Miami Hurricanes football: Newcomers needed to help on special teams

The Hurricanes are back on Greentree on Aug. 1. Let’s go position-by-position and tell you what we know, what we don’t know, and what we want to learn this month. 

2017 Miami Hurricanes Camp Preview Series
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST

The steady excellence of Justin Vogel, one of the best punters in the country, gave Miami a major edge in field position in the last three seasons. He’s now graduated, and UM hopes the son of a former Hurricanes standout can take his place.

They’re also expecting newcomers to breathe new life into the return game, and their kicker to remain his productive self.

Michael Badgley celebrates his winning kick against Nebraska. (Getty Images)

Michael Badgley celebrates his winning kick against Nebraska in 2015. (Getty Images)

Projected depth chart 

Kicker
15 – Michael Badgley – Sr. — 5-10, 175
85 – Marco Baeza – R-Soph. – 6-3, 210
98 – Diego Marquez – R-Sr. — 6-1,1200
47 – Turner Davidson – Fr. — 5-9, 160

Punter
18 – Zach Feagles – Fr. — 6-2, 210
43 – Jack Spicer – R-Soph. — 6-3, 210

Snapper
39 – Jordan Butler – Jr. — 5-9, 190
50 – Sam York – R-Jr. — 6-1, 198
61 – Jacob Munoz – Soph. — 5-11, 200

Return specialists
8 – Braxton Berrios – Sr. — 5-9, 186
84 – Dionte Mullins – Soph. – 5-10, 200
4 – Jeff Thomas – Fr. — 5-10, 175
3 – Mike Harley – Fr. — 5-9, 160

Numbers to know

 

In the regular season, Miami ranked 12th in punt return average (12.89 yards). Berrios broke a pair for 40-plus, putting UM in a group of 20 teams nationally with two or more 40-plus returns.

UM wasn’t a threat in kick returns; it had a middling average (52nd nationally, 21.25 yards) and returned the fourth-fewest kicks (20). Malcolm Lewis, now graduated, was the primary kick returner.

Coverage teams were a mixed bag. UM ranked 87th in punt returns allowed (20), with a 7.9-yard average (63rd). Kick returns were poor (113th), letting up an average of 23.74 per runback. UM allowed a 100-yard touchdown to Pitt’s Quadree Henderson.

Only four teams blocked more punts or kicks than Miami (five).

Miami also had a key point-after blocked. That snapped a streak of 72 straight for Badgley.

From our Nov. 2016 regular-season stat review:

In 2015, Michael Badgley went 5-for-5 on two occasions and hit a 57-yarder last year, tying the school record. He also missed a couple chip shots. Same thing this year. Badgley was aces from mid-long range (9-for-9 from 40 to 49 yards; 20-for-20 career) but missed a few short and intermediate kicks (10-for-16 this year from 20 to 39 yards). He went 1-for-2 from 50-plus, hitting a 51-yarder and missing from 50.

Miami also missed four extra points, one of which was blocked by Florida State to preserve a 20-19 win. So that’s not good. UM didn’t block an extra point (and no opponent missed).

Badgley was 21st in kickoff average (63.52) and 22nd in touchback percentage (58.54), but kicked twice out of bounds (T-51st). For perspective, 14 programs did not kick out of bounds.

 

Quote of note

“I think we’ve got the best one in America. I’ve never been around anyone like him.” — Mark Richt on Vogel.

Breakdown

Hard to replace

If Miami doesn’t take a step back in punting, give a major credit to Feagles. The Hurricanes have had excellent punting in the past few years, with Matt Bosher, Dalton Botts, Pat O’Donnell and Vogel ranking among the best punters in the country.

Few expect Feagles to spit the bit, given his NFL bloodlines and high school production, but he is a college freshman. His father, Jeff, was a 22-year NFL veteran and is the only punter honored by the UM Sports Hall of Fame. Zach Feagles competed in the 2017 Under-Armour All-America Game. Spicer, a Florida transfer who redshirted last year, is another option if Feagles doesn’t pan out.

Badgley, as noted above, is quite solid and can make pressure kicks; the infamous Block at the Rock wasn’t exactly his fault.

UM returns Butler at long snapper for the third straight season. Little-known fact: he was chosen to play in the 2015 Under Armour game. Yes, he was a high school All-American long snapper.

Happy returns? 

Miami has solid depth at wide receiver, and two freshmen could make their first impact on special teams. Thomas and Harley have blazing speed and the ability to make defenders miss, and either could

Expecting freshmen defensive backs like Derrick Smith, Trajan Bandy and Amari Carter to make their bones in coverage, as running back Travis Homer did last year.

 

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