COLLEGE PARK — With a minute left in the second half, Quinn Nordin trotted out for a field goal. The Michigan football team led 28-0, and the Wolverines’ redshirt freshman kicker lined up for a 31-yard kick.
With no wind, no rain and no excuses, Nordin booted the ball wide to the right of the post — his third straight missed field goal.
After the miss, Nordin walked off the field and exchanged words with coach Jim Harbaugh. On the television broadcast, it appeared that Nordin yelled back at Harbaugh, but the coach insisted otherwise in his post game press conference.
Harbaugh elaborated on the conversation with Nordin after Michigan’s 35-10 win over the Terrapins.
“Start making them,” Harbaugh said to his young kicker.
He later added: “He didn’t really snap back. I said to (Nordin), ‘I’m giving you one more shot. You’ve got to make the next one.’ And he said, ‘I got this. I will make the next one.’ ”
In the last four games, Nordin has gone 0-for-3 on field-goal attempts and missed two extra points over that span as well. His recent struggles have provided a sharp contrast to the season’s first four games, when he hit 11 of 13 field-goal attempts to carry the Wolverines’ inadequate offense.
Harbaugh didn’t see exactly what went wrong with Nordin’s field-goal miss Saturday against Maryland, but he mentioned that it might have been a protection formation that the Terrapins’ special teams unit flashed at the last moment.
Last week, after Nordin missed a 49-yard field goal against Minnesota, Harbaugh said Nordin was kicking too fast.
“He’s missed a few now in a row, and he’s got to make them,” Harbaugh said.
Nordin rose to fame during his high school recruitment when Harbaugh slept over at his house. Once committed to Penn State, Nordin flipped to come to Michigan. He didn’t play last year, as former Wolverine Kenny Allen handled all of Michigan’s kicking duties, but once the 2017 season started, Nordin became a fan favorite immediately.
He lit up the season opener in Dallas with two field goals from over 50 yards against Florida, and his prominent ‘Wild Thing’ haircut thrust him into the spotlight.
A few weeks ago, a clip of Nordin hitting a field goal even showed up in the second game of the World Series. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill, who is a Michigan alum, is known for his unique pitching motion that involves a huge leg swing.
It’s been that kind of year for Nordin. Just as quickly as he became a fan favorite, he’s become a target for discontent.
Harbaugh told Nordin after the miss that he wouldn’t replace him as the team’s kicker unless he missed again. Nordin only had one more kick to take — an extra point in the fourth quarter — and he converted.
Nordin will need to make his field goals, too, or Harbaugh won’t have any reason to keep sending him out there.