Michigan Special Teams Starting Projections

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on August 7th, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Just realized how much Michigan has lost on special teams. Special teams can win or lose games much like offense and defense.

Long Snapper-

Michigan has one scholarship snapper on the roster right now and will add a preferred walk on when the NCAA allows teams to list their complete roster.

Those two guys are Scott "Snappy" Sypniewski and Andrew Robinson respectively. 

Snappy obviously redshirted last year and Robinson is an incoming freshman. This is probably the biggest position on special teams I'm concerned about.

When you lose a guy like Jareth Glanda who did his thing here for years, you better have a good replacement (who also catches passes in a bowl game).

Holder- Drew Dileo might be the most famous holder in history after the Dileo Power Slide. It seemed like he was the holder essentially his entire career.

On Michigan's depth chart last year, they listed punter Kenny Allen as a backup holder. So, I would like to think that we're good here.

Kicker- We lost a famous/infamous kicker who has his place in Michigan's record books. Wile has hit some long FGs but has missed a few that stand out. I think it's pretty obvious he will start his senior(!) season.

Punter- With 5th year senior Will Hagerup making his triumphant return, I think the 2012 B1G Punter of the Year takes his rightful place and has a great final year. Matt Wile was a temporary solution that worked well.

Punt Return- With both sure-thing punt returners in Gallon and Dileo gone, this is going to be a very interesting battle that could be wide open. Will Norfleet finally step up and field punts? Or could a freshman potentially grab this spot....

Kickoff Return- Norfleet is on track to become Michigan's greatest kickoff return man in history. He is top-2 in many categories, despite not breaking one off for a TD yet. A very valuable player on this team.

Michigan's depth chart last year listed a variety of guys from Dileo to Justice Hayes to Chesson as the opposite kick return man. Again, a very wide open battle.


My projected week 1 special teams lineup-


K- Wile

P- Hagerup

KR- Norfleet

KR- Hayes

PR- Norfleet

LS- Sypniewski

H- Allen

I do think Peppers will return punts at some point this season. So I'll say he'll have a majority of the starts at PR come season's end.



August 7th, 2014 at 12:08 PM ^

I like Norfleet as much as the next guy ... but I'm mystified why he can't seem to get past the first wave of defenders.  He takes the kickoff at a yard or two deep in the endzone and he comes out straight as an arrow.  He seems to get 20 or 25 yards upfield then runs into a wall and drops.

I wonder ... has anyone looked at tape of his returns and see what's going on there?  Are opposing teams just that good at defending kickoffs?  Or is Norfleet relying too much on straight-line speed and overrunning his blockers?

Honest question ... I don't know the answer.


August 7th, 2014 at 3:29 PM ^

This is just not true. His problem is pretty clearly outrunning the LAST wave of defenders. I think his return yards avg is actually very good. He very rarely fails to beat at least 2 defenders. His only problem is straight line speed.


August 7th, 2014 at 3:55 PM ^

From cfbstats.com ... Norfleet returned 40 kickoffs for an average of 23.45 yards.  He has 8 for 30+ yards and 1 for 40+ yards.  Nothing 50 or more yards.  He was tied for 7th in the country.

That means he had 31 for somewhere between 0 and 29 yards; 8 for 30 - 39; 1 for 40 - 49.  With an average of 23.45, the math suggests he must have a bunch down around 20 yards.

So you're saying he's getting through the first, but his straight-line speed problem is hampering his ability to get past the last wave?  Or are you suggesting he's being caught from behind?

I'm honestly trying to figure this out ... I'm replaying best I can the various kickoffs and what I recall is he comes tearing out of the endzone and is typically met somewhere around the 20, where he picks up a few more before being taken down.  I think I recall his one long run and in that case he was angled out of bounds or taken down from behind.



August 7th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

What's the word for the guy who kicks off?  "Kicker" seems too ambiguous.  Anyway, I think the roster shows Kenny Allen in that spot.  Here's hoping for the touchbacks WIle got last year without that one angering out of bounds kick that seemed to happen each game.


August 7th, 2014 at 2:15 PM ^

2 issues that come up:
1) Kenny Allen will also be backup kicker. Im not sure if there would be hesitation with having him be the number one holder also. If anything happens to Wile, do you want to avoid having your new placekicker also having to deal with an inexperienced holder at a crucial moment. Probably not an issue but something to think about.
2) You have Hayes (#5) as kick returner. If you think Peppers (also #5) may break into that role also, may need to do something with their numbers to avoid possibility of two #5's on the return team.


August 7th, 2014 at 3:02 PM ^

I believe Allen is penciled in right now to be the kickoff guy. And I'd imagine Peppers will become the main kick and punt returner rather quickly, as Hoke has strongly implied (if not outright stated, can't quite remember) that he'll be tested out on special teams early this year.


August 7th, 2014 at 5:04 PM ^

I'm not too worried about ST. Hagerup is clearly a good punter. Wile has been pretty reliable. Peppers and Norfleet should be pretty good. Sypniewki is on scholarship so he must be pretty good.