Michigan broke out the spatula Sunday, flipping four-star Te’Cory Couch from Tennessee. The cornerback had not been seriously considered to stick in the Volunteers class, but Michigan beat his home state Miami Hurricanes for his commitment. As the supposed number one cornerback on Don Brown’s board, let’s take a look at Couch’s strength and weaknesses.
Couch didn’t have a comprehensive highlight reel on YouTube to nab GIFs from, so I cobbled enough plays together from a couple of different sources, including actual games and camp drills. This can actually be a positive since we can see instances where Couch struggles, instead of only plays where he does something well.
Rivals camp from about a year ago. Couch is in the red jersey with number 134.
Under Armour one-on-one reps. Couch’s two plays are at 1:40 and 2:09.
After watching Couch defend the run in his film, I immediately knew why he was Don Brown’s favorite cornerback of this class. Although he is only listed at 5-9 and 148 pounds, Couch plays much bigger than his size while tackling.
That is a play made by a Don Brown “dude.” Starting as the slot corner on the right side of the field, Couch doesn’t fall for the misdirection in the backfield and goes hell bound for the back, making a tackle for loss across the field.
This play recognition, speed and aggression are skills that fit extremely well in Brown’s defense.
This type of play pops up multiple times on Couch’s film
Couch is tasked with covering the wing end set up behind the right end of the line of scrimmage. Following him as he motions to take the handoff, Couch patiently follows him until he sees an opening to make the tackle, then accelerates, closing the gap in a blink of an eye and making another tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Here’s one more example in case you weren’t convinced:
I’m pretty sure this is the same exact play the opposing offense ran in the first GIF above. Clearly they didn’t learn.
While the plays above show Couch’s excellent speed while defending the run, this also is a great asset in pass coverage.
In the play below, Couch is going up against Jalen Curry, a top 100 receiver in the class. Curry initially beats Couch by faking outside, then cutting in.
However, Couch recovers quickly and is able to break up the pass. Having elite closing speed like this is a great tool for a cornerback, so if he does get beat by a receiver he still has a chance to make the play.
This happens again in the play above. Falling again for a false step by the receiver, Couch has too much separation. However, he effortlessly glides back to catch up with his man and prevents him from making the catch.
Watching all of these plays, it’s not hard to believe that Couch is also an outstanding track athlete. He is a smooth, fast runner with an extra gear that will make it hard for any receiver to get behind him.
The most important trait that scouts look for when evaluating defensive backs is hip flexibility. The ability for a corner to flip his hips to transition from backpedaling to running with a receiver is paramount in coverage.
This is an area in which Couch struggles. He occasionally will get beat by receivers making moves at the line, causing Couch to flip his hips and change direction. This causes separation between him and the receiver, and is why Couch’s closing speed is so important, as shown above.
Couch is excellent in man coverage when his man is running simple routes. Here are a couple of plays where the receiver is running a simple go route, and Couch allows no space at all for the possibility of a catch.
In these plays, Couch maintains great position, sticking in the receiver’s hip pocket and not allowing a window for a catch.
But in these plays, Couch can just turn and run to stay with the receiver. When he faces double moves, it is a different story.
Here, his man makes two quick jukes and Couch is unable to keep up. On the first move, Couch is able to maintain his position, but once the receiver breaks downfield again, he can’t flip back and run with him.
The receiver Couch was facing in this clip is Jordan Whittington, who is ranked as the number four receiver in the 2019 class. Couch is going up against elite talent here, but he will have to adjust to that level once he gets to college.
The good news is that Couch is teammates with four-star John Dunmore, another Michigan target. Going against a talented player like Dunmore in practice should sharpen his skills. Plus, Couch can recruit Dunmore to go to Michigan while they’re battling each other.
If Couch wasn’t so skinny, I would say his speed and aggression make him a good fit for Viper at Michigan. But I don’t think he would be able to add the weight needed at that position and maintain his quickness. Instead, I think Couch will fit in as a slot corner, covering the smaller receivers on the inside. Some of the plays shown here have him already covering the slot, so he has experience there.
After such a huge haul of defensive backs last year, I don’t expect Michigan to pursue many more this class. Because of his small stature, I expect Couch to take a redshirt year in order to build up some muscle so he can compete every down for the Wolverines.
Watch out for my scouting report on Michigan’s other recent commit, Jack Stewart, coming soon!