ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan has reached the halfway point of the 2016 season and has its bye week before it hosts Illinois at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 22 for homecoming. With the turn of the season approaching, Landof10.com will take a look at how Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten Conference) has fared so far this season.
Jabrill Peppers has been the spark for Michigan’s special teams, handling punt returns in highlight-reel fashion: six returns for 249 yards and a touchdown.
|BY THE NUMBERS||2016||Big Ten rank||National rank|
|Field goal %||44.4%||14th||124th|
|Extra point %||100%||T-1st||T-1st|
|Kickoff touchback %||24||2nd||T-17th|
|Kick return yards/return||15.5||14th||128th|
|Kick return yards/return allowed||19.74||7th||49th|
|Punt return yards/return||18.56||1st||3rd|
|Punt return yards/return allowed||9.67||10th||89th|
Two returns, however, were called back for penalties. On Sept. 24, Peppers’ run was waved off due to a sideline interference call against Michigan. After the 49-10 win against Penn State, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh joked that the sidelines weren’t big enough, but that run would have put the Wolverines inside the Penn State 15-yard-line.
Oct. 8 at Rutgers, Peppers had another lengthy punt return called back because of a penalty for blocking in the back against Delano Hill. That would have been a touchdown.
Michigan’s best production on special teams was during its nonconference schedule. Against Colorado, a return by Peppers and a blocked punt set up a pair of touchdowns that helped the Wolverines rally to a 45-28 win.
Against UCF, defensive lineman Chris Wormley blocked two field-goal attempts while Peppers had two punt returns for 46 yards, including a 35-yard return that set up Michigan’s fourth touchdown.
The field-goal unit, however, remains questionable, especially the kicker. After Kenny Allen and Ryan Tice went a combined 0 for 3 in a 14-7 win Oct. 1 against Wisconsin, Harbaugh reopened the kicking competition during the week prior to Michigan’s 78-0 win at Rutgers. Michigan did not kick any field goals against the Scarlet Knights, but Harbaugh said Allen would have handled field-goal responsibilities — in addition to a workload of handling kickoffs, punting and extra points.
SPECIAL TEAMS GRADE: B-plus
Check out the grades for other aspects of Michigan’s 2016 season: