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2013 BWW Bowl - Scouting the Enemy: Michigan Special Teams

A twitter inquiry about Michigan Special Teams had a reply of: 'Kicking is iffy, punt coverage is infuriating, Norfleet is due to break one.' Which had this reply from a third party "due to break one" -hasn't broken anything this year. How accurate is this?

Gregory Shamus

The most memorable image of Michigan special teams? We have to go back to the 2012 SB Nation GIF tournament for that one. Fortunately I have never observed a GIF of the missing punter play that K-State ran, so I at least have that going for me.

Coach: The Michigan special team coordinator (and tight ends coach) is Dan Ferrigno, who has over 34 years of coaching experience, the last 3 years of which have been at Michigan. Coach Ferrigno has had to adjust to the Michigan winters after spending most of his career on the Pacific Coast, including coaching special teams at San Diego State, USC, Cal-Berkeley and Oregon State. If the google-fu is correct, Coach Ferrigno did coach the biggest cheap shot artist of all time (Troy Polamalu) for a year in 2000, although I'm not sure we can credit a coordinator for the thuggery of a single player. Coach Ferrigno probably had a bigger influence coaching Tony Gonzalez at Cal-Berkeley.

Note: numbers are from Football Outsiders (special teams & starting position) and's Michigan numbers.

Overall: Michigan is the 61st ranked team with a ranking of .157 in Special Teams Equivalency when looking at all special teams (K-State @ 22 with 1.448).

Field goals: Michigan attempted 23 field goals and made 16, while the 2 kickers (Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile) were perfect on extra points. Michigan's Field Goal Efficiency for 2013 is .073 (rank 64) while the Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency is .315 (rank 100). Brendan Gibbons' misses happened twice from 30-39 yards, twice from 40-49 yards and a missed attempt from 50+. K-State's FGE is .281 (42) and OFGE is -.077 (39) giving the edge to K-State in the FG aspect of the game.

Punting: For Punt Returns Equivalency Michigan is -.006 (rank 44) and for Punt Efficiency -.053 (69) as compared to K-State's PRE of .169 (7) and PE of -.039 (74). Michigan is averaging 6.33 yards/return while their opponents are averaging 7.08 yards/return. Joe Reynolds scored a TD during a punt return, although he is not credited with a punt return because blocked punts aren't scored that way. That is one more touchdown scored than any opponent managed against the Wolverines on punt returns. Drew Dileo (7.33 yds/return) and Jeremy Gallon (4.57 yds/return) have returned the majority of punts with Dymonte Thomas (9 yds/return), Da'Mario Jones (0.00 yds/return) and Dennis Norfleet (-.33 yds/return) also contributing

Kickoffs: Michigan's Kick Return Equivalency is -.128 (53) and Kick Equivalency is -.093 (89). In yards this is equivalent to 22.22 yards/return for Michigan and 22.44 yards/return for their opponents. K-State's is KRE -.044 (29) and KE of -.056 (100). Dennis Norfleet is the player to watch in returns, as he could score a TD if the Cats don't play solid kick return defense.

Players returning the ball:

Kickoffs Punts
Player, Number, Position Returns Yards Avg Long TD Returns Yards Avg Long TD
Drew Dileo #9, WR
5 96 19.2 25 0 6 44 7.33 24 0
Jeremy Gallon #21, WR
7 32 4.57 16 0
Joe Reynolds #85, WR 0 30 30 1
Dymonte Thomas #25, DB 1 9 9 9 0
Da'Mario Jones #10, WR 1 0 0 0 0
Dennis Norfleet #23,WR 36 850 23.61 44 0 3 -1 -.33 2 0
Jehu Chesson #86, WR 2 36 18 19 0
Sione Houma #39, RB 1 19 19 19 0
Royce Jenkins-Stone #52, LB 1 13 13 13 0
Justice Hayes #5, RB 1 8 8 8 0

Field Position: Michigan has started drives on the opponent's side of the field, while also providing opponents with that opportunity, more than most other FBS teams.

Metric Michigan K-State
Field Position Average
.497 (64) .518 (40)
Starting Field Position 67.1 (6) 68.2 (30)
Opponents SFP 66.6 (118) 69.4 (78)
Starting Field Position Delta -.6 (72) 1.2 (49)
Short Field Drives .178 (5) .155 (17)
Opponents Short Field Drives .156 (108) .115 (67)
Long Field Drives .205 (54) .198 (43)
Opponents Long Field Drives .150 (121) .197 (72)
Fremeau Efficany Index Rank 29 28

Conclusion: I think the reply from the Twitter conversation is about as accurate a description of Michigan's special teams as you will find on the internet. And as has been observed this season, the Cats will need to be solid to win the special teams battle: Slack off and the Wolverines will enjoy the day.