In the annals of Michigan Football, there has only been one All-American kicker. I remember exactly where I was when Remy Hamilton kicked that FG as time expired to beat Notre Dame in 1994. Since then, Michigan has had two very good kickers, but inconsistency has plagued the Wolverines, from Lloyd’s last days and through RichRod’s nightmarish time, but Brendan Gibbons is quickly turning all of the kicking woes around and is approaching “Old Reliable” status.
One of the many areas Rich Rodriguez chose to ignore (the primary one was the defensive side of the ball), the kicking game at Michigan became, much like Michigan Football under his tenure, a frustrating joke. Routinely, the offense went for 4th Downs inside the opponent’s 35 yard-line, because the coaching staff lacked confidence in their kicker. Gibbons only converted one of five chances that year, and missed one P.A.T. as well. Rodriguez had bigger fish to fry (ultimately, himself), but his coaches made no effort to improve an important aspect of the team.
Under Brady Hoke, every facet of Michigan Football improved, including the kicking game. No longer did I have to cross my fingers, pause the live game, and say a quick prayer, when Gibbons trotted out from the sidelines. He hit a crucial FG against Ohio that gave Michigan a six-point lead. In the Sugar Bowl, he hit all three attempts, including the game-winning FG that signaled Michigan had finally gotten the stench of that West Virginian hillbilly out of its nostrils.
This year, Gibbons has only missed two FGs and has a streak of eleven straight FGs made, including four against Little Brother, and last week’s game-tying attempt against Charlton Heston’s alma mater. In a year when the offense has struggled to find consistency, Gibbons alleviated any lingering doubts about sending in the kicker. He calmly strolls into the game and makes his kicks. Both the winning attempt against State and tying attempt against Northwestern started with bad snaps, and Drew Dileo did a wonderful job of compensating both times. Gibbons did not miss a beat. I have not felt this comfortable with a kicker since Garrett Rivas.
The best part about Gibbons is that he looks so tranquil on the sidelines. When Angry Mark Dantonio (whose team is going to have a hard time becoming bowl eligible, but you’re right, Sparty, the tables have turned. Michigan State is CLEARLY the best team in Michigan) called a timeout to ice Gibbons, he laughed it off. At the press conference after the game, he said, “It really didn’t matter to me at all.” I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowing he’s out there, kickin’ field goals for us fans.