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November 19, 2010 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-19
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From Page 5
Even though T-Woolf will be absent, Troy
will be on the sidelines coaching and
cheering for Michigan till all the air has
vacated my lungs.
!7sArg : a m .d.a cof0on.
Troy's injury hits junior wide receiver Darryl
Stonum nearly as hard as it does Rodriguez.
"I think I took it worse than (Troy) did," Sto-
num says. "When I went back to the room, I was
getting teary-eyed for him. He was smiling, say-
ing, 'You all go out there and do what you're sup-
posed to do.' He kept his spirits up better than
I did."
As teammates grapple with the reality of the
injury, Troy heads to the hospital. On the way, he
texts his father, Butch.
"I think my season's over," he writes as the
shock of the afternoon's event wears off.
Butch calls his son to make sure he isn't kid-
ding. Troy's a jokester, but this isn't a laughing
A few days later, after Butch and his wife
Regina fly up to Ann Arbor from Sugar Land,
Texas, Troy undergoes surgery for a dislocat-
ed ankle and broken fibula at the University of
Michigan hospital.
Regina stays with Troy for a few days. Butch
stays for a week longer. It's a tag-team effort,
they say.
Butch cooks for his son, cleans the apartment
and walks "the damn dog." The damn dog - as
Butch calls it - is Julius, a mixbetween alab and
a beagle. After Butch leaves, he hires someone to
come walk Julius twice a day.
Butch says: "It was pretty easy when I was
there. ... It's after those two weeks that it got
"I was basically bed-ridden," Troy says. "I
couldn'tget up and do stuff because IShad to keep
my leg elevated."
Troy watches the pounds slip off his six-foot
frame. He drops 20 pounds in the first month,
and his legs get skinny.
All he can do is lie around with his right leg
up and watch his body deteriorate, a body that
had been so fit and so ready for a strong senior
"That's the worst part of it because this sum-
mer, I put the time in," Troy says. "I stayed in the
weight room. I stayed on the field trying to get
my speed up. To have it all taken away from you
is just a big slap in the face. It makes it seem like
I wasted all that time. IShave to go back and doit
all over again."
The physical struggle is an uphill battle. But
according to Butch, the mental recovery could be
the hardest part. That's what he has to prepare
his son for.

that has since been surpassed.
But he's also no stranger to devastating inju-
ries. Butch's seven-year NFL career ended in
1988 when he blew out his knee in the Detroit
Lions' third game of the season. Surgery fol-
lowed, but he never made it back onto a profes-
sional football field.
So Butch knows a little something about lying
in a hospital room, watching his own football
career turn into a major question mark. But the
football questions take a backseat to the emo-
tional ones.
"He was just telling me that people are going
to start to fade away - all your friends are going
to fade away from you," Troy says. "Life is going
to change from the way you know it now. You
just have to expect that. Expect people to go
away from you so you won't be hurt."
Butch encourages Troy to stay connected -
go watch practice, watch game film, give the
defensive backs pointers.
"Injured players can really get lost and sepa-
rated from the team," Butch says. "I didn't want
that to happen for him."
Troy lives alone - well, besides Julius. Since
he doesn't like living with roommates, he doesn't
really get to see his teammates as much during
his rehab process.
It's not just the living arrangement, though.
It's the out-of-sight, out-qf-mind way college
students naturally act.
"I don't think it's a conscious decision of peo-
ple just leaving, it's just that since they can't ben-
efit from knowing you in a certain way, they just
tend to forget about you," Troy says. "Some of my
close friends even on the football team don't call
as much, don't talk or anything.
"Iunderstand. It could be just because they're
busy with the season now. I was always so busy
There's no sense of sadness in Troy's eyes. His
voice remains steady. He knows it's just a fact of
post-injury life.
But as November rolls around and upper-body
workouts pick up, Troy runs into his teammates
more often in Schembechler Hall. Rodriguez
says he -sees Troy in the weight room nearly
every day.
"It's probably hard when you're first injured
because you want to be in there and you feel like,
'Man, I should be playing.' It's hard to watch
- especially Troy, because he's a competitor,"
Rodriguez says.
Teammates laugh when they talk about how
hard Troy has worked to be around the team
as much as possible. They say he likes to drive
Rodriguez's golf cart around the practice field -
anything to be close to the action.
Off the field, Troy still sees some teammates
on a regular basis. He and Stonum, who have
been close since their days as teammates at Dull-
es High School in Texas, play video games and
spend time at each other's places often.
But life is a little quieter now. And noth-
ing makes Troy feel more alone than watching
Michigan football games from the stands or his

Michigan gives up consecutive touchdowns,
and suddenly the Hawkeyes have a command-
ing 21-7 lead. The Wolverines are on their way
to losing their second game of the season as
Iowa picks apart Michigan's secondary.
"To watch Tiny watch a Michigan football
game on TV, I mean, he's workingit like acoach
- except he doesn't havea headset on and can't
make any calls," Butch says. "He's criticizing
the defense, being critical of the good things
they do, the bad things they do. 'He's out of
position right here.' 'Do this right here.' 'Come
up and hit him.'"
During games, Troy has to find a way to
relieve these frustrations. Good thing his cell
phone is an arm's reach away. And that phone
has a Twitter app.
Troy jokes that it's not always the best idea
to tweet during games. He's landed himself in
trouble for messages like "Kicker wanted" -
a tweet sent after Seth Broekhuizen missed a
field goal against Massachusetts to make the
Wolverines 1-for-5 on the season.
Some of Troy's most frustrating moments,
however, come when he's watching the defense
- or more specifically, the secondary.
"The hardest part is just looking at the games
and seeing how I would be able to impact the
team, make them that much better," Troy says.
"I see our defense struggling. I feel like it's kind
of my fault because of my injury, and I can't
help them out."
Troy says he didn't mind watching the Con-
necticut game, when the defense let up 10
points. But starting the next Saturday at Notre
Dame, opponents began tossing touchdowns
at will. Even backup quarterbacks, like Penn
State's Matt McGloin, put up near-Heisman
stats against the Wolverine secondary.
Excluding the Connecticut and Purdue
games, Michigan surrenders more than 36
points per game.
Troy started every game last year - six at
corner, six at safety - and posted a career-best
46 tackles.
Teammates notice Troy's absence on a daily
basis, not just in games.
"Normally, corners are kind of quiet.
They're not physical or aggressive in the way
you think a linebacker or defensive lineman
would be," redshirt junior defensive end Ryan
Van Bergen says. "But Troy brings a really
aggressive attitude, mentality to the second-
ary. I think a lot of guys look to him for leader-
ship by example."
The Wolverines planned on leaning on that
aggression on and off the field in 2010. In the
offseason, All-Big Ten cornerback Donovan
Warren passed on his final season at Michi-
gan to enter the NFL Draft. Justin Turner, the
team's highest-rated cornerback out of high
school, left the program before the season got
Once Woolfolk goes down, the secondary
is left with paper-thin - and young - depth.
Fifth-year senior James Rogers, a career back-
up who has shuffled between wide receiver
and cornerback the past four years, is the lone
upperclassman left on the depth chart.
Redshirt sophomore J.T. Floyd starts in
Woolfolk's place until Floyd's own season-end-
ing ankle injury in early November.
Essentially, Woolfolk's injury sets off a chain
reaction that leads to three true freshman cor-
ners being forced to play this year. All three
would have been prime redshirt candidates,
particularly Courtney Avery - who starts for

the first time against Illinois on Nov. 6. Avery
spent 2009 playing quarterback in high school.
Twelve months later, he's a starting cornerback
in a Big Ten game.
"This is probably unprecedented, to play
(this many freshmen)," Rodriguez says. "It was
a perfect storm of injuries and misfortune that
got us here."
A perfect storm that leads to many imperfect
@CornellStone22 we started together and
now we finish together. Next year the top
CB and WR in nation going to be from the
same highschool.
N1 N2u31 pm .a Eo hofon
Troy and Stonum (@CornellStone22) tweet
at each othera lot. It's just another way for Troy
to stay connected to his friends and teammates.
But as the season progresses, his tweets
become less about this season and more about
the next. And so does the discussion.
Stonum can't wait to get his practice oppo-
nent back. He says he's missed going against
him one-on-one and the trash-talking that
comes with it. And even sometimes, the bizarre
stories that follow, like the time Troy sneezed
while Stonum was going up for the ball. The
receiver lost focus, laughed and received a ver-
bal lashing from the coaches.
Troy can't wait to get back to his island,
either. Butch says he talks about next season all
the time.
"He's a college kid who tries to play it cool,
but he's so fired up and anxious for next year,"
Butch says. "He thinks he's learned so much
about the mental aspect of the game, having
been forced to watch it combined with the
physical aspect that he thinks he'll be so far
advanced next year."
The games that Troy watches each Saturday?
Well, the freshmen play in them. And while the
young players don't always play exceptionally
well, they gain experience they can't get on the
practice field.
Troy thinks another summer of workouts
and fall camp will help him get back into play-
ing shape, and they'll help younger players get
tougher, which is something he thinks needs to
improve throughout the defense.
"The secondary has the potential to be the
strength of the defense next year," Van Ber-
gen says. "I really think that the criticism
they've been taking this year, they're going
to have motivation to get better. The players
they get back in J.T. and Troy, the experience
that they'll have with the young guys - I think
they'll be really strong."
Sept. 3, 2011 will mark the first day of Troy's
"senior' season as a Wolverine, one that will
begin 364 days later than it should have. He'll
be taking graduate-level classes.
This wasn't how his career was supposed to
go. But the difference is the one thought driv-
ing him, motivating him throughout this fall -
that while things may never turn out how he
expected them to, they might turn out better.
"(Doctors) said the surgery and everything
went great, and he should be back 100 per-
cent," Rodriguez says. "Sometimes when you
lose something, it makes you want it that much
more. I think he'll come back even hungrier
next year."

Breakdown: Wolverines could struggle
to stop Wisconsin's classic power o ffense

It's been two weeks and two bail-
out efforts from Michigan's defense
- a far cry from the Wolverines' first
eight weeks of the season. The two
straight wins have given Michigan
(3-3 Big Ten, 7-3 overall) an awful
lot of momentum, especially on the
defensive side of the ball.
But Wisconsin (5-1, 9-1) comes
into the Big House having just put
up 83 points on Indiana, and the
Badger offense, one predicated on
power, power and more power, could
pose quite a problem for Michigan's
defense as it tries to take its win
streak to three.
Though the Michigan passing
attack struggled against Purdue, the
running game came into its own a
bit. Sophomore running back Vincent
Smith had one of his most productive
performances of the season, finishing
one yard short of the century mark.
And the Wolverines should real-
ize sooner or later that they need to
make Robinson's speed an important
part of the game.
Robinson has been quiet the last
few weeks - especially against Pur-
due - as the holes he saw in the sea-
son's first half seem to be eluding
him. Everyone expected a drop-off,
and this could be it. But expect Mich-
igan coach Rich Rodriguez to lean on
Robinson at home with the Wolver-
ines far from being favorites in this
The Badgers come in at 25th in the
nation in rush defense, so they're no
slouch. The Wolverines, however,
still rank ninth in the nation in rush-
ing - that's after a bad week against
the Boilermakers. So expecta bounce
back big time, as Michigan makes
sure that the running game is estab-
lished as early as the first drive.
Last week's matchup at Purdue
was without a doubt Denard Robin-
son's worst performance of the sea-
son, one that he surely would like to
forget. He was benched for fellow
sophomore Tate Forcier, who also
proved to be quite ineffective.
The Wolverines had never strug-
gled that much through the air, and
there's little reason to expect any
kind of pattern coming from last
week's effort. Terrible weather, more

than anything, should be blamed for
Michigan's inefficiencies in the pass-
ing game.
Wisconsin's pass defense is pretty
good, but nothing Michigan can't
overcome with a few clever play calls.
Michigan State's Kirk Cousins picked
the Badgers apart in Wisconsin's
only loss of the season, and if Michi-
gan has any chance of upsetting the
Badgers, it will start with Robinson's
Robinson should bounce back, but
it may be too close to call, consider-
ing his recent turnover problem
Aside from Purdue quarterback
Rob Henry's 20-yard scampers, the
Wolverines did a pretty good job at
stopping the Boilermaker run game
last week.
Problem is, Wisconsin's run
offense is more like Purdue on all
kinds of steroids.
The Badgers' running backs are
some of the best in the country, led
by junior ballcarrier John Clay, who
may be the hardest back to take down
in the NCAA. Lucky for Michigan,
Clay might be out this week. If he
does see the field, he'll be playing at
around 75 percent.
Now, you might think that would
be a positive sign for the Wolver-
ines, but Wisconsin's No. 2 and No.
3 backs are both nothing to shrug
about. James White, a speedy fresh-
man who averages almost seven
yards per carry, could create prob-
lems. And sophomore Montee Ball,
who came onto the scene in Wis-
consin's 83-point scoring attack last
week, should provide the best of both
worlds with a combo of speed and
All in all, it's not looking good for
If Michigan's pass defense wasn't in
the cellar of the NCAA, this category
could have been where the Wolverines
took advantage of their counterpart's
The Badgers are not very good
through the air, and quarterback
Scott Tolzein hasn't done anything
that impressive, aside from managing
games, week after week. Tolzein does
have some solid skill players around
him, as wideout Nick Toon is one of
the best in the Big Ten.
Oh yeah, and his offensive line is

Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson is looking to bounce back from his worst performance of the season last week against Purdue.

composed of mammoth players who
create a huge wall around the pocket.
Michigan's pass defense will depend
on how much pressure the Wolverines
are able to put on Tolzein. If they can't
get any pressure, there isn't much
hope of the inexperienced secondary
stopping Tolzein, even if he's doing his
best Trent Dilfer impression.
Another week, another disap-
pointing effort by Seth Broekhuizen.
This week, Rodriguez said he'd open
up the conversation, with Brendan
Gibbons getting a few looks in the
kicking game. But asit has been with
Michigan's kicking game, your guess
is as good as mine who takes the field.
The Wolverines also haven't had
much in terms of a return game, so
special teams should again be an
ignore-it-till-it-hurts category.
Philip Welch, Wisconsin's kick-
er, hasn't been great this season,
either. But it's hard to get worse than
Broekhuizen. The Badgers take this
The Wolverines definitely have
some momentum. After losing three
in a row, Michigan has bounced back
to win two straight and would love
nothing more than to take a three-

game win streak into Columbus next
The Badgers have only lost one
game this season and have an outside
chance of winning the Big Ten.
Of those two circumstances, Wis-
consin should have the advantage as it
knows one loss means no Big Ten title.
Michigan would just like to improve
its bowl standing as much as possible.

There's a pretty distinct advantage
on the Badgers' side in this game, and
they're nothing like Michigan's last
two opponents -- Purdue and Illinois.
This might be a rude awakening for a
defense that was starting to get confi-
dence the week before The Game.

At times like this is when you see who are
your real friends arel!!!llll!l.....l
30 Aug 10 :4 pm. sva Lhofon 16 Oct 4:29 pm va Ehofic
Butch is no stranger to on-field success at It's the second quarter of the Iowa game, and
Michigan. He became the Wolverines' all-time Troy is out of words to tweet to his nearly 1,500
leading rusher in 1981 with 3,861 yards, a mark followers.
6 FootballSaturday, November 20, 2010

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