Michigan Defense Searching for Answers

After surrendering nearly 500 yards of offense for the second consecutive week, Michigan junior cornerbacks Donovan Warren and Troy Woolfolk discuss the persistent defensive breakdowns, the morale of the team, and how to salvage what is left of the season.

Troy Woolfolk

Troy Woolfolk:  "We started off the season real good, winning like four games in a row and then we hit a wall and we've haven't been able to recover from that wall yet."

Question:  What happened today?  What's been happening the last couple of weeks; obviously, two big second half…the last two weeks, you guys have jet been getting killed in the second half.

Troy Woolfolk:  "If you notice the only ways they made plays on defense, I can't speak for the offense, but on defense, it is just a lack of executing by us.  We forgot to cover people and it is just that we got to get better on execution out there playing."

Question:  Are you surprised how many weeks into the year that it is happening?

Troy Woolfolk:  "Exactly.  That's the problem; I don't know what is going on.  Everybody is just clueless.  We're trying out there.  We still go back every Monday and study, but game day we just seem to forget stuff.  I'm not sure what it is, but we going to get it fixed."

Question:  How important would a bowl be for this team?

Troy Woolfolk:  "I think that we are still climbing.  Last year we only won three games, we already surpassed that but a bowl would just validate that we are getting better and hopefully next year we can do better than trying to shoot for a bowl."

Question:  Do you guys feel like you are getting better right now or do you feel like you guys are taking steps back?

Troy Woolfolk:  "I feel like we working better.  I wouldn't say that we taking steps back, but we just got to…I don't know."

Question:  Is that happening slower than you thought it was going to?

Troy Woolfolk:  "What is that?"

Question:  You guys progressively getting better?

Troy Woolfolk:  "It started off right, really, really good.  We started off winning, beating Notre Dame and I was really shocked myself.  I knew we had the potential to beat them.  Then we started to hit a wall and I just don't see us climbing on that ladder to be better.  Hopefully we can fix that."

Question:  It's the third quarter and third downs that keep hurting you guys; do you address those; what do you think the problems could be then?

Troy Woolfolk:  "I'm not really sure.  Are you talking about the offense?"

Question:  No on defense, giving up the big plays on third down and the third quarter?

Troy Woolfolk:  "Like I said, I think people getting nervous out there and just got to relax.  I think the 110,000 people in the stands might be affecting us as well.  We just got to stay calm and we could probably fix those problems."

Donovan Warren

Question:  How big a swing was it when they got the onside kick and they scored quickly?

Donovan Warren:  "I feel like they got a little momentum after that.  They came out and made some plays offense, a couple plays to keep the chains moving and it kind of went downhill from there.  Like I said, we try to stick together and put the past behind us.  The plays that occurred that weren't good for us."

Question:  Despite you and Brandon (Graham) pushing that in the locker room, do you think there are some guys that were comfortable with that lead?

Donovan Warren:  "I wouldn't say there was guys that there was guys that were comfortable with the lead.  One or two little mental mistakes here or there could lead to a big play and that's just what happened."

Question:  That onside kick was obviously a big mental mistake.  Is that on the players, the coaches; whose fault is that?

Donovan Warren:  "I know that's on the players.  Guys just got to be more aware of the situation and just looking at the ball, doing their assignment, like I said little things are going to add up.  That was something little that you wouldn't expect.  If you do your job and do what the coaches have told us to do, it might've been alright."

Question:  As this continues week after week, you've seen changes in Coach Robinson or any of the other defensive coaches?

Donovan Warren:  "Not at all.  I give a lot of credit to the coaches.  They come out during the week – they push up.  We have good practices, guys are battling.  No one is sulking with their heads down.  I give credit to our team for keep fighting and not getting down just because we lost, going in the tank or balling up in a corner crying.  We just got to move on and put it behind us."

Question:  Does if feel different than last year at this time?

Donovan Warren:  "Yeah definitely.  It feels a lot different.  Last year after we got a couple of losses, I feel like some guys weren't pushing as had as we know we could and know we can be.  This year, I feel like practices are upbeat.  Everyone is up and at it, into the game.  It just so happens that we just come out on the bad side."

Question:  Why do you think there is practices after you guys practice well all week; if you feel like you are ready to play?

Donovan Warren:  "I couldn't even tell you.  I don't know what it is.  Guys on the big stage…just guys getting the experience and getting that under their belt and just seeing what's it like, it would help us in the long run." 

Question:  The problem with those man and zone assignment; you can see it once happening, you can see it twice happening, there was three bad botches out there today; how do you explain that?

Donovan Warren:  "I can explain one or two guys making a mental mistake or a missed assignment at one time but you got 11 guys on the defense.  So you know is his eyes up, different guys making different mistakes that lead to the different plays."

Question:  Is there a feeling of downhill here; obviously you guys have lost five Big Ten games in a row?

Donovan Warren:  "Naw definitely, we going on the road to Wisconsin, a very good football team, so we've got a good challenge at our hand.  We just got to continue to chip away and go to practice this week and keep battling."

Question:  How much of it is on you and how much versus the coaches; you said the coaches are doing everything they can.  Is it on the players?  Is it on you guys as leaders to do something differently?

Donovan Warren:  "Definitely.  It's on the players and we can only do so much as far as…I like to lead by example and just go out there and do our job; I just got to be a lot more vocal and just getting the details down and talking to the guys to make sure the guys are watching the extra film that we need to do because we got two more games left – this is it right here."

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