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2011 Season Preview – Special Teams + Links

September 1, 2011

The final installment of the 2011 Season Preview looks at Michigan’s Special Teams.

Kickers

Key Losses: None

Returning Starters: Seth Broukheizen

It’s not an understatement to call Michigan’s kicking last year a disaster.  The majority of the kicking duties were handled by walk-on Seth Broukheizen, with some early season cameos from Brendan Gibbons.  While Broukheizen is still on the team, he has fallen behind Gibbons and freshman Matt Wile who are both currently battling for the starting kicking job.  Gibbons was a highly touted kicker out of high school, but injuries kept him from being a factor last year.  Wile has plenty of leg strength, but needs to work on his consistency.  Based on that, the current plan is for Wile to handle kickoffs and long field goals (anything more than about 43 yards).  Gibbons will handle all of the shorter field goals after a solid fall.  Sadly, both of these guys will be considered guilty until proven innocent, so we won’t know for sure what we’ve got until we see them in game situations.  Hoke has had them kicking in the stadium a lot more this fall to get used to wind and stadium conditions, so hopefully that will help prepare them for actual games.

Punters

Key Losses: None

Returning Starters: Will Hagerup (P)

Punter Will Hagerup had a solid freshman campaign and looked poised to continue that in his 2nd year as punter.  Unfortunately, due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, he will not be available for Michigan until the 4th game.  Matt Wile will likely handle the punting until Hagerup returns, although if he struggles Broukheizen may get an opportunity as well.  The dropoff from Hagerup to Wile (or Broukheizen) probably won’t be noticeable against Western Michigan, Diego State or Eastern Michigan.  But since games against Notre Dame always seem to involve big special teams plays, the ability to have consistent results in the punting game could be crucial. 

Returners

Key Losses: Darryl Stonum (redshirt year for team violations)

Returning Starters: Kelvin Grady, Jeremy Gallon

At times kick and punt returns were a positive for Michigan in 2011.  At other times, they were much like the rest of special teams, dysfunctional.  So far this fall, several players have been rotating through at both punt and kick returner.  The likely names to continue in those roles are Jeremy Gallon, Kelvin Grady, and if he can stay healthy, Junior Hemingway.  Drew Dileo, a sophomore wide receiver, is also someone to keep an eye on.  Jeremy Gallon is probably the most exciting player in that position, but had plenty of trouble holding onto the football last year.  The most important issue is ball security, then playmaking ability.  If Gallon can protect the football, he’ll be the guy on punts and kickoffs.  If not, expect to see Junior Hemingway.  The other name to look out for is Vincent Smith.  Hoke seems to love the way Smith plays but can’t seem to find the right spot for him on the field.  Kickoff returns may be that role. 

That concludes the 2011 Season Preview, but in case this wasn’t enough content for today, here are a few links and videos to whet your appetite until Saturday….

I already have this committed to memory, but if you need it, here is a link to Michigan’s 2011 Football Schedule

Bleacher Report named Michigan the #1 Band Experience in the country, and included a great video as well.  Who knew the Big House could be so loud?

If you’re still on the fence about Brady Hoke, maybe this will help.  Certainly putting his money where his mouth is about the LEADERS and the best.

This might be the best Michigan Hype Video I’ve ever seen.  Definitely worth watching the first 3 minutes, and I’d stick around for all 7:06

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One Comment leave one →
  1. kref permalink
    September 2, 2011 5:49 PM

    That video just sent chills throughout my body. Amazing! GO BLUE!!!

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