Today I’ll continue my look at the newly-released player ratings (NOTE: EA took down their Teambuilder page for now, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that these ratings are correct) in NCAA Football ’11 with a breakdown of Michigan’s defense. For those of you who would like an even more in-depth look, here’s the spreadsheet containing pertinent player ratings for every Wolverine in the game (click here for a key if you need one): Michigan NCAA ‘11
Before I begin, a quick note: I have no idea what defensive formations are available in the game, but the player positions are clearly based on a 4-3 defense, not the 3-3-5 look Michigan will run. Therefore, Craig Roh is a defensive end, several strong safeties are listed at outside linebacker, and the whole thing is a bit of a mess. Those of you with Xbox Live or a PS3 will probably want to download an improved roster update (I recommend checking out the Operation Sports forums once the game is released — the guys there do a great job of combing over every roster), or else you’ll be spending a whole lot of time editing players and positions. As it stands, here are the notable players on defense:
- The game is very optimistic about Michigan’s defensive line, which is nice to see: the five highest-rated defensive players all play on the line, which is great for that position group and, well, not a good sign for everyone else. Craig Roh leads the pack with a 91 overall rating at right end, Mike Martin (90 overall) and Renaldo Sagesse (85 overall) are the starting defensive tackles, and Ryan Van Bergen earns an 86 overall rating at left end. Fans looking to the future will be pleased with the 85 overall rating bestowed on sophomore-to-be Will Campbell, and Kenny Wilkins* (77 overall) and Richard Ash (75 overall) have solid ratings for freshmen. RE Brandon Herron (82 overall) and DT Greg Banks (80 overall) will also be useful subs.
- EA is justifiably “meh” on Michigan’s linebackers, with LOLB Brandin Hawthorne (80 overall), MLB Obi Ezeh (81 overall) and ROLB Jonas Mouton (81 overall) all receiving decent, but not great, ratings, especially in the case of the two seniors (at least Hawthorne will progress with three years of eligibility remaining). There is one error on the part of EA I caught here: they have Mike Jones (79 overall LOLB) listed as a junior, when he should have sophomore eligibility. Fans looking for relief in the middle can find it in the form of junior J.B. Fitzgerald (79 overall) and sophomore Kenny Demens (74 overall), and those looking to insert some youth into the linebacking corps will be excited to see Marvin Robinson listed as a 77 overall outside linebacker, just two points behind junior walk-on Kevin Leach at LOLB. 6’6 true freshman Davion Rogers is also included in the game, but at 67 overall probably won’t make an impact in your dynasty.
- The secondary is, well, depressing for several reasons. First, the game has Michigan rolling out a starting back four of CB Troy Woolfolk (84 overall), CB J.T. Floyd (81 overall — I was surprised he was rated this high), SS Jordan Kovacs (80 overall), and FS Vlad Emilien (84 overall). While these ratings are decent, trying to play the game without any impact players in the secondary can be difficult and frustrating, especially when faced with pass-heavy offenses. Also depressing: Demar Dorsey is in the game, and as a 74 overall freshman with 96 speed, he would be a great player to have in dynasty if he was actually on the team. Instead, you’ll probably want to edit him into another player from the class of 2010 that will actually make it to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines still have some decent young talent in the secondary, however, as freshmen CB Justin Turner (78 overall), CB Cullen Christian (75 overall), and FS Thomas Gordon (78 overall) all pull down solid ratings. Strangely, Teric Jones earns a 77 overall rating at strong safety — I really have no idea what EA based that one on.
- The game thinks Michigan has a bright future on special teams. Brendan Gibbons received an 85 overall rating at kicker, and incoming freshman Will Hagerup earns a solid 81 overall at punter. As for the kick returners, Martavious Odoms (95 return, 92 speed), Troy Woolfolk (94 return, 94 speed), Junior Hemingway (93 return, 87 speed), and Darryl Stonum (92 return, 94 speed) are your best bets to take one to the house.
So there’s the defense, surrounded by as many question marks in virtual reality as they do in reality. I’ll be back tomorrow with an overview of the best players around the Big Ten and on Michigan’s 2010 schedule.
*I’m pretty sure #33 is Wilkins, as his height/weight matches his Rivals profile, which EA seems to have gone by for all other players, although his likeness on the Teambuilder page is white, which is obviously wrong. If it’s not Wilkins, then it’s probably Jordan Paskorz.