Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Matt Charboneau preview the opening games of the college football season: Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee and Michigan State vs. Tulsa. The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Remember the days of quarterback controversies at Michigan?
Step aside quarterbacks, there’s a new down-to-the-wire, not-going-to-reveal-until-kickoff position in town: placekicker.
Michigan special teams coordinator Chris Partridge, playing a bit coy, said he’s not sure whether Quinn Nordin or Jake Moody will be the kicker when the season opens Saturday night against Middle Tennessee State and, get this, maybe they’ll both play.
“That’s ongoing,” Partridge said Wednesday. “It’s awesome. When you’ve got two guys that are phenomenal and they’re duking it out, we’ll keep it rolling. They’ve both been really good through the spring, through camp. I don’t think we’re pressed to make an immediate decision. We just let those guys keep kicking and keep working.”
So when will Partridge make a decision and inform the kickers?
“I don’t know, maybe we don’t have to,” Partridge said. “Maybe we just play 'em both. I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll discuss that. Both have great attitudes. It’s easy right now. They’re getting equal kicks in practice, and that’s what it would be like anyway with a (starter or backup), you’d get 'em reps. We’ll sit down as a staff and with Coach and see what we want to do.”
Nordin, who has kicked a long of 55 yards, struggled last season and Moody, then a freshman, took over late in the season.
“They’re both really, really good kickers,” Partridge said. “Both of them have big legs. Both of them take it really seriously. Both of them put everything out there and really want to be great. They’re similar in the regard they both can kick pretty deep field goals, and they both can be really, really accurate, too. They’re not separated by much. We have, maybe, the best kicker room in the country when you put both of them together. It’s really good. It’s fun, it's exciting to coach them.
“I’d love to see them both play.”
As far as the return game, Partridge said kickoff is open and listed a number of players who could be used: Ronnie Bell, Mike Sainristil, Giles Jackson, Mike Barrett, Dax Hill, and Christian Turner. Cornerback Ambry Thomas, who has returned to practice after dealing with colitis, will eventually work into the mix.
“All those guys are rotating back and do a really good job,” Partridge said.
Donovan Peoples-Jones is the returning punt returner.