Ohio State Football

OSU/Michigan Preview: Special Teams Primer

11.15.06 | Comment?

In this entry we’ll take a look at special teams. Coach Tressel indicates that the punt is the most important play in football, so I think we know how Ohio State approaches special teams. Michigan has been no slouch in the special teams area either.

Let’s take a look at the Michigan kicking game starting with kickoffs, kick returns, and field goals. The short synopsis is, this is a very strong part of the game for Michigan with Sr. kicker Garrett Rivas and kick returner Steve Breaston. Michigan averages 21 yards per kickoff return (#47 in the nation) and allows 22 yards per kickoff (#94.) Rivas kicks to the goal line or into the endzone consistently. Rivas is 15 of 18 on field goal attempts this season.

The Buckeye kicking game started a little shaky, but has come around in recent games. So. kicker Aaron Pettrey and Jr. kicker Ryan Pretorius have combined for 9 of 12 field goal attempts and consistently put the ball out the back of the endzone on kickoffs. Kick return duty is a shared responsibility between Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzales, and Ray Small averaging 18 yards per kickoff (#84) and the kickoff defense allows 18 yards per return (#24.)

The Wolverine punting game has been solid with Zoltan Mesko averaging 39 yards per kick and allowing around 8 yards per return. The punt return game anchored by Steve Breaston has been very good, and from time to time, explosive. Michigan averages 10.82 yards per return and has one return for a touchdown this year.

OSU’s punter, A.J. Trapasso has averaged 41 yards per kick and the return team has allowed an average of 8 yards per return attempt. As with the kicking game, punt returns are split between Ginn, Gonzales, and Small who are averaging 10.85 yards per return with 1 touchdown.

With the parity of these teams, it’s not hard to imagine that the game may well turn on the play of special teams. Michigan gets the nod in the place kicking game by a slight margin and Ohio State gets the nod on punting by a slight margin.

3 days to OSU/Michigan
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 11-0 Next up: Michigan 11/18
Tune: Ain’t that a kick in the head? by Dean Martin
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