MGoExclusive: One-on-One with Charles Woodson

MGoExclusive: One-on-One with Charles Woodson Comment Count

Adam Schnepp May 12th, 2016 at 10:05 AM



Don't tell the SEC, but Charles Woodson has been on something of a satellite camp tour of his own lately, crossing the country to meet fans and talk wine. Woodson's the proprietor of Charles Woodson Wines, and he and director of operations Rick Ruiz have been holding events where fans get a chance to taste some of the company's offerings (like the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which made Wine Spectator's 2014 Top 100 list) and purchase autographed bottles of said wine. Woodson and Ruiz were in Ann Arbor for an event at the new Plum Market near North Campus yesterday, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Woodson for a few minutes to talk about some of his memories of Michigan.

If you're beating yourself up because you missed the event yesterday you should stop, but you're going to need to cancel your plans for this afternoon: Charles will be at the Plum Market in West Bloomfield (6565 Orchard Lake Rd.) from 4-6PM; there's no tasting event today, but you can purchase a bottle of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, get it autographed by Woodson at no additional cost, and ask that burning question you've had since '97.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Michigan?

"My favorite memories? I don't know. I mean, of course it all revolves around football, you know. [laughs] But really it was, let's say memories of dorm rooms all of us stayed in, because most of us were in West Quad or South Quad. So it was just the times that we all spent together in the dorms. We were all kind of close knit, especially your class. The times we spent together in our rooms, whether we were partying or whatever it was, it was always great."

The [annual West Quad v. South Quad] snowball fight?

"Snowball fight, mmhmm. And then of course the games. My first time running out in '95, running onto the field and kind of losing my breath that first game because I had been in the Big House before but never as a player, and all of a sudden I'm a player and it's like 'oh, wow.' Kind of the magnitude of it hit me. Then of course the Ohio State game with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, winning that game, the punt return, and the rose in the mouth. I'd say that's five things right there."

In that game, did you allow that receiver a free inside release to bait Stanley Jackson into throwing an interception in the endzone?

"Well, it wasn't deliberate to let him inside, but it was deliberate to undercut him because it was in the endzone and you're always taught, you know, in the endzone the guy's not running a deep route- there's nowhere to go. So you undercut the route and the quarterback threw it right to me, so it worked out."

Did you have a favorite defensive play call or coverage that you guys ran when you were in college?

"No, I didn't. I mean, it was pretty simple what we did. Either I was in man-to-man or it was Cover 3 for the most part. But I played on the wide side of the field most of the time so no, I didn't have a favorite call."

Was there any receiver you had a bigger rivalry with in college than David Boston?

"Uh, no. Yeah, he was the biggest. He was the one that talked the most noise, you know, on that team. He was their star receiver and of course me being on defense, it was kind of a natural thing. So yeah, he would have been my biggest competition."

How did you get into wine and winemaking?

"So I spent a lot time in Napa Valley as a result of being picked there. The Oakland Raiders' training camp was in Napa Valley, and so as a result of being there three and a half-four weeks every training camp I used to spend a lot of time in the Valley at different restaurants just kind of watching people interact with wine, and I became very interested in it. I decided a few years after that that I would get into it."


One-on-One: Jourdan Lewis

One-on-One: Jourdan Lewis Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 16th, 2015 at 11:09 AM



When I talked to Ryan Glasgow back in November after the Minnesota game, he said that he had kind of been able to pick up on how the offensive linemen were standing and pick up some tells whether the play would be a run or pass. When you’re lined up across from a receiver, are you able to pick anything up from them during a game or from watching film? Do they have certain tells?

“Yeah. It’s always about feeling the game and just knowing what they’re going to do.  A team always has a gameplan coming into a game, so it’s a script and sometimes they go off the script and then they come back to the plays that they hit you on so you know. You have a feel for what they’re going to do next, so honestly it’s just feeling that, what your receiver likes to do, and just getting in that feel.”

Do they ever tip what route they’re going to run based on how they-

“Yeah. Linemen always tell. The formation is a big teller, and it’s just…yeah, it’s pretty much the feel, honestly.”

You’ve played a lot of man-press this year and you’ve talked a lot about technique, and I know your coaches say it all the time too, that the most important thing isn’t size or speed but is technique. Walk me through that; when you’re lined up in press, what are you looking to do as soon as the ball’s snapped?

“Be physical at the line of scrimmage. Disrupt them. Just do anything I can to bother them at the line. Just being in his hip pocket—you know, that annoys them, just knowing that you’re always there and they don’t have space to move and the quarterback has to put the ball on the spot, so honestly that contributes to incompletions and pass breakups and stuff like that because once you keep getting that tight coverage you know sometime that line’s going to break down.”

What if you have to take a guy a little bit deeper down the field? Say you’re 15 or 20 yards down the field. What’s the technique then?

“You’re trying to push them to the sideline. You’re trying to get them to the sideline, and then you’re trying to stay up under the route and get up in his back hip and turn around and try and look for the ball.”

[After THE JUMP: how to break up a pass and not get burned, a Florida scouting report, and a week of preparation]


One-on-One: Jake Butt

One-on-One: Jake Butt Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 25th, 2015 at 10:25 AM



I know you’ve been talking about Ohio State a lot today, so I wanted to do something different and go in-depth on one play. So, let’s talk about your touchdown catch in the first quarter against Penn State. First of all, you guys line up and it’s a double tight end set. What do you then see from the defense?

“So, I saw a safety. They’d been rolling a safety down in the box. I saw some linebackers clouded over me. I knew I was going to have to get open on the corner route, but to be honest it was so loud early on in that stadium I was just staring at the ball because I couldn’t hear Jake. I was staring at the ball but thinking in my mind mind what I would have to do. That’s kind of what I was doing early on in that game, and once the ball was snapped I just kind of fired out and diagnosed what I had. I think I had a safety squaring me up maybe 10 yards off. I tried to push up on his grass, sell the post, threw my eyes inside and he really bit on it and popped open on the corner route.”

As far as the routes were designed there, as you said you were running the corner route. It looked like Amara was running to the inside to pull a safety away from you. Is that what happened?

“Yeah. I think- I don’t know what exactly- yeah, it was a post on the outside and corner combination. I don’t know if he was trying to pull a safety out or what but he ended up pulling the corner out of there, which left a big hole in there that Jake kind of just dropped it into.”

How much of that kind of defense did you see from them throughout the game, where they had, as you said, a safety shaded over you who you knew you’d have to work your way around?

“A lot of the times I did notice there’d be a safety or I’d be kind of boxed in by linebackers in a lot of my routes, so it’s kind of tough getting open like that but if they’re putting two or three guys on you that means someone else is left one-on-one or left open, so I don’t mind it when they’re double teaming me. But yeah, it’s a good respect thing when they’re throwing a safety down on you or they’re throwing a couple guys on you. I think that shows they respect your ability to run routes and catch the ball.”

What was the most common coverage you saw from them?

“We saw they ran like a Cover 6 on one side of the field and Cover 4. That was a big coverage for them. A lot of middle field open. That’s what I noticed.”

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]


One-on-One: Graham Glasgow

One-on-One: Graham Glasgow Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 17th, 2015 at 11:00 AM



I asked coach Harbaugh about the final play in double overtime, the stop-and-go route, and he said that that was something you guys hadn’t repped [that week], wasn’t in the gameplan and wasn’t on the call sheet but was something coach Fisch saw from the box and added. How often does that kind of thing happen where the two coaches work something out that you don’t expect to run but you’ve worked on in the past?

“I don’t know. I’m not sure how often. It probably has been done but I don’t think very often, and I think that the protection was something that we’ve always worked. It was just a slide, you know. Just something very basic, very simple. I think it was just one of those things like if you see it why not take what they’re giving you. That’s just good coaching.”

We talked a little about it [this took place after the presser that ran this morning –A.] but Penn State has two great defensive tackles. What kind of challenge does that present to you when you’ve got a guy to the left who can do damage in the backfield and a guy to the right that can do the same?

“I mean, we’ve gone against them the past few years. Zettel’s a great defensive tackle and the other guy’s fantastic also. I literally always forget his name. I think it’s Hamilton.”

I think you’re right.

“I was gonna say, I’m positive because I went against him last year.”

I looked it up this morning and forgot, but I think you’re right. [Turns out we were wrong. It’s not Hamilton, it’s Johnson. Graham mentioned Hamilton in the media scrum earlier, and after I finished my interview a reporter asked whether Graham was still around; they wanted to tell him he got his presidents mixed up*. –A.]

“He’s also fantastic. He’s a good nose, but if we focus on what we need to improve on and what we need to do with good pads and good hands I think we’ll have a good day.”

What’s the key to that technique-wise? What’s most important when you know you’ve got a guy who can rush the passer as a nose tackle?

“Just not falling asleep on him. You want to make sure you’re always ready to go. A lot of times when you’re playing a nose you don’t expect him to really be able to rush the passer well so you’ll have bad technique or you’ll sort of just be lulled to sleep. He’ll rush the passer badly a few times, just like velcro up to you and then one time he’ll put a move on you, you know what I mean? You just have to make sure you’re ready for everything, and that just comes from studying film and looking at what he likes to do and being ready for it.”

[After THE JUMP: how to do the dead-ball pitch, and full-grown lion vs. bear vs. Houma]


One-on-One: De’Veon Smith

One-on-One: De’Veon Smith Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 10th, 2015 at 1:26 PM



Earlier this year I asked coach Harbaugh about running Power, and he said the goal is to make the guard invisible. From your perspective, what are you looking for when you’re running Power?

“They tell us the guard is invisible. The guard is invisible, don’t pay attention to him. Stay on your landmark and if you see it, if you see the hole, it should be there but if anything pick up the guard. [/laughs] That guard’s invisible, but at the same time you can pick up the guard.”

One thing I was wondering is let’s say somebody shoots a gap or the hole collapses. What’s your next move? What do you do from there?

“I’m picking up the guard around, because he’s pulling around and I’m picking him up and he’s blocking for me.”

So you bounce it out?


How about Trap blocking? What are you looking for when you know it’s a Trap?

“Hmm, I don’t know. Just get to my landmark. Just get to my landmark and hit the hole is all I can think of.”

As far as landmarks go, is that different every play?

“Yeah, landmarks are different every play. It goes from- it just depends what we’re going to run.”

And that’s just the first thing you look for?

“Right. The first thing you look for is your landmark and staying on your track.”

[After THE JUMP: Blitz pickups, and the time Jim almost killed John Harbaugh]


One-on-One: Ryan Glasgow

One-on-One: Ryan Glasgow Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 3rd, 2015 at 2:44 PM



Let’s go through the last two plays. I know that’s probably what you’ve been doing [He just finished a lengthy phone interview –A.], but what I really want to talk about isn’t the last play but the second to last. When they motioned what were you thinking, and did you expect that to happen?

“I mean, you can kind of tell by an offensive lineman’s demeanor what kind of play to expect, and they were all in loaded stances the whole game when they were coming off a run and they were sitting back. I was kind of confused at first when they were in their tight bunch set and everyone’s like really close splits but didn’t look like they were ready to fire out.

“So the center I was going against was a pretty big guy so I could barely see the quarterback. So I hear him say something and he moves back and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ so I’m trying to peek around and see what set he’s in. Was he in empty? I believe he was in- was he in an empty set?”


“Yeah, yeah. Eventually, yeah.”

He starts with a back in the backfield and then motions him out.

“So then we’re like- my thought process was this is either going to be a QB power, a QB draw, or a QB run of some sort or it’s going to be a pass because I know they like to sprint out. I decided to come off the ball as hard as I could when I saw the ball snapped and Mo Hurst, being as quick as he is, shot right in the backfield on their sprint-out play, and Willie [Henry] discarded his guy pretty quick, too, and he decided it wasn’t a good idea to hold onto the ball much longer.”

“James [Ross] was glued to his guy, the guy he was trying to throw back to, the tight end, which we had prepared for that all week. So yeah, Mo basically made that play and Willie and James, and I was really confused on the empty spread thing. I could barely see where the quarterback was so yeah, that’s about the second to last play.”

[After THE JUMP: Breaking down the goal-line stand]