|J.T. Floyd got himself suspended for the upcoming bowl game
Fifth year senior cornerback J.T. Floyd, junior punter Will Hagerup, and senior linebacker Brandin Hawthorne have all been suspended for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, which will be played on New Year’s Day.
Floyd has started all 12 regular season games at boundary corner, making 48 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 5 pass breakups. However, I have been a pretty persistent and vocal critic about his play, because he lacks speed and playmaking ability. He’s also not a very physical player, and he was beaten deep several times this year, although the Big Ten’s mediocre quarterbacks rarely connected. His replacement will likely be Raymon Taylor at the boundary corner spot, with Courtney Avery probably stepping in at field corner. This could also cause recent position switcher Dennis Norfleet or sophomore Delonte Hollowell to get some playing time on defense.
Hagerup is the Big Ten’s best punter, averaging 45.0 yards per punt. Thirteen of his 33 punts went farther than 50 yards. His replacement will probably be Matt Wile, who averaged just 31.9 yards per punt, but 7/9 of those landed inside the 20-yard line. Last season Wile averaged 41.6 yards per punt when Hagerup was suspended for the first four games of the season.
Hawthorne was completely limited to special teams this season, making 19 total tackles. As a small-ish, speedy linebacker, he was very solid in kickoff coverage. But he has clashed with coaches at times, made some halfhearted plays, and generally played/behaved his way out of regular playing time. Despite having some playmaking ability – witness his one-handed interception in April’s spring game – he was surpassed at inside linebacker by freshman Joe Bolden, freshman James Ross, and a guy who has yet to make a single positive play in a Michigan uniform, Mike Jones.
The biggest loss might be Floyd, because Michigan had already been without starting cornerback Blake Countess for the entire season due to an ACL tear. Now Michigan’s #3 and #4 corners to start the year will probably line up for the majority of the Outback Bowl, and guys who have played sparingly will be forced into action while other players shuffle around.