Blake Countess' ACL Tear Turns Michigan Secondary from Strength to Weakness

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2012

Nov 26, 2011; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Blake Countess (18) knocks a pass away from Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver DeVier Posey (8) during the first quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

One of the less recognized aspects of Michigan's crushing at the hands of Alabama was the absence of Blake Countess, who went out early with a knee injury.

That's a torn ACL, it turns out, and that's the end of the year for the talented sophomore. He'll take a medical redshirt and have a solid year to rehab that knee—odds are pretty high that he'll be out for spring practice, but back in the starting lineup for fall camp.

In the meantime, the Wolverines still have to trot out two cornerbacks—Or do they? Yes, you nincompoop, they do—and the next man in line for Countess' job in Week 1 was junior Courtney Avery.

How did Avery respond to his sudden insertion into the starting lineup?

...oh. That's not good. That's the opposite of what you want from a cornerback.

Now, it's not as if Avery is the world's most horrendous player and he spent most of the rest of the game within 20 yards of his man, but the effect Countess' injury will have on Michigan's secondary is still something the Wolverines are going to be feeling for the balance of the season.

The combination of Countess and J.T. Floyd on the other side of the field was, one could argue, one of the best cornerback tandems in the conference. Now? Nobody's going to make that argument for Avery and Floyd.

And make no mistake: having a shutdown cornerback on one side of the field opens up a lot of defensive possibilities. You can be more aggressive and/or creative with the safeties, which means you can be more aggressive and/or creative with the usage of the entire defense. And that level of skill is what Countess was at the very least approaching coming into this season.

A liability on the edge, however, forces you into less ideal situations. There, safety help over the top is essential (see: video clip above) and third downs become filled with dread, as any decent receiver should be able to work free against that corner. It turns into a one-on-one game, and their one's better than your one.

At the very least, though, this is the "right" year to lose a top cornerback, as the league is filled with enough questionable passers that someone like Avery could be on the field and not be exploited too often by opposing quarterbacks.

After all, it's not like Taylor Martinez is out here throwing over 350 yards with five TDs in a single game...oh, no.