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2012 Michigan Preview – Secondary

August 30, 2012

Cornerbacks

Starters: Blake Countess (So.); J.T. Floyd (Sr.) 

Backups: Courtney Avery (Jr.); Raymon Taylor (So.); Terry Richardson (Fr.)

There’s a lot to like about Michigan’s cornerbacks heading into to the 2012 season.  J.T. Floyd brings significant senior experience in his 3rd year of starting in some capacity, and Blake Countess showed why he could be the next great Michigan corner during a breakout freshman year in 2011.   He may not be Charles Woodson, but he reminds me a lot of Leon Hall.  Neither Floyd nor Countess have elite closing speed in case they get beat, but they are certainly Michigan’s best pair of cornerbacks in the last 5 years.

In the event that we need a nickel package or either Floyd or Countess goes down with an injury, Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor are the likely candidates to fill in.  Avery started last season atop the depth chart before getting passed by Countess.  That speaks more to Blake’s abilities than Avery’s lack of ability.  Avery is aggressive and a good tackler, and will see plenty of time on the field.  The fastest of the bunch is probably Raymon Taylor.  Taylor is still developing his technical skills, but played some as a freshman and will likely play more as a sophomore.  Finally, don’t sleep on freshman Terry Richardson.  A highly touted recruit, Richardson is small, but has all the makings of a lockdown corner.  Given the talent above him he’ll probably be used sparingly, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him climb the depth chart as he gets used to the college game.

Safeties

Starters: Jordan Kovacs (Sr.); Thomas Gordon (Jr.) 

Backups: Marvin Robinson (Jr.); Jarrod Wilson (Fr.)

Much like the cornerbacks, what had been a liability for Michigan during the last several years has finally turned into a strength.  Jordan Kovacs is not only the leader of the defense, but as a co-captain, he is one of the team leaders.  Kovacs is not the fastest or the biggest, but he has a nose for the ball and always seems to be in the right place.  I expect to see a lot of JKMP! this fall.  The nice surprise coming out of last year and the spring was the development of Thomas Gordon into a potential all-conference safety.  Gordon is a solid tackler and has shown the speed to recover for his or his teammates mistakes.  Neither Kovacs or Gordon are glamorous, but they may be the best duo of safeties in the Big Ten.

The guys backing up Kovacs and Gordon are actually far more athletically gifted than their starting counterparts.  Marvin Robinson is a physical specimen who everyone touted as the next great Michigan safety, but as of yet he has been unable to grow into that role.  He’s still a serviceable backup, and has 2 years of eligibility remaining to make the leap everyone has expected.  Freshman Jarrod Wilson is where Robinson was 2 years ago – the freshman athletic specimen with all of the hype.  Wilson needs to put on a little of weight and strength before he can really break out, as he’s about 15-20 lbs lighter than you’d like your safeties to be.  But definitely keep an eye out for him this fall – especially on special teams where he’ll get a chance to make his mark.

STRENGTHS

The biggest strength of this secondary is continuity.  Michigan returns its entire starting defensive backfield, and with that comes familiarity of playing style and communication.  Having Jordan Kovacs as the anchor the entire defense helps immensely too.  There are certainly some question marks in the case either of the safeties gets injured, but as a starting foursome, the Michigan secondary is in good shape.

WEAKNESSES

In what is beginning to sound like a broken record, the biggest concern here is depth.  If Kovacs or Gordon go down, can Robinson or Wilson step in and replace them?  For the cornerbacks, without elite speed, there are concerns about Michigan’s ability to have a true shutdown corner.  If Countess can avoid a sophomore slump, he could be that player.  If not, there may still be some growing pains.

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