2020 Season Countdown: #26 Mike Sainristil

2020 Season Countdown: #26 Mike Sainristil


August 22, 2020
Mike Sainristil (image via MLive)

Name: Mike Sainristil
Height: 
5’10”
Weight: 
183 lbs.
High school: 
Everett (MA) Everett
Position: 
Wide receiver
Class: 
Sophomore
Jersey number: 
#19
Last year: 
I ranked Sainristil #20 and said he would be a starting receiver with 30 catches for 480 yards and 5 touchdowns (LINK). He caught 8 passes for 145 yards and 1 touchdown while starting one game.
TTB Rating:
 84

Sainristil, like Donovan Jeter, was significantly overrated by me last year. Spring chatter was positive, and Jim Harbaugh actually named him the starting slot receiver after the spring. I thought that would carry over into the fall, but that turned out not to be the case. He played quite a bit but was not targeted regularly. Tarik Black played more than Sainristil (side opinion: Black was a slacker and should have played less), got his 25 catches, and then dipped out of town, anyway. Sainristil’s catch and run against Notre Dame was more impressive than anything Black did in 2019, though it did come late in a blowout win over Notre Dame:

Sainristil figures to be heavily involved in 2020, but exactly how much is still up in the air. Fellow slot guy Giles Jackson seems to be more explosive, and the coaches seem to have slightly higher hopes for Jackson. The opportunities for Sainristil may increase if Nico Collins does indeed skip his senior season as expected, but for this exercise, I’m projecting Sainristil to be a backup behind Collins, Jackson, and Ronnie Bell.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver

18 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 24, 2020 at 11:06 AM

    What is the evidence for “Tarik Black is a slacker”?

    As a freshman he beat out DPJ and Collins (and looked better too). He was derailed by injuries and worked his way back from 2 big ones. That doesn’t seem lazy to me. What am I missing?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 24, 2020 at 11:55 AM

      I guess you missed him jogging through his routes and not blocking people.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 24, 2020 at 3:34 PM

        I guess schools in Ann Arbor and Austin missed it too.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3785
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 24, 2020 at 5:08 PM

          Yeah, I probably just made it up after watching replays and clips of the 2019 season over the past 8 or 9 months…

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 24, 2020 at 11:13 AM

    I like Sainristil as a player and enjoy watching him but we’re in starter territory on the countdown. Mid 20s should be a place where critical pieces and quasi-starters (backup QBs, 3rd CBs, rotating DTs and RBs, extra DBs on passing downs) belong.

    Michigan has a plethora of options at ‘slot WR’ including Bell, Wilson, and Jackson (who I think played more RB than WR last year but that’s another topic) and we know they play big receivers there too (last year DPJ and Eubanks played plenty of ‘slot’ and guys like Gentry and Butt have been fixtures in the past).

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 24, 2020 at 11:54 AM

      a) We’re not in starter territory. There are 22 starters, and I’m at #26.

      b) Sainristil is the #3 returning receiver by receiving yards and #4 by receptions. (And not that this counts for the countdown, but if Nico Collins declares for the draft prior to the season, Sainristil becomes #2 and #3, respectively.)

      c) I really don’t know how you’re interpreting the information about being a slot guy. In Josh Gattis’s offense – and many spread offenses – the guys lined up on the outside are the bigger guys. It’s just not true that people like Peoples-Jones played “plenty of slot.” Peoples-Jones lined up outside, or maybe they brought him tight to the formation for a condensed look, but he was still the outside guy. I can’t say that he took zero snaps in the slot, but a running back is a running back even if they split him out wide. You don’t say “Well, Donovan Peoples-Jones isn’t that important because once in a while, they motioned Zach Charbonnet out wide.” Sometimes Devin Bush would split out with a RB who came out of the backfield, but that didn’t make Devin Bush a cornerback.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 24, 2020 at 1:34 PM

        I disagree on slot. We see guys over and over lineup there who are not short players lineup inside and we see over and over again nominal slots lineup outside. The roster calls them wide receivers – not split ends, flankers, outside receivers, inside receivers, slots, or short WRs. They lineup at different places depending on the play.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3785
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 24, 2020 at 1:59 PM

          This really isn’t an issue where you can “disagree.” It’s pretty cut-and-dried.

          LOL @ your reference to the rosters. Cesar Ruiz was listed as an “OL.” Ambry Thomas was listed as a “DB.” Does that mean we need to pretend Ruiz spent part of his time playing offensive tackle or that Thomas was ever playing safety? Rosters tell us very little when it comes to position-specific stuff.

          I know this is a disingenuous comment, because if you wanted information that only went as deep as the rosters go, you wouldn’t be reading this site and you wouldn’t make the comments you have made here over the years.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6182
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 24, 2020 at 3:28 PM

            Not what I’m saying and I think you know that. The deeper level of analysis is recognizing the reality of the situation. I think the same argument that you use to discount OLmen can be used for WR.

            For the sake of agreement – I will concede the point that the roster listing isn’t definitive of anything.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6182
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 24, 2020 at 2:45 PM

          Let’s put it this way. If the left and right guard regularly moved around, we’d just call them offensive guards. Which is what we do anyway since their job is essentially the same. Ditto for WRs – run routes, catch balls, try to get YAC, block on run plays, screens, etc.

          Now you might say the right analogy would OT/OG not RG/LG since, even though there is some overlap in skills and some guys can do both, there are also some key differences. These differences make some players suited for one and not the other. That’s why we distinguish an OT from an OG.

          To which I say – good point fictional debater, but those differences are far more entrenched on the OL and teams act accordingly. An OT plays OT all game long. Not only that but he’ll generally stick to one side regardless of playcall or matchup. He almost never switches to OG except in maybe some gimmick formations on a goalline or something.

          Not so at WR. Yes some WRs are going to be specialists (e.g., Drew Dileo) but most are going to move around over the course of the game and lineup inside and out. It changes play by play and in most games a WR will lineup at multiple spots. That does not happen on the OL.

          In other words the OL skills overlap but are distinct enough to suit different responsibilities that don’t change from play to play or game to game, whereas at WR it overlaps greatly and you move guys around to try to find minor advantages in matchups.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3785
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Aug 24, 2020 at 7:50 PM

            If the roles were interchangeable – in THIS offense – you wouldn’t see a clear delineation in where they line up. You say the WRs line up all over the place, but they don’t. The slot guys line up in the slot, and the outside guys line up on the outside. I keep pointing out that I’ve got evidence, K.J. Hamler, YouTube clips, etc., and you just keep repeating the same incorrect statements.

            Yes, WRs move around more than offensive guards, but a) duh, b) formations have guard next to the center on almost every play except wacky formations, c) offensive line is perhaps the most technical and mentally difficult spot to play on the field outside of QB. You wouldn’t move guys around at guard, because they have to worry about protections, stunts, footwork, stance, teamwork with the guy next to them, etc. It’s a totally different position.

            You CAN move guys around. Brady Hoke and previously Jim Harbaugh HAVE moved guys around.

            Josh Gattis doesn’t (for the most part). Slots are slots. Outside guys are outside guys. Allen Robinson wasn’t a slot guy. Chris Godwin wasn’t a slot guy. K.J. Hamler wasn’t an outside guy. Ronnie Bell wasn’t an outside guy.

            You can argue this all you want, but I encourage you to find any clips from the 2019 Michigan offense where my “slot guys” aren’t consistently in the slot and/or where my “outside guys” aren’t consistently on the outside.

            Furthermore, I’m going to pull the coach card, and yes, when we sit in clinics, film sessions, etc., we discuss whose talents fit well in the slot and whose don’t. That skill set differentiation doesn’t disappear when moving to the college game, or the NFL. I would guess that if you looked at the NFL level, you would probably see Tyreek Hill, Julian Edelman, etc. working mostly in the slot, too. It happens at every level. I don’t know why you think it doesn’t happen at Michigan. It does.

            And again, if you don’t think so, please provide evidence.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 24, 2020 at 12:04 PM

      P.S. I just watched an 8-minute highlight video of K.J. Hamler, who played at PSU in basically the same offense. He was in the slot for every play except two of them…and on one of those, he started in the slot and motioned outside. There ARE slot receivers and outside receivers in this offense.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 24, 2020 at 3:33 PM

        Well – if you play 3 or 4 WR most of the time it starts making sense. Michigan hasn’t done that before Gattis arrived – it was either 2TE or a FB more often than not. Hamilton started dropping the FB and playing more WRs but it was still TE heavy.

        Last year we saw more WR but I still saw guys moving around a lot. DPJ and Bell played inside and out. I think Tarik Black might have also.

        Maybe things will change but my guess is that Bell at least will still be all over.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3785
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM

          I’m not saying Peoples-Jones didn’t take a single snap in the slot, but I also went back and watched highlights of the OSU game, and Peoples-Jones wasn’t in the slot once during about a 10-minute YouTube clip. There are outside guys, and there are inside guys. Yes, they might occasionally switch responsibilities to garner a particular matchup or take advantage of an expected coverage, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a slot guy.

          You say that “Bell at least will still be all over” but he wasn’t “all over” last year. He was playing in the slot. That’s what you’re not recognizing. There are designated slot guys, and there are designated outside guys. Here’s a YouTube video of 3:41 of Ronnie Bell highlights from last year, and I *think* there might be a single clip of him playing outside. It’s right near the end against Rutgers, when he catches what looks like is probably a comeback route at the bottom of the screen. Other than that, it’s slot, slot, slot, slot, slot, slot, guy in motion, slot, slot, guy in motion, slot, slot, etc. (I just made up that sequence).

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqedJO8eg-c

          Ronnie Bell was a slot in 2019. Will they put him outside more in 2020? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, since Black/Peoples-Jones are gone, and Collins probably will be, too. But if he’s playing outside, it’s likely that someone else will be playing…the slot receiver role!

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 24, 2020 at 1:28 PM

    There are a lot more than 22 starters in a season.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 24, 2020 at 2:00 PM

      Sure. And Mike Sainristil started one game last year. You said this is a spot for starters. He started a game. He counts.

      Moving on.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 24, 2020 at 4:00 PM

      Your own post says Sainristil is the 4th option at this position and last year he was beaten out by a guy you think is lazy and transferred. Yet he’s listed ahead of a starter at OT (even before Mayfield left, now it’s a couple guys who will start at OT that are behind him) and right behind another projected starter at OG.

      My opinion is really nothing against Sainristil, who had a nice freshman year, it also goes for Cornelius Johnson. There’s just too many skill position guys who may or may not get beaten out by freshman or who may be able to have their small role replaced by a walk-on. Conversely, there’s not enough linemen in this part of the countdown. That said, I do give you credit for putting both Smith and Jeter this high even though they are unproven – because if walk-ons are playing instead of those guys Michigan is in deep S and freshman are rarely going to save the day at DT even as a backup (whereas freshman backups at WR are generally fine as evidenced by Johnson last year and Bell the year before that and Black the year before that.)

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3785
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Aug 24, 2020 at 5:19 PM

        The only starting lineman I put lower than Sainristil is Chuck Filiaga, who has been rumored to be potentially losing his job to Karsen Barnhart or Zak Zinter.

        Freshman receivers are generally not good. The best freshman receiver in Harbaugh’s five years at Michigan was DPJ, who caught a whopping 22 passes for 277 yards and 0 touchdowns his first year. Bell and Sainristil each had 8 catches for 145 yards as freshmen (quite a coincidence), Cornelius Johnson caught 5, and Giles Jackson caught 9 balls. So yes, I think any kind of veteran presence is important. Rookie receivers in the NFL often struggle, and freshman receivers in college usually struggle. There are exceptions (Rondale Moore had a great freshman year), but the vast majority of guys don’t do much.

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