On Woolfolk: Soup, Hats, Hugs

Submitted by Brian on August 4th, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Tim posted the relevant quote from Troy Woolfolk about Denard's perceived lead in the QB race, and I thought that was bombshell enough, but then the Daily published the whole exchange. Since Woolfolk comes very close to calling Tate Forcier a leper in it, it set off the usual avalanche. In case anyone's living under Charlie Weis*, the full monty:

"Denard has been out there through the thick and thin and been out there all the time regardless if he's hurting," Woolfolk said. "And Tate, he tries to come out, but he's not as consistent as Denard is. And that's allowed Denard to jump a little bit ahead of Tate and I think that Tate's going to have to do a lot of work to catch back up to Denard in camp this year." …

"I personally have a lack of respect for them [players who don't show for voluntary workouts]," Woolfolk said. "The outlook on them is kind of diseased. Like you don't want to be hanging around those people because they have bad work ethic. But at the same time, it's my role to try to persuade them to come out more."

According to Woolfolk, Forcier hasn't shown up to as many workouts as he and the other seniors feel he should have, and Woolfolk said it's hurting his teammates' perception of their signal caller.

"The only reason he's not really labeled as diseased is because of the way he was able to carry the team last year before we started losing. People still trust him a little bit, but he's starting to lose that trust."

Though he quickly retracted the phrasing of those comments on his (protected) twitter account, the sentiment is clear. It matches up with the buzz we've heard since spring practice, except that the original statement had Devin Gardner as the guy who was around all the time, not Denard.

These days my sense of how important things are to the national media is warped to the point where I my first inkling that a local story is going to get splattered across blogs and whatnot nationwide is when Doctor Saturday pings me to get the peanut gallery's view on whatever Michigan item he's about to post. When this happened yesterday, he said a "senior calling out the QB is not such a great way to start the year."

I had not thought about it this way. It hadn't registered as an event to me. Four years ago I might have engaged full-on PANIC; yesterday as I searched for a response I just thought, and eventually said, "I've seen worse."

GD*6909039

I've been through the dust bowl. Now I've got soup, and some bread, and a hat.

At the risk of seeing the entire offensive line arrested for stealing the Ambassador Bridge and both quarterbacks transfer to Arkansas, this summer has passed for tranquility compared to the last couple. From the beginning of the 2008 season to the beginning of 2009, Michigan saw Taylor Hill, Zion Babb, Jason Kates, Artis Chambers, Carson Butler, Avery Horn, Sam McGuffie, Steven Threet, Toney Clemons, Kurt Wermers, Dann O'Neill, Justin Feagin, Marrell Evans, and Vince Helmuth leave the program. Fourteen kids. From the beginning of 2009 to now they've lost Boubacar Cissoko, Brandon Smith, and Donovan Warren. Three. Michigan's Fulmer Cup count stands at zero. The worst thing that's happened this offseason is the sturm und drang about Demar Dorsey and his eventual rejection by admissions; Michigan also lost a couple of meh recruits who weren't going to do anything in this critical year.

I'd really like to have one of those corners back— make that two of those corners—but the chatter about Dorsey's legal stuff is emblematic of the summer: a lot of noise about something that doesn't really matter. Compared to the rampant attrition of the past couple years it doesn't rate. Media opinion is a lagging indicator anyway.

What I think it does mean:

  • The heavily-rumored preference of the team for Denard is incontrovertible now. Steve Schilling may not have launched into anything as likely to get splashed on posts everywhere, but his statement on Robinson ("He’s definitely taken on some leadership. He’s there every day working hard. He’s been a guy that doesn’t complain. He makes you want to play for him, and he has those qualities to be a special leader and a special quarterback.") says as much or more coming from a guy on the same unit not known for saying much of anything.
  • While a lot of the attention is on Tate, if Robinson is around every day earning people's trust that's more positive than it seemed in spring, when both sophomores were in the same boat when it came to work ethic relative to Gardner. Apparently one of them got the message.
  • It's up to Tate to earn that trust back in fall practice, which starts in five days. While the competition has gone from obviously Tate to neck-and-neck to edge Denard, Tate still has a huge experience edge and is likely to see the field even if Robinson does win the nominal starting job. The two candidates are so different that it will make sense to play both as long as they remain close to even overall.
  • Given the statements about playing banged up it's possible that Forcier's absences have legitimate reasons behind them. Those have not been communicated.
  • I still expect both QBs to play early in the season.
  • "Hugging it out" needs to occur; Woolfolk's tweet indicates that it should happen.

I don't think it will affect the team much; it does provide some hard evidence for the things that had been whispered all summer. The intrigue at fall camp will put the Cold War to shame.

*(Miss you, big guy. xoxo.)

Comments

BlueGoM

August 4th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

played on WTKA this morning the "not as consistent as Denard" part and the "a lack of respect" comment were about a half an hour apart in a 2 hour long exchange between Woolfolk and a group of reporters, IIRC.

So,  the "a lack of respect"  comment was not necessarily directed 100% at Tate alone, and Woolfolk was directing his comments at a larger group of players - which is good and bad.

WTKA is blocked by the fun-police here at work (but not MgoBlog , go figure) so I don't know if the podcast from this morning is up or not.  They played the actual audio from Woolfolk's interview.

M-Wolverine

August 4th, 2010 at 4:56 PM ^

With nothing else to go by, here's Woolfolk at Media Days Pt 1-

http://www.wtka.com/index.php?fuseaction=home.podcasts_sel&id=6658

Woolfolk at Media Days Pt 2-

http://www.wtka.com/index.php?fuseaction=home.podcasts_sel&id=6659

Woolfolk comments on Tate-

http://www.wtka.com/index.php?fuseaction=home.podcasts_sel&id=6660

I too, am curious how far apart these statements were, and how they merged together.

Michigan4Life

August 4th, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

at your interpretation of Troy's comments on lack of respect.  It was meant to be directed at a group of players who showed up to workouts on a inconsistent basis, not at Tate.  There are still a few players on the team who is not "all in", but there are far majority of players who are all in for Rich Rodriguez which is more than in the past two years.  The minority will not have any much power to disrupt team chemistry.

Wendyk5

August 4th, 2010 at 10:49 PM ^

It just seems so odd to me that any players would not be all in at this point. I can see it happening the first year, maybe even the second, but the third? It's a huge privilege to play football at a school like Michigan, and no one is forced to do it. Why would players not give 100% when Michigan is the school they choose? Makes no sense to me. 

Rogers

August 4th, 2010 at 9:16 PM ^

It's under the Michigan insider section and titled 10a-Woolfolk and Media Days Pt2.

The first question TW was asked, "Troy, what I heard about workouts is that Tate hasn't necessarily been there, do you think that it sort of contributing to the perception who the quarterback is?"

A half hour later the same reporter asks TW, "how do you sort of, take to the players that haven't been to workouts as much as maybe you and some of the other players? How do you sort of, does the team look at them any differently, how does that work?"

karpodiem

August 4th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

The play of Sean Hunwick rallied the team as they accomplished one hell of a feat after they had dug themselves into one hell of a hole.

You go with the guy the team believes in. The are 10 other guys on the field, and if their performance, as a unit, is greater than the performance delta between the two players in questions, that is the direction you must go.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

August 4th, 2010 at 4:42 PM ^

 The worst thing that's happened this offseason is the sturm und drang about Demar Dorsey and his eventual rejection by admissions;

So this needs clarification: should I mentally add the phrase "other than being served with MAJOR VIOLATIONS(!!!) and having a lotta 'splainin' to do in front of a long green table at the end without the coffee," or is this in fact to indicate that not having one of our top recruits at a position of major need really is worse than the pissant shit the NCAA found and wouldn't have cared about if not for a couple of jerkoffs with a typewriter and too much time on their hands?

Captain Scumbag

August 4th, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

If the QB largely responsible for four wins is "diseased" I wonder what term he's using for the defense that gave up 500 yards back-to-back to Illinois and Purdue.

 

Edit: added a "for"

pullin4blue

August 4th, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

Guess What? Monday morning Good ol' Mr. Forcier gets to hit the practice field with the coaches and begin to get control of things. I think Tate learned last year what happened when he talked to the media. He's not going to say anything and just add more fuel to the fire. I think Tate will let his game do the talking. This still doesn't mean that he might lose the starting spot to Denard, but I really think he's going to bring it.

Damn I wish it was September.

Seth

August 4th, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

Your Dust Bowl metaphor is giving me the willies. I know what people were saying about the crash in '8 and how in four years everything will be hunky dory again under the Great Engineer.

Fuck, I done gone and extended another anology.

Care Bears. Michigan is like Care Bears....unghhhhhh

SysMark

August 4th, 2010 at 5:35 PM ^

If this pressures Forcier to step up his game it will all be for the better.  That means both sophomore quarterbacks have elevated.  I'd rather have some squabbling breed competition than everyone be happy and get along all the time.  This kind of thing happens on successful teams all the time.  The winning will silence any naysayers.

Rasmus

August 4th, 2010 at 5:46 PM ^

about Forcier's sometime lack of "maturity" both on and off the field.

Tate has clearly made some poor decisions if a player like Woolfolk, a senior from a family with both Michigan and NFL experience, is questioning his behavior. Troy may regret some of the words he chose, but the message remains the same.

The Man Down T…

August 4th, 2010 at 6:00 PM ^

If he can't throw any better than he did last year, that trust will evaporate real fast.  Spring games are no match for an oncoming blitz of Buckeyes or Spartans or even Huskies.  Tate showed in the real games that he can make lots of plays.  Here's hoping that both Tate and Denard are better than Tate was last year!  It will take a lot of pressure off an already weak defense.

The Man Down T…

August 4th, 2010 at 11:19 PM ^

I wasn't talking Tate in the above comment.  I was talking Denard.  It's great that Denard is showing up to workouts and all.  That shows a good committment.  However, if his accuracy isn't better than last year that trust he's building with the team will disappear.  Denard throwing well against the spring game defense where they can't even try to tackle him is way different that throwing against a blitz by OSU or MSU or PSU.  That's what I was trying to say.  Sorry it didn't come out right.

uminks

August 4th, 2010 at 6:13 PM ^

I think it is great that DROB may have improved during the off season to challenge Tate. It will give us two QB's who can run this offense.  We'll see who performs the best during practice leading up to the start of the season. May the best QB win the starting position. Who ever is backup will also see a lot of  playing time this season.

formerlyanonymous

August 4th, 2010 at 6:34 PM ^

I think this violates at least one commandment:

In case anyone's living under Charlie Weis*, the full monty:

Never, EVER, mention Charlie Weis and the full monty in the same thought.

ShockFX

August 4th, 2010 at 6:49 PM ^

When I go home people'll ask me, "Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?" You know what I'll say? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you, and that's it. That's all it is

~Eric Bana aka Hoot (Blackhawk Down)

931 S State

August 4th, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

Think he turned out alright.  

I think Tate will get it turned around.  If he doesn't, so be it.  He'd have nobody to blame but himself.  It's overused but we're talking about 18-22 year old kids.

"Eight(teen) year olds dude..."

 That said, I think this is being blown way out of proportion.  

Gulo Blue

August 4th, 2010 at 7:22 PM ^

I buy Woolfolk's explanation, especially after hearing that the reports left out the half hour and the fact that it was an answer to a different question.  It would be difficult to believe those statements were made with regard to someone who said the following at the end of last season:

 

"I lost that game," Forcier wrote in a text message to The Associated Press about an hour after the game. "This offseason, I'm gonna make sure myself and every single person on this team works the hardest we have ever worked.

"We're gonna come back a a new team. I'm not going to let this happen again."

steve sharik

August 4th, 2010 at 10:52 PM ^

...is for Woolfolk to show Tate his own comments, like so:

Scene: Schembechler Hall locker room, Monday August 9, 7 am

(Tate is getting dressed for team meetings which start at 7:30.  TW comes over, already dressed.)

TW: Hey, Tate, let me talk to you for a minute.

(Tate looks up.)

TW: Remember when you said this?

(TW shows Tate this:)

I lost that game.  This offseason, I'm gonna make sure myself and every single person on this team works the hardest we have ever worked.  We're gonna come back a a new team. I'm not going to let this happen again.

(Tate's mouth hangs open for a second.)

TW: Time to put action behind those words, together.  You're the quarterback.  Lead this team.

End scene.

Beavis

August 4th, 2010 at 8:06 PM ^

Here is a quick summary for anyone never impicated by the Daily before:

What Troy said happened, but the Daily spinned it a little.  Tate has missed a couple of summer workouts, and Troy called him out a little.  What Troy did not do, however, was say all of these things right in a row, with a mean tone in his voice (documented by the actual audio transcript of the conversation).

Takeaway: All of this is overblown, Denard is slightly ahead of Tate, and Tate needs to follow up on what he said post-OSU game.  Oh, and the Daily is still full of scumbag journalists.

That is all.

bronxblue

August 4th, 2010 at 9:50 PM ^

Thanks Brian for the bit of sanity.

I will still hold to my original comment that while it is certainly appropriate for a coach and a senior to call out another player, at some point the effect goes from motivation to confidence-shaking.  We all saw last year that Tate can lead this team and, when healthy, can win.  I understand that he is probably somewhat immature, but since the middle of last year (when RR clearly yelled at him on the sidelines) he has been consistently "nicked" in the media.  His coach has questioned his maturity a number of times, a couple of players have taken shots at him in general terms, and the media and blogosphere have presumed that he would be replaced on Denard learned the offense and Gardner improved.  

Now, I'm sure most of these comments were made without malice, but at some point you have to remember that this is a kid coming off the first major injury in his life, who has been in the limelight since he stepped on the field, and who clearly has some maturity issues to work through.  Push anyone too far, and at some point his confidence is not going to fully recover.  I know people like to argue this is like the Braylon treatment by Carr, but I don't remember anyone other than Carr really calling him out, and most were structured with a "we still believe in him, he just needs to get on the same page" vibe.  It wasn't popping up on numerous high-profile blogs, across Twitter, and leading various sports sections in newspapers.  

I like that RR and co. are more open than Carr when it comes to discussing the team in general terms, but right now it is getting to the point that a single player is being held up as an example of someone who doesn't "get it", and that is not fair.

Blue in Seattle

August 4th, 2010 at 10:35 PM ^

Is the consistancy in the Coach's statements between an article in April and the Big Ten Media Days in August,

Michigan Daily article, 13 April 2010, Rodriguez: Forcier knows he can't be average and expect to start"

http://www.michigandaily.com/content/rodriguez-forcier-knows-he-cant-be…

<“Tate knows he can’t be average and expect to be the starting quarterback,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference. “He has to get better. Some of that is maturity on the field, and some of it is off the field, as well. I think Tate is starting to get that. Competition is helping him in that regard, both with Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner.”>

From the Media Day hallway transcript of Coach Rodriguez

http://mgoblog.com/diaries/rich-rodriguez-media-day-transcript

<we'll find out at the end of the week. I'm hoping that everybody - they grow and mature, not just on the field but off the field as well. You know, until we're allowed to do things with them you really don't know. I'm anxious to see how Tate responds to that. I know he's getting a challenge and I talked to him this spring about this: "You're getting a challenge from Denard, you're getting a challenge from Devin, and if you're a true competitor we'll see how you respond." That challenge will continue in August.>

I know it's tempting to try and out think the head coach, but it seems like we'll all have a chance to continue reviewing this issue under the microscope once fall camp starts next week.

Hurray!

Durham Blue

August 5th, 2010 at 12:28 AM ^

Based on his on the field performance last season, Tate wants to win and he has sacrificed his own well-being to do so on many occasions.  I think he is using all this jibber jabber as motivation and will come out slinging against UConn.  He will solidify his #1 status in that game.  At that point we will have two capable QB's.  It's going to be a great season.

Don

August 5th, 2010 at 5:35 AM ^

As other's have pointed out here, Troy's two separate comments were strung together by the Daily and other publications to make it appear as though his comments were far more pointed at Tate than they probably were. If you listen to the actual audio, he was not angry or upset, but was pretty soft-spoken and matter-of-fact in his tone of voice, none of which comes across in a written transcript.

Troy was also somewhat baited by the initial question, which made a direct reference to Tate not attending some workouts; as Sam Webb pointed out yesterday, Troy would have been better served by deflecting the comment rather than implicitly acknowledging the questioner's premise. However, Troy is now learning some tough lessons in dealing with the media, which will serve him well in the future.

I think Woolfolk would have been wiser to not name any names when making criticisms or observations that can be interpreted as critical; that sort of calling-out is necessary, but should be handled in the locker room, so to speak. Putting it into the public arena serves no good purpose, and I'd guess Troy has already learned that.

Having said all that, this is basically on Tate. If there were legit reasons (school, injury/rehab/family obligations/etc) for him to miss some workouts, he needed to communicate them to the seniors. He apparently did not do that.

If he's simply not showing up, then he's basically in danger of ceding the starting position to Denard through insufficient dedication.

The QB on any team, regardless of his class ranking, has to be a true leader in these situations. That means being the first one at the workout and the last to leave, and taking an active role in getting the whole squad involved. A QB who does not do these things risks losing the respect of his teammates, especially if another QB is doing these things.

There's plenty of time for TF to mature, but that process has to start more or less immediately.

Huntington Wolverine

August 5th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

As other's have pointed out here, Troy's two separate comments were strung together by the Daily and other publications to make it appear as though his comments were far more pointed at Tate than they probably were. If you listen to the actual audio, he was not angry or upset, but was pretty soft-spoken and matter-of-fact in his tone of voice, none of which comes across in a written transcript.

and

Troy was also somewhat baited by the initial question, which made a direct reference to Tate not attending some workouts; as Sam Webb pointed out yesterday, Troy would have been better served by deflecting the comment rather than implicitly acknowledging the questioner's premise. However, Troy is now learning some tough lessons in dealing with the media, which will serve him well in the future.

 

I'm not really 40 but this is what I have a problem with. Shame on the local media for baiting a young football player and then manipulating the interview.  The local reporters need to knock this crap off or they should lose the open access they've been taking advantage of.  This is the second time (at least) players' comments have been manipulated and used to incite nonexistent controversies that, at best, create distractions around the team as well as divisions within it.

NO SPARTY

August 5th, 2010 at 4:34 PM ^

I sure hope Robinson isn't the starting QB. He passer rating was below Death's last year. He was terrible against D1 opponents. He tore it up against the second team Michigan defense. Yawn, not impressed one bit. Give me Forcier. Until Robinson actually completes a pass against a good Big Ten defense, I will cry at the idea of him being our starting QB. Forcier is a gamer and played his ass off last year for this team. Forcier is the only QB on this roster that have proven he can actually pass against a Big Ten defense. I doubt that Robinson will be anything more then a change of pace QB. He needs to play runningback/receiver.