Who should kick field goals for Michigan football against Ohio State?
Jake Moody made all 6 field goal attempts against Indiana
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Over the last 10 weeks, Michigan has transformed into one of the most complete teams in the country.
The Wolverines have the No. 1 total defense, a strong rushing attack and an accurate quarterback who can also make plays with his legs. It feels like it's all coming together for Jim Harbaugh in his fourth season at the helm, but one glaring question remains.
What's up with the field goal unit?
As good as the offense and defense have been for Michigan, it needed an historic effort from a true freshman kicker to beat Indiana.
Jake Moody, who has been handling the kickoff duties for Michigan but hadn't attempted a field goal, took over for Quinn Nordin, who was sick.
Like Nordin, who was the first kicker to make two field goals of at least 50 yards in his first career start last season, Moody broke a school record in his very first game as a field goal kicker. Moody connected on six kicks and finished the game with 19 points.
The school-record six field goals saved a Michigan offense that couldn't finish drives. The Wolverines only won by 11 points, so Moody was a huge difference-maker.
But assuming Nordin is healthy by the time the weekend arrives, Harbaugh will be forced to choose experience or the hot hand.
The decision comes ahead of the toughest and most important game of the season.
Field goal struggles
This season has been a roller coaster ride for Nordin, who has made 11 of 16 field goal attempts and 45 of 46 extra points.
As a redshirt freshman starter last season, Nordin missed just five field goals in 24 attempts, so his percentage has plummeted this season. It's not all his fault, as there have been missed blocks and botched snaps, as well.
Nordin has also had kicks blocked this season. Blocked field goals are the types of plays that can completely change a game, and that's the type of spark Ohio State needs this weekend.
The case for Moody
Moody's argument is simple: In the midst of major field goal struggles, Michigan turned to him last weekend and he came through, making all six field goals and his only extra point.
The kicks didn't come without pressure, either. Michigan didn't get into the end zone for the first 25 minutes of the game, as Moody made three kicks to take the lead.
Moody also made a third-quarter kick to put Michigan up by eight points and ensure Indiana wouldn't be able to take a lead with a score. He also made two fourth-quarter kicks that put Michigan up 11 points and sealed the victory.
Harbaugh said Moody learned on short notice he would be debuting as a field goal kicker, but that didn't phase him. He answered the call and put together a spotless performance.
The case for Nordin
Despite Moody's excellence against Indiana, there's plenty of reason to expect Nordin to take his job back against Ohio State.
First of all, Nordin has played in big games. He made field goals against Florida, Michigan State and Wisconsin last season. There's no tougher atmosphere for Michigan than the Horseshoe, so the kicker will need to have composure.
Nordin has also been nearly perfect at the types of kicks Moody attempted last weekend. None of Moody's attempts were longer than 33 yards, and two were shorter than 30 yards.
In nine attempts from closer than 40 yards this season, Nordin has only missed once -- a 36-yarder against Michigan State. He missed three such kicks in 2017 but still went 13 for 16.
Harbaugh wanted Nordin because he has such a strong leg and can connect from 50 yards or more. If he's nearly as accurate on the shorter kicks and also has a bigger leg, Nordin might be the way to go.
The case for both
Could Michigan use Moody on the short kicks and Nordin for the longer kicks? Maybe, but where would Harbaugh draw the line? Does Nordin get everything longer than 40 yards? Longer than 50 yards?
The mental aspect of kicking can also be as important as the physical aspect, so Harbaugh would have to consider how a kicker by committee would impact both players.
It's a difficult decision for Harbaugh and one that could have massive implications on Michigan's season.
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