Harbaugh expects Tice to emerge in kicking ‘competition’
Ann Arbor – It seemed like no matter who trotted out to kick field goals for Michigan on Saturday, nothing worked.
The No. 4-ranked Wolverines missed three field goals – two by starter Kenny Allen and one by backup Ryan Tice – in a 14-7 win over No. 8 Wisconsin at Michigan Stadium.
After Michigan scored on the first play of the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead, the Wolverines drove down the field on their next drive and had a chance to extend their advantage.
But Allen missed a 31-yard field goal wide right and Michigan had nothing to show for its 11-play, 43-yard drive.
Allen had a chance to redeem himself on Michigan’s next drive and make it a two-score game but pulled his 43-yard attempt to the left, lowering his season mark to 50 percent (4-for-8).
Michigan’s offense hit a lull and didn’t drive into field-goal range again until its second possession in the third quarter. This time, though, Tice was given the opportunity but provided the same result as he missed a 40-yard attempt – his first of the season – with the game tied at 7.
“I thought there was a lot of things we did really well; obviously, we left nine points off the scoreboard,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “You got to put points on the board, points on the board really matter. We'll have a little kicking competition this week and it will be an opportunity for Ryan Tice. Got to make them next time.”
Quarterback Wilton Speight was quick to shoulder some of the burden because of the offense’s inability to capitalize on their red-zone trips.
“Any time you leave points off the board, it's not the goal. It's not what you want,” Speight said. “That's not on the kicker, that's on me as a quarterback and on the offense to get the ball in the end zone.
“We have been efficient all year once we got into the red zone being able to score touchdowns. … So on a windy day like this, to put that much pressure on the kicker, it's not fair, so we have to hit the film and figure out how to get six or seven on the board."
Harbaugh said freshman Quinn Nordin, who was the top-ranked kicking prospect in the nation, is “working through something” and wasn’t available.
Allen (24-for-24) and Tice (6-for-6) each converted an extra point to remain perfect on the season. Allen also had several field-flipping punts and pinned Wisconsin inside its 20-yard line four times, averaging 46.6 yards with a long of 56.
"We'll look at this week and look to see who the absolute best person is to kick field goals for us,” Harbaugh said. “We never thought it was ideal to have Kenny do punting, kickoffs and field goals. It's a lot and it's probably too much and this will be an opportunity for Ryan Tice to step up this week and carry that duty.
“I think he's more than capable of doing it. I thought that kick he made was good from where I was standing. He'll get the opportunity this week to prove that he can do that. I'm confident that he will and I think it'll probably be better for our overall kicking game to have somebody that can do one of those phases."