6 - The Michigan Daily - Football Saturday - October 8, 2005
The Michigan Daily - Foot
Pierre Woods.will never complain about playing time - his loyalty is just too strong
By Ian Herbert 9 Daily Sports Editor
ierre Woods's high school coach compares
his former player to an old, jolly grand-
mother - the kind of old woman you
might see in a movie walking around, smiling,
joking and laughing. From the outside, he doesn't
appear to have a care in the world.
"He's like that grandmother where every time
you see them, they're like, 'How are you doing,
baby?' And they could be sick as a dog and you'd
never know it," coach Ted Ginn Sr., says.
And he's right. Anyone who has ever talked to
Woods knows exactly what Ginn means. The 6-
foot-5, 258-pound rush end is jovial and engaging
as he jokes about his class schedule and his fam-
ily. He'll answer questions about losing to Notre
Dame, he'll talk about Michigan's great fans, and
he'll joke around about nicknames of the other
guys on the team. But one thing he won't discuss
is what happened last year.
After a junior season in which he led the Wol-
verines with 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks,
conference coaches voted Woods to the All-Big
Ten second team and the media awarded him an
honorable mention. He started all 13 games at
outside linebacker and was second on the team
that year with 68 tackles - a career high. But
then something happened.
Woods didn't play much his senior year. He
saw some snaps in every game, but made just
three starts. And his numbers were way down. He
made a disappointing 22 tackles that year, with
just one for a loss.
The questions arose: Why isn't Pierre Woods
starting? Presumably, he was still the same player
from the year before. Rumors surfaced, but no one
would talk about what has happened to Woods.
"Everybody is saying the doghouse," Woods
said earlier this season. "And I don't know where
that came from. Stuff happens, but last year is
last year. I don't worry about it. I'm just looking
"We were winning, right? So I'm always happy.
That's what matters."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is the same way.
He hates the word "doghouse," and never uses it
to describe the status of one of his players. But
Carr has a history of being harshest on those peo-
ple whom he expects the most from; his bench-
ing of former wide receiver Braylon Edwards was
well-publicized, as was this year's sitting of star
defensive tackle Gabe Watson.
"What you're trying to do as a coach, some-
times you've got to let a guy know what you don't
like, and you've got to let him know that what he's
doing - he's capable of better," Carr said. "So
the coach-player relationship changes."
And so the question becomes not why Woods
didn't play much last season, but rather why he
won't talk about not playing. To Ginn, that ques-
tion is much easier to answer.
"Pierre's always going to be loyal," Ginn says.
"He's going to put everything first before himself.
And that's something that he's been taught."
Ginn would know. He's the one who helped
teach Woods, whose dad died from emphysema
when Pierre was in the eighth grade. At the time,
Woods was more interested in basketball than
football. He was a tall kid, and most of the kids
in his neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, played
hoops. That's where the glory was. Ginn said
that Woods was probably good enough to play
basketball in college as a reserve somewhere,
but the coach still convinced his pupil to focus
"The advice I gave him," Ginn says, "was that,
in that game, you're a small man, but in this game,
you're a big man."
Still, it wasn't until after his junior year that
family has always been more important to Pierre
than worrying about his own well-being.
"Pierre was struggling," Ginn said. "He was
trying to make it and do everything. He wanted
to be a daddy, but he was a kid himself.
"He was just trying to help his family."
And even now - though he can't be with his
son, who lives at home in Cleveland with his
mother - Woods stays completely loyal to Pierre
Jr. After every game, Woods goes back home to
relax. He talks to his mom and calls his son.
"It's not all about him," Ginn said. "It's about
his community. It's about his family."
ierre Woods stands outside the press
conference and chats it up with a dozen
reporters who just want to ask him about
last season. He doesn't bite. Instead, he talks
about his remaining two credits and the inde-
pendent studies class he is taking this semes-
ter; the fifth-year senior just has to finish up an
internship with Michigan Replay before he can
graduate and take home his degree.
"I'm not worried about pro football," Woods
That doesn't mean that it's still not a dream
for the Michigan defensive lineman. But you
wouldn't know that from listening to him. Instead
of discussing the Lions or the Patriots, Woods
would rather talk about movies and television.
"I have wanted to be a cameraman," Woods
says. "But right now, I have to take the time to be
a floor manager. And then maybe I'll be a floor
manager one week and a cameraman the next
and I may get into the studio."
For a kid who is always had the tools -
impressive size to go along with his 4.68 speed
- to play in the NFL, it's more than just a little
surprising that Woods doesn't have aspirations
for professional football anymore.
"Well, you know, every kid has that dream,"
Ginn said about the NFL. "But his biggest
dream is to get an education, and he's going to
do that and make sure that he stays committed
to the University and (will be) thankful that he
had an opportunity to get an education and live
"That's the way he was raised, and that's the
way he was taught."
This season, Woods is second on team with
five tackles for loss, -but he still hasn't
played many snaps. Last week, when
starting defensive end Rondell Biggs went down
with what appeared to be a knee injury, Woods
made it into the game for a significant number of
plays. When he was done, he had made two tack-
les for loss - the most on the team - registered
one sack and forced Michigan State quarterback
Drew Stanton to fumble.
All that while playing in limited action. After
the game, defensive line coach Steve Stripling
praised Woods for always being ready to show-
case his talent. Rush end LaMarr Woodley
complimented his teammate's ability to get to
the quarterback. And Biggs, the lineman who
Woods replaced, said that he would like to see
Woods on the field more often.
But Woods would never say that himself. He's
far too loyal.
"I don't worry about that, man," Woods says.
"If coach wants to put me in, he'll put me in. I'm
happy just to be out there with my teammates
and have that camaraderie. I'm happy."
The thing is, he might actually be telling
Predictions against the
spread for 10/8/05
Minnesota (+7.5) at No. 21 Michigan
Arizona (+37.5) at No. 1 Southern Cal
Oklahoma (+14) vs. No. 2 Texas
Marshall (+35) at No. 3 Virginia Tech
Wake Forest (+21) at No. 4 Florida State
No. 5 Georgia (+3) at No. 8 Tennessee
No. 6 Ohio State (-3.5) at No. 16 Penn State
Duke (+35) at No. 9 Miami
No. 10 California (+1) at No. 20 UCLA
No. 11 Louisiana State (-15.5) at Vanderbilt
Mississippi State (+27.5) at No. 13 Florida
No. 14 Wisconsin (-7) at Northwestern
No. 15 Texas Tech (-4.5) at Nebraska
No. 20 Oregon (+10) at No. 17 Arizona State
Virginia (+7) at No. 18 Boston College
North Carolina (+13) at No. 23 Louisville
Illinois (+6) at Indiana
... ....... -:-,
Featured backs 1(
the show at Honr
Before every football game this season, two of the Daily football
writers will take the weekend's matchup to the PlayStation 2 and
then let you know what happened.
" Play of the game - The first time Minnesota RB #22 touched the
ball for the Gophers, he went 55 yards for a touchdown, and everyone
knew that this was going to be a blowout - and it was.
* Player of the game - Minnesota RB #22 carried the ball 38 times
for 528 yards and seven touchdowns. He set the all-time yardage
record in a single game and made the Wolverines turn in their man-
hood at the end of the contest.
Every time he's on the field, he makes a play. Last week, Pierre Woods forced a fumble against Michigan State.
Woods got serious about football. That summer,
he worked hard on getting stronger and improv-
ing his forty time. Ginn took the highly recruited
defensive end to football camps around the coun-
try. Woods had no idea where he wanted to go to
school, but when Ginn and Woods made the trip
to Ann Arbor, it was clear where he would end
up. When he walked into the Big House for the
first time as a recruit, he told his prep coach that
Michigan Stadium was where he wanted to be.
"He loves Michigan and can't nobody take that
from him," Ginn says. "He's going to live and die
as a Michigan Wolverine."
Ginn, the father of Ohio State standout wide
receiver Ted Ginn Jr., considers Woods
to be his son. When asked if the Michi-
gan defensive end and the Ohio State receiver are
friends, the Glenville High School football coach
feels the need to correct the statement.
"They're brothers," he says.
Maybe that can help explain why he is so
loyal to Michigan, his family away from Glen-
ville. It seems that everyone who gets close to
him becomes another brother. At Michigan,
before Woods moved in with his mother - or
as he puts it, before his mother moved in with
him - the young Wolverine lived with former
defensive lineman Alex Ofili and linebacker
Lawrence Reid. Now, Woods considers both of
them to be his siblings.
"Every time Pierre would introduce me to a
family member or something - because I've
been to Ohio with him - he was always like,
'This is my brother, Alex,' " Ofili said. "We're
not biologically brothers, but he really treats me
like a brother just because we lived together.
And it sort of rubbed off on me."
Family has always been important to Woods.
He was just a senior in high school when he and
his girlfriend had a son, Pierre Jr.
"He loves his son," Ofili said. "His son is defi-
nitely his pride and joy."
When Woods was in high school, he had his
hands full with classes, football and track prac-
tices and recruiting visits. But on top of all that,
Woods worked 20 hours a week, making money
to help raise Pierre Jr.
Though he was the youngest of eight children,
Woods still put it on himself to help his family get
through tough times. Ginn said he tried to con-
vince Woods not to work so much. But the high
school senior would have none of it. Being loyal to
P R E SS
CON FER ENCE
Minnesota coach Matt Venegoni:
"I would be lying if I said I was
ever planning on passing the ball
this game. Let's be honest, QB
#3 throws the ball like he has no
"I know that I'm better than Gabe,
so for me, it came down to me
wanting to- set a record for that
gangster #22 and humiliating the
"It's nice having the Brown Jug.
It hasn't seen my home state of
Minnesota since 1986. I was three
years old. After a while, I didn't even
think it was real. It's pretty cool."
Michigan coach Gabe Edelson:
"This was definitely a
disappointing game for our
football team. Allowing the other
team's ground game that many
yards is embarrassing.
"The worst part about this loss is
that it takes us out of the Big Ten
championship race. It simply came
down to stopping the run, and we
couldn't do it.
"I've decided to bench the entire
front seven for next week's game
against Penn State. You're going to
see some new faces in there. So
"I sure hope RB #22 wins the
Heisman trophy because I'd hate
to be shown up by just another
This is a game that the Gophers have
probably had circled since last year's
heartbreaking 27-24 defeat. After that
setback, Minnesota dropped four of its
next six games. But the buildup for this
year's contest has subsided a bit after
the Gophers' 44-14 loss to Penn State
last weekend. Still, the game still holds
meaning because of one of college foot-
ball's greatest traditions - the battle for
the Little Brown Jug. Minnesota comes to
Ann Arbor needing a win and would love
to take the Jug to Minneapolis for the first
time since 1986. Michigan has plenty of
momentum after its 34-31 overtime vic-
tory over Michigan State.
Michigan passing offense vs. Min-
nesota passing defense:
Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne
seemed to bounce back last week against
the Spartans. But will his 26-for-35, 256-
yard, three-touchdown performance be
enough to turn the sophomore's season
around? He'll face his next test against
Minnesota's mediocre secondary.
The Gophers are giving up 231 passing
yards per game, but they've intercepted
five passes. The Minnesota secondary
won't be at full strength, since an injury
Owens suffered in last week's loss to
Penn State will keep him out of action
against the Wolverines.
Michigan's receivers will likely be too
much for the Gophers to handle. Senior
co-captain Jason Avant continued his
strong play this season against Michi-
gan State, with 10 catches for 96 ya
and a touchdown. He has 514 yards a
five scores so far this year. True fre
man Mario Manningham is becomin
household name, as well.
Michigan rushing offense vs. M
nesota rushing defense: