Feagles speaks on freshman struggles, hopeful for 2018 turnaround

Feagles speaks on freshman struggles, hopeful for 2018 turnaround

Stefan Adams
Sophomore Zach Feagles was the Canes primary punter last season in his first year on the team, however, his performance could be best described as “up-and-down”. Without another scholarship punter on the roster, Feagles was forced to work through his freshmen growing pains in front of a live audience instead of behind closed doors.

“As a freshman, definitely room to improve,” Feagles said of his rookie year. “I was young, a typical freshman. Sometimes you’ll throw a freshman in there and he’ll do great things and have a bunch of hype around them. And maybe you’ll have a freshman that won’t do good things.

“I would have a good punt, then some bad punts, then a good punt. I’m trying to eliminate the bad punts. So, I definitely have room for improvement, and I think I’ve made a lot of improvement this year. It’s great to see it through.”

After recording 38.6 yards per punt in 2017, good for last in the ACC, Feagles is looking for more consistency in his second season. With his rookie season in the rear view mirror, Feagles views it as a learning experience that was necessary for his growth and it fueled his improvement in the off-season.

“It’s just the consistency off the field,” Feagles said on his improvement. “Just maturing as a person and a football player. Getting used to the routine and the schedule and what I’m doing. I’ve done that now and I’m excited to see how it translates to the season.”

Has he watched the negative yard punt against Duke on film yet, or too soon?

“(Laughs) Yeah, we all watched it a little bit in the team meeting room, had a good laugh at my expense.”

Being a legacy recruit to UM, most know of Feagles’ famous father, Jeff Feagles. Jeff was a star punter at UM in the mid-80’s before going onto a remarkable 22 year NFL career, complete with two Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl victory with the New York Giants. The older Feagles has been a great resource to Zach as he attempts to keep developing his game.

“He’s had some down parts earlier on in his career too and he’s great when I can come to him and ask about that stuff,” Feagles said on his father. “He’ll give me advice. Mainly how to stay in a routine and to not get down on yourself. He’s just a good person to have, when you’re not doing well and when you are doing well.”

In terms of scholarship special teamers, Feagles is now essentially the veteran of the group with kicker Michael Badgley off to the NFL. In Badgley’s place is true freshmen Bubba Baxa, and Feagles lets Baxa know what it’s like to be in those pressure moments.

“I could see some of myself in him right now, and that’s just being a typical freshman,” Feagles said on Baxa. “He has a lot to get used to. I just tell him stuff like, ‘Don’t get too much in your head.’ I know a lot of people will come up to you and get in your ear about certain things. Sometimes you have to zone them out and sometimes you have to acknowledge what they’re saying. For the most part, you just have to stay focused and don’t let the game get too fast for you. Just stay calm and everything else will pan out from there.”

Special Teams coordinator Tood Hartley is Feagles’ coach at UM and the pair have a close relationship.

“Yeah he’s a great dude, one of my favorite coaches ever honestly,” Feagles said on Hartley. “He’s a real person. He wants the best for his kids. He treats us as if we were his own kids. He wants to better you as a person, not only as a football player, and that’s one of the best things about him.”

The Canes kick off their season on Sunday and will take on the #25 ranked LSU Tigers in Arlington, Texas. Feagles sees LSU as a tough out and gave his thoughts on what to expect in the opener.

“It’s motivation, obviously playing in that stadium is going to be a crazy atmosphere,” Feagles said. “They’re a good team. They’re not in our conference, so it’s not something we’re used to seeing. We know they’re going to be ready, they’re an SEC school, so we don’t expect anything less.”

Comments (57)

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little worried about our kicking game. Between Feagles' struggles last year and Baxa being a true frosh, we could be in for a rollercoaster ride on special teams this season.
This guy struck as much fear in my heart last year as Devin Hester use to strike in our opponents’. Until Feagles, it never occurred to me that a punter could single-handedly jeopardize multiple games.

Special teams is crucial and we have no clue what ours will look like this year. That’s not a good feeling going into week 1.
I was done after his -2 punt against Duke. I lost hope for him for the rest of the year. This year is a new year so hopefully he turns it around.
**** We need another punter... it’s punting and he was last in the ACC how is that going to change??
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This guy struck as much fear in my heart last year as Devin Hester use to strike in our opponents’. Until Feagles, it never occurred to me that a punter could single-handedly jeopardize multiple games.
Until Feagles, I never caught myself saying, "Well at least that punt passed the line of scrimmage."
We went from having a string of amazing punters (Bosher, O’Donnell, Botts, Vogel, etc.) to one of the worst punters in the country. Hope we see marked improvement this season
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It was tough to watch his punting, but he did have some really nice punts sprinkled in.
I hope Feagles has been coached by his dad off season and he improves substantially. May have gotten a lot of his mother's dna.
Last in the ACC. FFS it was worse than I even realized
Lets get behind this kid ...... in a game that will probably be close we need him to step up
Harley may be the best recruiter on this staff but his Special Teams have been incredibly disappointing since he’s taken over. This must improve in order for us to step forward.
Come on guys, ease up on the punter.

I know Vinny Jr. didn't end up working out, but look at the names on the roster right now. We've got a Feagles, an Irvin, a Blades, a Bethel, and a Patchan just like in the glory days.

We back.
I got the Adderall, he'll be an all American after the 1st punt...Trusts
**** We need another punter... it’s punting and he was last in the ACC how is that going to change??
Easy. Kid has the talent, all about form for him. If you watched him, much of the second half of the year he totally lost his form. Looked more like a rugby kicker than a football punter. But he hit plenty with perfect mechanics too, especially early in the season, and those were usually a thing of beauty. Great hang time and I think he has nfl leg strength. But he totally broke down there at one point, and not too deep into the season either. I don’t know if it was the pressure or what, but he totally lost his confidence. It’s definitely a concern. But I think if he keeps his composure he’ll maintain his mechanics, and then he’ll be **** good.
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