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One Less Day Til Football Season, Post 8: Northwestern's Cornerbacks

Yesterday, I found out that Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin sounds exactly the same on vinyl as it does in any other form: awesome. Which makes it significantly different from my copy of "Enter the 36 Chambers" by the Wu-Tang Clan on vinyl, which sounds way more cool, because I can make little scratching noises whenever I want and it makes me feel like a cool DJ.

By the way, I'm way better at writing paragraph-long filler to start off these posts than I ever was at actual blogging. Sadly, I only got three more to go, by my count. 

Days Left Til Football: 22

One Less Day Til Football Season 2010, Post 8: Cornerback

Who did it last year?: Northwestern's cornerback of choice last year was Sherrick McManis. And he was good. Quite good. Really good, actually. Damn good. Unfortunately, you have to play two cornerbacks, though, so his goodness wasn't all there was. Jordan Mabin appeared on the other side, and he had a bit of a lapse from his great freshman year. McManis wasn't quite healthy at the beginning of the year, and Justan Vaughn started for him against Eastern Michigan. Then Vaughn got injured against Eastern Michigan, and this, friends, is where our comedy begins. Next week, a person named Demetrius Dugar played cornerback against the soon-to-be-not-a-member-of-a-college-football-team Mike Williams. Williams had two touchdowns and 209 yards receiving on 11 catches. Old people drive golf balls shorter than the amount of yardage Mike Williams had in one game. Walk-on Ricky Weina would later play a pivotal role at corner against Indiana and Penn State without disastrous results. 

Who's got next?: Sherrick McManis be gone. Ohhhhhhhhh crap. It's been made abundantly clear that Mabin will be one of the two cornerbacks, the other spot is still up for grabs. Although it's been portrayed to be an open competition between some of the dudes listed above - Vaughn, Dugar, Mike Bolden, and Weina - I'd be genuinely surprised to see them hand it over to anybody besides Vaughn. He's a senior, he's got the most starting experience - would have even more if it hadn't been for unfortunate injuries in two straight seasons - and has been the most trustworthy and productive of the group thus far in their careers.

Is that an improvement?: No. This post from Spread Far the Fame highlights how big a problem cornerback could be. They're right, but, I think they overstate the problem a little bit. Mabin was a great surprise with his freshman campaign, and to me, proved then and there that he could be a legit corner. Is he Sherrick McManis? No. But not every NU grad is an NFL draft pick. I also think that we're undervaluing Justan Vaughn. Vaughn has started three career games, and suffered injuries in two of those starts. But in his limited time actually playing, he's been a solid contributor.  I predict - MARK MY WORDS - that Vaughn is a surprise star for Northwestern. Teams are going to think they'll be able to throw like crazy against a secondary that's returning one of four starters, and that one had no pass breakups. Specifically, they'll target Vaughn - the complete unknown who has wallowed in obscurity for three years. But he's not some walk-on or unprepared redshirt freshman, as various cornerback victims were last year. He's a guy who should have started in the Big Ten two years ago and was sidetracked by an injury and a talented freshman. 

So, no, this unit will not be as good as last year's was. But not every game will feature Mike Williams-esque performances while Yakety Sax plays as our cornerbacks make hilarious mistakes. (In case you're wondering what that looks like, click here.)