Showing posts with label Team 133. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Team 133. Show all posts

Triumph

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The last game of your football career is a tidal wave of emotions. Everything you have ever known for the past four-five years suddenly comes to a screeching halt. It could end in elation or it could end in disappointment.

For the seniors of Team 133, they did what many thought wouldn't be possible, they brought Michigan back into the national spotlight. Sure, these kids were aided with the hiring of Brady Hoke and his band of coordinators. But, they became more than a group of Rich Rod castoffs, they become Brady Hoke's players. Students at the University of Michigan who could FINALLY, after many seasons, grasp the idea what it was like to truly wear the winged helmet.

Jordan Kovacs, Denard Robinson, Roy Roundtree, Patrick Omameh -- to name a few. All seniors who have played their final snap of football at Michigan. These young men showed displayed triumph and courage in the face of adversity. Where most would give up on the team, the seniors pushed forward. They bought into a system and finally became a cohesive unit.

They were Michigan.

As the last of the Rich Rodriguez recruits prepare themselves for departure from the university, they were faced with unique challenges that most college players may never face. These kids were responsible for rebranding a program so entrenched in tradition that no matter happened, failure was likely. Though the experiment was indeed a failure. They would have to rebrand the program a second time. A mess that desperately needed to be fixed.

Team 132 set the tone with seniors like Molk, Van Bergen, Martin and so on. But the seniors we witnessed play their hearts out against South Carolina had the most to gain. Though 8-5 is nothing to write home about, the legacy left behind will be remembered fondly.

These Rich Rod guys turned into Brady Hoke guys and put the pieces back together with the leadership of Hoke and the rest of the deep supporting cast. These kids spent hours watching film, getting stronger, getting better, and picking this program up from the depths.

The strength of one can never equal the strength of many. That is what the seniors Team 133 proved this year and during their career as Michigan Wolverines. Their last chapter may have been written, but their story will remain in the annals of Michigan history.

To the seniors of Team 133, thank you and forever Go Blue.

Deebo Knows: Time to Hold Al Borges Accountable

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another ugly display of offensive ineptitude resulting in another road loss for the Wolverines against a quality opponent...

Yes, Saturday in Columbus might as well have been Groundhog Day. We've seen this movie a few times in the last two seasons where the Michigan offense falls flat on its face away from Ann Arbor in a big game.

Many have tried to spin it multiple ways and insist that the struggles are due to the fact that offensive coordinator Al Borges does not have "his guys" to run his offense. Well, Greg Mattison does not have "his guys" either and he is making it work. He's making it work quite well. Enough with that nonsense. Truly good coaches take what they have and make it work.

The bottom line is that an offensive coordinator's job is to come up with schemes/game plans that work with the team's strengths and work around its deficiencies and also, maybe most important, to make in-game adjustments to to help win games. I'm sorry guys but I can't tow the company line here and say that Borges is doing a good job here. If you think I am being a fair weather fan and want to make excuses for him you are living in a fantasy land and need to take off the Maize and Blue homer glasses. He's racked up points on teams with inferior talent and has fizzeld against those who don't.

If you are being honest with yourself you will admit that many times in his tenure he has been stubborn (Alabama and ND), incredibly predictable and unimaginative (MSU), and unable to make quality in-game adjustments to attack defenses' weak points (many games but OSU the most glaring example). These blunders were key contributors to at least two losses this season and, as a TRUE FAN (not a homer/slappy) that can think objectively, I think it's time to take a serious look as to what exactly Al Borges brings to the table. If you can't think objectively or will blindly support anything that this coaching staff does then stop reading because this is not for you.

Forget last year, let's just look at a few games this year where this Al Borges-led offense cost Team 133. And yes, I'll throw out the Alabama game because we weren't beating Alabama this year. Sorry it wasn't happening.

I think one of the biggest blunders was the Notre Dame game in which UM lost 13-6 to the supposed #1 team in America. A game in which the defense played their a***s off and gave the team a chance to win on the road. Why didn't they win? Because the offense had a gazillion turnovers including four Denard Robinson INTs primarily because Al Borges asked him to play the role of Tom Brady and sit in the pocket and throw the ball down field 30 times. Also, at a time when the offense was steadily moving on the stout ND defense and knocking on the door inside the 10 yard line in a scoreless game early, Borges dials up a halfback pass with a 5'7" Vincent Smith only to see it get intercepted and destroy momentum. Not going to go into any further detail but if you watched that game you saw the offense cost that team a W. No two ways about it.

Nebraska was a different avenue for ineptitude. Yes, Denard got hurt. Tough blow. But how in the world is Russell Bellomy not at least adequately prepared to resemble a functional QB? I don't want to hear it was a tough spot blah blah blah. Yeah, it was a tough spot. But it's on the coaches to make sure he is at least serviceable. No excuses. The staff was ill prepared to deal with the possibility of Robinson going down. And who is ultimately responsible for the offense? Al Borges.

I won't even touch on the fact that it's hard to believe that Borges truly felt that Bellomy was going to be the better option to back up Robinson in the event of an injury. Forget the fact that Gardner is an athlete and was a decent WR. His ability at QB is a heck of a lot higher than Bellomy's and I find it hard to believe the coaches didn't see that in the spring or the summer. Gardner may have even been the team's BEST option at QB and it's also hard for me to not at least entertain that idea. Not after what we have watched since the Minnesota game.

Even though the Wolverines beat MSU, they failed to score an offensive TD in that game. A combination of a completely horrendous Spartan offense and a pretty darn good defensive effort by Mattison's boys enabled Michigan to escape with a 2-point win after only mustering four FGs. Why did Michigan only score 12 points? Partly because MSU has a very good defense, but a big part also had to do with the fact the offense was beyond predictable. Denard run left. Denard run right. Denard run center. Maybe a tailback carry in the same fashion. Failure to convert red zone trips to TDs. They didn't even attempt to outscheme that tough Spartan defense. A win is a win but that is a game that very well could've or should've been won 24-10 or something along those lines. Thank God for Greg Mattison.

Now the most recent example of terrible offensive coaching leading to a loss was the disaster in Columbus on Saturday against the Buckeyes. The offense looked pretty good in the first half scoring 21 points and heading into the halftime with a 1-point lead. It had appeared we would see more of the Devin/Denard backfield that worked wonders the previous week. So what happened in the second half? Well, Gardener would throw a 1st down pass for six to eight yards only to be taken out to line Robinson at QB for designed runs. OSU knew he couldn't throw so it was as easy as stacking the box to stop the run. It worked. Shocker.


Not only did the constant QB shuffle kill Gardner's rhythm, it essentially telegraphed what play they would run. If Gardner was in it would likey be a pass. If Denard was in it was certainly a run. Basically, Borges took all of the possible creative ways he could have them both on the field and keep the defense off balance and disregarded all of it. At least when Robinson had his QB runs in the first half they attacked the edge of the defense where they were struggling without one of their best players. In the second half they decided to attack the Buckeyes' strength (and the UM weakness all season) the interior. It's one thing to try that with Robinson who can make plays on his own, but to constantly run a 5'7" 180 lbs. Smith on a power iso play on 3rd and short yardage was inexcusable. How did this make any sense? Someone please explain this to me?

Where were the Gardner rollouts (maybe even with a misdirection play action to Robinson) with a run/pass option that worked so well? Where were the bubble screens to Denard? Heck, try an option with Gardner and Robinson. Where was the creativity we had seen in previous weeks? I'll tell you why we didn't see it. The plays were called to not lose. They were not called to win. And, once it was painfully obvious OSU was not going to allow Denard to burn them again on QB runs, Borges kept dialing them up. By the time they stuck with Devin at QB and didn't even put Denard in the game for what seemed to be most of the fourth quarter, the offense was so out of sync it was hopeless. They didn't even cross the 50 yard line in the half. There is no defending Borges for what transpired on Saturday.

No imagination. No threat of a pass with Gardner out. No moving Denard around even as a decoy. This amounted to no win. The end.

Those are just a few examples of the ineptitude we have seen this season from Al Borges. And if you can't see how they greatly contributed to losses then I want some of what you're on.

You can point to the fact that the running game was putrid or rehash that Borges didn't have "his guys." I'll give you a response of a fart noise. Michigan has one of the most dynamic players in Denard Robinson at their disposal and also what appears to be a darn good dual-threat QB in Devin Gardner. A coach that has been touted an offensive genius and is "well-respected" in the college football ranks should be able to do wonders with that. Many coordinators are able to do a lot more with a lot less. I have a very difficult time defending Al Borges after this year and would not argue with anyone who would think that he held the team back in the win column this year. The numbers and the facts are right there in black and white. The argument can be made.

I am not one of those saying Hoke should be fired. That's goofy talk. I think he is the right guy for the job. Am I a little concerned about some of his game management at times along with his 3-13 road record in his last four seasons against winning teams?  A little. But I think the good he has done as whole has far outweighed those things and I can look passed those for the time being.

However, I am seriously wondering if we have the right guy in Al Borges to run this offense in the future. I am concerned that it is entirely possible that his stubbornness, questionable play calling, propensity to get cute at the wrong times, his inability to make sound in-game adjustments, and his inability up to this point to outscheme any truly good defense could hold Michigan back from winning anything significant. It think it may have done just that this year. I am not saying this will 100% be the case moving forward but if you can't say the thought hasn't even crossed your mind you're crazy and probably delusional. I have seen enough in the last two seasons to at least be concerned.

I hope I am wrong about Borges. I hope he makes those of us who question his abilities look like imbeciles by directing juggernaut offenses. We'll see. But starting next season he won't have to "figure out" how to adequately use Robinson, he will have a QB capable of making the throws needed for his offense, and will have two years of recruiting "his guys." All of those crutches he has used to stand on will be gone and, at least for me, he is now on the clock. No more excuses.

Sorry for the rant. Losing to OSU in a game that was very winnable will do that.

GO BLUE!!

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: QB Controversy? NO, STOP IT!

Monday, November 5, 2012

ATTENTION ARMCHAIR QBS, COACHES, ATHLETIC DIRECTORS, ETC: There is no quarterback controversy at the University of Michigan!

Please take the time to read that once more, and maybe a few more times to let it sink in. I'm serious. Read it as many times as it takes for you to fully grasp those words that are written clearly and concisely in the English Language. It is the only language I am capable of speaking and writing in (even though I know very basic Spanish and some cuss words in Italian) so there should be no confusion here.

Okay, if you're still puzzled let me spell it out further. Ready?

For the remainder of the 2012 season, when Michigan's senior quarterback, Denard Robinson, is healthy enough to play he will be, and SHOULD BE, the starting quarterback for the Wolverines, and Devin Gardner will remain the backup. There is no controversy, discussion, second-guessing, wiggle room, ambiguity, or two ways about it. Enough. Stop with the nonsense.

Yes, Devin Gardner was a 5-star recruit and the #1 dual-threat QB coming out of high school and he sure looked the part on Saturday. Not to diminish Gardner's accomplishments on Saturday but they did play the Minnesota Golden Gophers who don't exactly tout a defense that draws comparisons to the '85 Bears.

And yes, Hoke said in his Monday presser that the offense we saw on Saturday was more of the pro-style Al Borges will run starting next year and Gardner ran it well. He appears to be more of the "traditional QB" mold and a better passer than Robinson.

All that is great, but Denard will still be the starter for the rest of the season as he should be. This supposed "QB controversy" is simply another case of the backup QB, goalie, etc. being the most popular guy in town and fans overreacting to the point of ridiculousness.

Robinson may not be the ideal QB that everyone, including the coaching staff, wants to see under center for U-M. However, the fact remains that he is still one of the, if not the, most dangerous player in all of college football. He has not put up the gaudy statistics, broken records, led dramatic comebacks, etc. by luck. He is a very good football player who makes plays and knows how to win football games. Oh yeah, he has also started every game the last three years up until Saturday. One good performance by Gardner is not enough to wipe that away nor should it blind us all as to how special of a player Denard Robinson truly is.

Let's not overlook the fact that Robinson IS the Michigan rushing attack which is why he accounts for over 75% of the team's offense. He's accomplished that by playing QB, not RB, WR, or anything else.

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the RBs and the OL are struggling and Robinson is the only ball carrier who has proven that he can overcome those shortcomings. With that said, stop and think before you speak when you suggest he should be moved to RB or WR for the rest of his college career. If that move was to be made it would've been done either before last season or before this season at the latest. You don't make drastic position changes like that nine games into the season unless your team is desperate and does not have anything left to play for. Michigan is not one of those teams. Enough with the charade.

Look, what Devin Gardner did on Saturday was very encouraging and comforting for the future. If Denard is held out of games at any point during the rest of the season we now know that Team 133 has a very capable backup. That is a complete 180-degree turnaround from the sentiment we all felt after the Nebraska debacle. But that is as far as it goes, at least for the 2012 season.

As for next year, the optimism is completely different. Denard Robinson, for better or for worse depending on which fan(s) you speak to, will have graduated. Now you can talk all day about Devin Gardner being your starting quarterback. After Saturday's performance you would have to believe it may very well be his job to lose. He has the size, the arm strength, and overall ability to be very effective in a pro-style offense and he certainly can make things happen with his feet if things break down in the pocket. Saturday may have been a bit of a glimpse of what 2013 will look like and that is very exciting.

Notice I did not mention incoming 5-star recruit Shane Morris as being thought about as next year's starter. That is because if you think that is a good idea you really don't know much about football. Not trying to be a (insert expletive-filled insult here) but it's the truth. You do not start a true freshman at QB at a program that has championship aspirations unless you either have no other feasible option or said freshman completely blows away the other candidates.

For every Chad Henne there are about a gazillion Jimmy Clausens. Keep in mind Henne had Edwards, Avant, and Breaston to throw to, Hart in the backfield, and a very talented and experienced OL. Morris will not have those luxuries. Let the senior Gardner lead the team for a year, Bellomy play the role of backup, and let the talented 18-year old redshirt and learn for a year.

Don't agree with me, go back and watch some Jimmy Clausen highlights (if there even is any) from his freshman year at Notre Dame. He was the top QB recruit and looked like a deer in headlights all season long. Not pretty. Basically, chill out with the Morris for Heisman 2013 campaign. This is not Xbox.

To get back on track, the moral of the story is that if you are one of those fans that have been screaming from the mountain tops since around 3:00 PM on Saturday that Devin Gardner should start over Denard Robinson save your breath. It ain't happening. The coaches have said as much and they are right. Michigan will be just fine with "Shoelace" under center and will more than likely be fine next year with Gardner, not Morris, as the man. Enjoy the rest of the season and the rest of Denard Robinson's last year at Michigan...as the starting quarterback.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Bellomy Should Not Be Judged By Nebraska Game

Monday, October 29, 2012

There is no denying that Team 133 will only go as far as a healthy Denard Robinson will take them.  That was made perfectly clear after "Shoelace" was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter of Michigan's loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday with a nerve injury to his throwing elbow.

Enter 2nd string QB, and possible 2013 starter, Russell Bellomy...a redshirt freshman...in Lincoln Nebraska...under the lights...in a crucial divisional matchup.

In a situation like this as a fan you take a big gulp and know disaster lies ahead.  Bellomy's final numbers were of Armageddon proportions:
  • PASSING ACCURACY - 3/16
  • PASSING YARDS - 38
  • INT - 3
  • TD - 0
  • RUSHING YARDS - 0 (Multiple sacks nullified the yardage he gained on 5 carries)
He didn't have have much help as his receivers dropped a handful of passes, he was under duress by the Nebraska pass rush, and the RBs continued to contribute next to nothing, but the numbers are still ghastly no matter how you slice it.  Subsequently U-M suffered a 23-9 defeat and failed to score an offensive TD for the 2nd straight week.

There is always doom and gloom after a Wolverine loss but this week was a little different.

"Russell Bellomy is a terrible QB!"

"We're screwed next year because we have no QB!"

"Shane Morris is going to have to start as a true freshman!"

"Fire Al Borges!"

"FIRE BRADY HOKE! (Yes, I did indeed see this on Twitter)

Look, I was just as angry and frustrated as anyone and entertained some doom and gloom myself...FOR THIS SEASON.

Once I had the opportunity to cheer myself up by watching some Seinfeld and think logically, I was able to put things in the proper perspective.  Bellomy is a redshirt freshman with minimal game experience who was thrown into a snake pit and asked to win a crucial game with very little help.  I am not sure what everyone was expecting.  I would think that nine out of ten QBs would struggle in that scenario.  Give the kid a break.

Was I a little shocked that he wasn't a little more game ready? 

Yep.

Do I think some of it falls on Al Borges and the offensive coaches to ensure that they have a QB ready to go in and at least be serviceable?

Since they have a running QB who gets pounded every game and has a history of getting banged up you're darn tootin' I do.

But let's get things straight, this was a kid thrown into a situation where the odds were severely against him.  His future career at U-M should not be judged or speculated upon based off of one underwhelming performance in which he was asked to do the unthinkable.  People who think his career will be defined by what happened on Saturday need to scale back on the caffeine and/or narcotics a smidge.

Once the season is finished his mindset, as well as the mindset of the coaches, will completely change.  He will be preparing, mentally and physically, to be the starting QB at the University of Michigan.  Not the backup.  He will be prepared by the coaching staff, mentally and physically, to be the starting QB at the University of Michigan, or at least compete for the spot.  Not to be the backup.  The offense will shift from the spread to more of a pro-style, Al Borges' preference, to adhere to his skill set.  He will be more equipped to be a serviceable, and who knows, maybe even a pretty good starting signal-caller for the Wolverines. 

I don't have a crystal ball but I am pretty certain that given the reps and the opportunity next season, he will prove that he is not nearly as bad as he appeared in Lincoln.  He would not have been recruited by the coaching staff if he was and there is a reason he is #2 on the depth chart.  They are the same coaches that get praised daily for their recruiting prowess so I think we can safely say Bellomy was not brought in by throwing darts at a dartboard.  Chill out people.

Also, those of you who think Shane Morris is going to come in as an 18-year old freshman and take the starting spot are nuts.  I can't put it any other way.  You saw what happens on Saturday when you put a kid in at QB before he's ready...disaster.  As talented as Morris may be he will still be a freshman. 

You don't start a frosh at QB unless you absolutely have to.  And if that is indeed the case you'd be extremely naive and borderline crazy to think Morris will come in and be lights out and lead Team 134 to a B1G title.  This ain't the MAC or Conference USA.  It's the B1G and you don't ask a kid to lead a big time program into places like East Lansing and Iowa City.  At least at Michigan you don't.  Chad Henne was the exception not the rule.  He also had Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, and Jason Avant to throw to and Mike Hart in the backfield.  Enough with the Shane Morris talk people.  At least until 2014.

If you want to worry about what might happen this season if Denard Robinson can't stay healthy then fine.  Believe me, I'm right there with you.  But when it comes to next season let's all just relax and trust the coaches to have the starting QB, presumably Russell Bellomy, ready to run the offense smoothly.  Give a very good staff the benefit of the doubt and step away from the ledge.

Team 133 is in the middle of a battle for a division title.  They are undoubtedly focused on just that and not next season.  I suggest the fans follow suit.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Pay No Attention to the Spread

Monday, October 15, 2012

Revenge. Redemption. Payback. Paul Bunyan. Those are the words that are on the minds of the Wolverines and their fans as THE RIVALRY WEEK is upon us. Those words seem like a very possible reality for Team 133 as the two teams that will square off on Saturday appear to be heading in different directions.

The Spartans (4-3, 1-2 B1G) appear to be crumbling as they suffered a heart-breaking loss to a putrid Iowa team at home on Saturday. Add the fact that the week before they barely squeaked out a victory against Indiana and struggled against EMU a few weeks prior and you have a floundering football team.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 B1G) put a gigantic maize and blue boot in the behinds of a not-so-great Illinois squad to the tune of a 45-0 massacre after "shocking the world" (or at least Kirk Herbstreit) by embarrassing Purdue on the road the week before. They are hitting their stride and booming with confidence at the right time.

As a result, Michigan opened up the week as a huge 11.5 point favorite for Saturday's game. The spread has now dropped to 10 which, in my opinion, is still way too high. Wolverine Nation should not buy into this absurd line...mentally or monetarily. Let me explain.

First and foremost, let's all remember who coaches the Michigan State Spartans. Yes, the man with the biggest maize and blue chip on his shoulder...Mark "The Red A**" Dantonio. He has a complete and utter disdain for Michigan. Hate is definitely not a strong enough word to describe his anti-love for the Wolverines. As a result, he puts quite an emphasis on this game every year and thus has them uber prepared and fired up for this contest...every...single...year. I expect nothing less this year nor should anyone else. Especially after they were embarrassed on Saturday by Iowa at home. He will have the Spartans, angry, determined, and desperate knowing a win against their arch rival is key to salvaging their disappointing season. They will be coming out swinging...count on it.

Second, Michigan State still has a very formidable defense. The group is number one in all major defensive categories in the B1G. It is also a defense that for the past three years has completely shut down Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense.

I am not going to waste my time throwing out the blatant statistics. Anyone who has watched the last few games in the rivalry knows that defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi's "Spartan Dawgs" have lined up and punched the Wolverines' offense in the mouth. It has looked like full grown Pitt Bulls against Shih Tzu puppies. It is THE team that has mapped out the blueprint on how to stop "Shoelace." Many of the players who effectively stymied his play previously will be taking the field on Saturday. It will be up to Denard and Al Borges to prove they can figure out how to bite back. I truly believe Robinson will be incredibly focused on beating the Spartans in his final try and will play his heart out. We'll see if he can keep calm and play within himself and not try to do too much.

The Spartans are the inverse of the Wolverines of the Rich Rod Era. While they tout an incredibly stingy defense, their offense is pretty pedestrian (I am being P.C.). They're pretty bad. No, I am not being a Michigan slappy or a "Walmart Wolverine," that moniker still holds no water to any intelligent sports fan but I digress, I am calling it like it is.

Anybody who has watched the Spartans in the last few weeks will tell you they are anemic offensively. Once again I am not going to throw out the glaringly supportive statistics, I am simply going with the eyeball test. Their receivers are young and drop a ton of balls, Maxwell is still fairly inexperienced and makes some questionable decisions, their offensive line is banged up, and they live and die with LeVeon Bell. With that said, Maxwell, statistics aside, has shown he has the potential and physical tools to get the job done and Bell is an absolute horse. With a struggling air attack, they will feed Bell the rock constantly and force the Michigan defense to match their physicality and stop it. While the UM defense has dramatically improved in recent weeks, they have yet to step up to the Spartans' challenge in recent years. It will be up to them to keep that struggling Spartan offense from breaking out and give their own offense as many possessions as possible.

Don't think I am being a Negative Nancy and thinking the Wolverines will lose the game. Quite the opposite. I fully believe the Wolverines will play inspired football in front of their home crowd and break "The Streak." They look like the more complete team and are motivated to get the MSU monkey off of their backs. However, I am not buying the huge spread that Vegas is selling, nor am I jumping on the Train of Overconfidence that many fans are currently riding. This is a rivalry game, and in the past, no matter how good or bad the teams have been, it is typically a close, hard-fought game. I expect nothing different here.

The Paul Bunyan Trophy has made a home in East Lansing for four years now. It basically has changed its area code to 517. Its keepers, the Michigan State Spartans, a.k.a. "Spartan Dawgs," will be rabid, desperate, angry, and foaming at the mouth to ruin Michigan's chances at a division championship. Dantonio, Narduzzi, and Co. will see to it that MSU gives Team 133 all it can handle on Saturday. Buckle up for another exciting chapter of this civil war because bringing Mr. Bunyan back to the 734 area code will not be easy.


**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Q & A Sessions: Troy Woolfolk

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

From broken ankles, to broken hands. Troy Woolfolk is the definition of a warrior. Enduring injuries for most of his Michigan career, he was able to finish of a hobbled 2011 season with a Sugar Bowl victory. The biggest thing for Woolfolk is that him and fellow seniors from Team 132 were able to taste the sweetness of victory once again. Something they've wanted since their victory over Florida in the Capital One Bowl their freshman year.

Woolfolk took some time to answer a few of my questions.

Q: A major discussion piece for the past couple of seasons was how uncharacteristically bad the Michigan defense was under Greg Robinson. In your opinion, what made your defense so successful under Greg Mattison?

A: I would say the main thing was knowing what the whole defense was and paying attention to detail. With Mattison, he really stressed that everyone on the team not only knowing their own position, but knowing other positions as well. One way he did that was by having full defensive meetings. Very rarely was there individual meetings. The majority of the meetings were the full defense together including the defensive lineman, the defensive backs as well as the linebackers. I think it allowed the defense to understand the defense and be able to work in unison rather than individuals on the field. At the end of the year, I felt like I knew what the linebackers were doing, what the cornerbacks were doing while I was playing safety. Which allowed me to know where my help, which is one thing he always stressed. It allows you to craft your game, to aid you on the field a little bit. Knowing the defense is what made our defense much better. In the past, many times we had balls thrown over our heads or blown coverages. I just think miscommunication with the linebackers and defensive backs was an issue because we would never meet together. The only time we would meet with the rest of the defense was during a special teams meeting or a full team meeting.

Q: Do you feel under Rich Rodriguez that the defense was ignored, in a sense?

A: I wouldn't say ignored, but I would say he did focus more on the offense. I just think that's his skill-set. I feel like he wasn't very familiar with the defense, which was the reason he went and hired Coach Robinson to take care of that. Which basically meant him telling to take care of that, while I take care of this, in a way. He would monitor us every now and then. I think another problem was that we were never really comfortable with the defense. In 2008 we switched up the defenses three times in one year when Coach Schafer was there. I think it didn't allow the defense to work in unison and actually work. There wasn't enough consistency

Q: Talk about the seniors of Team 132. What kind of impact do you feel you and your fellow seniors left on the program?

A: This was a special class because this was one of Lloyd Carr's last recruiting classes. When we came in here, we came into a winning tradition. That's how it was our freshman year. We beat Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin in the Capital One Bowl. We should've won the Big Ten but lost it to Wisconsin. We came in to a winning tradition and we felt a love for that Michigan winning tradition. Then we had to go through a 3-9 record our sophomore year. We just wanted to get back to our winning ways. That was our goal as a senior class to go out how we came in. We committed our time to do anything on and off the field to make that happen.

Q: What was it about Brady Hoke that brought the team together and cap off an incredible 2011 season?

A: I think Brady Hoke is a very intelligent man. He used unorthodox techniques to induce team unity. We went to an area, I can't remember where it was, ten minutes off campus and it was an open area that had a lot of team activities to get you closer with your teammates. Some activities you had to work with your teammates in order to succeed. It just taught us how to be dependent on our team and individuals won't survive.

Q:  What do you feel was your most memorable moment as a player at the University of Michigan?


A: My most memorable moment had to be the Notre Dame game this year. Every year we played Notre Dame is a great game. In 2009 we had the catch from Greg Mathews for the touchdown, this year you had Roy Roundtree. I would say it was my most memorable for a number of reasons. Number one, it was the first night game in Michigan Stadium history. We broke out the new jerseys, and so did they. Everything lead up to where it had to be a good game, it just had to be. It has to be one of the top games in football history. I just wish I didn't have a broken hand so I could look sleek in my new jersey (laughs).

Q: You mentioned the new jerseys. As a player, how do you feel about introducing new jerseys at a school that has a ton of tradition in regards to their jerseys.

A:  I may get in trouble for saying this, but I'm all about new things. I respect tradition and I think it's very important. As long as we never change our biggest tradition, a winning tradition at Michigan, I think it's okay to introduce new jerseys. One thing I will never want to see change, is the helmets. You can change the jerseys but don't touch the winged helmet. I think that's the one thing I will never want to see change on the Michigan uniform.

Q:  Twitter user @B_Hugh21 asked: How severe was your ankle injury during the season?

A: It was actually way more severe than I tried to lead on to people. It wasn't until after the season, when I played in my All-Star game, where I was 100 percent. I wasn't 100 percent the whole season and I noticed it when I was just planting off it. It wasn't as sturdy as it used to be and it was more of a mental challenge getting over it. I was scared that it may break again. It really did change me as a player. I really wish that I had another year to play on it to show what my true potential is.

Q: Twitter user @FilthyJeepGirl asked: What would it mean to you personally to play on a team that your father played for? Also, did you learn through Dallas that could give you a competitive edge in Detroit?

A:  It would mean a lot, as people would say I am following in my fathers footsteps. My father is my hero. For me to be able to do what he did would be the ultimate accomplishment. I really want to make him feel proud, and I think it would be a great way to do it. If I were to make the team, I am going to try and get his jersey number (24) as well. As far as an edge in Detroit, nothing specific. I would say the experience will help me. When I got to Dallas I was nervous and a little hesitant to make certain plays. Now I already have a rookie camp under my belt and I'm less nervous and ready to go out there and play.

Q: Talk about the upcoming year for the Wolverines. They're returning a lot of guys on defense but also lost some experienced players on the line. How will the defense fare in 2012?

A:  I think the secondary will be one of the top secondary's in the nation. You've got a young upcoming star in Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd is proving himself from last year. Obviously, you've got Jordan Kovacs who is a phenomenal player and one of the smartest people I've been around. Thomas Gordon is going to have a great year. I think the strong suit of this defense is going to be the secondary. Of course the linebackers headed by Kenny Demens is going to be good as well. The question mark I am curious to see answered is the defensive lineman. Will they be able to replace Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. I think that might be the one true test and the only crack I could see in this defense. If Big Will (Campbell) can rattle them up, I think it's going to be a great year on defense. We are going to give Alabama some hell when we play them at Dallas Stadium this year.
 

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