2011 Countdown: #9 Troy Woolfolk

2011 Countdown: #9 Troy Woolfolk


August 22, 2011
Defensive back Troy Woolfolk with his father, former Michigan running back Butch
(image via DetNews.com)

Name: Troy Woolfolk
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 191 lbs.
High school: Dulles High School in Sugar Land, TX
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #29
Last year: I ranked Woolfolk at #2.  But by the time I got to that ranking, he had already dislocated his ankle and been declared unable to play.

Thank goodness Woolfolk is back.  With the overall lack of speed and athleticism in the defensive backfield, he will be a welcome sight on September 3.  Last year I was expecting big things from the kid, and he had an unfortunate practice incident that caused his senior season to be delayed.  That absence meant that the cornerback positions were left to senior James Rogers and redshirt sophomore J.T. Floyd, neither of whom was particularly impressive; Floyd suffered an ankle injury halfway through the season that forced true freshman Courtney Avery into starting action, too.  By the end of the year, Michigan was starting cornerbacks #3 and #4 on the pre-season depth chart.  Rogers played admirably with 40 tackles and 3 picks, Floyd made 66 tackles and 1 interception, and Avery made 36 tackles, but getting 4 interceptions out of your cornerbacks – not to mention oodles of completions in front of them – was hard to watch.

Woolfolk has been earning praise this August for his off-season preparation and his knowledge of the defense, despite being unable to practice full speed in the spring.  Comments from defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and head coach Brady Hoke suggest that Woolfolk will be a starter in the defensive backfield on September 3.  But once again, his position has been muddied.  Michigan technically has three returning starters at the cornerback position with Woolfolk, Floyd, and Avery; meanwhile, only Jordan Kovacs has started at a safety spot (Carvin Johnson started a few games last year, but as a hybrid outside linebacker).  If the Wolverines want to get their best four defensive backs on the field, that might be a combination of Floyd and Avery at cornerback with Woolfolk and Kovacs at safety.  Whether he’s at safety or cornerback, I’m guessing Woolfolk will be Michigan’s best defensive back.

Prediction: Starting cornerback; 45 tackles, 2 interceptions

Poll Results: You guys really disagreed with me here.  Woolfolk only got 7% of the votes, while Koger (51%), Omameh (20%), and Hemingway (17%) all had more.

11 comments

  1. Comments: 21387
    Anonymous
    Aug 22, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    You've got Koger higher than Woolfolk?

  2. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Magnus,

    I think we all thought Woolfolk would be #2 or #3.

  3. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    @ Anonymous and David

    Yep, I've got Koger (and others) ahead of Woolfolk. Koger is probably going to be a huge weapon this year, and he has no viable backups. Meanwhile, we have two other cornerbacks with starting experience (Avery and Floyd), plus a couple freshmen who are pretty talented. We're just deeper at cornerback than we are at tight end, which makes Koger more important to me.

  4. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I guess that's fair.

    I'm not disappointed or anything. I loves me some Koger.

  5. Comments: 21387
    Lankownia
    Aug 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    I'd have put Woolfolk a little higher. It's better than last year for sure but the dropoff from 1st DB to 5th DB is still significant. The entire defense benefits if at least one CB can be a 'lock-down' player, or even close to it. Tighter coverage means your rushers have more time and your safeties can focus on ball-hawking a little bit more.

    To me, the difference with Koger is that you can easily scheme out of TE being important, but you always have at least 4 DBs.

  6. Comments: 21387
    Anonymous
    Aug 22, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Safe to assume that Brink has yet to be ranked?

  7. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    @ Lankownia 10:02 a.m.

    Yes, you can scheme out of a TE being important, but if your offense is built around using him as a receiver and running power, then the TE is pretty important. You can scheme to de-emphasize the cornerback, too, by running lots of zone coverages. I agree that the dropoff from #1 to #5 is significant, but losing Koger means playing Brandon Moore (who has barely seen the field in 3 years), Steve Watson (who has barely seen the field in 4 years, and that was mostly on defense), or Chris Barnett (who's a freshman, coming off an injury, and is out of shape).

  8. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    @ Anonymous 10:15 a.m.

    You are correct – Brink has yet to be ranked.

  9. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    That's true Thunder, but I'm not convinced that the the TE as a critical piece until we see it. I've heard the coaches want to use him a lot (and that makes sense) but, at this point, it's still a hypothetical.

    Maybe my mind is just too oriented toward the spread now, but I suspect we'll still see a lot of shotgun and single-back, 3-wide sets. From there, it's not a huge leap to go to 4-wide.

    Do agree with you that theres a big dropoff after Koger, I just think it might mean more action for our 3rd/4th WR or maybe our FB rather than a guys like Miller or Barnett. It might shift play-calling and formations, but I don't know that the offensive effectiveness will dropoff dramatically if TE1 is out.

  10. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    @ Lankownia 11:29 a.m.

    I think you're underestimating Koger's involvement in the offense. I'm guessing he'll catch 25-30 balls this season and, at 258 pounds, will be a key inline blocker when they want to run power. I agree that we'll still see plenty of the spread, but Rich Rodriguez ain't in charge anymore. Tight ends actually matter again.

  11. Comments: 21387
    Aug 22, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    I think you're right about that. It could even be a bigger catch total for Koger. The coaches know that Denard is limited as a passer and has shaky long-distance accuracy. Koger is talented – he'll be a great release valve or short-distance target.

    I'm just saying that if he went down, the team could adjust without everything falling apart.

    His blocking would be missed, but they could use more 2-back sets or even use an OL in the TE position at times. His receiving skills would be missed, but they could use more 3/4 WR sets. Miller can catch, Watson can block. Not as good as having a TE that can do both well, but not devastating either.

    Maybe I'm just traumatized by last year still, but I don't want to think about losing Woolfolk. My confidence in Floyd remains minimal.

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