP: DPJ’s development, Ben Wallace-ing your way to success, and other items from Puntapalooza 2017]


Indiana Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Indiana Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 16th, 2017 at 9:16 AM



[Ed. A- I couldn’t make it to Indiana this past weekend but luckily Ace and David were willing and able. David pulled out the kind of move you’d expect from a wily veteran and got my recorder on the table right in front of the mic, which matters a ton to me and none to you. But hey, here’s a post for you to read with words that were said, then recorded with excellent clarity, and finally transcribed with… hands? Yes, hands and typing and such.]

Can you talk about Karan Higdon today, especially on those big plays?

“Yeah, he was phenomenal. I don’t know how many yards he got after contact but they were tough yards, and had some plays that looked like they were going to be a tackle for loss or a one-yard gain or no gain that he found a way to get four or five out of. More than a few. Lot of yards—I think more than 200 in the game—and cracked the big one for us and didn’t get trapped behind the line thought, I don’t know, if at all, maybe a couple times. But yeah, big boost from Karan Higdon today.”

Defense had been on the field a lot and when they faced goal-to-go from the two and had two negative plays and couldn’t come up much bigger. Talk about how those guys dug down deep were able to dig down deep.

“Yeah, I really thought our whole team did. Put our best people on it, our players and out coaches, and asked them to find a way and knew that we were going to have to dig down deep to do it. The goal-line stand was a great opportunity for us to keep them out of the end zone and win the ball game and responded with the tackle for loss and the incompletion, interception, and the quarterback option run up the middle so it was a great four plays for us.”

Was there a point in the game when you realized that Karan was going to be the guy to carry you through on offense or was that always the plan going in?

“Yeah, I mean, Karan started the game and we leaned on him heavy. I thought Chris [Evans] and Ty [Isaac] both added some good plays there. Nice to see Kareem Walker get a shot and produce; might be more carries for him in the future. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re very humble about this, and we’ll move on to a big road game next week, but this was a big game for our team. And mistakes were made but I think it’s something we can really grow from.”

[After THE JUMP: “We were grinding some meat out there today” is a way better phrase than “It was tough sledding”]


Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Michigan State

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Michigan State Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 13th, 2017 at 5:03 PM



Substitution/Formation Notes: With regard to substitutions, the big one is Ambry Thomas taking over as the primary kick returner. We saw this in the second half against Purdue and, after this game and Chris Partridge’s comments this week, it seems like it’s going to hold for the foreseeable future.

MSU did some interesting things in response to the punt return team’s ability to bring pressure; it warrants further discussion after the charts.

[After THE JUMP: the ball itself is a focal point of the yardage-tracking charts, which will surprise exactly zero of you who sat outside for this game]


Wednesday Presser 10-11-17: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 10-11-17: Chris Partridge Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 11th, 2017 at 6:00 PM



What do you say to Devin Bush when he gets caught retaliating after something that happened? Just you still can’t do that?

“Yeah, control your emotions. I mean, that’s unacceptable no matter what happens prior or what your frustrations are. You can’t do that. You can’t hurt the team like that, and he’s going to have to deal with that. He’s a phenomenal player and teams are going to try to do stuff to antagonize him. It’s a growing process in maturity. It’s unacceptable.”

Going up against Patrick Ramsey, the new quarterback at Indiana, what challenges do you see from Indiana’s offense?

“They’re very well coached. They do some good things to put you in binds. The quarterback can run, he can throw it. You’ve got big receivers on the outside. The running backs run hard. The line, they get after it. They obviously have a tempo to their offense where they’re going to hurry-hurry you. I mean, there’s a lot of challenges there.”

I guess Michigan State sent film in of Devin. Is that a concern? Do you talk to him about things like that?

“No, we just play football. Not going to get into them sending film. The officials are going to officiate the game. We’re going to play football and tackle like we tackle and it’s to keep our head out of it, that’s what we teach. But I’m not going to get into what they’re going to decide to do after the game.”

Your thoughts on how your group played in that game?

“You’re talking linebackers?”


“Um… I mean, we didn’t so… I don’t know. I mean, we were okay. Not our best performance, but, again, didn’t do things to win the game either. Think we’ve got to continue to get better week in and week out.”

[After THE JUMP: linebackers coming on recently, DPJ’s development, and hang time oh glorious hang time]