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Ann Arbor – Quinn Nordin, Michigan’s “Wild Thing” kicker, leads the nation in field goals per game and is third nationally in scoring.
Perhaps these are not the lofty rankings most Michigan fans would prefer to see, but that’s the reality with an offense that hasn’t been able to punch it in in the red zone through the first three games.
Nordin, a redshirt freshman, has become a consistent weapon and leads the team with 42 points as the eighth-ranked Wolverines prepare to open Big Ten play at Purdue on Saturday. He continues to dazzle his teammates with his strong leg and also his haircut that pays homage to Charlie Sheen’s character in “Major League.”
Defensive end Rashan Gary this week said he sees Nordin routinely kick 60-plus yard field goals in practice. That was confirmed by Chris Partridge, who coaches special teams.
“I think he’s hit 66-, 67-yarders,” Partridge said this week. “I know he’s hit that. Probably right around there. I think if he had a really good day and was nice and rested, he probably could go from 70.”
Seventy? Partridge was jokingly asked if he’d want to see Nordin try that in a game.
“No, no,” Partridge said, laughing. “I’d like to score touchdowns. He’s a good weapon to have.”
Nordin matched a school record in last week’s win over Air Force by making five field goals and was the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week. In the season opener against Florida, he earned co-Big Ten honors after converting 4-of-6 field goals, including 50 and 53 yarders. He is the only Michigan kicker to make two field goals of 50 yards or more in a game.
"I'm just doing what I can for the team," Nordin says.
Wind and field conditions have to be taken into consideration, but the coaches know the range for Nordin.
“The wind is big,” Partridge said. “Even though you may not feel it on the field, when it gets up there, that thing takes it. Fifty-five is a comfort zone, I guess, but again, the wind kind of factors into that. But there’s a comfort zone and then it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s go let him try it, depending on the situation in the game. But I think 55 is a comfort zone.”
Because the coaches know what Nordin can do, he clearly gives them options.
“It’s a huge asset because it just opens up the decisions for the head coach on whether we have to go for it, whether we have to do a really short pooch punt, whether we can take an attempt at getting the three,” Partridge said. “I think that’s a huge asset.”
For the season, Nordin is 11-of-13 on field-goal attempts.
“It’s great to see him kicking confidently and knocking them through with room to spare no matter what distance you put him in,” coach Jim Harbaugh said after the win over Air Force.
Receiver Eddie McDoom is close friends with Nordin and said the kicker carries himself like a receiver. And Gary made it clear that Nordin is not an afterthought on a football roster, like many kickers are often categorized.
“Quinn’s like any other position guy,” Partridge said. “He’s got a confidence about him. He’s got a kind of swagger about him. He’s very personable. He’s great to be around. He’s a great teammate. He’s a guy you could see fitting in anywhere.
“He has the mentality where he could be the quarterback, he could be a receiver, he could be a D-back. He just goes out, he loves what he does, and he’s confident in it.”
Quinn Nordin’s field-goal stats this season:
Florida: 4-for 6 – made from 25, 55, 30 and 50 yards; missed from 52 and 32 yards.
Cincinnati: 2-for-2 – made from 28 and 24 yards.
Air Force: 5-for-5 – made from 35, 26, 49, 29 and 36 yards.