Question: Take us into your workouts then, what are you seeing from the guys in your position group; obviously, you’re the veteran, everyone else is green, what do you see from those guys so far?
Troy Woolfolk: “I really think one of the young corners, JT (Floyd), he has really establishing his position. He has actually been tremendous out there making a lot of interceptions, breaking up on the ball. Shockingly, he is a little guy, but he can still come up and hit you if need be.”
Question: What about the freshmen corners? Rich talks a lot about them maybe being able to contribute. He said he can’t see them, but you can; what have you seen from Courtney Avery, Cullen Christian and those guys?
Troy Woolfolk: “Courtney Avery, he’s the only one that I’ve actually seen out there and he just seems to have the fighting ability. Sometimes he gets beat on plays but the next play he will come back and make a play on the same receiver who just beat him for a touchdown. One of the best things that he has is a short memory. He is able to go out there and forget what happened the last play and he’ll be able to excel throughout the game.”
Question: Is this short memory thing something that you have to learn or is that something you just have to have or can it be develop, as you progress as a cornerback?
Troy Woolfolk: “I think it can develop. My freshman year, I don’t think I really had a short memory. I would be thinking about the last play where I got beat on the current play and it would cause a repetition of what happened. So I think that is very mature of him and signs of experience to see in such a young player, to just forget the last play and be able to move on.”
Question: Going back to last year Troy, I remember you got hurt; how many games were you 100% at?
Troy Woolfolk: “Basically after the Michigan State game I would say zero. I had problems with my shoulders and my knees for a second but right now I am 100%, ready to go.”
Question: Have you thought what a healthy season could do for you?
Troy Woolfolk: “I think it is going to be this season. I don’t make excuses. I don’t think I would have played any different than if I was fully healthy when I did play. We’ll see this season because I know I am going to be good. I have taken preventative measures so my shoulders won’t take all the pressure on my hits and when we lift, we do certain movements to prevent any injuries.”
Question: You say you don’t want to make excuses but was that maybe part of what the defense collapse in the second half of the season? Coach said Mike Martin was banged up, you say you were banged up. Was it kind of a lack of depth and the injuries piling up might have had an effect?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah I think it is a combination because we have some great players but we just need more depth on defense for when players go down. Sometimes the second guy wasn’t able to fulfill those shoes and people would try to expose that, which teams did. I think that could possibly be a contributing factor to lack of defensive experience last year.”
Question: Obviously, we talk to you guys a lot in the spring, there are some changes schematically defensively. How does that sort of manifest itself for you guys? Is it simpler? Does it allow you to play faster, how would you describe the changes?
Troy Woolfolk: “You took the words out of my mouth. They made the defense much simpler because we have a lot of young players this year and we need to have them be able to react and some of the problems in the past was that young players would be so focused on the defense and trying not to mess up the defense, it would slow them down. They weren’t able to make fast reactions to the ball. Now like you said, we made it simpler for the defense, which allowed a lot of young players to just react versus thinking and make more plays.”
Question: Does it allow a guy like you to be more aggressive on the corner? I know you guys played off a lot last year. Are you going to be able to more aggressive out there?
Troy Woolfolk: “Exactly right. That’s just my nature, I don’t like to play off, because I don’t like the open space. I like to bang up the receiver and get real physical with him to let him know that I’m there in my presence.”
Question: When you look in this offseason, you’ve been there every step up the way, from the time that Rich got there, leadership wise, has it gotten progressively better every year?
Troy Woolfolk: “I really think this is one of the best leadership groups that we have beside the fact that we are also one of the smallest groups of seniors that we have. We are the last Lloyd Carr group and the fact that we bought into this Rich Rod, it can have a trickle-down effect to all the other young athletes out there. I think we are going to have great senior leadership this year and hopefully success with winning.”
Question: Other than Rich, who do you think is the best coach in the Big Ten?
Troy Woolfolk: “Other than Rick, best coach in the Big Ten…I would have to say the Penn State coach (Joe Paterno). I like him. I have a tremendous respect for him. I was actually going up the escalator the other day when I ran into him. I kind of got nervous and I tried to say hi, but a little squeal came out (laughter). It was crazy.”
Question: Best offensive player in the Big Ten not on your team?
Troy Woolfolk: “Best offense player in the Big Ten, this year?”
Question: This year or last year?
Troy Woolfolk: “I would have to say…let me think about this. The quarterback from Penn State last year.”
Question: Daryl Clark?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah.”
Question: Best defensive player?
Troy Woolfolk: “Hands down (Adrian) Clayborne from Iowa. I knew that and I didn’t even go against him. I saw him and I was like dang, he did that to my lineman out there.”
Question: What is the best venue in the Big Ten other than Michigan Stadium?
Troy Woolfolk: “I have to go back to Penn State. I went there three times, the coach, player, the…okay never mind let me change that up (laughter). Let’s say I like Michigan State. Michigan State is pretty nice.”
Question: Other than your rivalry with Ohio State what is the best rivalry in the Big Ten?
Troy Woolfolk: “Michigan State. It is like relating back to high school, it is like the state championship. If you can’t win your state how can you expect to win the whole Big Ten.”
Question: What is the best thing about this conference? What do you really enjoy about this conference?
Troy Woolfolk: “I love this conference because it demands respects. Because we are such smash mouth football playing teams. I think of running backs like (John) Clay. Then you have a defense like theirs. It is just constantly power. I think we automatically give respect. It is like old school football. We’ll hit you in the mouth and tell you what you’re doing and see if you can stop it.”
Question: One of the Wisconsin players claimed you guys as one of the toughest teams, just the way you guys play. What do you think about Wisconsin? What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of Wisconsin?
Troy Woolfolk: “Power, strength, consistency. It seems like they don’t have too many plays but they run the least amount of plays that they do to perfection and they are able to do that because they are very strong. You know what they are doing, but they are challenging you to see if you can stop them. You saw that in the bowl game when they whipped up on Miami. Miami wasn’t ready for that power and that is a great representation of the Big Ten.”
Question: Are you a senior?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yes sir.”
Question: How would you describe the last couple of years?
Troy Woolfolk: “One word: Tragedy. But I feel that it was able to humble us and make us more hungry to go out and change it, because you know this is Michigan and we are the most winningest program of all teams that has ever played. I feel that it is the hunger that is going to try and get back to that old reputation and I feel that this is the year that we can do that and I can see that in everybody else’s eyes and we can't wait to go out in about 30 something days to prove it to the world”
Question: Do you not have those conversations with your dad? Because he had so much success when he was at Michigan. Obviously, you guys haven't had the same success. Is it kind of a weird conversation?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah. He kind of feels bad for me because when I came here, we had one of the worst losses of all time. We lost to Appalachian State, but then I feel like we redeemed that loss by beating one of the best teams of all time, Florida with Tim Tebow and when they had Percy Harvin. I think we had some different experiences here, but I think my last year we’ll have the same experience as him (Butch Woolfolk).”
Question: I don’t know about football stuff, as I’m not a coach. So maybe you can simple explain and help me understand the 3-3-5 and what advantages that creates for a defense?
Troy Woolfolk: “I guess the closest thing you could relate it to is a 3-3-5, but I wouldn’t really say it is really a 3-3-5. The new defense that we have, one of the reasons we did it is because we have a lot of young players that is going to be playing this year. We didn’t want them to be stuck playing slow by thinking about the whole grand scheme of things. We simplified the defense and made it close to a 3-3-5, which allowed it to be much easier, not worrying about as much responsibility as you had in the past. So this new 3-3-5 allows the younger players to actually have more impact on their role to the whole defense by reacting versus thinking.”
Question: What do you think is a realistic goal is for this year’s team?
Troy Woolfolk: “My goal for this year’s team, I think it would be eight wins. Anything less than that would be a disappointment for me because I know the potential of this team. I think if we have seven or six wins, we didn’t reach our full potential, even though I am not saying that eight is our full potential, I am just saying that I wouldn’t satisfied if it was anything less than that.”
Question: You don’t think it is dangerous to put a number on a goal, like eight wins?
Troy Woolfolk: “I do think it is dangerous but I guess that is just me and my confidence in this team. I know other people might call me crazy, but they don’t know what I know. They don’t see what I see. I see great developments in our quarterback and I think we can do it.”
Question: Terrelle Pryor is not here.
Troy Woolfolk: “That’s a good thing.”
Troy Woolfolk: “I’m really not sure about that. He is probably at home playing video games or something like that. I’m not sure. He is a different kind of guy.”
Question: How would you describe the rivalry right now between Michigan and Ohio State?
Troy Woolfolk: “I think for us it has been as high as it has ever been because they have kind of dominated the last few years. I think it is that time to get over the hill and end that winning streak, because everybody on the team. I can just see it in their eyes every day, come on this is Ohio State or even just on TV. Or when I see an O shaped figure, I just get instantly anger and just want to win something.”
Troy Woolfolk: “I don’t eat Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, none of that (laughter).”
Question: Speaking of the rivalry, Commissioner Delaney kind of intimated that there was as good a chance that when this realignment occurs that Michigan and Ohio State could be in opposite divisions. Coach Tressel kind of said something about, geez we may not play at the end of the year, but that was the case before too. You’re a kid who probably appreciates the magnitude of the rivalry more than a normal guy. I’m just wondering if any of those things happen or if something were to happen to diminish the rivalry, wouldn’t that bug you?
Troy Woolfolk: “I would be very annoyed if we were not able to play them at the end of the year because that is just what eggs everybody on the whole year. You think about Ohio State at the end of the year, you got to get better for them. I don’t think it would take away from the true war when we do play them because regardless, we are two different teams that have a tremendous respect for each other but at the same time very strong dislike for each other. So regardless if we play them the first game or the last game, it is still going to be an interesting game and I can’t wait to play them.”
Question: Wouldn’t that be weird though if you played them October 13th, instead of November 27th?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah I really wouldn’t want that and I hope the commissioner makes the right decision. I do not know where he is. Like I said, I still think there will be great camaraderie during the game it will still be an interesting game. Probably less ratings because it won’t be at the end of the season, but I still enjoy playing them regardless of what time of the year it is.”
Question: This offense, you got a chance to face them all last year and in the spring, what differences do you see in them now since you’ve seen them in the summer?
Troy Woolfolk: “I see more maturity. This is referring to the quarterbacks. I see you have Denard (Robinson) and Tate (Forcier), they used to make some immature passes by throwing to a receiver who are in coverage. Now I see them growing by at least waiting for somebody to get out of a window to actual throw it to them. They seem more relaxed back there and not panicking as much. I haven't seen too much on Devin Gardner, but I am not sure that he is going to be able to…he is going to be in the race there, but I do not know if he is as mature as Denard and Tate have because they had that extra year to gain experience on him.”
Question: We only got a chance to see Denard during the spring game. Was what we saw that day indicative of what you saw throughout the spring and what you are seeing this summer?
Troy Woolfolk: “In the spring, he kind of made me angry because sometimes the DB we would try and get what you call coverage sacks by locking up the receiver, he is a little nifty dude. He just kicks out and his speed allows him to get downfield real quick.”
Question: This summer you guys had seven on sevens right; what was that like with the quarterbacks? Were they all rotating through, all three of them or was one taking more of snaps?
Troy Woolfolk: “It is based on a ranking system. Whoever comes out there the most. Who comes to lift.”
Question: Who came the most?
Troy Woolfolk: “It was a close battle between all of them. I’m not going to put anybody’s business out there. Everybody came out there. Like I said, you had to earn the right to go out there and play seven on sevens. If you do not come to the lifts and this is all senior regulated. So if you do not come to lifts, we would not allow you to go out there and play seven on sevens. For the most part, most of them have becoming out there and Denard and Tate and Devin have all been out there looking good and making exceptional passes.”
Question: What are your expectations for the defense this year?
Troy Woolfolk: “I think it will be an equally run stop and pass stop defense, because I like what the coaches are doing. They are playing towards are strength. I think one of our strengths is the D-line. You got Mike Martin down there, Greg Banks and Ryan Van Bergen, which is probably the position with the most experience. I feel like if you play towards your strength it allows you to be able to stop the run like I said and you have to have more people back there to stop the pass, which was one of our problems in the past. I think this defense is going to be a great improvement than last year.”
Question: Was there anything specifically that you guys felt that you needed to improve on from last year?
Troy Woolfolk: “From the passing standpoint, I think it is just stop giving up big plays. Sometimes in the running game, we would stop them, stop them and then in third and long, we would get a deep pass and they would get first down. I think it is just more consistency, which will be obtained by the new similar 3-3-5 defense that we are doing, which is simplifying the objectives for everybody on the field.”
Question: What’s new about it? Is that it just some changed assignments or is there something new other than that that is new about it?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah it just changes assignments and actually gives people by dropping one more person back to help out the pass and relieve some of the pressure for the DBs and safeties and they will have less things to cover.”
Question: So how do you guys…last year you guys could count on BG (Brandon Graham) getting pressure virtually every play he was out there. If you are dropping another guy back consistency how do you guys get the pressure on the quarterback this year?
Troy Woolfolk: “That’s one of the things, that’s why I was saying I would rather play towards are strengths, because I feel that Mike Martin is strong as heck. I’ve seen him in the weight room. He breaks a new record in lifting every day. I feel like people like that and Ryan Van Bergen on the edge who provides quickness and Greg Banks who is just a tough guy. I think between them if we get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback then it is going to be an automatic pick because we got an extra guy dropped deeper, so I think it allows us to be more aggressive with that.”
Question: Will it sort of like mimic a zone blitz out of a 3-4 where you can bring pressure from anywhere and the offense does not know it is coming from?
Troy Woolfolk: “Exactly. I think that is exactly what it will be like. I’m not really sure because we haven't really done…even the players are not really sure of the full concept of the defense. I think that will be an effective way to get turnovers.”
Question: You played corner and safety, so you know what that position in the back entails. With Cameron Gordon, what did you see from him, how confident are you that he is going to be able to translate what he did in the spring over into the fall?
Troy Woolfolk: “You can't really tell in the spring because you’re in…I would say a safe environment, you don’t have the fans there. You don’t have the pressure of people screaming your name, but he seemed to be calm out there as of now and he seems to be confident. But you can only tell if it is true when I guess we had that scrimmage with the little mock crowd of a couple of thousand out there. I will give you answer game day probably.”
Question: Who are some of the major guys sort of competing…I mean we hear everything about Cameron Gordon. Who are the guys that you have seen that are going to give him a run for his money?
Troy Woolfolk: “I think Vladimir (Emilien) and surprisingly a freshman named Marvin (Robinson). He (Marvin) really seems to understand the game. Like his first time in seven on seven, his second play he got a pick.”
Question: Marvin or Carvin (Johnson)?
Troy Woolfolk: “Marvin.”
Question: You mentioned the Ohio State and Michigan game and how you would like to see it stay at the end of the year. Is that something that you think about going into the season? You talk about how that is one of those things that kind of get you going all year long and you look forward to it at the end of the year. How do you approach it when it is August or when it is September?
Troy Woolfolk: “I take each week game by game. So like when we are getting ready for Connecticut. Connecticut is going to be the #1 priority in my mind. But in the back of my mind, I am going to be working and taking extra reps during each practice prepare for Connecticut with the big effect of playing Ohio State. It is just a natural rivalry and it is just a burning sensation to win. Especially since we haven't won in six years or five years and to know that everybody at the school of Michigan has not beat Ohio State. I just think it is in the back of everybody’s mind; it is a necessity to win.”
Question: What if you had to play them twice in a season?
Troy Woolfolk: “The more the better. Any time I can get red scarlet on my helmet, I’ll be happy.”
Question: What about your coach? How he has approached handling that. It could be very negative thing or it could be a motivating thing.
Troy Woolfolk: “I think he changes it to a motivating thing. We can beat the team to finally take down the marksman and he just talks about having more of an increase work ethic day in and day out in practice.”
Question: Coach was talking yesterday that there might be no more coach more excited for the ball games to start. Has the spring been brutal?
Troy Woolfolk: “It has been very brutal. It will be good to stop hitting your own players. I have more Michigan stripes on my helmet than ever before. I just cannot wait until hit somebody else that is not wearing Michigan.”
Question: I meant more because of all the crap surrounding…that kind of brutal.
Troy Woolfolk: “Our coach said, he told us not to deal with that because it is just a distraction. We need to focus on our game play and we’re not going to let anything affect of this year because this is year to come back and be the old Michigan.”
Question: So the day that NCAA violations are coming out, is that a day that you don’t turn on the TV? What was that day like?
Troy Woolfolk: “I just wanted to go and turn off all the electricity so nobody could be distracted by all that. Like I said that is the only distraction that we do not need and make us take steps back.”
Question: Was it almost like if a teammate was talking about it; was there an unwritten rule that you do not talk about it?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah. If you talk about it, you get slapped (laughter). That’s what it is.”
Question: Did you have to slap anybody?
Troy Woolfolk: “Yeah. It is called slap talk.”
Question: Did you have to administer any pain? You’re messing around (laughter). What about the motivation? You look at this letter and what it means and just like the motivation get Michigan back to where Michigan has been?
Troy Woolfolk: “It is just like the Block M and I feel like my dad has been stressing to me like that. When he was here, they were unstoppable the whole year and that is just like how the Michigan history is. For us not to have the most respect as we used to, it is just humbling and it makes us hungry to try and obtain the success that we once were at.”
Question: Do you like playing for Coach Rich Rod?
Troy Woolfolk: “I love it. The reason I like playing Coach Rich Rod is that in the past, I feel that there hasn’t been a sense of equalness out there. Some of the greatest players, I don’t want to say it, were treated differently, and I feel like Rich Rod treats everybody the same. Everybody is equal out there.”
Question: Do you mind giving me an example? You talking about practice or how he talks to you guys; how would that be?
Troy Woolfolk: “No. I think I said something out of line and I didn’t mean it in that term or form or fashion. I just feel like Rich Rod does a great job expressing family out there and we’re all united out there.”
Question: Give me one player besides Cam Gordon who is going to make a real impact in the secondary that we don’t know about?
Troy Woolfolk: “I would say JT Floyd, #12, because he just seems mature out there. Even last year when he played for the first time, those couple of games like Michigan State and you can go back and look at film, he was making plays on the ball and that kind of surprised me. I really think he deserved me game time than he did. I think this is going to be a breakout year for him. I can’t wait to see him.”
Question: Are you glad that you are just going to be at one position this year?
Troy Woolfolk: “I love the fact that I will be at one position because it allows me to focus on this position and not get distracted by the other safety plays that I have to call. I feel that safety and corner, even though they both DBs, they are completely contradicting positions. Because when you are safety, it is more of a whole field coverage technique that you need to implement in your strategy but a corner, it is more of a man emphasis. I feel that playing both it is kind of distracting when you are still thinking about man emphasis while you’re playing safety or field emphasis while you are playing corner. It kind of hurt me a little bit at the same time.”
Question: This might sound silly but was there times on the field last year where you were safety and you made a decision as a corner or you were playing corner and you dropped back too far because you thought you were playing safety?
Troy Woolfolk: “Actually one time, I do not know what game it was, but I was playing corner and one of the things as safety was in my job in this specific defense was to play man on the running back. I was at corner and I just forgot about the receiver and I actually tried to play man on the running back. Luckily, it was a run play because that would have been a touchdown. Coach really does not know that so that’s between me and you.”
Question: I think you just ruined that by the way. You did not get chewed out on tape that week?
Troy Woolfolk: “Since I was playing man on the running back, they was like good job Troy, you read that play very well. I was like, yeah thanks coach (laughter).”
Question: I walked in while you were talking about not having as much respect and it has humbled you guys; where are you hearing it from?
Troy Woolfolk: “It was the record that we had. It is a record that should never been associated with a Michigan title and it is a little bit embarrassing to come from the past that we come to, like I said one of the most winningest program and that we don’t have a winning season is just embarrassing. Like I said, it humbles us and make us more hungry to come back and not get rid of it but compensate for that.”
Question: Was there one game situation that kind of kept you up during the offseason that really bothered you?
Troy Woolfolk: “I would have to say personally for me, I blame the loss of Michigan State on my part because it was in overtime and the running back made it through a hole and it was just me and him. I kind of hit him, but I went over him and he went under me and I missed that tackle. I just think about that every time I lift weights, every time I’m out there trying to get extra reps to make up for that. That’s the thing that keeps me driving to beat them next year.”
Question: Do you see it in your sleep ever?
Troy Woolfolk: “I really do. I had dreams about them, missing that tackle and it just really gets to me. I actually keep a picture right behind my sink and every time I wake up in the morning I look at that picture to remind me to keep me hungry.”