Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 21 of 163

20 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Walk-On Kicker Kyle Seychel Almost Wasn't A Wolverine Michigan's kicking competition should get a boost from redshirt freshman Kyle Seychel, one of the bigger surprises on the roster at the end of last fall. He almost didn't get the chance at Michigan, former U-M kicker Brandon Ko- rnblue recalled. "He was looking and looking, and no scholarships came to him," Kornblue, who now runs Korn- blue Kicking School, recalled of his former student. "I had been in contact with [assistant] Dan Fer- rigno and Brady Hoke, told them I had a kid they should look at. They were busy, but then it really started picking up." Seychel was ready to explore his options before Kornblue gave it one last shot. "I sent them an email and said, 'He wants to go to Michigan, and he told me that,'" Kornblue re- called. "'You can get him if you want him, but if you don't, that's okay. I'm going to start pushing him to other schools. If you do, though, he's in your backyard, so I highly recommend you take a look.'" Ferrigno called 10 minutes later, Kornblue said, and the rest … well, has yet to be written. Seychel, though, will have a re- alistic chance to contribute this year, either as a field goal kicker or kickoff specialist. Michigan's tight end blocking has been an area of weakness for some time, in part be- cause many at the position have been asked to play early. Kevin Koger (2008) and junior Jake Butt and senior A.J. Williams more recently all played as true freshmen, something that used to be unheard of at Michigan. When there are freshmen on the field, former Michigan tight end Andy Mignery said, there are almost always going to be blocking deficiencies. "When you know everything the defense can throw at you and where you need to be at the right time in the run game, that's what gives you confidence," he said. "It starts clicking after hundreds and hundreds of reps through the years, and that's when you really start to build it. Knowing what's going to happen before the snap of the ball … that just takes time. "They've got to shorten the learning curve somehow, because the young guys have to excel blocking this year and understand their roles." Butt has made strides and knows the playbook inside and out, he said. Williams has the frame, and though the big man struggled at times in his three years, Mignery saw improve- ment in the spring. Spending time in the film room and communicating as much as they can with position coach Jay Harbaugh, the quarterbacks and the rest of the offensive staff will be paramount this summer. "My advice to those guys as a former tight end — this offseason, with a new offense coming down the pipe here, you'd better know this playbook, your role, exactly what you're supposed to do before the helmets go on in August," he said. "You need to be in that coach's office all the time to the point that they are tired of you coming and asking questions. That's not utilized as much as it should be from college kids in general, because they're being pulled in so many directions." Former Michigan offensive lineman Doug Skene (1988-92) played next to some great ones for Big Ten championship teams. The importance of having that extra, great blocker on the line can't be overstated, he said. "To run the offense Jim Harbaugh wants to run, they need blocking tight ends," he said. "To me, that means Jake Butt has got to take his game to the next level. Physically he's coming along, but I want to see him base block a defensive end with consistency, combo with that tackle and get to that outside linebacker and sustain a block more than once." Mignery believes this is the year the light goes on for the group. "They're going to be able to run the ball this year, but blocking is so critical inside that box, as we say — setting the perimeter and also getting out to the second level, being in the right position to explode on the linebacker," he said. "I think we're going to see more of that." Tight End Blocking Needs Upgrade For Running Game To Thrive Seychel, a redshirt freshman, could contribute this season for the Wolverines either as a fi eld goal kicker or a kickoff specialist. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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