This week, WolverineNation will look at the five most critical moments of Michigan's 2012 football season (bowl excluded). These aren't necessarily positive or negative moments, but the five moments that most impacted this football season.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The season was less than half a game in and Michigan already was struggling with Alabama. It couldn’t do much on offense, leading to turnovers, three-and-outs and general concern about what would happen against the SEC.
After one of those failed offensive series, sophomore Blake Countess came on the field as a gunner on the Michigan punt return team. Will Hagerup let a booming kick fly, and as Countess ran down the field he was shoved out of the play.
The result led to a torn ACL and a season on the injured list for Michigan’s top cornerback, the No. 5 most critical moment of the 2012 season for the Wolverines.
In the short term, Countess’ injury hurt Michigan against Alabama -- neither Courtney Avery nor eventual starter Raymon Taylor could really handle the Crimson Tide -- but it could end up being a long-term bonus.
Theoretically, Countess’ injury means an extra year of him on defense as he should receive a redshirt year and come back next season alongside Taylor, who now has a season’s worth of starting experience he would not have had otherwise. Taylor ended up making 42 tackles, intercepting two passes and breaking up another. Those snaps, though, will be more valuable than any of that for 2013, when Michigan replaces J.T. Floyd at corner and Jordan Kovacs at safety.
For the most part this season, though, teams did not throw often against Michigan. At one point, the Wolverines were rated the top pass defense in the nation. While the lofty notion likely didn’t belong with the Wolverines, they handled the loss well.
However, Michigan was a team with just two interceptions from a cornerback this season and five overall from defensive backs. Countess did not record any interceptions his freshman season, but he was close and broke up six passes and seemed primed for a breakout year much like linebacker Jake Ryan.
Now, it might have to wait until the 2013 season.