Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Special Teams Match Ups

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Photo by Emily DeShazer | The Collegian Senior punter Mark Krause sends a punt down field on Saturday Oct. 26 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Krause averages 41.3 yards per punt. Photo credit: Emily DeShazer

Kick Returner

In the return game, both Michigan and K-State are fairly matched.

Sophomore Dennis Norfleet is the main man for the Wolverines. The sophomore has 36 returns this season, for a total of 850 yards. Despite his young age, Norfleet has seen plenty of reps with the special teams unit during his time at Michigan.

K-State will see their Big 12 standout Tyler Lockett returning kicks for the Wildcats in the BWW Bowl. Lockett has not had the season that he is accustomed to in the return game, but still enters this Saturday’s match up having returned 20 kicks for a total of 506 yards. It should be noted that Lockett only returned one kick against the Oklahoma State Cowboys before going down with an injury that sidelined the junior for the entire second half of that game and the Wildcats’ following game against Baylor. Lockett has four career kick return touchdowns and is always a threat to take one to the house. Last season in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Lockett returned five kicks for an average of 31 yards, giving K-State great field position to begin their drives. If Lockett can repeat that success this Saturday in Tempe, he could easily be K-State’s x-factor.

Edge: K-State

Punt Returner

The Wolverines have used two players in the punt return game. Seniors Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo have been the primary return men for the Wolverines throughout this season. Both have only returned six punts for a combined 76 yards, but the lack of big statistics should not undermine the home-run threat that these players both have. Both are experienced playmakers for the Wolverines.

Similar to Lockett in kick return, K-State will have senior Tramaine Thompson returning punts in the BWW Bowl. The game-veteran senior from Oklahoma has returned nine punts this season for a total of 182 yards. Like Gallon of Michigan, Thompson is a smaller guy that provides the Wildcats with a deadly punt returning option.

Edge: Push

Kicker

K-State and Michigan have both relied on a pair of kickers this season.

Michigan’s senior kicker Brendan Gibbons ability has been what the Wolverines have relied on for a majority of the season. Gibbons has connected on 15-20 field goals this season with a long of 47 yards. Junior Matt Wile is Michigan’s primary punter, but was used against Ohio State where he hit one of three field goals. The one make being from 49 yards.

K-State has split time between sophomore Jack Cantele and freshman Ian Patterson. Cantele has only missed two field goals all season, giving him a season record of 11-13 made with a long of 44 yards. Cantele’s shining moment this season came when he hit a 41 yarder to knock out the TCU Horned Frogs with three second left to give the Wildcats the victory. Despite his successes, Cantele has struggled to remain healthy this season, requiring Patterson to step in at occasion. The freshman has made two of his three attempts this season with a long of 31 yards.

Edge: K-State

Punter

Wile could be called on to be both Michigan’s kicker and punter this Saturday in Tempe, but as history has shown, he’s up for the challenge. Wile averages 40.6 yards per punt this season and has pinned opponents inside of the 20 yard line 14 times this season.

Senior Mark Krause will handle the punting responsibilities for K-State on Saturday. Krause has been very consistent all season with an average of 41.3 yards per punt. Krause has pinned opponents deep inside of the red zone 17 times this season.

Edge: Push

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