NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03: (L-R) Brendan Gibbons #34 and Drew Dileo #26 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate after Gibbons kicked a successful 37-yard game-winning field goal in overtime against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
I don't really know where to begin with this guy. I guess I'll start with his storied high school career (having just lost a bet with myself, using "storied" describing a kicker) - and it looks like he was pretty good. My first thought was "holy hell, this guy looks like a linebacker" and sure enough, he was an LB/DE in high school. The plot thickens. Apparently the lefty was pretty good at kicking in his prep career, hitting 16 of his 21 attempts in two years. He also kicked off well, but I think HS kickers kick from almost near the endzone anyway, so take that with a grain of salt, or several. Rivals thought he was elite, ranking him the eighth-best kicker in the country and giving him two whole shiny stars!
My goodness, were they wrong, at least initially. I get that there's a development period for kickers (mentally, yada yada yada) so that's probably what it was. Gibby joined the ridiculous morass (yay, another cool word) at kicker for the Wolverines under Rodriguez, redshirting his freshman year. Oh good! A year of mental development! Gonna be great.
Sophomore year was no different, as Gibby knocked in a mere one of his five attempts. Feelsbadman.jpg. Michigan's kicking game was straight up miserable in Rich Rodriguez's ill-fated final year, escaping torches and pitchforks only because this man still had a job. Oh dear, it's not even noon yet for me and I want a drink. Escape, please.
Fast-forward to why everyone loves Brady Hoke. Somehow, the cerebral coach flipped whatever switch was dormant in Gibby's head, and the kicker rebounded nicely to knock in 13 of his 17 attempts, including a 3/3 VIRTUOSO PERFORMANCE in the Sugar Bowl, which as everyone knows won Michigan the game after Va Tech's kicker couldn't pull it off and that really good running back decided to run backwards for about a 20-yard loss, which was hilarious and sad and a thousand other things and I live in Virginia now and David Wilson is my favorite. Sucks to suck.
Michigan used to have good kickers, and now Gibbons is on the gigantic Groza watchlist. If his improvement continues, that isn't out of reach. I miss you, Hayden Epstein. Used to be my favorite player. No idea why, probably because Star Wars came out and at the time no one knew how bad Hayden Christiensen sucked at everything. Seriously, dude torpedoed the franchise. Horrid casting decision. I guess everyone hated him, which was good, but it was more for his acting chops (or complete and total lack thereof) than for his role as future Darth Vader and tragic hero. I really wanted to like Anakin, because Star Wars is a love story, one of the best ever, and it was totally bastardized by horrendous casting. Thanks, George Lucas. Look at the first three, and then fast forward 20 years and how could that be the same person? Luke was a better actor than that, and Mark Hammel did exactly zero other things of note in his acting LIFE. I still really like Carrie Fisher because she was really awesome with a gigantic weapon in Blues Brothers - one of my favorite cameos ever. Hey! There's Princess Leia! Why does she have a bazooka? Then John Belushi drops her in the mud and we have my favorite movie scene ever:
Yeah, it's awesome. Back to the gridiron.
Uhh, I'll keep it fairly short. I think Gibbons is going to be about 15/20 this year - Michigan won't go for too many field goals on fourth-and-short despite Brady Hoke's seemingly conservative nature, because Gorgeous Borges has the best weapon in college football under center and I'd rather take a shot with Shoelace than take a 70% chance at 3. I hope Gibby's distance kicking improves, because it sucked last year. How do State and Ohio State get all the good kickers? I feel like Iowa is churning out pro kickers constantly, and Iowa isn't a fun place to be. I'm thinking Matt Wile gets a shot if Gibby doesn't perform given his high rating and good K/P performance last year, but this is actually a position of strength for the Wolverines, so Gibby's our guy. Let's hope for a good Phil Brabbs type year.
By the way, because this is a good time to post about it, Phil's a great guy and cancerkicker.org is a great place to go to learn about how you can help dominate the fight against cancer. Cancer has personally stolen way too many of my loved ones for me to not post about this, and I'm sure most of you feel the same way.
Have a great afternoon, Michigan Faithful.