Michigan special teams coach John Baxter runs through his special teams unit, addressing what went wrong on recent punt returns.

Michigan special teams coach John Baxter runs through his special teams unit, addressing what went wrong on recent punt returns.

Michigan special teams coach John Baxter has been lauded, and rightfully so, for his work with the Wolverines special teams unit this season.

In his first full season in this role, Baxter has reshaped and improved every facet of special teams.

First and foremost, the return game has yielded highlight reel results with Jabrill Peppers as a true threat with 15 returns totaling 185-yards, an average of 12.3 yards per return with a long of 41.

On kickoff return, Peppers has also been dynamic in leading the team with 223-yards while Jourdan Lewis' 30 yards per return is good for first amongst anyone with at least five tries. Not to mention Jehu Chesson's 96-yard kick return touchdown to open up the game in a win over Northwestern.

"I have to chuckle at that because there was a day I had the opportunity to talk to all of you last spring and one of the questions came up was who's returning?" Baxter said.

"I pulled up a list and read off about 10 names. Well, you're seeing all of those names."

The kicking and punting game has been much of the same as Kenny Allen has made 14-of-18 field goal attempts as well.

"Here we are in the spring and Kenny is a walk-on, essentially backup punter to the guys that were here last year that I did not have the opportunity to coach," Baxter said.

"He certainly embraced kicking and punting and as it worked out he became the kicker and you would have to look and correct my numbers but if you look at total shots at the poles, I think he's 53-of-57."

Australian punter Blake O'Neill is averaging 41.7 yards per punt to go with a long of 80-yards against Michigan State, including 18 punts landing inside the 20-yard line.

The most recent blemish though, comes in the form of two punt return touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, one to Rutgers and one at Indiana. Fortunately for the Wolverines, neither of those games resulted in a loss.

While neither of the touchdowns will put a smile on Baxter's face, he says the key is all fundamental.

"In the game you've got to tackle," Baxter said. "And in a game, when you get the opportunity to tackle, you've got to tackle. It really comes down to that."

"Bottom line is, the games you remember are the games in November and we've got to block and we've got to tackle," added Baxter.


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