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Posted on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Coaching change helps kicker Brendan Gibbons become one of Michigan's most improved players

By Kyle Meinke

Who is the most improved player on the Michigan football team?

It just might be place-kicker Brendan Gibbons.

The sophomore had a rough freshman season, when he was 1-of-5 on field goals before losing his job to another freshman, Seth Broekhuizen. Together, they combined to go an NCAA-worst 4-of-14.

Then, there was a coaching change.


Michigan place-kicker Brendan Gibbons is 6-of-8 on field goals this season.

Melanie Maxwell |

Now, Gibbons is 6-of-8 on the season, he's converted all 32 of his extra-point attempts and, with each ball that passes through the uprights, is easing the doubts that lingered about the position heading into the season.

"Kids change a little bit," coach Brady Hoke said. "Their mind-set changes a little bit. Sometimes, the coaching changes are good for some and not as good for others.”

It's been excellent for Gibbons, a West Palm Beach, Fla., native who was Scout's 11th-ranked kicker coming out of high school and an Army All-American. He was 16-of-21 in high school before his freshman season at Michigan (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten).

Hoke said the coaching staff talked to Gibbons when they arrived in Ann Arbor about putting last season behind him. By all accounts, he has.

Hoke said there wasn't a specific turning point, but Gibbons' consistency during spring and fall workouts gave him confidence the sophomore would produce. It also helped Gibbons hold off a hard charge by elite true freshman Matt Wile, who competed for the job in camp.

"I've never doubted the kid," Hoke said. "I know nothing about place-kicking. I couldn't teach it. I know what to look for, maybe, if I watch a guy, just like with punters. But, I've been real comfortable with how he's handled the different situations we've put him in, how he's gone out and worked every day.

"There has been competition, but he's shown us, on a daily basis, that he's got a good mind-set, and he's got a good leg."

The biggest remaining uncertainty regarding Gibbons heading into Saturday's game at Iowa (Noon, ESPN) is his range. Hoke said in August the sophomore was the more accurate kicker in practices, but that Wile had a stronger leg and would be the guy from 43 yards or longer.

That arrangement no longer is the case, as Gibbons has excelled this year and earned all the kicking duties. However, he still has not converted a field-goal attempt of longer than 38 yards, and has missed his only attempt of more than 40 yards.

His long in high school was 52 yards.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Another expample on how this coaching staff has made a significant difference. Attitude has a lot to do with it. I suppose, Michigan could had had Det Lions kicker Jason Hanson on our team last year and he would missed a few FG attempts and shanked a few punts of kickoffs. I don't mean to throw the previous coaching staff under the bus, because they did recruit a lot of outstanding young men. Their coaching methods are proving to have been terrible. Let's have Hoke and the Wolverines win as many games as they can this season. The future is very bright going forward. D-AZ: I'd take option B, split the road and split the remaining home. games My take is IF Michigan wins @ IA, they have an excellent chance of winning @IL, then momentum should be a factor for the home games. I have watched a lot of IL football this season so I will not comment further on them until after this important IA game...meanwhile... GO BLUE!!!


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

We have a very good coaching staff ... not just in the X's and the O's, but also in the human element of this game. Hoke said his mission is to help shape young men of character who will go on to be good husbands and good fathers ... and along the way they'll win football games. I honestly believe he means that with all his heart. And these kids are starting to get it. And with each game they commit themselves a little bit more to Hoke and staff and the team as a whole. There is some steel forming up the backbone of this team. The next few years are going to be fascinating to watch.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

LS ... don't know if the scenario you paint (two road wins, wins over Nebraska and OSU) will come to pass. Here's an interesting "what if" to play -- imagine you had to choose between these two outcomes: (a) Michigan wins two road games but drops final home games, or (b) Michigan splits road games and splits remaining home games. Which of those two would you pick? I'm torn ... but I think I would go with "b" simply because it implies a win over either Nebraska or Ohio State. As for the next few years ... I'm operating on pure hunch here, but I just get a sense Hoke and staff and effectively transformed some very deep foundational elements of the program. With that footing in place the rebuilding may proceed. That said, a 5-7 record next year would derail it all. But I doubt that will come to pass.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

DonAZ; Don't know about about the next few years. I just want these kids to win out. When they show me thay can win two on the road, and then beat Nebraska & THE osu, at the big house, I'll consider them as having arrived.


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

There's this one guy that I know and he said that Gibbons will win the heisman next year. Trust me, this guy knows what he's talking about...he is a master of kung fu!!! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan football is again on a roll!! I was told by this guy that Iknow!!!


Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Kickers are a unique breed. About 50% of their performance is based on their physical skills and preparation, while the other 50% involves intangibles like self-confidence, comfort level with the situation, weather conditions, and the confidence of the coaching staff in him voiced privately and publicly. When the coaching staff has confidence in you, you feel it and tend to perform with more self-confidence like a boy who knows his father believes in him. Contrast that with a coach who publicly says he wants to audition the student body for a kicker while you are on scholarship or "pick one up along the side of the road" on the way to an away game. The contrast couldn't be more pronounced than it was between last year and this year and no wonder Gibbons is doing a lot better.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.

Changing the coach(es) helped so many on this team I'm not sure that just one player could be singled out for that award. But I sure love the results. Thank you Coach Hoke and staff, now go win the next 5 games.. (I'll still love you if you just win the last two.) TiM Go Blue!