Common knowledge always suggested that once Denard truly gets ahead of Tate in the QB competition, he'd likely remain there for the rest of his elegibility (vaulted ceilings and whatnot); if Troy's statements are accurate, then wow.
Big Ten Media Days: Troy Woolfolk
First up from my interviews with Michigan's three player representatives at Big Ten Media Days: Troy Woolfolk.
On The Question Everyone Asks First
- Denard has been out for all the voluntary activities, regardless of whether he's hurting. Tate tries to come out, but he's not as consistent with his work ethic, which has let Denard get out ahead a bit. The upshot: "I think that Tate's gonna have to do a lot of work to catch back up to Denard in camp this year."
- Troy doesn't care which position he plays, as long as he gets to stick with one or the other. Switching back and forth between safety and corner helped Troy have a more complete understanding of the defense last year, but it hurt him to not be able to concentrate on one position or the other the whole time. Now that he's exclusively a corner, he'll be able to focus on that specifically.
- At corner, there's more of a focus on speed, whereas at safety it's also about being big enough to take on running backs and tight ends.
- There are no individual goals in terms of statistics, but Troy's personal goals are to not get beat deep and not miss any open-field tackles.
- Growing up, Troy didn't really know how good a football player his dad had been. Butch didn't really talk about it much. Still, by the end of this year, Troy hopes it's "Troy Woolfolk's dad Butch" instead of "Butch Woolfolk's son Troy."
- Vance Bedford would be shocked to know that Troy is one of the most knowledgeable players on the defense. He used to give him a hard time about not paying enough attention in film, but that's changed. Troy's no longer falling asleep in film room, nor is he "texting on my phone to my friends about how I'm about to go to sleep watching film."
- The main difference in this year's defense is that it's simpler. That will be a help because a lot of young guys will be able to catch on more quickly. This year's schemes have more of a zone emphasis than man.
- It's a little difficult to switch defensive schemes so frequently. there's been a different scheme or coordinator every year Troy's been at Michigan. The players have to make an effort to forget some of the old stuff to absorb the new stuff.
- A lack of defensive depth and injuries helped undermine the defense last year, but there are no excuses for how they performed. Troy had knee and shoulder injuries last year that might have hurt.
- Stopping the ground attack will be important this year, and it's up to the big guys up front to help with that. There's enough size there to do it.
- Everyone's "All-in for Greg Robinson," so the team will band behind him and perform well on D.
- "The Team. All-in for The Team" is the rallying cry this year. The players have to play for each other, not worry about fans and other external pressures. There's also a "we can" attitude instead of a "we'll try" attitude. There are senior leaders at every position group except wide receiver. Roy Roundtree and Martavious Odoms have stepped up as the leaders there.
- This is probably the best leadership group since Troy's been on the team. They're the last group of Lloyd Carr-era players, so it means even more that they've all bought in to the new regime.
- There have been nice crowds for summer workouts. It's about the same as prior years, even though the coaching staff has been more explicit that they aren't mandatory with the NCAA stuff going on. The senior leaders have come up with some ideas to get guys to come out.
- Obi Ezeh have gotten bigger in the offseason, but they're probably faster than they were before they added the weight. They're able to run with receivers deep, too. They "look like supreme athletes out there." Troy has confidence that they'll be able to put it all together this year, and be two of the best linebackers in the nation.
- Last year, Jordan Kovacs was a surprise to everyone. He brings attitudes of calmness and confidence, which are important on defense. When Mike Williams went down in the Notre Dame game, Kovacs was a pleasant surprise.
- Courtney Avery is the only freshman corner Troy's seen. He learns fast though, and when he gets beat deep he's able to forget about it and move on to the next play.
- Cameron Gordon is confident, perhaps overconfident. He's also very physical, even though he's a former offensive player (Troy thinks they're all soft). He needs to learn a defensive mentality a bit more, but he's getting there.
- Marvin Robinson has a natural gift at safety, and he's been playing the deep safety position.
- Terrance Robinson has been good in 7-on-7 drills. He was hurt his freshman year, then wasn't quite the same as before in his redshirt freshman year. This year, he should be back to the way he was.
- Troy was able to convince himself to prepare a bit more for rivalry games, such as ND, MSU, and OSU last year. Maybe he shouldn't focus more on them (and focus the same for the other games as well), but it helps him perform well.
- The Michigan State game is a cool rivalry because it's like a state championship game.
[Ed.: Don't forget Woolfolk's burgeoning career as a stand-up comedian. Via the message board and Joe Schad:
"When I see 'O' shaped objects I get instantly angry. I don't eat Cheerios, Froot Loops or Apple Jacks."
I agree. I guess I was subscribing to the theory that they were playing up Denard's progress to motivate Tate. More and more it is sounding real.
Yeah, that's the sense I get. Denard starting the spring game (and Spring hype) could be as much to boost his confidence and send a message to Tate that he needs to keep working as anything. With Woolfolk's comments, who knows; I'd love a coma until September.
"Obi Ezeh have gotten bigger in the offseason, but they're probably faster than they were before they added the weight. They're able to run with receivers deep, too. They 'look like supreme athletes out there.' Troy has confidence that they'll be able to put it all together this year, and be two of the best linebackers in the nation."
I'm assuming the other person implied in "they're" and "they" is Mouton. Maybe Roh?
I just watched the 2008 Citrus again and I was shocked how good Ezeh played - he was constantly around the ball. He has it in him. Now that we aren't changing coordinators once again, and that his back injury seems to have cleared up, I think we may see him make a Stevie Brown-like senior leap.
Not only would this be a great story line, it would mean our defense is pretty darn good. If Ezeh and Mouton are as good (or close) as Woolfolk makes it seem, we would have few weak spots on our D, and a number of strengths. If young guys step up in the secondary, could we have one of the better defenses in the Big Ten? I know it's a long shot, but fucking scary awesome if it happens.
Tate tries to come out, but he's not as consistent with his work ethic, which has let Denard get out ahead a bit.
Do you believe this is an acceptable comment to make about a teammate? As true as it may be, I don't see how a comment like this builds team unity.
Could also motivate Tate though. If a player is not putting in full effort, Troy's not going to shelter him. Call him out and he might work harder to compete for that starting job.
but on the other hand, if someone isn't pulling their weight, I would want our senior leaders to call them out to make them step it up.
If Tate isn't putting in the work, it's Troy's job as a senior to motivate him. While public statements are rarely the best method, we almost certainly have fewer than all the facts necessary to make the judgment call.
Yes. At Big Ten Media Days? No... This belongs in the locker room, too many things end up out in the press these days - RichRod, please pull a Lloyd and put some of this stuff on lock down. It may be boring but it's better than having your #1 defensive player (IMO) calling out the returning starting QB to the press.
I really don't think there is any upshot if this is true - not 1 single thing is positive out of Tate not trying as hard and Denard.
Message to Tate - we (the fans) love you, please, for the love of God, be the best QB you possibly can. If Denard beats you out and it's because he's only marginally better than you were last year I'm going to be very, very sad.
These players are living in a world where if they don't provide a comment, one will be created for them.
Don't get me wrong, I'm completely with you on your sentiment, and I'm not used to players being so vocal, since I started Michigan Fandom in the Bo, AC, Wangler era.
But Wangler didn't play when the internet, twitter, Facebook and blogs existed. Bo easily controlled the media scene because we had to wait for the newspaper reporters to ask a questions, go home and write up the answers that they liked best, then print out the paper and deliver it.
Considering how Troy delivered the statement, I think he sent out the same message that Coach Rodriguez did on the podium. And I wouldn't be surprised that Coach had a discussion with all three senior players present at the media days on what information should be delivered, and what information should stay with the team.
It's hard for people to respect you as a teammate when you're supposed to be the leader of the team and then you go and skip to what my best guess would be like at least half of the summer workouts.
I don't see how a comment like this builds team unity.
To be fair, neither does a sporadic attendance record at practice.
But, as the saying goes - two wrongs don't make a right.
I thought the same thing.
I was pretty shocked by it actually.
Yes his teammates should call him out if he's slacking, but there's a time and place for it. I don't think in front of the media is it.
This is an assumption, but I'd think that Woolfolk and Schilling probably already tried talking to him in private, with unsatisfactory results.
I mean, if they're just blindsiding Forcier, that's not good, but I doubt thats whats happening right now.
Glad to see Marvin Robinson has a "natural gift" at safety. I was under the impression he was going to be tried at one of the Spur/Bandit spots though and Cameron Gordon the Deep Safety?
Can never have too many deep safeties...
I was really surprised that Troy said he was at deep safety. I asked again to clarify, and he confirmed deep. Of course, the guys who didn't enroll early haven't really talked to the coaches yet either, so they could have different designs for him than did the seniors.
I don't like how Tate's lack of work ethic keeps coming up. It just never seems to die, which makes me think there might be a real problem. He has real potential and is an obvious gamer, but if his work ethic sucks that won't matter. C'mon Tate, get it together. There are a million kids who would kill to have the chance to be a D1 starting QB.
This is an excellent comment, I totally agree. I am really rooting for Tate, not necessarily to start, but to find some confidence and do battle for that starting spot. We'll find out what he's made of in the coming weeks
Burnout is a pretty reasonable thesis. Look what happened to Marv Marinovich's son - all-world in HS/college, then melted down in the pros. Gotta have a childhood sometime.
he doesn't say that he hasn't been coming out and trying, simply that Denard has been there EVERY SINGLE TIME. Now, I'm a Tate supporter, so I hope he does very well, and I personally see no problems with a college kid missing some voluntary practices in the summer. Especially one who probably has a deep enough understanding of the game that he's not really going to learn anything new without the coaches there.
That said, if he's really not putting in the work, that's going to hurt him, and he'll have nobody to blame but himself. I hope Tate and Denard BOTH put it together this year.
The standards for a QB are different. He has to be there every day, showing leadership, and getting other guys to come out. Like it or not, that is the deal for a QB, especially one that has the potential (and is a returning starter) that Tate has. The fact that they are voluntary is even more reason for Tate to show up every time. I too am rooting for him as both our QB and as a person, but the frequency of these comments shows without a doubt that there is an issue here.
I disagree. He's a sophomore. He does not have the experience of a Junior/Senior Chad Henne. Any QB can always use more work in a 7 on 7 reading coverages, especially a young one who is still fairly new to the college game.
I seriously doubt that Tate's work ethic sucks. We've heard two many good things about him (since back in high school) about the amount of time he puts into football to truly speculate that. Isn't it possible he gets more excited about spending hours in the film room and working on throwing and timing but lifting and running sprints not so much? This is a guy after all who supposedly never lifted while he was in high school. So maybe he doesn't have bad work ethic, insomuch as he doesn't realize how important off season physical training is to his and the team's success.
Well, I've hear three or four many good things. So there's that.
For a team that relies so heavily on the spread option, it concerns me that a qb would not understand the importance of physical training. A year of treatment for a banged up shoulder should have taught him that. I dont know how serious the work ethic issue is, but chances are that if a team leader is bringing it up in a big ten presser...then it actually is a serious issue. Lets hope he takes comments like that as a challenge and steps up to prove everyone wrong.
I wish Woolfok had a Mgoblog account so Magnus could smack some sense into him and tell him that Marvin Robinson doesn't play deep safety like he has been telling us (with kindness) all off season.
He may have been just a year early (and, of course, a dick)...
"The Michigan State game is a cool rivalry because it's like a state championship game."
...though last year it was to determine second place.
Woolfolk admits to falling asleep during film sessions and now questions Tate's work ethic? Little Shaky...
Not very uplifting news for me as I have chosen myself as top Tate Forcier cheerleader in the qb blog fights, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Couple of rationalizations
-Troy and Denard are boys and he is trying to pump him up, Tate has been there.
-Barwis has told Tate to limit his throwing
-Tate is actually studying(RR alluded to buckling down in his academics).
Harsh Possible Reality
-Transfer city baby
Considering what we have seen from Tate, this appears to go counter to the appearance he gave when he arrived and the game he demonstrated on the field where he talked about loving competition and showed us the same on Saturdays. Maybe he has taken to the college life a little too well. I hope for the best, because despite his battles with injuries and ball control I really think this kid can be special for Michigan and play at the next level with his savvy and accuarcy.
I agree with most of what you said and to the Tate defenders...
I love Tate. He did great last year starting as a true freshman. If these comments were viewed in isolation, I would totally agree they aren't a big deal and that there are a ton of ways to explain them. What makes me nervous is that these are not the first comments like this. RR has elluded to things like this before and there have just been slight rumblings about it since Tate stepped on campus. I am in no way rooting against Tate, I want our starting QB to be whoever is the best QB to help us win. If that's Tate, awesome. But I just don't like how many times I've heard things like what Troy just said. It makes it more difficult to rationalize away in my opinion.
Another Michigan Football player told a friend of mine the exact same thing 2-3 weeks ago about Tate missing voluntary workouts. I brushed it off as a rumor, but the comments from Woolfolk legitimizes that information. The same Michigan football player also said that Denard has assumed the leadership role and Gardner is the real deal.
Nevertheless, I am confident that Tate will bring it in fall camp and create an awesome quarterback competition between all three quarterbacks.
"The main difference in this year's defense is that it's simpler. That will be a help because a lot of young guys will be able to catch on more quickly. This year's schemes have more of a zone emphasis than man."
I keep hearing Daryll Clark joking on the local radio station how easy it was to scout for Michigan last year and that they ran a very plain and predictable defense. This was during the postgame interview after that dong punch.
seems like the strength of the scheme was the ability to have flexibility and miltiple fronts, which (I guess, but doubt) could make it easy for the D, but complicated for the QB to read.
I took Tate's sporadic appearances, at voluntary workouts, to mean that he's studying, too (I have no basis in fact for that, just something that popped into my head). Given Michael Shaw's academic issues, perhaps it's important, to Tate, to maintain a grade point average that keeps him on the team (even if it costs him a starting position).
is more likely, but he could have also been studying.
My understanding of these voluntary workouts is as follows: No coaches allowed, and coaches aren't allowed to inquire as to the presence or performance of any of the participants. If this is the case, I am skeptical that the coaches feel the same as Troy does about Tate. They can't actually watch the practices to see whether or not Denard is actually performing as well as the players say he has, and it is very possible that because Denard has been to more of them, Troy has simply assumed that Denard has made is way to the front of the depth chart. We'll see. I am still very skeptical that Denard will take Tate's starting job at the beginning of the season. That's not to say that Troy's perspective is useless, though. One thing I have noticed is that it seems as if Denard seems to have won over the players themselves, judging by the majority of the comments from them this offseason. That is not irrelevant by any means.
That's a good point, and it could very well be that he's right and Denard is leaving Tate in the dust right now. You never know. But after last season, I'm just not ready to completely buy Denard as the starter until I see him take the first snap vs. UCONN.
I see this as more a promotion of Denard's progress, rather than a slacking of Tate's work ethic. I think Troy has the personality to be outspoken, and is doing so, as a senior, as a leader. Even still the comment is more positive ribbing, along the lines of "look out Tate, Denard's throwing has gotten much better". I don't think it is, "Tate is blowing it all off becase he thinks he way better than Denard"
I remember a diary entry on the DC Alumni group that commented about Tate and Denard having overlapping but different play packages. Coaches commentary has been very consistent on this being a close QB battle between two athletes with different strengths. He's already shown (Iowa game) that if one QB goes cold, that he's willing to throw in the other one to change things up.
But, afterall, September is still a month away, so please go back to drilling into things fruitlessly
Tate is a kid and it could just be painful for him to be supplanted at QB. . . if he feels that's coming. That doesn't make him an idiot OR mean he won't give his best. He may be pumpin' Irene up in his room, or hitting the books. . . with his fist.
Personally I wish people would give up the either/or thing, though (including me, if that's implied above). Clearly, RichRod is planning to play 2, 3 guys.
"There are no individual goals in terms of statistics, but Troy's personal goals are to not get beat deep and not miss any open-field tackles."
Ouch, that is definately not good. And it sure as shit won't be any better if Tate does end up as the starter. While I honestly agree with Troy, and I'm glad he said it, those are the type of words that can lead to a real division in the team.
I'm really of the opinion that Denard should be the starter now, because if the other vets and underclassmen leaders feel the same way as Troy, I can't see them being really happy if Tate's the starter when they've obviously gained a great deal of respect for Denard's work ethic, if nothing else.
That said, they're upperclass leaders that have obviously been through alot. No matter who the starter ends up being, I'm sure they'll handle it like professional's and go out and get the job done.
I can pretty much guarantee you there isn't much division in the team about this, everyone is pretty fed up with his crap.
I probably should have specified that I meant a division between Tate and everyone else, although that already seems to be something of the case anyway.
This does not sound good. Hopefully Tate responds positively to being called out. I think it is good for one of the seniors to do this. If any of the younger guys are going to progress, not just Tate, they have to be held accountable.
It has to be a shock going from the High School environment to big time Division 1 athletics. Some excel and other don't. Tate and Denard obviously have the tools to get it done. Here's hoping both of them step it up this year.