this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
OK, so all we have left is hockey. Let's vist with another world-class sporting team from the University; UM Solar. They just unveiled their new car, Generation, that will be competing in the World Solar Challenge in October. The rules have changed and now each car has four wheels and the driver is off-set to the left. I believe this is because some teams experienced instability with the three-wheel layout. I will check with a former team member to see if he has any insight. Otherwise, enjoy what is over one year of exceptionally hard work.
The Block M on the rear deck is a nice touch.
UM Students have been developing the car, called “Generation,” for over a year in preparation for the 2013 World Solar Challenge – a week-long, 1,800-mile trek across the Australian continent in October. The WSC is held every other year. Generation is the first solar car to feature four wheels in more than a decade. It is the 12th vehicle developed by the U of M Solar Car Team since its inception in 1990.
Here are some links to main stream media. Certainly worh a read. As race week approaches, I'll try to get more information, and hope to keep up with each day's activities (even though it will be right in the middle of Football season). Go Blue.
Matt Barkley, Giant Jimmy Clausen and Shane Morris
Up until late last season, most Michigan fans were preparing for the possibility of starting this season in the hands of a true freshman quarterback. Prior to last season’s Nebraska game, this season was shaping up to feature a quality quarterback competition. Devin Gardner was the former five star dual threat quarterback. He had looked shaky in his brief appearances and during the Spring Game. At the time, some were wondering if his current stop over at wide receiver could be a more permanent move. Russell Bellomy was the last minute addition to Michigan’s first recruiting class under Brady Hoke. His physical tools were limited but he had put up a solid showing in the previous spring. Bellomy and Gardner were still largely unknowns as college quarterbacks at the time, but what was known didn’t lead many to think there was a strong option on campus. For many, the hope for the 2013 quarterback position rested in five star commitment Shane Morris.
Everything changed at the Nebraska game. Denard Robinson was injured and with Devin Gardner largely at wide receiver, Russell Bellomy got his shot. Bellomy struggled mightily, Gardner was permanently moved back to quarterback and produced a fantastic closing stretch. Meanwhile, high school senior Shane Morris came down with a case of mono and saw his stock slide back with a limited senior year.
Now the picture is much clearer. Devin Gardner has locked down the starting spot, Russell Bellomy tore his ACL, and Shane Morris likely will miss out on a redshirt season, but will be able to spend some time learning from the sideline before being thrown into live action. MCalibur did a great job looking at what Devin’s season could look like. But what would the world look like if Shane Morris was in a position to take over just months after his Senior Prom.*
*This fulfills my professional obligation to reference Senior Prom in any article about true freshmen.
The Short History of Success
The answers aren’t pretty so there isn’t any point in sugar coating. I looked at true freshmen quarterbacks since the 2003 season that played at least 10 games and averaged at least 20 plays (passes+rushes). During that time only eight qualifying quarterbacks have had a positive PAN (Points Above Normal, Opponent Adjusted). Only three have been greater than +1. For reference, last year there were 58 quarterbacks who had positive PAN with at 20 plays per game. There obviously aren’t a ton of true freshman playing most of the snaps in a given year, but eight players in eleven seasons to be above average is a tiny number.
Four of the eight were from BCS programs and of those Robert Griffin, Tyrod Taylor and Terrelle Pryor all had a rushing portion of their game that really helped them. That leaves one pro style true freshman BCS quarterback in the last 11 seasons who had a positive PAN. That player was Matt Barkley in 2009. It should also be noted that the 2009 USC offense was the most highly ranked offensive unit in terms of recruiting profile in the internet era of recruiting. And it’s not that close. Surrounded by all of that talent a true freshman Matt Barkley had a PAN of +1.1. For a 2012 comparison, +1.1 is right between David Ash of Texas and Tevin Washington of Georgia Tech. Over 11 years, that is the best case scenario for a player in Shane Morris’ situation. And although the pipeline is beginning to fill up, the 2012 Michigan offense probably isn’t quite as loaded as Barkley had in 2009.
If you include the dual threat quarterbacks, the best BCS season was Terrelle Pryor’s first
professional season at +2.7. At nearly 3 points above average per game, Pryor’s value moved him into Top 30 range, along the lines of Matt McGloin at Penn State last season. Here is the full list of eight who managed positive territory.
|Terrelle Pryor||Ohio St||2008||+2.7|
|Tyrod Taylor||Virginia Tech||2007||+0.4|
|Nate Davis||Ball St||2006||+0.3|
|Spencer Keith||Kent St||2009||+0.2|
The Long History of Failure
With only eight players passing the average mark, that leaves the rest to fall below. The average season for all other true freshmen quarterbacks was nearly –3. The worst was Jimmy Clausen’s 2007 season at –8. The average performance is on par with Zach Mettenberger’s performance at LSU and if you watched a good LSU team at all last year, you knew none of their success was due to him. Clausen’s awful 2007 would have barely edged out Sean Schroeder of Hawaii to escape being the worst quarterback performance of the season.
The lack of success of true freshman isn’t necessarily indicative of future failure. Even Jimmy Clausen made an All-American list and got drafted in the second round. Teddy Bridgewater, Braxton Miller, Chad Henne, Matthew Stafford, Brady Quinn and Josh Freeman all turned below average true freshmen seasons into great college careers and/or high draft selections.
What it Means for Michigan
Thank goodness for Devin Gardner’s breakout performances. No matter how good a true freshmen quarterback is and how good their supporting cast is, the first season they are going to be a limiting reagent for the offense. In the coming weeks I am hoping to get a look at quarterback career progression to see if there is any sort of an optimal career path where some experience can avoid some of the struggles noted above but still provide the opportunity to get elite talent like Shane Morris on the field as much as possible. Chances are Michigan’s current quarterback timeline should fit nicely into a high value historical path. A year or two to develop behind Devin Gardner combined with Morris’ strong recruiting profile mean that he should be in an excellent position to succeed when his time has come. Luckily for us, that doesn’t have to be this year.
Six Zero here, with the triumphant return of…
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog
and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get
to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on
their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH LSACLASSOF2000
If what they say about nice guys is true, it pretty much goes without saying that LSAClassOf2000 will pretty much finish last in everything ‘til the end of time. I can’t tell you the first time I’d interacted with LSA, but I can tell you it was several years ago, and I can tell you he’s always been an exceptionally consistent class act each and every time since then. Some of us here at MGoBlog are more anonymous than others, and some are more civil around here than others—but for those in search of a suitable online role model, someone who always treats everyone with equal respect while projecting a general vibe of lighthearted enthusiasm and positivity, look no further than our most recently anointed Mod, the ubiquitous LSAClassOf2000. He pulled away from his crusade to keep the boards respectable just long enough to deliver the goods in this exclusive MgoProfile:
1. First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way… Dude, what’s up with all the Rainbow Pegasuses and Unicorns?
For all of the time that I have had any avatar on MGoBlog, it has been some depiction of Rainbow Dash, the tomboyish cyan pegasus from the latest incarnation of “My Little Pony”, and while I will not name names, I do know there are a few fans on the board. Actually, someone got a little irritated when I changed it to the present one sometime in 2011, so while it may not mesh terribly well with a sports blog, the show is not unknown around here. Typically, I won’t talk about it unless prompted, for it is “Way OT” and not germane to Michigan athletics, but when I have, the response is generally positive from what I can recall. I am certainly not ashamed of it, as you can tell.
Why that avatar? It gives me something of a unique identity on the board, and the particular avatar that I chose comes from an episode of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” where Rainbow Dash is playing pranks on people, so it has a little of my irreverent side in it. It also looks pretty cool as part of a desktop background that I rotate in with some of the fine football-related ones that are made available by users here.
To tie that into my Michigan fandom, Rainbow Dash is also portrayed as loyal and always willing to be of service to her friends, and I feel like that towards my University and the MGoCommunity.
As for the unicorn, I actually tweeted out a photo of myself wearing a shirt with a unicorn with blue hair on it. That would be one of my other favorites – “Vinyl Scratch”, the village DJ basically. My love of music sort of drew me to that as being a pretty cool secondary character from the show.
<-- (LSA himself rockin' his My Little Pony style, used with permission)
Yes, my friends, you read that right—My Little Pony. And he’s far from the only one; male adult fans are such an established portion of the show’s fan base that they have their own web sites, conventions, even a descriptive meme-like name. So tell us, in your own words LSA, what exactly is a BRONY? Are there others in the sphere of Michigania, or are you the only one?
There actually is a pretty solid definition of “brony” out there – it is the blanket term for adult male fans of MLP (My Little Pony). The show’s creator, Lauren Faust, repeatedly says in interviews that the whole idea was to create a version of the franchise which wouldn’t drive adults up a wall - worked on me anyway. It's pretty hip really - it makes references to X-Man, Spiderman, even Benny Hill, and for a show aimed at kids, has a lot for adults to like as well in terms of humor. I suppose that’s what draws me to it – it is written by people my age in part for people my age.
2. I can respect that. So, moving on, can you tell us what exactly is an “LSAClass of 2000?” Explain how you came up with the name that goes with the instantly identifiable avatar.
When I decided to upgrade my MGoExistence from “lurker” to “extant poster” during the coaching search in January 2011, the first stumbling block was, of course, my username. In all the time I had been lurking going back to a game in 2007 which will not be mentioned, there had been so many great ones which made references to Michigan’s past and present. I thought about some variant on these, but then I wanted to make it something that would make people stop and think, “Who exactly is this guy anyway?”
The other consideration is that I finally decided to make it something personal regarding my time and experience at Michigan, and that’s when combining the college at Michigan from which my degrees come and the year of my graduation came to me. I toyed with a few combinations on paper that evening when I set up the account. It even took me a few tries to get onto the site because, at that time, thousands of people were glued to flight tracking sites and I wanted to be part of that.
Of course, in the end, I settled on the name I use you now see and not once have I thought about changing it. Some months ago, there was even a thread where someone asked about the origins of usernames and second accounts, and invented the secondary purpose of my name in that thread – it also represents the collective voice of an entire segment of a graduating class. Well, I like to think it does – it probably doesn’t, but I like to think that. Having said that, of course, a few people have since come forward and said that they are also “LSAClassOf2000”, so it is no longer a crime to have graduated from LS&A in 2000.
3. I assume we’re talking about the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and not the rare genitalia skin condition Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus? Ahem. So here at MGoBlog, you are a Moderator. The Night’s Watch of MGoBlog, as it were. So few of us readers understand the demands and difficulties of this position. Define the unique responsibilities of this role.
Ah, yes. One of the things you may be surprised to know is that the MGoFAQ essentially defines the ground rules for moderating MGoBlog. In other words, there are not a lot of set rules – about 99.99% of it, in my admittedly brief experience to date, is done by precedent or subjective judgment based on our understanding of expectations more than anything. That’s part of why you will see a thread stay for a while one day and then, days later, when a similar thread appears, it will disappear quickly. We all approach these things differently.
It is that lack of set rules which makes scouring the board and its threads interesting, to say the least. In this role, you basically have to at least skim everything that passes into existence on MGoBlog. I am not a frequent presence in front page threads, for example, but whereas I could just read the articles before, now I read that and every response after it. I have even had occasion to delete the odd post from the front page threads as a result.
When I start seeing masses of greyed out posts – as I have my threshold set to +1 – I start getting curious, so I will open those posts and read them more carefully. On a site as active as this one, you have to create markers which may or may not lead you to potential trouble, and that’s sort of one. Beyond that, there is just quite a bit of reading involved, although I will say I feel like I could get to a point where, just based on style and content, I could guess at who posted what even without usernames. It is definitely a passive way to acquaint yourself with others.
You also have to step back and behave as a poster. You also sit there and read the title of every thread about ten times if it looks like it might be misleading. Quite a bit of the role is content monitoring, but that quickly leads into behavior monitoring. I like to think of it as essentially “background trolling”, only making an appearance when things have gotten out of hand, and something even then not saying anything. Sometimes, deleting and posting in the Action Sticky will do just fine.
Certainly doesn’t sound like a job for the casual reader. What’s the worst part of being a MOD? What’s the best?
I freely admit to this – the best part of this moderation thing is that I can delete my own double posts. After all, with power comes responsibility as well as mad ability to edit things.
That, and I can give back in a way to a blog that has enriched my MGoExistence. That’s the reason I really volunteered to do it, even in the full knowledge that it might change my relationship with the board and other users. I really felt that this was another way that I could make a positive contribution, and I like to believe that, so far, this has been the case.
The worst part about it is that you know that, down the line, you’ll anger someone because you’ll delete a post or thread that someone thought was going well or was within the rules. I am pretty sure that you pick up the wrath of an aggrieved blogger in this role, but I like to think that my record as a contributor is enough to overcome such pettiness. It’s a judgment call, and I would like to think that I am a fair person – indeed, I am willing to restore threads if people can come up with a good reason they should be restored. I’ve done it a few times actually.
4. See what I mean (Re: Nice Guy)? Now we’ve seen many fine men crumble under the weight of this thankless responsibility. Did you know what you were getting yourself into back in March? How have you endured it so far? Why do you think other mods get burned out so thoroughly and completely?
I approach modding a bit like my own job, which is in supervision. I manage people for a living, and I am finding that I can apply some of that philosophy to this blog. I try to be a professional about it, although admittedly the blog gives me an opportunity to be a little more playful about being in a supervisory role. If I approach it with a certain level of detachment, I don’t have a lot of issues with being “bad cop” from time to time. Like my job, in doing this, you will definitely get grieved, but if you’re able to explain yourself when asked, there shouldn’t be any problem after that.
Having talked some with other mods, I had some preparation for the position, but again, as it is basically done from precedent and there are many judgment calls and therefore many opinions – there are only really a few types of things that are non-starters right from the beginning. There is a level of collaboration among mods though, so sometimes we do talk about what we might do in a given situation or with certain threads or posts. Certain decisions are sometimes not made before a short consultation.
As for myself, I like to think I have done well so far – one of the reasons I have my Twitter handle in my signature line is so people can let me know if they do have an issue. I wanted the communication to be part of the moderation process. It really does get to me when I have to do the MGoEquivalent of “handing out discipline”, but I do so in the belief that I am making the board a better place. So, really, I have no problem saying that it is not exactly a democracy on the board, but it is someone’s property ultimately so it probably shouldn’t be.
Democracy’s so 1776 anyway. But-- seeing the blog from your unique vantage point-- if you could change anything about it to make it better, what would it be?
If I could change something about MGoBlog, and this will sound pretty nerdy, it would probably be the module that leads to the death of threads from mangled HTML. Even with the expanded powers of a moderator, those are a pain in the arse to fix and some are not fixable. I say that because, on a recent occasion, I was the reason that a thread had to be recreated twice after a postgame posbang. Yes, I did that, if you recall that night. If there could be a way to deal with HTML better, I would be all for that. Failing that, of course, I am probably going to just read the programming guide again and not make the mistake that I did, but that wouldn’t be the easy road.
Another thing that I would think would help a lot of people is a more detailed FAQ. The site has reached a level of maturity where I think that Brian, Seth and the mods could probably develop something a little more detailed in the way of ground rules. It actually would take some of the stress out of modding, and it would mitigate sidebar discussions in the Action Sticky about perceived borderline calls. More importantly, it would keep people focused on the topics at hand.
5. Before joining the ranks of the overworked and thankless, you were already a seasoned diarist known for fact-based commentary and a penchant for exceedingly professional pie charts, graphs, and other forms of tabular data. Tell us what it’s like to exist in this crossroads of sports and numbers. And what does the data tell you about the future of Michigan football?
I like to think that at the crossroads of sports and the data behind sports exists a better understanding of the story of sports. We love the wins and loathe the losses, but almost everything a team does produces data, and the data begins to provide an understanding of what is going well and what isn’t. I love football and basketball and other sports as much as the next MGoBlogger, but I am always looking for something more reliable than the “eye test”. What we see is important, but what we see or recall may not be the complete story.
Actually, when people say that someone doesn’t pass “the eye test” and they fail to provide data when data exists, I tend to get a little upset. In extreme scenarios, it leads people to say things about players unsupported by facts and that’s a situation in which no fan should ever be, in my opinion. MGoBlog is one of the most well-informed blogs when it comes to sports, and I want to add to that. When someone starts a sentence with “Anyone can see that…”, I will say that I get a small kick out of being able to post the data that asks the question, “OK, can you then explain this?”
In my mind, there should be a focused discussion on blogs like MGoBlog on the areas which your metrics are saying are deficient, and then a discussion on strategies to make it better. We aren’t the coaches, but using data, we can try to see if what they are doing makes sense. It has always been my belief that, armed with data, fans would be able to complain about the right things, if there was anything to complain about, and rather than calling into shows and sounding like they know nothing at all, they can call in to have a nice chat.
Especially during the season, I like to think that what I am helping us do is add to the narrative of the game or the season. We can look at the numbers and talk about what the adjustments should be, in our opinion. Same thing with personnel changes, plays, and so forth. It’s hard to get into that level of detail when many are being emotional, of course, but I think it would be refreshing. That isn’t to say that being emotional is bad – I get pretty upset sometimes too, but whether it is healthy or not, I am one of those people that tends to keep a cap on it.
If you look at the numbers and project it into 2013, the future for Michigan football is incredibly bright, in my estimation. We could easily have an offense that will be tough to stop in the air and on the ground and a defense that grinds people into a fine powder. I am totally OK with this.
Yes. I’m sure we all are. What do you do for a living?
Where I work is already fairly well-known, of course, but specifically, I am a Planning Supervisor at DTE Energy on the electric side of the business, which locals still know primarily as Detroit Edison. I started out as a service planner, designing overhead and underground distribution, and in December of 2011, took a position in management. Currently, I manage most of the administrative functions in one of our planning regions, providing services in Washtenaw County as well as parts of Oakland, Wayne and Monroe counties. I am also not averse to helping out MGoBloggers in the DTE service territory with their issues and I have in fact done this a few times for people.
And what do you like to do for fun?
I am a voracious reader, choosing to delve primarily into subjects like history, philosophy, physics, economics and a few others. I also keep up with my French and German, trying to maintain my skills in both languages. I am a lover of music and – for better or worse – a huge fan of the 1970s and 1980s in particular, but I also have a heavy interest in classical music. I also make my own music, primarily keyboards and drum programming, so I am in essence my own 1980s New Wave outfit. In addition to sports, I am a fan of the BBC comedies, with some of my all-time favorites being “Father Ted”, “The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin”, “Yes, Minister”, “Dad’s Army”, “Fawlty Towers”, and of course “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Of course, I also collect my favorite American shows – I own “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, MacGyver”, “All In The Family” and numerous other TV series. I also own something in the neighborhood of 600 DVDs ranging from movies like “Network” and “Bridge On The River Kwai” to admittedly lowbrow stuff like “The Hollywood Knights” and “Kentucky Fried Movie”, so it would be totally fair to call me a movie buff. I also like to spend time with my wife and two wonderful kids here in suburban Detroit.
Sounds like a very fulfilling life! Describe the perfect meal.
Believe it or not, for all of my attempts at making things as diverse as Thai and French cuisine, I am a steak and potatoes person at heart. The perfect meal for me came from something in the subfamily Bovinae and was grilled just enough so that the veterinarian could revive it. It would be served with a root vegetable and something which had roots but grew mostly above the Earth. Of course, I do go for classier meals as well, and I am one of those people who is also greatly troubled by wine pairings with various meals too, so there is that.
6. Finally, let’s wrap it up with the staple questions. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
Like a lot of kids in SE Michigan, being a Michigan fan was just a thing for me early on, but as I mentioned in a recent diary, I had a neighbor which gave me a three-dimensional perspective on Michigan, its sports and its history at a very early age, and I was hooked. From that point on, there was no question that Michigan would be part of my life. (http://mgoblog.com/diaries/recalling-my-first-experiences-mgoculture).
To quote myself, regarding my family’s former neighbor:
“I don’t think I ever told him, and maybe I should this season as I walk past Edgewood and Snyder, where he tailgates more often than not, but I credit him primarily with starting me down the path that made me not just a knowledgeable Michigan fan, but a proud alum and MGoFanatic. Indeed, there are times on MGoBlog when, in the middle of a post, I stop to ask myself how Lou would respond.”
And last but not least, who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
There are so many good choices, so I will split my answer, if that’s alright. I shall also confine it to football, as it is the sport I follow the closest in Michigan athletics. My favorite coach would be Bo, and the reason for that became evident to me only recently. With some modifications, some of the lessons from his teams have been useful in my own professional growth. Indeed, I keep a copy of “Bo’s Lasting Lessons” at my desk. My favorite players would probably be Denard Robinson, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson in a very interesting tie. They all went out there and just did the most incredible things and were able to make something out of what would have been otherwise a mundane incompletion or kick return or rushing play or whatnot. They just seemed to be on another level. That’s not to say that there haven’t been many players like that at Michigan, but these three stand out to me in that regard.
So there you have it—MGoProfile is back, and it’s only fitting that we caught up with one of the unsung heroes behind the scene that helps make this site what it is. We’ll be turning a new page with the MGoProfile series as longtime regular M-Wolverine is joining the feature and will spend some time in the interviewer’s chair and put his unique spin on things. In the weeks to come I look forward to seeing the series thrive under our collaborative input and become something far greater than one man could have ever envisioned. And, throughout it all, I’m sure LSA will be there to keep it all running smoothly!
I did this in 2010 with some useful results and ideas. Let’s see if I can do it again. If you find yourself seeking more information on some of the concepts I’m taking for granted please refer to some of my previous entries (White Rainbow , QB Metamorphosis) or ask a question in the comments.
Here are some basic commonplaces:
- A passer rating of 140 is the standard for a skilled and mature college quarterback on a good team in terms of passing results. These things aren’t usually coincident.
- Quarterbacks get better with age and experience and usually max out their potential by year 3 as starter.
- A football offense is a complicated system of which QB skill is only one component. A QB’s performance as a passer will be influenced by the quality (talent and experience) of the players around him as well as the quality of the system (scheme, coaches) he plays in.
- I perform these assessments with an assumption of individual improvement (i.e. skill can only go up). If a guy’s passer rating drops, then there must be a special cause: support or system issues, injury, etc.
Bare in mind that the ratings projected below are just, like, my opinion, man. The stuff discussed above permute and combine into a mind boggling array of possible outcomes all of which depend on known-knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns…I’m just out here tryna function.
The projected ratings proposed below are not just a function of the player’s ability and experience (skillz) but also factors around him (support /scheme). Players are listed in expected ascending order within their sub-heading; that's a challenging thing to do but that’s part of the point. I *love* hashing this stuff out so if you’re inclined to refute or challenge something, please do so.
Philip Nelson, SO, Minnesota
|2012 Rating: 104.4||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||88.2||100.4||128.9||81.9|
Nelson’s first season with significant PT rated out worse than Marquis Gray in his first season. Nelson was just a true freshman so he can be expected to improve coming into this year but he has a pretty big hole to dig out of. He should be able to put up a 125 or so in passer rating but that hinges on how well Coach Kill’s system has taken root in Minneapolis.
It wouldn’t be a shock if he jumped up to the low 130 range but that would be a neat trick. For reference, Tate Forcier played at about that level in 2009. Plenty good but still some rough edges. In fact Michigan 2009 is probably a pretty good proxy for what the top end looks like for Minnesota’s 2013 offense. The Gophers return 10 of 11 on offense so the system and support should be there. Reports on the internet of spring practice state the Nelson and his main competitor, Mitch Liedner, look good. Minny has a solid shot at hitting stride this year.
This game will give Michigan’s D a good look at an offensive system that makes heavy use of a QB’s running and will serve as an early status check in preparation for Northwestern, Nebraska, and Ohio State. 125-135.
Nathan Scheelhasse, RS-SR, Illinois
|2012 Rating: 105.9||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||137.4||96.3||78.6||125.1|
I don’t get it. Well, I think I might but its just a theory at this point. Nate was solid as a RSFR (2010) and again as a RSSO (2011) posting passer ratings in the 130s both years. Then, wa-wa, c'est terrible.
Here’s the theory: transition sucks way hard. Unto himself Nate did fine. Completion percentage and INT Rate are where they should be (-ish) for a guy like Nate 2012. The system / support stuff was in the toilet last year. A regime change can do that to you. What’s more is that Beckman had co-OCs last year neither of which had even been offensive coordinators before…so, yeah.
Enter 2013. Enter a third offensive coordinator in three years, four if you count the co-offensive coordinators from last year as 2. So, still in transition but maybe less so with some HC stability. At least this time the OC (Bill Cubit) has some experience calling plays. I expect Nate to return to his 130 form.
Andrew Maxwell, RS-SR, Michigan State
|2012 Rating: 107.1||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||101.9||102.3||96.4||171.3|
Eh boy. I think Maxwell is way better than his stats from last season but I need to freestyle a little to make the case, so…lets skip all that. Pshhh, yeah right. DJ, gimme a beat.
Man, that's a whole lot of gabbage (rhymes with cabbage, means junk) up there, huh? As for skill categories, that INT rate is real good and though the completion percentage is fiercely competitive in its atrociousness. Even though Maxwell needs to develop some touch, I think verdict can be rendered upon a hilarious case of the dropsies. Lindy’s preview states that MSU’s receivers dropped about 66 passes last year and I believe it. Sprankle in some demigod malevolence along the O-line (injuries) and I think you can come up with a legitimate case that MSU had a support problem last year. Everyone point and laugh at Sparty: your crazy dope defense was ruined by your crappy offense. Ha-ha.
Phew, good times. So that's over, now what? Give Maxwell half of those drops and his passer rating jumps to about 120 (mayyybe 125). So that helps but the remaining problem is that they still have to replace Leveon Bell, Courtney Sims and some experience on the O-line. Also, Don Treadwell might have been a better OC than Dan Roushar, just a hunch.
Bottom Line, I think MSU’s offense improves to the basic level: meaning Maxwell (or alternate) posts a 130-ish passer rating (125-134). For MSU’s QB to hit the MROUND (Actual Rating, 10) == 140 level there’d have to be some developmental/fortune miracles so count me in as betting against that.
Kain Colter, SR, Northwestern
|2012 Rating: 129.3||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||169.1||102.5||130.4||146.3|
I know Trevor Siemian gets the majority of the snaps at QB but this is another coaching decision I don’t understand. Kain has better passer accuracy than Trevor and has wheels. I look at the stat lines and I don't understand why Kain ever comes out from under center. I suppose that defenses might be cheating on NW’s heavy run tendency when Colter is under center so his throws are easier but, man, that’s nice accuracy there. Even if it might slide a little when facing more honest defense, his skill is apparent.
Kain is a true senior and already shows excellent accuracy and interception avoidance. If anything it may be difficult to repeat those feats. The only thing out of whack is the YPA but that’s a system number and its something that OC Mick McCall basically dictates. I don't think NW suddenly gets any monsters at wide out either.
I view Kain’s rating as stable and unfortunately can’t see him doing more than a 130 unless he gets the full nod as starting QB and McCall lets him throw downfield more often. I think he’s better than that but the numbers don't lie.
Cameron Coffman, JR, Indiana
|2012 Rating: 123.9||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||138.0||119.2||107.1||145.7|
Heads up, if you want wins then bring the ruckus ‘cause Indiana’s offense aint nothin’ to [mess] with /wutang clan.
Coffman is a JUCO transfer who stepped in after Tre Roberson broke his leg last year and put a strong claim on this job. Also of note is Nate Sudfeld who put up some strong numbers in occasional relief of Coffman last year. It’s possible either one will be the guy this coming season but I’m going to assume Coffman’s experience gives him the nod.
Last year he put up some good Skill numbers but his system/support numbers (YPA, TD%) were not so much. I figure Coffman himself is pretty much where he’s going to be so I suspect that improvement in his performance will come completely from improvements in support/system. Support-wise, Indy also has 10 of 11 back. Word. System-wise, Wilson has had 2 years to install and refine fundamentals so his offense should be up on plane at this point. That system produced some high power Big 12 offenses at Oklahoma headlined by Sam Bradford, Jason White, and Landry Jones. Indiana is not Oklahoma but still, heads up. As for a rating projection, man its Indiana: 130 – 140.
Joel Stave, RS-SO, Wisconsin
|2012 Rating: 148.3||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||129.8||168.6||125.9||152.4|
Stave is supposedly in a battle with Curt Phillips for the reigns of the offense but I don’t understand that. Well, I guess I do: coaches. That and I guess there’s more to football than numbers. But man, by the numbers it’s no contest. Phillips put up a decent 128 last year but he wouldn’t even be in the picture if Stave hadn’t broken his collar bone against MSU. Prior to his injury, Stave was killing the Spartans: 9-of-11, 127 yards, 1 TD. You might remember the MSU’s defense was the best in the B1G last year. KILLin’ ‘em. Stave looks like he has all the skill needed to be a problem and he’s just getting started.
Bielema bounced to Arkansas in the offseason so the Badgers are in transition but Gary Anderson did some nice things at Utah State. The Aggies were garbage before he got there and he brought them their first Conference Championship since John L. Smith (yep, that guy) did it in 1996 and 1997. Prior to that Anderson was DC on the 2008 Utah team that beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The OC he hired (Andy Ludwig) is the guy who took over for Al Borges at San Diego State. SDSU had a meh year offensively in 2011, but they were good last year. I don't think Anderson necessarily wants to run the Pistol offense as he’s a defensive guy and hired a Pro style OC. Stave fits that bill, like whoa.
Support: Check. Wisconsin loses Montee Ball but here’s saying that James White & Co have what it takes to become the next typical Wisconsin RB, pretty dang good. In terms of targets, Abbredaris is also pretty dang good.
Transitions are tough but if Anderson and Ludwig get traction, Wisconsin’s offense could look pretty good pretty quick. I’ll wager that it takes a year for things to hum and look for Stave to slide a little to the 140 range, which, uh, that’s good. Having said that, 150+ is not out of the question. I drop him to third on this list only because of the issues that might come along with regime change.
Taylor Martinez, RS-SR, Nebraska
|2012 Rating: 141.6||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||143.5||140.1||142.6||124.8|
There’s not a whole lot to say here, Taylor is a known commodity. This will be his fourth year as starter and at this point he has leveled off at the season veteran level for a passer. Nebraska has a lot of talent returning from last year’s offense and the coaching staff remains intact. If I’m a stickler, I ding him for throwing a couple interceptions too many but I don’t think his performance there is problematic for the Huskers to be honest.
There’s always a chance that he pulls a Ricky Stanzi and makes a dramatic step forward in his last season but Taylor is ahead of where Stanzi was and, regardless of that, history is not on his side there. So Pelini will have to just settle for a repeat of last year’s performance from Martinez which I’m sure is just fine by him. 140
Braxton Miller, JR, Ohio State
|2012 Rating: 140.5||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||127.3||144.5||137.8||158.4|
God Damn Ohio State. That’s all I care to say about them. Word to your mothers. Ice, Ice, baby, too cold….
Okay, fine. Braxton’s PR components are interesting. The numbers that rely on support (YPA, TD%) are right where they should be for the rating he posted, but the numbers that rely on skill (CMP%, INT%) are kind of schizophrenic. The INT Rate is great; just what you hope for. On top of that he posted a similar excellent INT rate his freshmen year so you cant really chalk that up as unlikely. However, his completion percentage is lagging a bit even though he improved from his terrible freshman year of 54.1%. So, weak completion percentage, nice INT rate. I think that weirdness is reconciled by considering his athleticism: he probably errors on the side of running whenever he sees a throw that is iffy. That’s a good call in my book.
Coming into 2013 this guy is primed to be a rich man’s disappointment. Either that or he goes bonkers. He can’t realistically be expected to improve in the INT department but he should be expected to get a touch accurate. Just so you know, you wont notice the difference (1 more completion per game).
The YPA and TD% are where the magic will happen for OSU. They have been where they should be. And now they have program stability and a proven system. If those numbers improve, then Braxton will keep folks up at night. I suspect they will. 145 - 160
Rob Henry, RS-SR, Purdue
Rob isn’t really a newcomer but the last saw significant PT in 2010 as a RS-FR. That year he was pretty bad posting a 112 passer rating. He blew out his ACL the following year and played some last year but only took 38 attempts. I’m resetting the clock. Plus, there’s regime change in West Lafayette and the Boilermakers only have 5 starters returning on offense. Rob will do well to post a 125.
Sokol is a JUCO transfer and redshirted last season. So he’s had time to learn the system and has some experience under fire though at a lower level of competition. Iowa installed a new offense last year and had to replace Marvin McNutt at WR and had to fill some big holes on the line so some of their struggles last year might be attributed to those issues. I think Sokol can do 125.
Christian Hackenberg, FR, Penn State
Dude is a stud recruit with offers from Alabama and Florida. Scout and Rivals gave him 5 stars, but he was a high 4 to ESPN. Whatever, man; s-t-u-d. PSU has 8 starters returning on offense including stud receiver Allan Robinson. The Sandusky Sanctions will start taking their toll on depth soon but not yet. I’m thinking freshman Chad Henne and Braylon Edwards here. I think he can hit 130.
Other QBs of Interest
Cody Kater, JR, Central Michigan
Central Michigan’s offense has some holes to fill starting with OT Eric Fisher and QB Ryan Radcliff. Radcliff was a seasoned QB with good support around him and posted a 138 passer rating last year. Cody will be a first time starter assuming he wins the job and has support issues around him, 120 – 125.
Terry Bowden installed a spread offense that was improved from the prior year. So they have some positive momentum and are more familiar with the offensive system. Pohl played a lot in the last game of the season vs a good Toledo team and did well in that game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do reasonably well this coming year but Akron has been a bad football team. 120 – 130.
Chandler Whitmer, RS-SR, Connecticut
|2012 Rating: 119.0||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||124.5||132.0||90.6||94.3|
Whitmer was originally a 2010 Illinois commit but transferred in search of playing time due to Nate Scheelhasse’s emergence in 2010. That’s kinda crappy I guess, but I wonder if I wouldn’t do the same thing if I were him in that situation. In hindsight he might have been able to see the field at the same time (2012) given the ouster of Zook and the Illinois’s offense struggles last year. Still, I think it would have been hard to displace Sheelhasse without straight up beating him in practice and I doubt that would be the case. He won the job outright at UConn last year and is now the incumbent in his final year of eligibility.
Unfortunately for him, the Huskies were a bad offensive outfit last year. There’s just not a whole to to say about it. This year they have a new OC, which might be a good thing, and a lot of starters returning including the whole O-line. I’m banking that an improved offensive system and a more experienced unit will lead to a better passer rating for Whitmer, but can’t see him breaking 125 - 130.
Tommy Rees, SR , Notre Dame
|2011 Rating: 133.4||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||158.9||124.4||123.4||119.3|
Tommy Is an interesting cat. See, his passer rating isn’t great but its not bad. It’s the same as Chad Henne’s usual rating (Henne posted 130-ish three times and the low 140’s once in 2006). Also Everett Golson’s 2012 performance was 130 as well. In fact, Tommy’s completion percentage is significantly higher that what Henne and Golson ever did. So am I saying that Reese == Henne/Golson? Uh, no.
Passer Rating is a shifty beast, man. All 130’s aren’t created equal and it only becomes clearer when you sift through a lot of them and break them down. The key to understanding the difference between Rees, Golson, and Henne is the playmaker categories (YPA and TD%) and even then the difference is pretty subtle. Take the Names away and I really couldn’t tell you who’s who.
|Year||Name||Team||QBRat||PaPct||PaY/A||TD %||INT %|
I think Rees has checkdown-itis (High Cmp%, low YPA, low TD rate) along with bonehead syndrome (high INT rate, the empty hand pass in UTL1). Henne and Golson avoided INTs reasonably better than Rees. Henne’s TD rate were really good; and Golson brings a running threat along with his passing. They MAKE PLAYS! Tommy plays it safe.
While I’m looking at Henne I notice that his YPA’s are consistently low despite respectable Cmp% and really good TD and INT rates. I think this is a system issue: Debord.
The case of Tommy Reese illustrates the fact that football is not a math test. The box score doesn’t capture everything. These differences are subtle and virtually unperceivable but they are measurable and , I think, explainable. Those explanations are situation dependent so it can come off as BS, and maybe to a certain extent it is, but until I hear a viable alternate explanation I’m sticking to my versions.
Looking forward, maybe Tommy finally says [eff] it and let’s it rip a bit in his last go around. To me that looks like Tommy Reese 2011 with fewer Interceptions. That means 135 –140, probably though Ricky Stanzi 2012 serves as notice that big jumps are possible in similar circumstances. Otherwise, he is what he is: 130.
Ohmygod Ohmygod his tie is red his tie is red HOW CAN WE TRUST THIS MAN???!!!
I have to start Part III off with an apology: there will be FOUR parts in this series. As I looked at the data left to review for Borges' play-calling and the cumulative data I planned to analyze in Part III, I realized it would make for a long, long post. You people don't tend to like that. Plus, this way, you'll have an extra distraction at work on Monday AND Tuesday.
In Part I, Borges' first years in coaching (going back to 1975) and his rise to OC at UCLA were summarized. Part II examined Al's disastrous decision to return to Cal, his subsequent punishment as the OC at Indiana, and his triumphant and terrible years at Auburn. Now, it's Brady Hoke's turn.
"Resigned" sounds so much better than "fired," but that's what happened to Al Borges before the 2007 season ended at Auburn.
Borges sat out the 2008 season. It was the first time he had not been part of a coaching staff since 1974, and he had been an OC since 1985. There is no doubt that Borges took the blame for Auburn's 2007 woes, and, while some of that is surely justified, Tuberville was part of the problem too--he got canned in 2008. Nevertheless, Borges was the fall guy in '07, and was forced out even before the Tigers' appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
If you've read Parts I & II, you know Borges is a California guy. So after a year away from the only job Borges had ever had--still living in East Alabama where his wife served as Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Communications for Auburn--I'm sure he was thrilled to get Hoke's call, even if it was coming from San Diego State.
Interestingly, SDSU had been among the schools that had reported interest in hiring Borges in 2005, after his record-breaking season at Auburn. I'm not sure Brady had to be very persuasive, but all Hoke had to sell as a Head Coach at that point was an undefeated regular season at Ball State.
On Christmas Eve, 2008, Borges joined Brady Hoke. They haven't been apart since.
The 2009 season at San Diego State was less than spectacular. Coming off of a 2-10 performance in 2008, the Aztecs didn't seem to have much talent, and had average attendace of 24,376 in a stadium that holds over 70 thousand. Not good.
But they did have Ryan Lindley. In 2008, the freshman had taken the starting job and had a respectable season for the unrespectable Aztecs. Throwing for 2,663 yards and 16 TDs, it was a decent season and earned him a 117.17 rating. The running game? It averaged 3.09 yds/att and accumulated a pathetic 878 yards for the season. Denard accounts for 878 yards in like six quarters.
2009 wasn't exactly a turnaround. SDSU doubled their win total, but that got them to just 4-8. And the offense certainly wasn't humming, averaging just 23.3 pts/gm (#85 nationally). Here's the final tally:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
The frightfully bad running game from 2008 was even scarier under Borges in 2009, but the passing game did take some big steps. At 77% of offensive yardage, the '09 Aztec passing attack represents the most yardage-biased phase Borges has ever coached--a full 5% greater than his 2000 UCLA passing offense. Lindley's rating improved to 123.45 on 3,054 yds, a 54.7% completion rate, 7.0 yds/att, 23 TDs, and 16 INTs.
The running game was atrocious. Bradnon Sullivan's 558 yards led the team. He averaged just 3.62 ypc. Only Borges' 2000 UCLA running offense averaged fewer yds/play.
In 2010, Hoke did what had taken him five seasons at Ball State--he turned SDSU into a winner. The Aztecs would ring-up a 9-4 record that was close to being even better--their four losses were by a combined 15 points. The offense would put-up 35.0 pts/gm (#19) and never scored fewer than 21 points. They hung 35 points on #2 TCU in Fort Worth, nearly beating the Horned Frogs, and coming closer than anyone else would during the regular season (Wisconsin came within two points at the Rose Bowl). Here are the Aztecs numbers from 2010:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
Was Al Borges dumb in 2009 and smart in 2010? No. Al Borges had a better O-Line. Al Borges also had a freshman named Ronnie Hillman--now a Denver Bronco--who ran for 1,532 yards and averaged 5.85 ypc. His 262 carries were nearly 200 more than Walter Kazee, the sophomore who was the "other" RB in the offense and had 324 yards on just 67 carries. Sullivan, a senior and the leading rusher from the previous season, had just 40 carries for 124 yards. Only Borges' 2005 Auburn rushing attack--the Kenny Irons year, not the Cadillac/Ronnie Brown year--averaged more yards per play on the ground.
But as good as that running game was, the passing game was better. Lindley pumped out 3,830 yards (#7 in the country) on 421 attempts (9.1 ypa) and threw for 28 TDs and 14 INTs. To put that in persepective, it would be the best season in Michigan history for a QB by 509 yards and three TDs. Lindley's rating sky-rocketed to a silly 149.43, good for #21 in the country and ahead of guys like Geno Smith, RGIII, and Matt Barkley (and one spot behind...Denard Robinson).
Which brings us to...
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Most of us are familiar with Borges' trials since his arrival in Ann Arbor. He had never coached a spread offense before, and never had a QB rush for significant chunk of his teams' yards. Rather than summarizing those seasons, here are the numbers from 2011:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
As a percentage of plays called, Borges had never run the ball more. Perhaps even more significantly, the ground game accounted for 55% of the yards gained in 2011--the first time a Borges-led offense had more yards rushing than passing, and 7% more than the 48% from his stinky 2003 offense at Indiana. It was also his first rushing attack to average over 5 yards per play, and was more than a quarter-of-a-yard better than his previous best. The flipside is that Denard's passer rating would suffer, falling almost 10 points to 139.73. We would score 33.3 pts/gm (#26), go 11-2, and win the BCS Sugar Bowl. Yeah, you know that. But it's fun to look at.
Of course, 2012 was...not as good. But it certainly wasn't bad. At 29.8 pts/gm (#57), the 2012 offense had three parts: 1) Denard 2) Nebraska 3) DG/Denard hybrid. It makes for a strange statistical study, and I'm not sure how significant it is, but here you go:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
This is still Borges' third-best ground game (in ypp) and a pretty good passing game (rescued by DG). Denard's passer rating dropped again, this time to 126.63--his worst since his freshman year. What may surprise you is that Denard actually ran for more yards in 2012 than he did in 2011. The unfortunate accompanying truth is that no RB rushed for more than 514 yards (Fitz) or 5 TDs (Fitz again).
Perhaps more useful to examine would be the final five games of 2012:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
I was surprised to see how run-heavy we remained, although, as I noted, this was really still a fusion offense, utilizing spread concepts to continue getting Denard carries. There is no doubt that the running game suffered without Denard as the QB, just as it is crystal clear that the air attack was far more effective. Overall, in fact, the offense averaged more yards per play than it did in 2011 and, at 32.8, just 0.5 pts/gm fewer.
So what does all this mean? That's for you to decide. But in
Episode Part IV - A NEW HOKE, I will put the data together and attempt to find patterns and tendencies while spending some time pointing out some important potential error sources.
Yes I used this pic even tho someone might whine about politicz
Al Borges has been a football coach since 1975. That's 38 years. He's been an offensive coordinator since 1985. That's 28 years. He's been an OC at the D1-A level since 1995. That's 18 years. So there is a lot of data.
But before we get to the fun part (the data...yes, I'm a nerd), it's important to look at some of the factors that may have skewed the data. I freely admit that I have not considered all of the potential bias sources, but here are a few:
Perhaps the most influential factor on an OC's performance is the Head Coach. Borges has worked for six HC's since coming to D1-A football--three of the them have been winners, and three have been not as good.
Borges' first season as an OC at the D1-A level was at Oregon with Mike Bellotti. Bellotti is a 63% career winner and an offensively-minded HC. In fact, he's sort of the godfather of Oregon's rise, and is considered an innovator and a an offensive genius. Since Bellotti took the helm at Oregon at 1995 (and subsequently Chip Kelly), the Ducks have gone to a bowl game 16 out of 18 years. They had only been to four bowl games in the previous 31 years. It's worth noting that the 1995 season was the most pass-heavy (as a % of plays called) in Borges' career. Bellotti averaged 8.3 wins per season as the Oregon HC, and won 9 games with Al as his OC. Bellotti averaged 7.2 wins/season over his career.
Bob Toledo has been coaching for a long, long time. His first college season was at UC Riverside in 1974. He is an ex-QB and an offensively-minded HC. He's averaged 5.2 wins/season over his career, and his best two years were at UCLA in 1997 and 1998, when Borges was his OC. He averaged 7 wins/season at UCLA, and averaged 7 wins/season with Al. He is now the OC at San Diego State.
This is Tom Holmoe. You didn't need to know that.
Tom Holmoe played safety at BYU and professionally. He is a defensively-minded HC and had success as a DB coach at the pro level. He was not a good coach. He averaged 2.4 wins/season at Cal (his only college HC job) and won one game with Borges in 2001, his last season. He has been the Athletic Director at BYU since 2005.
Gerry DiNardo was the last in a string of three losing HC's. At Vanderbilt, LSU, and Indiana, DiNardo averaged 4.9 wins/season. In three years at Indiana, he averaged 2.7 wins/season, winning five games in two years with Borges as his OC.
Tommy Tuberville is a bit of an enigma. He played safety at Southern Arkansas in college and is known to be a very defensively-focused HC. There have been reports of him fighting with his OC's in the past, and he generally prefers a more conservative offense, as he believes defense wins games. In 2003, when he was on the hot seat, he fired his OC and hired Al Borges. In 2007, when Auburn tried to organize a coup (not kidding) to fire Tuberville, he had Borges resign and hired a new OC. It seems this guy likes to pass the buck. He has been successful, averaging 7.6 wins/season as a HC, and averaged 8.5 wins/season at Auburn. With Borges running his offense, he averaged 10.5 wins/season. They were his best years at Auburn. FWIW and based on my limited observations, the Auburn faithful still seem to have a lot of love for Borges.
And, of course, there's Brady Hoke (54% career winner as HC). I'm not going to compare average wins/season here, since Ball State and SDSU don't really compare to Michigan. But Brady is a defensively-minded HC who appears to give Borges a lot of autonomy--learning about Al's story, I have to wonder if that's one of the big reasons he agreed to coach for Brady, having been burned at Auburn by what appears to have been a meddling HC.
It's darn near impossible to know how good the O-lines have been that Borges has coached. There are very few stats for the O-line, and they are hard to find before the last 6 years or so. What does appear to be clear from Al's record is that his teams with strong O-lines seem to perform well regardless of who is playing QB, RB, WR, or TE. More sacks have generally corollated with fewer wins. His two years at Michigan certainly correlate with that, but it's just an observation.
Defenses can skew stats in all kinds of ways. A great defense will probably give you more plays as an offense, but will also encourage more conservative play-calling and a run-heavy offense, since less risk is required to win. Bad defenses can force mistakes and risk-taking by an offense, and would certainly tend to force an OC into a more pass-heavy offense.
It's the HC's job to make sure a team is getting the talent it needs to win. That said, coordinators and the coaching staff obviously have a responsibility to identify and recruit talent. Since we really only have recruiting data since 2001, Borges' performance relative to his talent is hard to determine (since the '01 class really didn't start having a significant impact until '04, his first year at Auburn). The recruiting data has improved exponentially in the last few years, and the first years were not as reliable.
That said, Borges does not appear to be a strong recruiter. His greatest success at Auburn came with players he inherited, as it did at Oregon, UCLA and SDSU. Again, it's hard to know who's to blame, but I would be very concerned if Borges was our recruiting coordinator. His track record doesn't seem to be strong there.
The counterpoint to that argument is his early success at lower levels of football. At Portland State, his best offensive seasons were his last two, when he was coaching a team composed entirely of "his" players.
Al Borges has called almost 14,000 plays at the D1-A level. His cumulative averages suggest that he very much believes in a balanced offense. He has averaged 28.0 ppg and 7.3 wins against an average SOS (strength of schedule) of 33.8 (roughly equivalent to the 34th toughest schedule in the country; U-M's 2012 SOS was 33).
If you remove the dismal years at Cal and Indiana, his averages jump to 30.1 ppg and 8.4 wins/season. That is a lot of success at major programs. Here is what his play chart looks like without the three years at Cal and Indiana:
Interestingly, his play-call bias is identical, and so is his yardage bias. Relatively, his passing offense is much more efficient than his rushing offense: his 4.09 ypp on the ground would have ranked 78th in the country in 2012*, while his 7.93 ypp in the passing game would have been good for 25th. The 5.76 ypp total average would have ranked 54th--one slot above the #55 ranking he would earn for ppg.
*Please note that using 2012 as a benchmark is not a valid comparison given how much the game has changed over time, but it does provide a decent benchmark for relative strength
This data clearly communicates what we already know: Borges uses the run to set-up the pass, and even uses the pass to set-up the pass, calling on the running game and short passing routes to get defenses off balance before throwing deep. It is a very traditional, pro-style play-call bias and it relies more on execution than scheme to defeat an opponent.
This is Devin Gardner. He is good at football.
Borges has doubled as the QB coach at every stop where he's been OC except for...San Diego State. So how has Borges done with the QB's he's coached? Here's a chart:
The average rating for his QBs is 131.0. Take out the Cal/Indiana years and that average jumps to 135.8. Perhaps more telling, the average change in rating (delta) for a QB from his previous year is 10.2. That number jumps to 14.6 when you take Denard out of the equation. To put that in perspective, a 14.6 rating increase would move a QB up about 25 spots on the ranking chart.
Obviously, he's had some rough years. Aside from Denard, whose rating dropped for two consecutive seasons under Borges, Brandon Cox and Cade McNown each saw their rating drop. Cox was part of the 2007 Auburn offense that got Borges
fired resigned, and McNown saw his rating drop from astronomical to very, very good--good enough to have him finish 3rd in Heisman voting.
Another fun fact: only Jason Campbell's undefeated season at Auburn in 2004 and Cade McNown's junior year at UCLA had higher ratings than DG's five games as a starter in 2012. Just sayin'.
Rushing and Receiving
Gallon's head appears to be about two feet higher than this poor DB's
In 17 seasons as an OC, Borges has had nine RB's with over 1,000 rushing yards, and four more with over 900. Ronnie Hillman's 1,532 yard season in 2010 leads the way, as does his 5.8 ypc. Second place for ypc goes to Fitz Toussaint in 2011 at 5.6. His teams have been over 1,500 rushing yards 11 times, and over 2,000 yards on six occasions. It is also interesting to note that some of his best rushers--Hillman, Toussaint, Irons, Foster--had regressive seasons as starting RBs, which suggests that the blocking means as much or more than the running in a Borges offense.
Being a receiver in a Borges offense means learning to share. No receiver (this term includes all pass-catchers, including backs and TEs) has ever caught 70 passes in Borges' offense, and there have been only 5 seasons with 60-plus catches (all WRs). Two of those came in 2010, when Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson caught 69 and 67 balls, respectively, at SDSU.
But a lack of catches does NOT equal a lack of yards. Borges has coached six receivers to 1,000-plus yards, and 26 to 500-plus yards. This means a high yds/rec, which correlates with the "big play" goal of his passing game. Borges has coached 15 players (with at least 20 catches) that have averaged over 17 yards/rec. Gallon averaged 16.9 last year.
So...Who is Al Borges?
Al Borges has had some amazing success and some pretty terrible failures as an OC. While his play-call bias has varied from year-to-year, it does seem clear he strives for balance while attempting to use the best weapons at his disposal. Here is an interesting chart:
Since a higher SOS means an easier schedule, this chart should show a steady incline in wins and ppg. But Borges has had nine wins or more in 9 of his 17 seasons as an OC, and five of those years had a SOS ranked 33 or tougher, and three of those seasons had a top-15 SOS. He has had success against top competition, and he has failed against lousy competition. His performance seems to depend much more heavily on the talent and execution of his team than that of his opponent.
In the five seasons Borges posted double-digit wins, his teams averaged at least 4.0 ypp on the ground and 7.99 ypp through the air. The key actually seems to be more based on the passing game, which averaged 9.2 ypp in those five years. Again, this suggests that Borges' success is largely dependent upon his team to create big plays through air that have been set-up by the running and short passing games.
What all this means is that I would expect our 2013 offense to be around a 55/45 run/pass mix, with about 60% of the yards coming through the air. Based on his history of using freshman RBs and even if Fitz is healthy, I would expect Green to have a prominent role in the offense (100+ carries), primarily on first and second down. This makes it less likely that we'll have a 1,000 yard rusher.
Gallon should have a good year with big plays, but I doubt he'll maintain the torrid pace he was on at the end of last year. 60 catches and 1,000 yards (16.7 ypr) seems to fit Borges' patterns. It is also likely that a second pass-catcher--probably Amara Darboh--will have at least 30 catches, and Funchess could have similar numbers. For all of the talk of backfield passing in the West Coast Offense, only five primary backs have had over 20 catches for Borges, and only two of those had more than 22.
As for DG, I would anticipate that he is an improved QB, even if the rating doesn't show it. He was in rarified air last year 161.66, but I do believe a rating of 150-plus (top 25 in the country) is probable. Borges has only had four seasons of QB ratings above 149, and those seasons averaged 10.5 wins.
Success is likely to depend on a strong O-line and successful downfield passing. The running game needs to be reliable, but not spectacular. Stronger success corollaries seem to be completion percentage, yards per attempt, and the TD/INT ratio.
I have tried to keep my bias out of this diary as much as possible. FWIW, my opinion is that Borges is a very capable, if not spectacular, OC. His success seems much more dependent on his team than his opposition, which bodes well for the future given our successful recruiting as of late. I believe his weaknesses include recruiting, spread concepts (duh), and imaginative running plays. I believe his strengths include play action passes, fundamental attacking concepts (how to identify and exploit a defense's weaknesses), and the downfield passing game. This research has given me neither comfort nor concern about our upcoming season. I still believe the O-line play will be the key to our offense's success, as I believe DG will be an effective QB if given time and Borges has run the ball effectively with decent blocking, regardless of who is in his backfield.
In the future, I would expect our first-year starting QBs to struggle, and our success to pattern the effectiveness of our O-line. RBs and WRs will rarely have spectacular years under Borges, but the overall offense should be strong and diverse.