2010 Countdown: #2 Troy Woolfolk

Tag: 2010 Season Countdown

2Sep 2010
Uncategorized 14 comments

2010 Countdown: #2 Troy Woolfolk

Name: Troy Woolfolk
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: Dulles High School in Sugar Land, TX
Position: Cornerback
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #29
Last year: I ranked Woolfolk at #8. He made 6 starts at deep safety and 6 starts at cornerback and tallied 46 tackles along with 1 pass breakup.

Woolfolk was one of the better players on Michigan’s defense last season, despite flip-flopping positions. He was a cornerback in 2007 and 2008, then moved to deep safety in spring 2009. He played fairly well at deep safety for the first half of the season, but the moronic behavior (Boubacar Cissoko) and poor play (J.T. Floyd) of Michigan’s non-Donovan Warren cornerback last season forced Woolfolk back to cornerback. The position move was good for Woolfolk, who proved he could cover, but it was bad for Michigan’s defense, which turned into a sieve. Although Warren was a 5-star classmate of 3-star Woolfolk, opposing teams largely ignored Woolfolk’s receivers and picked on every other part of the secondary.

Coming into 2010, I assumed Woolfolk would remain at deep safety. He played well there last year, and no other safeties had shown the ability to do the job. However, Michigan made some slight tweaks to the defense and converted to a defense that will be predominantly a Cover 3 defense. In such a scheme, a fleet-footed deep safety isn’t needed, and it looks as though converted wide receiver Cameron Gordon will be taking that role this season.

Then the Great Cornerback Exodus began. In addition to Warren entering the NFL Draft a year early (and promptly going undrafted) and Boubacar Cissoko going to jail, elite cornerback recruit Demar Dorsey failed to qualify for entry to Michigan and Justin Turner chose to transfer; if you’re scoring at home, that’s one 5-star and three high 4-star cornerbacks who should be on the roster for this season. In case Michigan fans’ souls weren’t crushed enough, Woolfolk broke his lower leg a couple days after Turner was released from his scholarship.

There are only a couple places on the team where Michigan simply couldn’t afford an injury to a quality starter, and Woolfolk’s cornerback position was one of them. His backups are young, not very good, or both. When I created this list a couple months ago, I looked at the depth and talent at cornerback . . . and still put Woolfolk all the way at #2. With a redshirt freshman position changer (Gordon) playing free safety and a guy who was removed from the field in favor of Mike Williams (Floyd) at the other cornerback, Woolfolk was indispensible. Now senior James Rogers has taken over Woolfolk’s position (at least for now), and while Rogers has great speed, he hasn’t played much in his career. This position is weak, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it costs Michigan a game or two throughout the season.

Prediction for 2010: Redshirt due to broken ankle; return for fifth year status in 2011

2Sep 2010
Uncategorized no comments

2010 Countdown List

1. David Molk
2. Troy Woolfolk
3. Tate Forcier
4. Mike Martin
5. Denard Robinson
6. Ryan Van Bergen
7. J.T. Floyd
8. Craig Roh
9. Roy Roundtree
10. Jonas Mouton
11. Cameron Gordon
12. Stephen Schilling
13. Darryl Stonum
14. Obi Ezeh
15. Will Hagerup
16. Martavious Odoms
17. Michael Cox
18. Brendan Gibbons
19. Patrick Omameh
20. Kevin Koger
21. Jordan Kovacs
22. Greg Banks
23. Thomas Gordon
24. Mark Huyge
25. Perry Dorrestein
26. Junior Hemingway
27. Vladimir Emilien
28. Taylor Lewan
29. William Campbell
30. Michael Shaw
31. Rocko Khoury
32. Cullen Christian
33. J.B. Fitzgerald
34. Justin Turner
35. Kenny Demens
36. Vincent Smith
37. Martell Webb
38. Renaldo Sagesse
39. Mike Williams
40. Mark Moundros
41. Floyd Simmons
42. Je’Ron Stokes
43. Brandon Herron
44. Anthony Lalota
45. Teric Jones
46. Fitzgerald Toussaint
47. Adam Patterson
48. Ricky Barnum
49. Kevin Leach
50. Stephen Hopkins
51. Elliott Mealer
52. Brandin Hawthorne
53. John Ferrara
54. Michael Schofield
55. Mike Jones
56. James Rogers
57. Terrence Robinson
58. Jerald Robinson
59. Jeremy Gallon
60. Ricardo Miller
61. Quinton Washington
62. Kelvin Grady
63. Steve Watson
64. Marvin Robinson
65. Isaiah Bell
66. Brandon Moore
67. Carvin Johnson
68. Josh Furman
69. Courtney Avery
70. Terrence Talbott
71. Richard Ash
72. Devin Gardner
73. Ken Wilkins
74. Jeremy Jackson
75. Jibreel Black
76. Terry Talbott
77. Austin White
78. Drew Dileo
79. Ray Vinopal
80. Jake Ryan
81. Jordan Paskorz
82. Conelius Jones
83. DJ Williamson
84. Davion Rogers
85. Antonio Kinard
86. Christian Pace
1Sep 2010
Uncategorized 10 comments

2010 Countdown: #3 Tate Forcier

Name: Tate Forcier
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 192 lbs.
High school: Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego, CA
Position: Quarterback
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #5
Last year: I ranked Forcier #2. He started all 12 games and completed 165 of 281 passes (58.7%) with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran the ball 118 times for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The hype for Forcier last season was amazing. It approximated the hype this season for Denard Robinson. Forcier was a highly touted recruit at a position of need with the pedigree and polish (if not the size) to turn the whole program around after a nightmarish 2008 season for Michigan. Things started off with a bang, as Forcier threw 3 touchdowns against Western Michigan in his first game and won the first four games of the season. His comeback victory against Indiana was followed by a near-comeback against MSU, but the 4-0 start to the season quickly devolved as Forcier went 1-7 as a starter down the stretch.

The offseason was somewhat tumultuous for Forcier. He had to recover from a bum shoulder that he injured late in the season. Then Denard Robinson took great strides in spring practices, earning rave reviews and seemingly relegating Forcier to a backup role. Rumors of Forcier’s impending transfer sprouted up several times throughout the spring and summer, especially when Forcier had to “earn his wings” at the beginning of summer practices; several Michigan players, including Forcier, who had less than stellar offseasons were given plain blue helmets. While Denard Robinson was reportedly studying film, working hard on his mechanics, and participating in voluntary 7-on-7s, Forcier reportedly made rare appearances at voluntary sessions during the summer.

Forcier is still one of the top three most important players on the team due to his position and talent. Denard Robinson has received more snaps with the first string offense since the spring, and Forcier has been playing catch-up. And while Robinson is clearly a superior runner to Forcier, Michigan fans should remember that Shoelace is tearing up a Michigan defense that might be one of the worst in the Big Ten this year. Robinson made it clear in 2009 that he can gain yards on the ground against just about anyone, but he also made it clear that he has a long way to go as a passer. Forcier is virtually the opposite – he’s just an okay runner, but has the ability to be a very good passer. Denard Robinson’s legs might let him run past early foes with mediocre defenses like Connecticut, Notre Dame, UMass, Bowling Green, and Indiana. But the tougher defenses that loom in the second half of the season (Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State) will require a more nuanced passing attack, one that Robinson is unlikely to produce at this point in his development. Robinson was integral enough to be #5 on this countdown, but Forcier will end up being more valuable by the end of the 2010 campaign.

Prediction for 2010: Part-time starting quarterback; 1,700 yards passing and 15 touchdowns; 200 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns

31Aug 2010
Uncategorized 6 comments

2010 Countdown: #4 Mike Martin

Name: Mike Martin
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 299 lbs.
High school: Catholic Central High School in Redford, MI
Position: Nose guard
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #68
Last year: I ranked Martin #7. He had 51 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.

Martin has been somewhat underappreciated at Michigan over the past two seasons. It’s rare that a true freshman defensive tackle steals snaps from a talented fifth year senior, but that’s what happened when Will Johnson saw his minutes declining in 2008. Last year Martin developed into a force in the middle of Michigan’s defense, racking up 51 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. Those are pretty good numbers for a guy who plays between the center and guard and gets double-teamed on a regular basis, especially when one considers that he played with a bum shoulder for much of the season. (The aforementioned Terrance Taylor’s best season included 55 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss as a junior in 2007.)

The upcoming season will be a big test for Martin. No longer will he be aided by having Brandon Graham to one side of him, soaking up some double-teams. This is Mike Martin’s defensive line, and though it’s the strength of the team, it’s not outstanding. He’ll be flanked by a tackle/end tweener (Ryan Van Bergen) and a fifth year senior starting for the first time (Greg Banks). The defensive backfield is in shambles, and the linebacker crew is in limbo. Martin’s backup, sophomore William Campbell, hasn’t played consistently enough to wedge himself into the starting lineup, so Michigan has a 333 lb. benchwarmer. Martin needs to remain healthy in 2010 and step his game up another notch. He needs to play like an All American this season for Michigan’s defense to resemble adequacy. Hopefully he can replicate William Carr’s junior season, during which Carr earned 82 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks. That’s asking a little much, though.

Prediction for 2010: 60 tackles, 4 sacks

The voting for #4 went like this:
36% for Troy Woolfolk
26% for Martin
23% for Tate Forcier
12% for David Molk

30Aug 2010
Uncategorized 22 comments

2010 Countdown: #5 Denard Robinson

Name: Denard Robinson
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 193 lbs.
High school: Deerfield Beach High School in Deerfield Beach, FL
Position: Quarterback
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #16
Last year: I ranked Robinson #31. He finished the season with 188 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions on 14/31 passes. He also had 69 carries for 351 yards and 5 touchdowns.

I wasn’t sold on Denard Robinson as a quarterback going into 2009. He was bound to be an integral part of Michigan’s offense, but he was raw as a signal caller. Coming from a high school that ran a Wing-T offense, I doubted he’d be ready to run a shotgun spread. His first play against Western Michigan was thrilling, but I guess after that, things could only go down. Robinson proceeded to be an evasive and exciting runner while also being a frustratingly poor passer. He excelled against an FCS patsy in Delaware State (3/4, 85 yards, 2 TDs), but was only 11/27 for 103 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions against teams with a pulse.

Part of the problem with Robinson’s performance in 2009 was the fact that Rich Rodriguez inserted him somewhat randomly throughout the season. Rather than playing him situationally or giving him a quarter here or there, Rodriguez whimsically inserted him whenever the breeze blew juuuuuuuuuust right. I don’t think anyone on the team was able to get in a rhythm, and that showed at times. It’s a testament to Robinson’s running ability that he was able to average over 5 yards per carry when it was clear that virtually every snap Robinson took would be a run.

In my opinion, the battle for the quarterback job in 2010 will come down to this: Which quarterback can run the zone read option most effectively? The zone read option has traditionally been the staple of Rodriguez’s offense, and he hasn’t had a quarterback run it consistently since Pat White did in 2007. Robinson was so ineffective at running the play that it was seemingly removed from the playbook when he was in the game. Tate Forcier seemed to make the wrong read two-thirds of the time. White averaged up to 8.0 yards per carry, and if Robinson can read the backside defensive end properly, there’s no reason that he can’t get at least six yards a pop.

I still think that Robinson will be extremely raw in 2010. There are reports that he has been tearing up Michigan’s defense in spring and fall practices, but keep in mind that it’s Michigan’s defense. We know that Robinson can run the ball, but can he make the right reads? Can he pick apart a defense that runs something other than a base Cover 3? I have my doubts. When nearly 15% of one’s passes against FBS opponents are caught by people wearing the wrong colored jerseys, faith disappears quickly. (Comparatively, a 15% interception rate for Tate Forcier would have resulted in approximately 42 interceptions!) Robinson will still be very important in 2010, but Michigan’s offense can succeed without him. Forcier’s range of talents makes #5 the most important quarterback on the team, no matter which quarterback starts on September 4th.

Prediction for 2010: Part-time starting quarterback; 900 yards passing, 8 touchdowns; 800 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns

I’m one of the few who doesn’t buy the hype, I guess. The voting went like this:

36% for Tate Forcier
28% for Troy Woolfolk
15% for Mike Martin
15% for David Molk
3% for Denard Robinson