"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
EDSBS posted a satirical article about how Alabama has started a water feature arms race in the SEC. I thought the article was pretty funny, and wanted to expand on it with B1G teams. What water features would each B1G team install to keep up with the Jones'?
- - -
Michigan - A toss up between an environmentally friendly bong water treatment plant and a reflection pool that shows the reality that the things they hate about Notre Dame alumni also apply to Michigan.
MSU - An irrigation system suitable for such a large, chiefly agricultural school.
Indiana - An even larger irrigation system, as a way to one up their bitter rivals at MSU.
Ohio State - A more robust set of facilities to handle human excrement, allowing for cleaner coolers in which to chill their Natty Light. OSU will then build a system in which they can filter clean urine back to their compliance department, using student privacy laws to keep the system top secret.
Penn State - Please don't say kiddie pool, please don't say kiddie pool... Kiddie pool. Dammit!
Illinois - Just a new 5 gallon water cooler. They've really tried to temper the ambitions of their athletics program to fit with reality.
Rutgers - Installing a nice coy pond in each of the campus's sanctioned tanning salons.
Wisconsin - Raffling off the remaining supply of Aqua Velva that was left when Bielema departed. It's got the word aqua right on the label, bros.
Northwestern - Building diversion tubes to route Lake Michigan water directly into Ryan Field so that they can force visting schools into engaging in naval combat, rather than football. A decided schematic advantage when you're the smartest kid in the conference.
Iowa - A drowning pool for appeasing the AIRBHG through the practice of human sacrifice.
Minnesota - Another lake.
Maryland - Athletic department too poor to install any new water features. Please use the drinking fountain at the public park across the street.
Football Preview Event with Special Guests - SAVE THE DATE
When: Wednesday, July 24, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Downtown Chicago (further details TBA)
Details: Come join us for an exciting night in anticipation of Michigan's 2013 football season. The event will feature three experts on Wolverine and Big Ten football: (1) Brian Cook from MGoBlog (also formerly AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting Blog); (2) Sam Webb from WTKA, GoBlueWolverine, and The Detroit News; and (3) Gerry Dinardo from the Big Ten Network and 670 The Score. Each of our panelists will discuss a few specific topics before answering questions from you! Further details, including location, to follow.
Contact: Questions? Email Bruce Canetti at firstname.lastname@example.org
Got an email with the above information from the U of M Chicago Alumni Association. Mark your calendars, Brian's coming to the Windy City. After hearing about last year's event in DC I'm thrilled that Brian will be travelling west on I-94. I know we've got a big contingent of MGoBloggers in Chicago, and I look forward to meeting some of you IRL.
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.