Jittery kicking game continues to concern Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.