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Posted on Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 7:09 p.m.

Jittery kicking game continues to concern Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez

By Pete Bigelow

Injured cornerback Troy Woolfolk sent out a plea via Twitter during the game: “Kicker wanted.”

Afterward, Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez volunteered to hold a personal tryout for any university student. At this point, the Wolverines might as well put an ad on Craisglist, too.

That’s how uneasy Michigan’s coaches are with their kickers, so unnerved by their collective 1-for-5 performance this season that laughter seemed to be their best and only medicine following Saturday's 42-37 win over UMass. “If there’s any student that’s out there, is enrolled at the University of Michigan in good academic standing, is a good guy, can kick field goals, can kick the ball in the end zone,” Rodriguez said, drawing chuckles, “we’ll have another tryout for you.” He’s hurting on the inside. Seth Broekhuizen replaced an ineffective Brendan Gibbons at kicker today, a move Rodriguez hoped would solidify shaky special teams. But Broekhuizen missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter Saturday wide left. The snap may have been ever so slightly behind holder Doug Rogan, but either way, it represented another special-teams failure. Gibbons, who lost the starting kicking job after going 1-for-4 in Michigan’s first two games, entered Saturday’s game with a hold on kickoff duties. But after halftime, Broekhuizen replaced him there. “Our kickoffs aren’t good,” Rodriguez said. “The disappointing part is that they do a great job in practice. But it’s different when you get on the field. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” Broekhuizen and Gibbons weren’t alone.

Jeremy Gallon, whose sure hands Rodriguez praised throughout the preseason, fumbled his second punt return in three games. Freshman punter Will Hagerup, who shanked a 21-yard punt last week against Notre Dame, bobbled a snap against UMass on Saturday that led to a blocked punt with 3:33 left in the game. UMass immediately took advantage, striking for a touchdown that closed the deficit to 42-37. “Special teams were awful,” Rodriguez said. “… It certainly wasn’t there today in a lot of phases, and hopefully after we watched the film, we will get it corrected.”

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556 or e-mailed at Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 7:45 p.m.

Maybe Coach Carr could find a kicker for him. Or maybe RR needs 4 years to put in his kicking system!!!


Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

And one more thing: Woolfolk would best keep his cell phone and mouth to himself. He so far has publicly dissed Forcier and now the kicking game in entirety. Was Woolfolk so perfect last year before his injury that he has the right to rip the team apart? The answer, of course, is NO!! He was big part of the problem last year, consistently beaten and out of position. Let's get himself perfect before he starts calling out his teammates. Or better yet, let's not call out his teammates. That is not being a good leader. That is being obnoxious. (And to those will argue on behalf of Woolfolk, let us note that he was not elected by his peers to be captain).


Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

I am surprised at how little question there has been about the lack of a return game, particularly in the punting game. If our returner even fields a punt, we are not getting any yards, but why is it that our returner won't field a punt inside the 20 yard line? I hope it improves.


Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

Special teams and defense are unimportant. Offense is all that matters.


Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

Interesting point about special teams, clearly there is a problem. The point being made would be better if you spelled Craigslist correctly.


Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 7:25 a.m.

The kicking game has been atrocious so far this year. It appears that the kicking game and special teams are once again afterthoughts by a U-M football staff that needs every edge it can get against the opponent. It's disturbing to see each opponent pin U-M inside the 20 fairly regularly but U-M continues to shank punts or punt it into the end zone for a touchback. The field goal kickers choke so much it's like they had a chicken wing stuck in their throats. A good punter and field goal kicker can win you ballgames and, like the defense, U-M special teams appear to be yet another neglected facet of the game.


Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 6:26 a.m.

If the "special" teams keep playing like this, it will cost UM dearly once they start playing against conference opponents. Of course, if the defense keeps playing as poorly as they have, the games may not be close enough for it to matter much.

david jarnes

Sun, Sep 19, 2010 : 4:31 a.m.

I understand that Michigan, a 29 point favorite did not dominate as it expected. But give UMass credit. Their 37-22 time of possession was indicative of how well the offensive line played. The CAA is the best league in 1-AA. UMass was rated #16 in the country coming in but 6 other schools in the CAA were rated ahead of UMass. As a UMass alum I am proud of the showing of our school. I must give props to the class shown by Michigan in having a moment of silence in honor of the unexpected death of UMass marching band leader George Parks and having the two schools' bands perform together after the game. Hopefully Denard Robinson stays healthy all year. He is a remarkable talent.


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 11:41 p.m.

What does Woolfolk have to do with field goal kicking I will never know. Sunset if he is a true fan should take the same advise he gave Woolfolk. Jackson5 if he agrees with Sunset should do the same.


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 9:32 p.m.

I agree Sunset, Woolfolk should have kept his big mouth shut. He did not help the team with his comments.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 8:27 p.m.

Doesn't it seem that all this collection of coaches does is blame a predecessor or an underling? Is anyone actually a leader or in charge of anything? I've never gotten the impression Rich Rodriguez is much of a leader. Oh, well, not much chance he survives November here.


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 8:22 p.m.

I believe that the Secondary Coach, Tony Gibson, had sustained enough success the past two year's that he was named Special Teams Coordinator this year. Mark Mays at ESPN called for Greg Robinson's job today, but perhaps he should look at the supporting cast he inherited.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 7:27 p.m.

I'd like to see more solidarity from the players themselves. I don't think Woolfolk did the team any favors by calling out Forcier. And it's not like Gibbons and Broekhuizen are trying to miss every kick. This is just a failure in recruiting or coaching. Either the coaches aren't spending enough time on special teams, or Rodriguez isn't scouring the nation for kicking talent. I suspect the former in this case, because every aspect of special teams stinks right now, except maybe kick coverage.


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 6:46 p.m.

The only difference between having a kicker boot into the endzone for touch backs and our current situation is that the opposing team would rack up 15 more yards in their scoring drives. At the end of the day, whether the opponent starts at the 20 or 35, that defense isn't good enough stop a decent team from marching down the field.