Space Emperor Jr.? Will Hart #4 nationally in punting

Submitted by Communist Football on September 17th, 2018 at 9:34 AM

Given how things went last year, this might be the biggest surprise of the season so far: Will Hart is averaging 50.1 yards per punt, good for #4 nationally and #2 in the Power Five. Between that, kickoffs for touchbacks, and perhaps Nordin actually making a field goal, our kicking unit is looking pretty strong right now.

Comments

DrMantisToboggan

September 17th, 2018 at 1:28 PM ^

I can read it on his user page but I don't know the context. Seems like it was suggesting that Harbaugh doesn't have total confidence anymore.

 

We will go 3-0 against Wisconsin, MSU, and PSU. That kind of moves the floor to 10-2, barring something crazy. 

 

Look, UMBIG11 is a booster. He's a man who wants to see that his money is going to a productive institution. You can't blame him for that. I love when he posts here. I've exchanged private messages with him, as well as interacted here obviously. I obviously really respect what he has to say. At the end of the day though, I have no reason to trust his football eye more than mine. That's not a knock on him, I just see a team that can double digit games and I believe it will happen. Wisconsin is down. MSU is down. Penn State is replacing a lot. I can't guarantee that our 10 wins would be as good as Alabama's or LSU's or whoever, but I think we can our next 8 games and go into Columbus with a shot at the Division.

Night_King

September 17th, 2018 at 10:08 AM ^

I feel like we've approached punting a bit differently than years prior....

last year, Hart/Robbins were instructed to punt in a way to minimize return yards. This resulted in a lot of 30-40 yard punts that were hit out of bounds or forcing a fair catch.

this year, I feel like Partridge & co. are allowing Hart to just boot the damn ball down field, hoping the gunners can minimize damage on returns. Just my $0.02. Don't know for sure if it's a change in punting style, but that's what I've noticed since the ND game. 

Compare the punting from the bowl game to this year, it's not like our punters have nearly doubled their punting strength all of a sudden ;)  

JamieH

September 17th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

Could it be because we had to switch to a backup punter due to injuries and they didn't want to ask too much of him?  So they are just telling him to "kick the damn ball" and not get cute with directional punting and all that?  If so, maybe unintended consequences are working out for us. 

I know Hart had a few punts last year, but he was clearly not the main guy.

Sambojangles

September 17th, 2018 at 10:41 AM ^

OT but not because it's related to Michigan punters, but Matt Wile is the starting punter for the Minnesota Vikings. His Michigan career coincided with Brady Hoke's tenure from 2011-14 (I had to look it up so I'm saving you a Google) and hasn't done much in the NFL for the last three seasons, but appears to have caught on and stuck so far this year. Congrats to Matt!

mryder

September 17th, 2018 at 10:57 AM ^

Special Teams as a whole has been impressive this year (minus FG vs ND) with a blocked punt, kick return, and Hart. I don’t understand why teams still try and return the sky ball kickoffs. They rarely get to the 20.

Im still waiting for a decent punt return. 

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

September 17th, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

And, in fairness, because the risk/reward is actually pretty good.  Giving up a small handful of yards in the back end of the field in exchange for the chance at a big chunk of them further up is worth it.  When you start a drive at the 15, 20, or 25, the expected points are close to zero.  Moving up the field, you start to get somewhere. 

There's a pretty strong case for returning the kick even if you just look at the "expected points" chart. 

http://advancedfootballanalytics.com/index.php/home/stats/stats-explained/expected-points-and-epa-explained

And then you realize that in real life points come in big chunks (rather than decimal points) when you achieve them and your probability of scoring them goes way up when you move up the field and there's limited number of chances in a single game and win probabilities swing pretty hard on touchdowns, and the case for trying for that Sportscenter highlight is actually almost ironclad.  Obviously don't turn around and return the thing if you had to chase it back to the -7 yard line in the end zone, but in borderline cases, always return it.

Harbaugh's Lef…

September 17th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

The punting game is the second most improved part of this team compared to last year, so far.

Last year through the first three games, Hart punted 12 times for an average of 37.91 yards... This year, 8 punts and as the OP stated, 50.1 average yards.

Yostal

September 17th, 2018 at 12:30 PM ^

Also, Jake "Mad-Eye" Moody is doing great work on kickoffs, considering that the NCAA eliminated the James "Doug" Foug special of dropping them on the 1-yard line with the new fair catch pseudo touchback.