Michigan special teams coordinator Chris Partridge met with the media Wednesday. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — When a team is making a late-season push in a championship run, having confidence in the kicker and field-goal unit is a major plus.
As the fourth-ranked Wolverines (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten), who are at the top of the East Division standings, prepare for their final three-game regular-season stretch, beginning Saturday at Rutgers, there has been serious focus on improving field-goal performance.
Quinn Nordin has the leg — he made a 50-yarder earlier this season — but has missed four of the last seven attempts, including a blocked 50-yard attempt against Penn State last Saturday. Nick Scott blocked the field goal and Garrett Taylor ran it back for a touchdown that was called back.
Nordin is 11-of-16 this season.
“There’s a concern about that whole unit. It’s a frustrating unit,” Chris Partridge, safeties coach and special teams coordinator, said Wednesday. “We dropped the snap (in the opener at 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 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.”
Partridge said Nordin shouldn’t be the focus of blame, but certainly, he’s a big part of how the unit performs.
“It is unfair, but at the same time, he’s got to be better and take control of that thing,” Partridge said. “There’s a bunch of different factors that go into it.”
He said the blocked field goal was not a result of anything Penn State did.
“We did not execute,” Partridge said. “We decided to not have sound technique and had a mental mistake at the left end spot. No overload, nothing. They just rushed over the gap and had a mistake that kids sometimes have. Gotta get it fixed or get someone that’s not going to make the mistake in there.
“You have an issue whether It’s breakdowns in multiple spots or breakdowns in one spot, you’ve got to get it fixed and you’ve got to get everyone working together.
"That’s our challenge right now. Frustrating we’ve had various breakdowns in multiple spots for sure.”
Nordin practiced well Tuesday and made all of his attempts.
“He had a heck of a day yesterday,” Partridge said. “That wind was howling and he went 5-for-5 in our live sessions. It was good. Confident. You go through peaks and valleys, but you’ve got to keep pushing through and keep figuring it out and get it done. He had a really good day yesterday, so I’m encouraged by it.”
Michigan at Rutgers
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, HighPoint.com Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
Records: Michigan 8-1, 6-0 Big Ten; Rutgers 1-8, 0-6
Line: Michigan by 39