Michigan opens its punting competition

Michigan coach Brady Hoke has joked most of the season with a reporter about what said reporter thought of the punters during practice.

The joke is because that is most of what the media sees during its weekly 20 minutes of practice viewing, but now it actually takes some hold. Hoke is opening up the punting competition leading up to the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

"Yeah," Hoke said. "I wouldn't have said it if it wasn't."

Freshman Matt Wile started the season as the team's punter -- but mostly due to a four-game suspension to sophomore Will Hagerup. Hagerup returned from suspension, reclaimed the starting job and has struggled throughout the season.

Hagerup has punted 27 times this season for an average of 36.8 yards, landing only five of those punts inside the opposition's 20-yard line. Meanwhile, Wile averaged 41.1 yards on his 14 punts this season, landing four of his punts inside the 20.

"I talk to him every day when we’re practicing," Hoke said of Hagerup. "It’s just consistency, how you set the ball, where your hand is, and the mental imagery of when you’re doing it the right way and the fundamentals and techniques. I’m going to use an analogy that is really bad because I don’t golf and I’m a bad golfer but it’s like the longest drive. Guys get up and they want to try and kill it.

"Sometimes he does that with his punting instead of having a consistent swing at the ball."

Hoke said what he's most looking for out of his punter is the ability to change field position positively for the Wolverines' defense.