Punting Question

Submitted by Shop Smart Sho… on November 7th, 2012 at 4:09 PM

I know that punting and punt returning has been an ongoing issue covered by the blog, but I have to admit to being a bit confused.


When Hagerup doesn't have the yips, he seems to boom the ball and get pretty good hang time, so that would lead one to assume that Michigan wouldn't be giving up much yardage on returns.  Is the problem with our punt team simply one of formation design?  What I mean is, are the coaches setting the formation in such a way that protecting the punter is given more consideration than getting defenders down the field to either force a fair catch or make a tackle?


I essentially have the same question about our punt return team.  Much has been made about Gallon almost exclusively signaling for a fair catch.  Is this because the idea is to sacrifice blockers for attacking the punter?



November 7th, 2012 at 4:13 PM ^

Hoke prefers the regular punting formation over the spread formation. 

Most teams use the spread punt formation which really limits the chances for a return.  Gallon doesn't really have a choice and most of the time he is making the right decision by calling for a fair catch. 


November 7th, 2012 at 4:16 PM ^

The thing to do when punting these days is to spread everyone out. This allows you to get lots of guys downfield quickly and prevents the other team from really going after the punt due to the possibility of a fake. The way we do it only allows us to get 2 guys down field to get after the punt returner so he is then able to return the punt quite often.

Gallon fair catching the ball is good because he doesn't let the ball bounce past where he is at. It's bad because he could generally pick up 5+ yards. Generally, people are happy enough with just preventing the bounce and getting the offense on the field. However, the more egregiously wide-open returns that he gives up cause people to get a bit upset because starting your offense at the 10 instead of the 20 or 30 is a big deal.

I Like Burgers

November 7th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

And Hoke has been asked about the spread punt in the past and has shown no interest (almost disdain) in switching to that style.  Spread punt makes more sense to me (and much of the CFB world) but it would appear our punting isn't going to be changing anytime soon.  At least when we're kicking it.  With a better returner (like a Breaston level guy...no offense to Gallon) and more confidence in the defense, you might see them taking more chances on the returns.

State Street

November 7th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

Gallon has also been excellent at catching punts (except for the muff last week).  I would much rather have him fair catch it cleanly every time than break some 4-5 yard returns with a few critical fumbles mixed in.


November 7th, 2012 at 5:15 PM ^

From what i remember from my playing days, essentially force them to go outside/bullrush the middle to block the punt, which is why the secondary wedge of 3 defenders is usually set a few yards back to pick up those who make it around the end/bullrush the middle.

With the spread punt you leave many more guys able to get a release downfield instead of holding a block for a few seconds then fighting downfield. However due to the spread you have many more holes for the blockers to travel through without the resistance you would see with a traditional formation.

Edit: I forgot to say the reaosn you don't see more blocked kicks with the spread formation is the fear of the fake. But if you watch the UAB v. OSU game you can see that if they sell out and go after the block its possible.


November 7th, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

Is the reason the spread punt formation is not used in the NFL because the punters are much better and concentrating on protection (and allowing for a full 3-step approach) gives them the chance to boom kicks that have enough hangtime and distance to the point where covering them isn't all that difficult?


November 7th, 2012 at 7:01 PM ^

With all the bad punt formations and crappy offense I read about on this site I am surprised we ever win.   To bad being conservitive on offense and keeping your defense off the field or with good field position is the worst way to win.  I am sure making less big mistakes at the cost of a small amount productivity could never be successful.