Saturday Punting Demo Bits

Submitted by Brian on August 27th, 2011 at 2:57 PM

So the open practice on Saturday was not much use. They spent most of the day punting or kicking or running kneel-down drills. By the tenth kneel-down the boredom was crippling and I wished they weren't having it at all. I'd be surprised if it returned for a third year. I kind of hope it doesn't since I have to be there if it exists.

They did run about ten minutes of two-minute drill at the end. Impressions follow.

Ricky Barnum is injured. He dressed but did not participate; he's got a big ol' brace on his left knee. He was out there so it's probably not too serious. He might miss a week or two. In his stead Schofield drew in at guard. They initially played him at RG, moving Omameh to the left. The two Gs swapped positions late.

Raymon Taylor was also banged up and held out.

New numbers are confusing. That is all.

I don't think Isaiah Bell was out there. There was no 34 in white (defense). Unless he's just switched to a new number that would be a sign he might not be on the roster much longer. Either that or he's hurt, but Hoke just said they were basically healthy.

Woolfolk did position drills but did not play in the two-minute drill, FWIW. Bellomy didn't take any snaps.

The defense has a three-man-line rush package. We're going to see a Shafer-style okie package on passing downs with three linemen, four or five linebackers and DBs hovering over the opposing OL. The D zone-blitzed like mad from that unit, often dropping guys like Mike Martin into zones. The O did a pretty decent job of picking the blitzes up but Roh got in for a touch sack and Denard had to scramble around a bit.

Denard had a hard time finding receivers. A few crisp rhythm throws, a lot of ball-patting, scrambling, and difficult sideline improv throws. Not sure if that's on him or the WRs. Gallon twice ran comebacks that the quarterbacks expected to be fly routes, so they've got some pro-style sight reading in the O. Not functional sight reading, but sight reading nonetheless.

There was only one running play, a QB draw on the first snap that went for eight or so yards and would have gone for more if they weren't playing touch.

Non-Hagerup punters are C- types. It's not going to kill Michigan to have Hagerup out; the punting will be sub-average until he returns.

Gibbons hit a 42-yard field goal to finish. The crowd went wild.

Under center: not so much. There was no under center. Part of that is the two minute drill, but the passing skeleton was a 3x1 four-wide shotgun set as well.

Gallon didn't do anything horrible returning punts. So we've got that going for us. I still think Dileo should get a shot.

There are some weird players on the special teams units. Gunners included Vincent Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint; Hopkins and Shaw were on the kickoff team. Junior Hemingway was one of the upbacks on the punt team. That's all of our fragile offensive skill players save Denard.



August 27th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

Doesn't sound like they showed much of anything, but I am concerned about Denard and the pro-style until I see it during a game.  My fear is that he will not find open recievers in the short amount of time during his progression and it will lead to a lot of scrambling.  Hopefully, not bad throws/INTs though.

I bet they take it really easy here on out so no one else gets injured.  Things are starting to add up with all the nicks during the spring.

At least Gibbons hit one!


August 27th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

There can only be 105 kids in camp, and Isiah wasn't inviited to camp. Him not being there doesn't mean anything about whether he decided to leave or not.


August 27th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

I really have no idea what to expect from this team at this point.  I've heard so very little of real substance out of the camp, mostly because it seems there is very limited outside eyes let in.  And when they do let those eyes in, they don't show a whole lot. 

I can't tell if the coaches are actually disappointed in progress, or are they coach speaking?  How inconsistant are we really?  What is the offense going to actually look like?  Who's in the 2 deep position rotations?  It seems there is a lot of personel this due to lots of different packages being installed or crappy play?

At this point, I just really really want the season to start.  And for it to be good for us.

Yostbound and Down

August 27th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

The video really adds to the excitement of the post.

I'm with you Brian, why in the world is Hoke using nearly all of our experienced running backs and Hemingway on kick coverage? That just seems like a recipe for disaster. And with Stonum out, Hemingway is the only proven wideout with any let's get him hurt on special teams! Not a smart move.

On the plus side I am excited to hear Mattison is bringing a lot of different schemes and formations to the defense. That should compensate for some of the inexperience and adjustments that are happening in the linebackers and secondary. 

And any good field goals are good news to me.


August 27th, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

Barnum being injured is a major bummer. I'm really hoping that it was mostly precautionary, and that he'll be ready to go next week. 

Didn't Hoke name his as the starter at last night's presser? So unless he got injured this morning, that should indicate that they don't see it being a long term deal. 

Section 1

August 27th, 2011 at 3:20 PM ^

All ur punts r belong to Drew Dileo.

Re: Gunners.  I had this weird thought this might be the year we saw Josh Furman turn into Darnell Hood.

And this:

There are some weird players on the special teams units. Gunners included Vincent Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint; Hopkins and Shaw were on the kickoff team. Junior Hemingway was one of the upbacks on the punt team. That's all of our fragile offensive skill players save Denard.

To be fair, Bo did it; Moeller did it; Lloyd Carr did it a little bit.  But those were the days when the best tailbacks in the Conference started for Michigan or Ohio State, and the third-, fourth-, and fifth-best tailbacks in the Conference just filled out the two-deeps at the two schools.


August 27th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

The only thing that really scares me with that is Hopkins and Shaw on the kickoff team. 

There is no way in hell that your starting RB should be doing kickoffs. There is a big potential for injury there. I know its not quite the same as KRs, but its still dangerous. 

As far as punt gunners and upbacks go, there is limited potential for injury. However, I'm still not sure its a good idea have your #2 and #3 RBs out there along with your #1 (or #2 I guess) WR. 

If we get some bad luck with those guys, it could be a tough year. 


August 27th, 2011 at 9:24 PM ^

Charles Woodson, Amani Toomer, Tai Streets, Derrick Alexander and Steve Breaston all returned punts as well.  If you put a second-rate player there, you'll probably get second-rate results. 

People go on and on about the risk of injury involved in returning punts/kicks, but I'm hard-pressed to think of the last time a Michigan KR or PR actually got injured in action. 



August 28th, 2011 at 3:43 PM ^

KRs are notorious for being a dangerous play, and concussions are a regularity.

That's why rules about kickoffs change all the time. Wedges and wedge busters are now illegal, the NFL is moving the kickoff point to help prevent injuries, etc.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't have talented players back there, but the bottom line is that it does increase injury risk. 

Where I think there is a misunderstanding in the comments is in the difference between KRs and Kickoff Coverage.

Having talented offensive players on Kickoff Coverage (or Punt Coverage) seems unnecessarily risky to me. In a return game, returners can comepletely change the entire outcome with TDs or exceelent field position. The biggest play a coverage guy can make is to cause a fumble, which is great, however, it is pretty unlikely IMO that an offensive player is going to consistently make big hits. 

At the end of the day, I'll defer to Hoke & Co. on this one. But on paper it doesn't seem like the best idea. 



August 28th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

McGuffie had been concussed twice earlier that season.  I agree that at that point, he shouldn't have been returning kicks (and shouldn't have been playing at all).  Can you name one other time a UM KR was concussed on a return?  Bringing up McGuffie is like arguing that John Beilein's big men are likely to suffer career-ending hip injuries because it happened to Ben Cronin.



August 28th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^


I didn't bring up McGuffie. 

But I'm just not sure of the point you are trying to make?

Do you think having your starting RB return kicks does not increase their risk of an injury? Seriously?

Now, I don't have stats or an incredible memory where I can sit here and recite Michigan players who have been hurt on returns.

But I don't think there is any doubt that kickoffs are one of the most dangerous plays in football. So just because I can't name Michigan players who have been hurt does not make that fact any less true. 

Would you have wanted Mike Hart returning kicks, even if he was the best guy to do it? 

Again, I'm not saying you should run 4th string guys out there for a return. Its more the coverage teams that I'm worried about.

But to think kickoffs aren't dangerous is crazy. 250lbs of muscle hitting into 180lbs of muscle running as fast as they can with 50+ yards of steam is dangerous. Its common sense. 


August 28th, 2011 at 1:41 AM ^

You do understand that we are talking about KICKOFFs right and not returns?

I 100% agree that you can put talented players on KRs and PRs if they give you the best chance of making big plays.

But I just don't like the risk-reward breakdown of putting offensive weapons in positions where they are trying to make tackles. 

I know about footbaw and toughness and all, but doesn't it seem like there should be better options for those tasks that offensive players?


August 27th, 2011 at 6:35 PM ^

I agree, guys like Furman and Marvin Robinson, since they won't be starting, would be great guys to have as gunners.  Both can run and both can lay some wood.  Also, both are defensive players. 

In fact, we have a lot of good athletes on the D side of the ball that won't be starting - the two I mentioned plus Carvin, Tony Anderson, Terrence Talbott, JB Fitzgerald, Merrell Evans, Brandon Herron, Brandin Hawthorne, Antonio Poole, etc.  That's almost a whole squad, they're all good defensive players, all good athletes, and none of them are starters.

EDIT:  Not to mention putting guys like Jake Ryan, Brennen Beyer or Frank Clark in there.


August 27th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^


"A little banged up but nothing major healthwise."
Barnum out for one to two weeks would constitute a major event.  So if iHoke got it correct, we should see Barnum on the field for WMU.  Ditto for Woolfolk.
From the sound of it, we were primarily using our O to prepare the D for WMU.  The weird players and shotgun passing emphasis aspects would lend credence to this theory.  I pray this is correct.


August 27th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

I know were trying to keep everything rosy but for those of you that shelled out good cash on the premise you were going to get a look at a real scrimmage don't you feel like you got taken?

In the end your cash goes to Mott's so it's a good thing, but the fact remains U-M misrepresented themselves here.