Michigan football’s Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Ann Arbor.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
The Michigan football team has very few weaknesses right now. The Wolverines (8-1, 6-0) are clicking on both sides of the ball, and came in at No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
But one area of frustration, says special teams coordinator Chris Partridge, is the team’s field-goal unit.
Junior kicker Quinn Nordin has made just four of his last seven attempts and is now 11-of-16 on the year (68.8 percent).
In this past week’s 42-7 win over Penn State, the Nittany Lions blocked a 50-yard attempt and returned it for a touchdown that was negated by penalties.
“There’s a concern about that whole unit,” Partridge said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a frustrating unit. We dropped the snap (against Notre Dame), and now our left end decided not to block on the one last week. That’s a whole unit deal. Quinn starts it, he’s the head of it, but that is a concern for sure.
“That’s something we’ve put time in a lot recently and a lot more this week. We’ve got to get that thing right for the end here. It is a concern, for sure.”
Partridge says it isn’t all on Nordin. The entire group has been underperforming.
But he also thinks Nordin must improve.
“It is unfair (to put it all on Nordin),” Partridge said. “But at the same time, he’s got to be better and take control of that thing. There’s a bunch of different factors that go into that.”
Partridge’s diagnosis is that Michigan has had “various breakdowns in multiple spots”
He says the blocked kick against Penn State wasn’t because of anything special the Nittany Lions did, such as overload one side.
“We just did not execute. We decided to not use technique and just had a mental mistake at the left end spot,” Partridge said. “No overload, nothing. They just rushed over the gap and we just had a mistake that kids sometimes have. Got to get it fixed or get someone that’s not going to make the mistake in there.”
As for his kicker, Partridge has been pleased with Nordin’s mentality throughout his struggles.
“He had a heck of a day yesterday,” Partridge said. “The wind was howling, and he went 5-for-5 in our live sessions and was good. Confident. You go through peaks and valleys, but you’ve got to keep pushing.
“That’s one thing we teach him. You’ve got to keep pushing through and figure it out and get it done. He had a really good day yesterday, so I’m encouraged by it.”
Contact Orion Sang: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang.