Safety battle: Williams or Vlad

Submitted by petered0518 on August 25th, 2009 at 9:47 AM

I was quite pleased to hear that Troy Woolfolk has locked up the free safety position, I have always rooted for him to do well. I was surprised, though, because he had always looked too thin to be a safety.

I have checked a few practice updates/recaps, but I can't get a good idea of who is leading for the other safety position, Vlad or Mike Williams. Does anyone have any idea as to how that position battle is shaping up?

I don't normally like it when people post a forum topic just to ask a question and not offer any thoughts of their own, but really I have nothing to go on when it comes to these two. I have seen Vlad get torched by Brown in the Spring Game(which, can't really blame that one on him, looked like a linebacker was out of position or something) and absolutely nothing on Williams.

I am personally cheering for Williams just because this is his first year of being truly recovered from a bad knee injury* and he lived in my hall as a freshman.

*Actually so is Vlad, but he is a freshman and will have plenty of time to be a starter.



August 25th, 2009 at 9:57 AM ^

Williams is a little ahead of Vlad at this point. I'm excited to see what they can both do. It seems from practice reports like MW is our biggest hitter on D. Always a good thing for a strong safety. Read the GBMW they have a couple writeups on the safety battle. Grammar's tough to get through but I like the info.


August 25th, 2009 at 9:57 AM ^

First of all, Woolfolk is not too thin to be a free safety. The most important attributes for that position are speed and anticipation, which he seems to have. My only concern for the free safety position is this: Who on Earth will make the two-deep?
As for the strong safety position, I too hope Mike Williams emerges as the starter. Judging from practice reports, Williams has performed well (destroying people with his aggressive style of play) while Vlad has appeared lost at times. Eventually, I believe Vlad will be an excellent starter. At this point, I would rather see some experience at the position.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:01 AM ^

Without having any insight as to who is doing a better job at SS at this point, I just hope whoever starts the WMU game keeps the job throughout the year (Obviously meaning he is good enough to start 13 games... no S.Brown./Engleman issues).

Unfornutaley for the eventual second string guy, considering Williams is a So., and Vlad is a Fr., one of these guys is going to be sitting (while playing Sp. Teams) for 2-3 years. That's a lot of talent to sit. (Maybe Williams could battle for FS after Woolfolk graduates in 2 years... but Vlad appears to be a SS only).

But I'd rather have 2 legit options at SS than only 1.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:20 AM ^

I think that Rich really means it when he says he wants to play 20-22 on defense. Even with one of the best d-lines we've had I saw Banks, Sagassee, Martin and Van Bergen rotate into the games a lot. I don't know how much the secondary rotated, but I bet they both see substantial playing time.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:06 AM ^

Well Williams was playing with the 1st team defense for most of the scrimmage that I watched on Saturday. That, and he had a sweet tackle on a goal line situation where he recorded a safety for the defense. He blew right passed the LT on a blitz and lit up the running back.

So, my guess its Williams job to lose. That being said, Vlad didn't look out of place out there, but it was obvious that he was a little slower to react to what the offense was doing than Williams was.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:12 AM ^

That is great to hear. I honestly think that the limited time Williams saw last year is not a good representation of what he can do because the knee injury his freshman year was really really bad. It could have been career ending from what I understand.
He should have better speed and quickness this time around.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:18 AM ^

I have a feeling that Williams is going to start at least against WMU. However, I would not be surprised to see Vlad get playing time.

I'm not sure if that is a good thing because obviously it means that Vlad is good, or a bad thing because it means that Williams can't even hold off a freshman.

Either way, I have a feeling by the 2nd or 3rd game, the best player will be playing, no matter who that might be.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:28 AM ^

Williams should be the starter. If he's not, we'll have a position switcher at FS and a true freshman at SS. Williams played pretty well last year, and he should get the nod again this year.

From the limited video I've seen of Emilien so far in college, I don't think he's ready. In a typical year, I think he would definitely redshirt. But this isn't a typical year, because we have practically no depth at those positions.

However, Carlos Brown's long run in the spring game was due to Kevin Leach, the WILL, being out of position. No safety would have caught Brown with the angle Emilien was forced to take.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:35 AM ^

I think right now Williams should be the starter. I've heard he is a really big hitter which is a good thing if you want to be a SS. I think Vlad should sit for a year because last year he missed the whole season because he had a broken leg. If we could I'm sure we would redshirt him so he could learn the defense and get back to playing speed but sadly we don't have that type of depth on defense this year.


August 25th, 2009 at 10:49 AM ^

I think it's all but certain Vlad doesn't redshirt, merely because most teams will play 3 safeties pretty regularly throughout the course of a season (we did last year - Brown, Stewart, Harrison). But it seems like Williams will be the starter.


August 25th, 2009 at 11:05 AM ^

Play the upperclassman and make the younger guys push for PT if they want it bad enough.

Wasn't Woolfolk a corner before? If by some miracle we become too stacked at safety (has this ever hapened?), he could just shift back to CB.


August 25th, 2009 at 1:02 PM ^

after performing well at safety all summer, i doubt theyd switch him back over to corner. Although the lack of depth at corner is extremely scary. JT Floyd and Justin Turner are the only other corners on scholarship (assuming Witty isnt arriving). Which one of these two would assume the starting role in the case of an injury to booboo or warren would probably depend on when in the season the injury occurs: If its early in the season, I have no doubt it would go to Floyd due to his greater experience in the system. Turner only recently arrived in Michigan, and, although he was a much more highly touted recruit, it will take him time to fully learn the system and to prove himself capable of playing substantial minutes. Cross your fingers in hopes that it never comes to this


August 25th, 2009 at 1:21 PM ^

disappointed that I haven't heard Isiah Bell's name mentioned at all. Never thought he'd contend for a starting job, but from watching him in the All Star game I thought he might be able to provide a little depth thats slightly less scary than a walk on. Van Slyke may be a player, but after seeing Sheridan in last year my mind has a whole different perspective on that term.


August 25th, 2009 at 1:53 PM ^

No worries. Although I kinda thought they should have left one of Mike Jones and Isiah Bell at safety and moved the other, we don't need a 4 deep at the LB/S spot, but it would be nice to have another body back at safety, especially after Brandon Smith moved to LB as well. Alas, they are the experts.


August 25th, 2009 at 2:31 PM ^

Oh, I didn't know that, the last depth chart I read said he was at the hybrid spot. I that's the case, we have a lot more LB depth than I thought, even though less than half of them were recruited as LBs. If they can make plays as a linebacker, I don't care if they were recruited as a shooting guard.


August 25th, 2009 at 5:57 PM ^

Not all walk-ons are created equal. Jared Van Slyke is on the top of the heap when it comes to walk-ons, very athletic kid. Could have been a scholarship athlete a lot of places. And Thomas Gordon is a true freshman who did not enroll early, and only played safety for his senior season of high school. Usually guys like that aren't expected to contribute as true freshmen.