Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Zach Gentry. Gentry’s snaps seem to have increased over the past week or two, and his targets have, too. After not recording a reception in week one, he has 3 catches for 71 yards in the last two games. It was mentioned during the broadcast yesterday that Tim Drevno sees him as being similar to Coby Fleener at the same age, except a better blocker. That’s saying something, considering Gentry is still a terrible blocker. Regardless, Michigan needs offensive playmakers, and Gentry can get separation from linebackers and safeties.
Red zone woes. Michigan has scored touchdowns on just 1 of 10 opportunities inside the 20-yard line. They don’t have difference-makers on offense at quarterback or wide receiver, and running back Ty Isaac needs a crease to be at his best. For the past couple years, Michigan could bring in Jabrill Peppers as a Wildcat quarterback, running back, or slot guy, but they don’t have that guy right now. The offensive line needs to improve to help make that difference, and Wilton Speight needs to be better, too. Luckily, kicker Quinn Nordin has been pretty darn good in his first three games, and he’s actually tied for #1 nationally with 11 made field goals (on 13 attempts). That is good for Nordin, but it’s disappointing that Michigan has attempted 13 field goals, which is the most in the country.
Ranked by some as the nation’s top kicker, Nordin entered 2016 with an uphill climb ahead of him. It was Kenny Allen Hill, and it proved too large to surmount. Allen was a fifth year senior who pulled triple duty as the kicker, punter, and kickoff specialist. He was relieved occasionally, but not by Nordin. Nordin suffered from an injury and sat out the season, allowing him to redshirt.
Now Michigan has no proven kickers, and Nordin ranks this highly on the strength of high school hype and a 97-yard field goal in the spring game. The schedule is tougher in 2017 than it was in 2016, the offense lost some key guys, and the defense lost 11 out of 12 starters (yes, I included Jeremy Clark as a starter). Field goals might be a little more important in 2017, and hopefully Nordin is capable of living up to the hype. If he can’t, that might cost Michigan a game or two.
Prediction: Starting placekicker and kickoff specialist
HOW DOES BRANDON PETERS LOOK? The Maize Team will be quarterbacked by Wilton Speight and presumed #2 guy John O’Korn, which leaves redshirt freshman Brandon Peters as the signal caller for the Blue team. Did the Maize team draft two quarterbacks to prevent the Blue team from having a competent quarterback? Or did the Blue team truly rank Peters above O’Korn? O’Korn and Peters have reportedly gone back and forth at times during spring practices, but it would be a significant step forward for Peters if the coaches think he’s the #2 option. After all, O’Korn has started numerous games in his career at Houston and then against Indiana last season.
Name: Quinn Nordin Height: 6’0″ Weight: 200 lbs. High school: Rockford (MI) Rockford Position: Kicker/punter Class: Freshman Jersey number: #15 Last year: Nordin was a senior in high school (LINK). He averaged 52.9 yards/punt, went 2/3 on field goals, and had touchbacks on 19/23 kickoffs. Final TTB Rating:89
A locally grown talent, Nordin irked some by committing to Penn State. Not because he picked the Nittany Lions, necessarily, but because he did so by posting a video of him “coming home” to Penn State, a somewhat audacious move for a high school football player. A kicker.
But then a curious thing happened. He started visiting Michigan. And kept visiting Michigan. And retweeted a lot of Michigan stuff. And made friends with other Michigan commits. The story goes that he committed to PSU because Michigan wasn’t sure if they could fit a kicker into their class (they took kicker Andrew David in 2015, too), but as the Wolverines amped up the pressure to squeeze him in, he became more amenable to being a Wolverine. There were more big waves with Nordin when Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit that saw him spending the night at Nordin’s house. That was two times that a high school kicker ended up being talked about by national pundits on ESPN and the like.
Entering the fall season, Nordin has a chance to contribute as a punter or a kicker. Fifth year senior Kenny Allen did a good job with the placekicking last year, so he should hold down that spot. But Michigan has no real heir apparent for the punting job unless Allen pulls double duty. I assume Allen will start off the year doing both jobs, but Nordin may be called upon if there’s an injury or if he’s a more consistent punter than Allen. Nordin is a tough guy to place in the countdown, because he could redshirt, but he could also be the starting punter and kicker if Allen tweaks a knee or ankle.