UM takes big advantage of UCF on special teams

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Chris Wormley (43) blocks a Central Florida field-goal attempt in the first half.

Ann Arbor – It certainly was a combination of some UCF bad and some UM good.

Special teams probably didn't determine the outcome of Saturday's game at Michigan Stadium, but it was a huge reason the Wolverines rolled, 51-14, over Central Florida.

From the get-go, UCF's special teams were atrocious, with bad punts, bad decisions on kickoffs, bad field-goal attempts. Michigan got its hands on two kicks – one field-goal attempt and one punt – and recovered a fumble on a kickoff of its own.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said it was a matter of good scheming, and guys just making plays.

"You just don't ever want to concede points on the board, whether it's an extra point or a field goal," Harbaugh said. "Spend an eight-, nine-, 10-play drive, guys are tired but they commit themselves to one final push to keep points off the board.

"I thought our guys did an excellent job, our special teams have really performed well."

Consider these plays, just in the first half:

* Caleb Houston's first punt was blocked, and went 13 yards.

* Houston's next punt went 27 yards.

* Matthew Wright had a field-goal attempt blocked by Chris Wormley.

* On a UM kickoff, Tristan Payton made an unwise decision to take the ball out of the end zone. He got to the 11, where his helmet was knocked 10 yards away.

* A Houston punt from inside UCF's end zone was a low liner that Jabrill Peppers returned 35 yards.

* On a Michigan kickoff, UCF was called for an illegal block, pushing the Knights to the 13.

* Wright missed his second field-goal attempt, from 49 yards, coming up 10 yards short.

* On a Michigan punt, UCF had 12 men on the field, pushing the Knights to the 7.

Michigan piles up the points but flaws exposed in win

The biggest issue, without question, was the kicking game that put Michigan in great field position early.

And Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight took advantage, jumping the Wolverines out to a 34-7 halftime lead.

"We got behind on field position right away, and gave them some short fields," said first-year UCF coach Scott Frost, who took over a team that was winless last season. "This is a process. I think in all three phases of the game, we have to execute more precisely."

Not so for Michigan, which is 2-0 after two dominant performances – granted, against Hawaii and UCF.

The Wolverines' offense was on point all day, the defense was stout outside of four big running plays by UCF, and the special teams were, well, special.

"Made some plays," said Wormley, noting Michigan knew it could get good push on UCF field-goal attempts, given Wright's low trajectory.

In the second half, UCF's special teams woes continued, with a personal foul on a Michigan extra point. (The next play, Michigan kicked short and it was muffed by UCF and recovered by the Wolverines' Jordan Glasgow.) UCF even booted a kickoff out of bounds in the second half.

There was more, too, but that might just be piling on.

UCF, surely, had seen enough. It went for it on its final five fourth downs of the game.

The only special teams miscue by Michigan was a dropped snap by Kenny Allen on a punt attempt.

"Keep your chin up, more games to play," Harbaugh said of Allen, who was 3-for-3 on field goals, with a long of 37. "We can improve that."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tonypaul1984