Michigan Football Preview 2016

2016 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 125 of 179

124 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2016 FOOTBALL PREVIEW SPECIAL TEAMS BY JOHN BORTON K enny Allen waited a long time before getting busy for Michi- gan on game days. Now, he's got a shot at seeing his docket completely filled out. The former walk-on placekicker from nearby Fenton, Mich., earned his scholarship last year after three seasons of watching others handle Michigan's kicking duties. He responded by going 18 of 22 on field goals in a strong effort all season. Allen also kicked off for the Wolverines and faced having to punt in the Citrus Bowl after graduate-transfer punter Blake O'Neill suf- fered an injury in the weeks leading up to the game. Florida cooper- ated by not stopping Michigan's offense all day long, but the one time the Gators did so, Allen boomed a career-long 57-yard punt. The question for the fall becomes, does Allen garner the kicker's triple crown of duties: field goals, punts and kickoffs? Many coaches PRESEASON ANALYSIS: SPECIAL TEAMS Starter ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Fifth-year senior placekicker Kenny Allen couldn't have been much better in his first year kicking for the Wolverines. The question now becomes, does he take on even more duties and can he maintain his 2015 field goal pace (18 of 22, 81.8 percent) while doing so? Depth ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Signing the No. 1 kicker in the country is always good for depth, especially when you have a fifth-year senior already in place. True freshman Quinn Nordin hasn't done anything on the collegiate level, though, so while the depth involves great potential, it hasn't been demonstrated on the field. X-Factor It's Nordin. If he can come in and provide quality kickoffs or perhaps take the punting duties, it would spread things out and give Allen a break. Also, if redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers gets one more block on some punt returns, he'll break a few. Overall ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Life looks good for Michigan's special teams, awash in talent and coming off an im- pressive season — with one giant letdown. The trick for coaches Chris Partridge and Jay Harbaugh will be to keep the best of what John Baxter instituted while adding their own improvements (including sure-handedness in crucial punt situations). Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars. Triple DuTy? The Spotlight Is On Kicker Kenny Allen In 2016 Allen handled kickoffs and field goals all of last year, and added punting duties in the Citrus Bowl. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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