Monday, February 20, 2012

Sports Illustrated: The 2012 All 2-Star (or Fewer) Team

Claudia Sampedro
Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples picks the "All 2-Star (and Fewer) Team" for 2012.  Safety Jordan Kovacs makes the list, along with guard Patrick Omameh and . . . Nathan Brink?  Brink made 1 tackle for -4 yards against Minnesota.  And that's it.  Staples says Brink should earn a starting job in the fall if things go according to plan, but I find that notion unlikely.  I'm guessing there's a 2-star (or fewer) defensive lineman out there who made more than 1 tackle in 2011, but maybe I'm wrong.


  1. Doesn't sound like the 2012 team is based on 2011 stats.

    Brink reportedly won (or came close to winning) a starting job in 2011, before injuries set him back. He also, right or wrong, got a ton of public praise from the coaches. Given that 3 of 4 DL starters left since then, there's a pretty decent chance a guy like that ends up as a starter. Especially with so many freshman around, the coaches can use him as an example of effort trumping talent.

    I could see him start the game, along with Roh, at DE before being pulled in favor of a pass-rush threats like Clark. He could also feasibly bulk up by Fall and play some inside, where things are wide open.

    The DL rotation is very unknown, but Brink seems likely to play a significant role.

    Interesting how many B1G players made that last...

    1. Brink was never a starter, AFAIK. There was a lot of noise about him, but Mattison said he "belongs in the two deep." That's about all. And he didn't really play like he deserved to be in the two deep. Maybe he'll be better when he gets stronger, but there's a reason the coaches are moving guys around - it's to keep Brink from having to start.

    2. Yeah, Brink didn't start. He didn't even end up playing that much (though injury was a factor.) Still...

      "If we play tomorrow, he'd be the starting 5-technique defensive end. You feel him a lot out on the field." - Brady Hoke in late August

      More recently (December), Jerry Montgomery said "It could happen, but I’m telling you, Nathan Brink is going to be a good football player. To say anyone is going to pass him at five-technique (is premature)."

      Now, that was before Roh was moved to SDE spot. And coach comments should always be taken with a grain of salt, but it makes some sense given the situation in 2012. Consider that Roh faces a transition and could experience some growing pains. He may struggle to hold up against the rush at the SDE spot, where the going is tougher in that regard compared to WDE (correct me if I'm wrong). So if Roh's weakness (or at least a non-strength) is against he rush, it's unlikely they'd ALSO start a WDE that has the same issue. As fairly light guys converting from LB, Clark and Beyer both seem like potential liabilities against the run. As evidenced by Clark being kept away from those situations and Beyer kept off the line entirely.

      Furthermore, the interior of the line remains very unsettled. Not even Campbell is a sure thing, and Black's apparent move WDE to DT indicates the coaches don't feel entirely confident in the Campbell/Washington/Ash/Wilkins/Pipkins group to fill-out depth at both NT and DT.

      The bottom line is that there's not much proven experience besides Roh: Campbell and Black have played a decent amount. Clark showed star-potential in a limited role. Washington and Brink have made some appearances. After that it's all wildcards. I think all of those 6 will play this year, but only 4 can be named starters.

      It's a fluid situation. Most guys on the line can feasibly shift between a couple spots. Weights are going to change over the offseason. Freshman are going to contribute (probably in ways we don't expect right now.) Beyer or Clark could show up as 245 lb edge terror, Black as a 280 lb DT playmaker, Pipkins as a freshman all-american, etc. But for now, I'm weighing the coaches comments as heavily as anything else, since basically everyone else is unproven.

      Michigan's been putting moderately-talented grunts on their DL for as long as I can remember. Guys like Rob Renes and Jason Horn had to bulk up to get to 270-something pounds and ended up starting at NT or DT in the 90s. Heininger's only the latest example of what has to be considered standard practice for Mattison/Hoke-coached Michigan teams. In my eyes, Brink's being lined up for DL-grunt of the 2012 season, and it would surprise me if he didn't play a prominent role.

      My guess is that Brink will play fewer snaps than Clark, but he'll start before him. Clark's emergence was impressive, but you wonder if he even gets the chance if Heininger and Brink are healthy for the Sugar Bowl. Obviously their roles are different - I don't mean this to be a a Clark vs. Brink debate. Just given all the uncertainty along the line, it seems likely that an effort-kid like Brink, seemingly a coaches favorite, it going to get used.

    3. The problem with your logic, in my opinion, is weighing coach comments over what actually happened. Regardless of what the coaches said in the spring/pre-season, Brink never started a game. Regardless of what they said, he made only 1 tackle. Roh, on the other hand, started every single game in 2011. They're not going to switch the position of a full-time starter so he can be a backup to a redshirt sophomore walk-on who made 1 tackle.

      Keep in mind that the coaches are getting ready for spring ball. Black's move to DT might not necessarily be a sign that they don't have confidence in the other defensive tackles. But Pipkins and Henry won't be in Ann Arbor until June, meaning Campbell/Black/Washington/Ash/Wilkins are pretty much all they have for the March/April practices.

      Meanwhile, Heininger (DT) and Brink (SDE) didn't play the same position as Clark, so I don't see how their presence would have kept him off the field in the Sugar Bowl.

    4. I have the impression that the DL positions are not rigidly adhered to. For example, Van Bergen moved around inside and out. The absence of Heininger meant he was used a little more at DT, which has a domino effect on DEs. It seemed like there were times where there were 2 WDE on the field at once (e.g, Black/Roh or Roh/Clark).

      I don't think Brink's going to beat out Roh - Roh is a lock to start. But that doesn't preclude Brink form doing so. I think Roh could move around and play both DE positions (like how RVB played both 3-tech and 5). I think Brink could also possibly bulk up and end up start at DT. I view the whole situation as very fluid. I think the coaches will play the best guys situationaly.

    5. Brink might start sometime, but I doubt it's this year. He was 263 last year, so I figure he'll be around 280 this season. But if he becomes a starter, I don't think it will be until 2013.

  2. That could be. Usually with those grunt-type guys like Horn/Renes, they didn't emerge as starters until later in their careers.