Posts Tagged ‘Will Hagerup’
To wrap up our Predicting Michigan series, Derick takes a look at what to expect from the special teams this season. Previously, we previewed the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive line, tight ends, defensive line, linebackers, and the secondary.
The New Mr. Reliable
In 2010, Michigan’s kicking game was one of the most embarrassing displays of football the maize and blue faithful had ever witnessed. As a team, Michigan went 4-of-14 in field goal attempts, and by the end of the season former coach Rich Rodriguez wouldn’t even consider attempting a field goal outside of 35 yards.
One of the culprits of the 28.6 percent success rate was then-redshirt freshman Brendan Gibbons. Gibbons missed four of his five field goal attempts, converting only a 24-yarder in the blowout win against Connecticut in week one, in which he also missed an extra point. Following two more misses the next week against Notre Dame, Gibbons surrendered the starting job to Seth Broekhuizen, who wasn’t much better (3-of-9).
In 2011, Gibbons regained the starting job and was much better, converting 13-of-17 field goal attempts. Going into the Sugar Bowl, he was only 2-of-5 on kicks of 40-yards or more, so there were still many questions about his reliability. He answered them all in New Orleans. The redshirt sophomore converted all three of his field goal attempts, including a game-winning 37-yarder in overtime. He then won the fans over by admitting he kept his cool by “thinking about brunette girls” before punching the winning kick through the uprights.
Last season, Gibbons did the best work of his career, and earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention at place kicker. His conversion rate of 88.9 percent (16-of-18) was truly incredible considering the low point in his career just two years earlier. Gibbons had several pressure-packed kicks, but he confidently cashed them in, including the 38-yard game-winner with five seconds remaining to defeat Michigan State and the game-tying 26-yarder against Northwestern with two seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Also during his redshirt junior season, he converted all 45 extra-point attempts, running his streak to 97, which is second in Michigan history to J.D. Carlson’s record of 126 straight. Though the Wolverines lost to the Cornhuskers, Gibbons also answered questions about his leg strength in Nebraska by nailing a 52-yarder in the second quarter.
This offseason, Michigan fans can finally stop worrying about the kicking game, as Gibbons figures to battle Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien for the Bakken-Anderson Kicker of the Year award in the Big Ten. Seniors Drew Dileo and Jareth Glanda will be the holder and long-snapper, respectively, so this group should have no problems after working together for so long.
|Career Stats – Gibbons|
|Year||FG Made||FG Att||FG %||Long||Blocked||PAT Made||PAT Att||PAT %|
Lack Of Discipline
Michigan figured to have one of the best kicker-punter duos in the entire country coming into 2013, until 2012 Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year award-winner Will Hagerup was suspended for the third time in his Michigan career. The suspension originally kept Hagerup out of the 2013 Outback Bowl, but was later extended to include the entire following season.
Hagerup will redshirt this year, as Head Coach Brady Hoke tries to work with the young man to figure out some personal issues and get him back on the field. If the senior can clean up his act, he will be one of the best punters in the country upon his return. Hagerup set a University of Michigan record in 2012 with an average of 45 yards per punt. Just a few years after seeing kicker Zoltan Mesko similarly dominate the punting game, Hagerup separated himself as one of the best punters in the history of the Big Ten. His loss will be Matt Wile’s gain, however, as the junior tries to take advantage of a new opportunity.
Filling in for a suspended Hagerup is nothing new for Wile, as he has done so six times in his young career. Though Mesko and Hagerup are hard acts to follow, Wile is similarly gifted with a big leg in the punting game. His power numbers are skewed by his ability to come in and pooch punt for Brady Hoke, which is another valuable skill. Wile has 13 career punts inside the 20-yard line, which emphasizes his ability to put the ball where he wants to.
Along with his precision, Wile averaged 39.2 yards per punt in his career, which is around two yards shorter than Hagerup’s career rate. To get an idea of how strong Wile’s leg really is, fans can look to his most recent performance in the Outback Bowl, when he averaged 48.8 yards in three punt attempts.
|Career Stats – Wile|
Speed Is Exciting
Michigan has been one of the worst teams in the country at returning kicks since the days of Steve Breaston, even finishing as low as 117th out of 120 teams in total kick returns during the 2011 Sugar Bowl season.
Last year, Brady Hoke brought in true freshman Dennis Norfleet to solve the returning woes alongside receiver Jeremy Gallon. Hoke hopes that the speedy playmaker will emerge as the lone returner during his sophomore campaign, as he definitely has the most potential on the team in that regard.
Returning kicks is immensely important, because it can dictate the field position battle throughout the game. Denard Robinson was often able to make up for poor field position during his career by busting huge runs and finishing drives with long touchdown plays, but Michigan would prefer not to rely on such plays. Norfleet is one of the quickest players in the country, and if he gets past defenders they have no chance to catch him. This season he will need to learn how to run with his blockers, and use his elusiveness at the right times to give the offense a short field and possibly end the Michigan kick-return drought.
|Career Stats – Norfleet|
|Year||Kick Ret||Avg||Long||TD||Punt Ret||Avg||Long||TD|
|Career Stats – Gallon|
|Year||Kick Ret||Avg||Long||TD||Punt Ret||Avg||Long||TD|
Since Brady Hoke has taken over as Head Coach, Michigan has done an outstanding job of preaching the little things that are important to winning football games. Special teams doesn’t get as much glory as the great offensive or defensive groups in the country, but games are won and lost on special teams plays every week.
If Michigan can continue the strong kicking game they demonstrated during 2012, and improve in the kick and punt return categories, it can shift momentum more easily with short fields and easy scores. The loss of Hagerup is a tough one to swallow for this unit, but the rest of the group will have to pick up the slack and put the offense and defense in positions to succeed.
The All-Big Ten teams were announced on Monday night and several Wolverines were among them. Taylor Lewan received the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award and Will Hagerup got the Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year award. No other school in the conference had more than two individual players win awards, though Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin also had two each.
Lewan and Patrick Omameh were named to the First Team by the coaches, while the coaches named Craig Roh and Jordan Kovacs to the Second Team. The media had Lewan and Hagerup First Team and Jake Ryan Second Team.
These teams are always gimmicky in that outside of the obvious, the coaches and media tend to differ vastly. The coaches thought Omameh was deserving of First Team honors while the media merely had him Honorable Mention. While Hagerup was named the Big Ten’s best punter, he wasn’t even on the first or second team by the coaches.
The full list of individual awards winners and All-Big Ten teams are listed below. Five other individual trophy winners will be announced on Tuesday.
|First Team||Offense||Second Team|
|Taylor Martinez||Nebraska||QB||Braxton Miller||Ohio State|
|Le’Veon Bell||Michigan State||RB||Ameer Abdullah||Nebraska|
|Montee Ball||Wisconsin||RB||Venric Mark||Northwestern|
|Carlos Hyde||Ohio State|
|Allen Robinson||Penn State||WR||Kenny Bell||Nebraska|
|Jared Abbrederis||Wisconsin||WR||Corey Brown||Ohio State|
|Matt Stankiewitch||Penn State||C||James Ferentz||Iowa|
|Patrick Omameh||Michigan||G||Ryan Groy||Wisconsin|
|John Urschel||Penn State||G|
|Taylor Lewan||Michigan||T||Hugh Thornton||Illinois|
|Rick Wagner||Wisconsin||T||Jeremiah Sirles||Nebraska|
|Jacob Pederson||Wisconsin||TE||Dion Sims||Michigan State|
|Jeff Budzien||Northwestern||K||Brett Maher||Nebraska|
|First Team||Defense||Second Team|
|Johnathan Hankins||Ohio State||DL||Michael Buchanan||Illinois|
|John Simon||Ohio State||DL||Adam Replogle||Indiana|
|Jordan Hill||Penn State||DL||Craig Roh||Michigan|
|Kawann Short||Purdue||DL||Eric Martin||Nebraska|
|Max Bullough||Michigan State||LB||Will Compton||Nebraska|
|Michael Mauti||Penn State||LB||Ryan Shazier||Ohio State|
|Chris Borland||Wisconsin||LB||Gerald Hodges||Penn State|
|Micah Hyde||Iowa||DB||Jordan Kovacs||Michigan|
|Johnny Adams||Michigan State||DB||Daimion Stafford||Nebraska|
|Darqueze Dennard||Michigan State||DB||Christian Bryant||Ohio State|
|Bradley Roby||Ohio State||DB||Ricardo Allen||Purdue|
|Mike Sadler||Michigan State||P||Brett Maher||Nebraska|
|First Team||Offense||Second Team|
|Braxton Miller||Ohio State||QB||Taylor Martinez||Nebraska|
|Le’Veon Bell||Michigan State||RB||Venric Mark||Northwestern|
|Montee Ball||Wisconsin||RB||Carlos Hyde||Ohio State|
|Allen Robinson||Penn State||WR||Cody Latimer||Indiana|
|Jared Abbrederis||Wisconsin||WR||Kenny Bell||Nebraska|
|Travis Frederick||Wisconsin||C||Matt Stankiewitch||Penn State|
|Spencer Long||Nebraska||G||Brian Mulroe||Northwestern|
|Andrew Norwell||Ohio State||G||John Urschel||Penn State|
|Taylor Lewan||Michigan||T||Jeremiah Sirles||Nebraska|
|Rick Wagner||Wisconsin||T||Jack Mewhort||Ohio State|
|Kyle Carter||Penn State||TE||Dion Sims||Michigan State|
|Brett Maher||Nebraska||K||Jeff Budzien||Northwestern|
|First Team||Defense||Second Team|
|Eric Martin||Nebraska||DL||Adam Replogle||Indiana|
|John Simon||Ohio State||DL||William Gholston||Michigan State|
|Jordan Hill||Penn State||DL||D.L. Wilhite||Minnesota|
|Kawann Short||Purdue||DL||Johnathan Hankins||Ohio State|
|Ryan Shazier||Ohio State||LB||Jake Ryan||Michigan|
|Michael Mauti||Penn State||LB||Max Bullough||Michigan State|
|Mike Taylor||Wisconsin||LB||Gerald Hodges||Penn State|
|Micah Hyde||Iowa||DB||Johnny Adams||Michigan State|
|Daimion Stafford||Nebraska||DB||Darqueze Dennard||Michigan State|
|Travis Howard||Ohio State||DB||Josh Johnson||Purdue|
|Bradley Roby||Ohio State||DB||Devin Smith||Wisconsin|
|Will Hagerup||Michigan||P||Mike Sadler||Michigan State|
All-Big ten honorable mention honorees can be found here.
Starting spots usually aren’t won or lost in spring practice, but young guys get a chance to prove themselves and gain experience while everyone else gets to show how much they developed throughout the winter.
Development was apparent in one key player today, as sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson lived up to the hype he’s been garnering all spring with a fantastic performance in Michigan’s annual spring game.
On the first possession of the scrimmage, Robinson guided the first-team offense down the field on a touchdown drive that included a nice bootleg pass to Roy Roundtree. Robinson ran it in from 10 yards out to cap off the drive.
On his next possession, which the offense started on its own three-yard line, Robinson hit Roundtree perfectly in stride about 25 yards downfield and Roundtree did the rest, outrunning the secondary for a 97-yard touchdown.
Later on, Robinson found Roundtree in the end zone again, this time from 12 yards out.
In the overtime drill, which simulates an overtime possession, starting from the opponent’s 25-yard line, Robinson completed a touchdown pass to Martavious Odoms from about 10 yards out. On his next possession, also the overtime drill, he threaded the needle for a 24-yard pass to Terrance Robinson to set up another touchdown.
By my count, Robinson led five drives, two of them overtime possessions, and all five resulted in touchdowns. Some of this can be attributed to playing against the second-team defense, but with the way Robinson was throwing, it wouldn’t have mattered if the first-team defense was out there or not.
One of the quirks about the spring game is that the quarterback is down once he’s touched in an effort to avoid an injury. On many of Robinson’s runs, he would have picked up significantly more yardage if he had to actually be tackled.
Most importantly, he showed poise in the pocket, where last year he would tuck and run after three milliseconds. A few times, he looked through several reads before pulling it down and running. On a couple of plays, he kept his head up while on the move and delivered an accurate strike to an open receiver.
This wouldn’t be all that significant if you hadn’t seen him play last season. While he dazzled Michigan fans with his feet in open space, his accuracy was terrible to the point where Michigan fans would rather him just run it up the middle for five yards even though the defense knew he’d do exactly that, than even attempt to throw a pass.
Today, he looked comfortable running the offense and seemed to be having as much fun out there as any other player in the maize and blue. About the only aspect that looked like it needed some work was a couple of bubble screens that were either underthrown or led the receiver too far.
I wish the coaches would have switched things up to pit Robinson against the first-team defense, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless.
The development and comfort level was evident and showed how dangerous a Robinson-led offense can be when every pass thrown doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Last year, almost every time he lined up in the shotgun the defense knew he was going to run it. He rarely even ran the zone read, the staple of Rich Rodriguez’s offense.
This year, he should know the offense and be able to effectively run the zone read, and if he can prove he has any kind of accuracy, he would be the ideal quarterback for this offense.
I certainly realize it’s a lot of “ifs” and you can’t really jump to conclusions based on the spring game, but at this point, I would say Robinson is the starting quarterback heading into the summer.
Click here to see highlights of the top 10 plays from the spring game.
— Tate Forcier, who started all 12 games as a true freshman last year, looked basically the exact same, although he was working with the second-team offense against the first-team defense.
He made some good plays, scrambling away from pressure and hitting the receiver on the run, but he also made some mistakes.
One pass should have been picked off by linebacker Mike Jones and another was forced into quadruple coverage and somehow wasn’t picked. He also made a bad pitch on an option play, which was recovered by the running back for about a 10 yard loss.
On the bright side, he completed a nice, across-the-body touchdown pass to Je’Ron Stokes in the overtime drill.
—Freshman Devin Gardner started out shaky, fumbling a handoff on his first play and throwing an interception deep in his own territory to Obi Ezeh, but seemed to rebound nicely with a 20-yard seam pass to Brandon Moore.
He looked nimble with his feet, but still has a weird throwing motion that needs to be fixed. He could be great a year or two from now, but I’m glad we don’t have to start another true freshman this season. He’s certainly headed for a redshirt barring a freak injury to Robinson or Forcier.
—Roy Roundtree is the real deal. He played just as he finished last season and looks to be Michigan’s go-to guy this year. He caught deep balls and screens and showed some speed in pulling away from the secondary on the 97-yard touchdown.
—The running back position has a lot of guys vying for playing time and no one really stood out today. With Vincent Smith assumed to be the starter out with a torn ACL, it seems to be a three-horse race between Michael Shaw, Michael Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
It’s perhaps the most important position that needs someone to step up, at least on the offensive side of the ball, after the departure of Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, and Kevin Grady.
Cox had a nice touchdown run of about 20 yards against the first-team defense and the other guys didn’t do very much.
Freshman Stephen Hopkins showed some good strength and should see playing time as the short-yardage back this season.
—The defense didn’t show much today in the way of schemes or big plays. Ryan Van Bergen and Craig Roh got some good pressure on Forcier and William Campbell looks huge in the middle of the line.
Troy Woolfolk sat out the game with a dislocated finger and converted wide receiver James Rogers started in his place, opposite J.T. Floyd. Jordan Kovacs remains the starter at one of the safety spots, at least until Marvin Robinson and Demar Dorsey arrive on campus this summer.
The secondary will continue to be the group in question as the season nears, but linebacker will also be a position to watch. Seniors Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton both have a lot of experience, but lost some playing time last season. They both started today, with Ezeh recording an interception and Mouton looking solid.
Redshirt sophomore Kenny Demens also looked promising and could factor in this season as well.
—The kicking game looked pretty shaky and will probably be so all season. Redshirt freshman kicker Brendan Gibbons figures to be the placekicker, but the lefty sure can’t punt. Two of his three punt attempts were shanked out of bounds off the side of his foot.
The punter role seems to be incoming freshman Will Hagerup’s to lose, but he hasn’t even arrived on campus yet, so he better live up to his high school acclaim.
—The stadium looked a bit more than half full, despite the frigid temperatures. The Big Ten Network announcers placed the attendance around 30,000, but it looked to be slightly more.
I’m looking forward to a couple of years from now when Michigan can have a nationally televised spring game drawing near 100,000 fans like Alabama did today.