- Terra Molengraff/Daily
By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published September 16, 2013
The longer junior Matt Wile struggles with the Michigan football team’s punting duties, the longer the look coach Brady Hoke gives redshirt freshman Kenny Allen.
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That’s not to say the Wolverines have a controversy at the punter position on their hands just yet. But if Wile continues to be ineffective in next Saturday’s game at Connecticut, Allen might be receiving an increased workload. In a nail-biter against Akron last weekend, Wile managed an average of just 33 yards on four punts.
Hoke said Monday that he considered handing the duties over to Allen mid-game but changed his mind because “it wouldn’t have been the right thing for (Wile) and his psyche.”
Wile punted the ball out of bounds just 22 yards downfield with about nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Michigan clinging to a 21-17 lead. Rather than pinning Akron back in its own territory, the shank allowed the Zips to start at their own 33-yard line, and they strung together an 11-play touchdown drive that forced Michigan to respond.
Hoke said he won’t make an excuse for Wile because the junior is handling kickoff duties in addition to punting — Wile has been doing both for far too long for that to be a reason for his struggles.
“My only analogy is it’s a lot like golf,” Hoke said. “His swing and his drop have to be constant and more consistent.”
Akron’s special teams nearly managed to get a piece of one of Wile’s boots Saturday, and Hoke said it should have been blocked. Poor protection, not anything in Wile’s technique, was to blame for that mishap, according to Hoke.
“I have a lot of faith in Matt,” Hoke said. “I kind of coach the punters because … I know what to look for. He’ll be fine.”
RYAN REPORT: Hoke said that redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan is “feeling pretty good,” adding that “every day, he gets closer.”
Ryan has been out since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on March 19 — the first day of spring camp.
With the defense struggling to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks through the first three weeks, his return can’t come soon enough. When he does come back, Ryan will be eased into team activities.
“I’m the one who’s scared to death,” Hoke said. “I don’t want to bring him back too fast. I think he has got a good gauge on how he feels.”
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: At approximately 4:07 p.m. Saturday, just after a goal-line stand sealed the win over Akron, the coaching staff decided that Sunday would be a full-pads practice.
“They were very receptive,” Hoke said of the team’s reaction to the additional day of work. “Very — I wouldn’t say excited — but they were glad to get back on the field.”
Note: Hoke said that both sophomore tight end A.J. Williams (ankle), who missed the Akron game, and senior cornerback Courtney Avery (knee) are much improved. … Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess’ injury scare was just a cramp, according to Hoke. “He’s one of those guys who cramps. … He’s been that way since high school.”