Michigan junior safety Jordan Kovacs on transitioning into a new defense, his progress, taking the…
Woolfolk and Kovacs Talk: Improving the D
Question: What do you think makes this defense better than last year's?
Troy Woolfolk: "I feel like it is just paying attention to detail. You can't have any mistakes. If you're supposed to step in one gap a certain way then you got to do that. So improving in the details that has made our defense much better as well."
Question: He talked about you being in competition with the cornerbacks and we've heard some word that you've played a little safety too; are you locked in at one place or another?
Troy Woolfolk: "Like I said, I'll just play anywhere the coaches need me. There is still competition at cornerback, you got Courtney Avery and J.T. Floyd, who are two great corners as well. You got to have a way to put them all on the field. They may move me somewhere, but as long as I'm on the field and able to help the team it is good."
Question: What is the key to stopping big plays on defense?
Troy Woolfolk: "Keeping the ball inside and in front. You have the secondary who has a lot of pressure on them because if the linebackers make a mistake then you have the secondary to make the tackle, but if the secondary makes a mistake then nobody is going to make a tackle. So it just going to put an emphasis on keeping the ball in front."
Question: How do you do that and still be aggressive?
Troy Woolfolk: "The D-line, I owe a lot of credit to them because they are getting home, which is also helping the cornerbacks and safeties because they have less time to cover people and it makes it easier to play aggressive and keep the ball in front."
Question: Coach doesn't mention a lot of guys by name, but today he mentioned you played well in scrimmage, last week he said you were one of the few guys who is definitely a starter. How does that feel especially coming off an injury that you're already earning his respect so quickly?
Troy Woolfolk: "I feel that I try not to listen to that because I feel sometimes that could lead to me performing bad. I feel like I'm not playing good enough now, I have far way to go to get better for September 3rd. I just try to ignore that and be my own self critique and know I got a long way to go to earn a starting spot."
Question: Do you feel like your 100% back, is it totally out of your mind and your ankle?
Troy Woolfolk: "Oh yeah, I don't notice my ankle at all any more."
Question: Were you always a Michigan Man, growing up?
Troy Woolfolk: "It actually wasn't football when I was younger; my dad actually took a trip to Michigan and he took my brother and left me home. It just wasn't a big interest to me, I was more of a track guy. I started to buy in when I went to the camp. I met Ron English and I just fell in love with him. I just loved the Michigan tradition and I just like to be a winner."
Question: What has it been like to come here under Lloyd Carr, experience Rich Rodriguez and now go out with Brady Hoke?
Troy Woolfolk: "It is a change of philosophy -- it is not that big of an adjustment, but I feel like I am back in freshman year."
Question: You know the numbers, 110th in defense last year, what do you say how it could possibly leap up so much in one year, what do you say to that?
Troy Woolfolk: "Can't go nowhere but up. It can't get worse than that – just joking (laughter). I feel like this defense is way better. Like I said we cancel out the big plays. And just the little things, the intricate details in the defense, we pay more attention to getting off blocks and running to the ball. I just think the hustle and intensity is going to cause for a better defense."
Question: How close do you guys think you are to being ready for that first game?
Troy Woolfolk: "I feel like we've made strides, but we still got far away to go. We still have lows every now and then, which is bad. Once we get ready for the little problems, we'll be a great defense."
Question: Has Mike Martin looked like Mike Martin out there?
Troy Woolfolk: "Oh yeah, he made some plays, even today. We needed a stop and he got a big stop for us. He is going to be a great leader for this defense. I'm excited to see him play."
Question: Are you getting any look at safety?
Troy Woolfolk: "It is a weird situation, it is more like a nickel, which can sometimes can go into a safety. So yeah, it is some work at safety. I just play everything."
Question: What have you seen from Thomas Gordon?
Jordan Kovacs: "He's been improving tremendously. He had a great spring first of all, but that is one thing that has carried over to fall camp. He has been playing a number of different positions, but he is improving every day."
Question: What kind of perspective have you seen on the competition at cornerback and what kind of play have you seen there?
Jordan Kovacs: "It is similar to safety. We've got a lot of guys who can play. We've got guys who have played before and started before and we've got guys that are coming back that started years before them. We've got competition and I think that is important at all of our positions."
Question: David Molk was in here a week or so ago and was talking about the hunger of this team; can you speak to that and coming off of the last few seasons and what this year means?
Jordan Kovacs: "I think we are obviously pretty hungry after a few disappointing seasons. I think anybody in this program knows it is about Big Ten Championships and that is something we have not done for the last several years so that is one thing we're striving for this year -- and we're hungry, we haven't had one in a while."
Question: Have you noticed a difference in the defense from the past years?
Jordan Kovacs: "Oh yeah, definitely. I think it is a lot different schematically. There is a lot more guys in the box than before. Defensive backs are not required to make as many tackles as before. It is a downhill defense and it is about stopping the run, which is what Big Ten defenses are about."
Question: Can you tell that you guys are going to be better?
Jordan Kovacs: "No doubt. I think just our offense is going to make us better. It is going to be more of a ball control team and I think that is going to help the defense out a lot. I would say we're playing alright, but we still got a long ways to go before September 3rd and I think most of the guys understand that."
Question: Are you guys tougher this year?
Jordan Kovacs: "No doubt. I think that is one thing he has stressed this whole camp is we've been full pads almost every day. We've been beating each other up and that is what football is about, and fall camp is about, and that's what Big Ten football is about."
Question: What would make for a successful season from a defensive from a defensive standpoint, what is your expectation at for this defense?
Jordan Kovacs: "It goes hand and hand with the whole team perspective with our whole team goals -- and that is to win a Big Ten Championship and I think anything less, this team will not be satisfied. Anybody who goes to school here and anybody plays football here wants to win Big Ten Championships, and that's what striving for."