Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #8 Blake Countess

Blake Countess
Name: Blake Countess
Height: 5'10"
High school: 180 lbs.
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #2
Last year: I ranked Countess #9 and said he would start at cornerback with 55 tackles and 2 interceptions. He made 46 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions (returned for 169 yards and 1 touchdown), and 4 pass breakups.

Countess mostly had a great year in 2013. He returned from his 2012 ACL tear and showed no ill effects, tying for #1 in the conference and #7 nationally with 6 interceptions. When Michigan would go from their standard 4-3 defense to a nickel, he would bump down into the slot. He - along with anybody else the coaching staff threw out there - got torched by Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockett, which somewhat dampened the excitement about Countess's return coming into 2013. Regardless, he came up with some huge plays with 2 interceptions of Notre Dame, 1 pick against Ohio State, and another returned for a touchdown against Minnesota.

The 2014 season might be different altogether. One of the bewildering storylines is that Countess switched from the #18 to Charles Woodson's #2 jersey, which directly preceded the revelation that Countess has been running with the second string defense behind Jourdan Lewis, sometimes Jabrill Peppers, and sometimes Raymon Taylor. It was also revealed that Countess has been nursing a groin injury, so that may have contributed to the coaches taking it easy on him. It seems clear that Lewis has forced his way into the lineup as a sophomore, so the battle is for that other corner spot. I have a very hard time believing that an All-Big Ten player who made 6 picks and earned the #2 jersey from a fairly stingy coaching staff will be benched in favor of Lewis/Peppers, who have combined for 17 tackles and 2 pass breakups in college. The most likely lineup to me has Lewis and Countess on the field at virtually all times with Peppers bouncing in at nickel, while Taylor can rotate in or perhaps even play safety. Anyone who claims to know how the rotation will pan out is lying. Last year Lewis, Channing Stribling, and Courtney Avery were in a constant battle for playing time, and I expect defensive snaps to fluctuate once again this year.

Prediction: Starting corner; 40 tackles, 4 interceptions


  1. " I have a very hard time believing that an All-Big Ten player who made 6 picks and earned the #2 jersey from a fairly stingy coaching staff will be benched"


    Categorized under "I'll believe it when I see it."

    I'm excited about our CB situation. It makes me excited about the defense as a whole, and even the team. The down years under late Carr and Rodriguez seem to be over, and they make you appreciate what this secondary can be a little extra.

  2. You are right about no one being able to understand what the coaches are planning for DB rotations in games. That is one position group where I always have trouble understanding the coaches' thought process. The last couple years, we have seen guys get major playing time in one game, and then disappear for the next few without an obvious indication as to why. Regardless, I am sticking by my prediction that these CB's will look very good and that Countess will still make an impact, even if he has to share more snaps. I do think Countess will get a good look by the NFL.

  3. This just goes to show that sometimes, not knowing who the starter is going to be is very good, and sometimes it is very bad. Here, it a question of whether two young guys have improved past an all Big 10 corner. On the OL, it's whether anyone is capable of playing the position.

  4. Agree, benching Countess makes no sense. If Peppers really is better than Countess, they should just put him at Safety next to Wilson and make use of his versatility. The real question isn't Peppers over Countess its Peppers over Jeremy Clark, which I think is a much more compelling argument.

    1. I'll sign the petition you send to Hoke for this one.

  5. Countess quietly had a great year last year. I don't remember him getting used and abused outside of Tyler Lockett. It seems like teams always targeted Taylor, Lewis, or Stribling instead.

  6. I think this is a great pick at 8. I think that our safety spots are up for grabs and the corner has lots of depth. I wouldn't mind seeing a couple corners rotate in at safety as well. Our best DB's should play even if that means that when there's only 2 corners, we use them as safeties. I think Countess is poised for a big year. If our D Line can get some pressure on the QB, watch out.