Spring Game Preview: Special Teams

Andrew David warms up before the Ohio State game. Erick Lehman/Maize and Blue Nation

Maize and Blue Nation Football Writer Erick Lehman will be writing multiple Spring Game previews, and releasing new position group previews each day leading into the game. The Spring Game is scheduled for Friday April 1, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. and will be held at Michigan Stadium. The previews are looking into the Spring Game and will not account for incoming recruits who have not yet joined the team.

The Spring Game is nearly here, we are eight days away, and it will be glorious to see the maize and blue back out on the field after finishing off last season with a strong performance against Florida.

After all the banter between college coaches, and athletic directors on social media it will be great to see Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines out on the field yet again. 

Leading into the Spring Game, I will be releasing new position group previews daily, starting today with special teams.

The Wolverines will not return Blake O’Neil who was an excellent punter for the Wolverines last season, aside from one play. O’Neil had the ability to flip the field every time he punted the ball.

O’Neil did not play in the final game of the year against Florida due to injury, and Kenny Allen stepped in for the Wolverines. We did not see much punting from Allen, actually we saw him only punt one time. 

The one punt we saw, Allen booted it 57 yards. Assuming Allen will be the full time punter, which is likely, he could only get better. 

If Allen is set to be the punter, he likely had been working on his punting game all offseason, and since he already had a fairly strong leg, he should shine as the Wolverines new punter.

Allen is entering his fifth year senior season meaning he will only be the full time punter for one year.
It is possible Harbaugh leaves Allen where he is as kicker, as nobody else on the roster has attempted a kick in a college game. 

Andrew David was a highly touted recruit last year who took a backseat to the Allen/O’Neil combo, but he could provide a strong leg this season, as that was his big selling point to scouts.

Ryan Tice and James Foug are both listed as kicker/punter on the roster, and like David are both sophomores. However, it will like be David’s job to lose as kicker.

In the Spring Game, watch for what Andrew David can do against a defense. Kickers can usually nail deep kicks no problem without a defense, but it’s what he can do with 11 guys on the other side of the ball that we are all interested in seeing.

Also, pay attention to Allen’s accuracy, and his punts around the 50-yard line. Allen has a big leg, but can he tone it back to avoid touchbacks? Or can he stick the ball in the corner inside the ten yard line?

Scott Sypniewski returns as the long snapper. The senior has been a solid snapper since he arrived on campus and in no way shape or form will lose his job. The key for him next week will be getting himself acclimated to the new punter, and placeholder. I expect to see a lot of work from Sypniewski, Allen, and David.

The kick return game will also likely be the same. It will more than likely have some sort of combination of Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, and Jehu Chesson. I don’t expect to see much of Peppers in the return game for the Spring Game because of injury risk, but he could make an appearance on the punt return.

Aside from the kicker situation, the special teams units are mostly returning. This is probably the least interest group to watch in the game, but could be important as the season goes on if Allen struggles with punt placement.

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