Baxter Updates Kicking, Punting Competition

A two-punter system? That is something Michigan could utilize this season according to special teams coordinator John Baxter.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Hidden behind the all of the quarterback talk is another area of the Michigan football team that has yet to be figured out.

The special teams, led by coordinator John Baxter, have to replace both a kicker and punter for the 2015 season.

With less than a week away until Utah, Baxter said that the decision of who will start would run right until the very last minute.

“This competition is going to go all the way up until pregame,” Baxter told reporters on Saturday. “There’s really no need to pick one at this point because there’s none of them that have been in a game. Coach Harbaugh really believes in competitive excellence at every position and those guys are duking it out.”

With fall camp wrapped up, surely someone has stepped out in front of the kicking duties? Not quite, Baxter said. According to him, everyone is on equal footing.

“They took equal turns today,” Baxter said. “Each of them got four kicks and they’ve been taking equal turns all the way through camp. They’ve done a nice job. We get the opportunity to practice 29 times so we’re going to take that opportunity. There’s not an established starter there or anything.”

The group of punters is quite similar to kicking game. Though many expected graduate transfer Blake O’Neill to take most of the reps at punter, it appears Baxter has other plans for the punter position.

He went as far as to say that U-M could utilize a two-punter system this season.

Kenny Allen and Blake O’Neill are both punting,” Baxter said. “They will both punt for Michigan this year. Blake has some skills that Kenny doesn’t have and Kenny has skills that Blake doesn’t have. We’re a pro-style team on offense, defense and special teams. Blake came here to be a pro in one year and Kenny has really embraced being accurate. Here’s the thing, they’re both good, Kenny has improved a lot. Blake adds some nice depth there and they’ll both play.

“I don’t know how often you see a two-punter system but we got one.”

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