I haven't posted these regularly because I didn't want to spam the board with things I wrote on another site. But football talk has come to crawl as we wait for fall camp to begin, so I thought it would be a good time for those that want to catch up on what's inside the playbook of some of the B1G teams.
Hopefully this is enough football talk to get people through the weekend and up to fall camp.
Inside the Playbook - Will take you to a page with links to all articles
How Urban Meyer's spread borrowed from the single wing (with lots of old timey Michigan footage in the single wing)
I will not use an Outback Bowl pic, because uniformz
Devin Gardner replaces the most exciting--and perhaps most-liked--player in Michigan history. The QB-turned-WR-turned-QB got his first chance to lead his childhood favorite for Michigan's final five games in 2012, and did so with stunning success. For 9-out-of-10 halves, the Michigan passing offense was more efficient and more potent than it had been in years, with the only stinker coming in the second stanza of the Ohio debacle.
Against three ranked teams (NW, OSU, and South Carolina), Michigan scored 38, 21, and 28 points--and the 21 all came in one half. Michigan converted a ridiculous 56% of their 3rd downs with DG running the offense, which would have been good for #1 in the country.
The question: Is a five-game stretch during which the offense was a transitional patchwork of schemes and strategies from the Borges-Denard Fusion Cuisine model a good sample from which to predict DG's 2013 production?
The answer to that question is almost certainly NO. The reality is that only one game--the Outback Bowl--offered enough time for the offense to install a pro-style attack, and even for that game the unique talents of #16 were significantly altering Michigan's tendencies. So...where might we find a decent sample?
How dare he wear red
I'm not going to pretend Ryan Lindley is a perfect comparison: Lindley was a three-star recruit with offers from SDSU and...Idaho. He played in the Mountain West and never faced a team like Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio, or South Carolina. But there are some similarities, and perhaps most importantly:
Al is clearly excited he can still get his fist in front of his belly
The 2010 Ryan Lindley was the QB for a 9-4 SDSU team--roughly the average (or just below average) expectations for the 2013 version of the Wolverines. This is important, because a team losing a lot of games will throw more, and a team winning a lot of games will run more. /broad generalization
In 2010, the Aztecs (that's San Diego State's mascot) threw the ball 426 times and ran it 439. That's a 49/51 pass/run ratio, which is, like, really balanced. I expect Michigan to look similar this year, and perhaps be slightly more run-heavy since that seems to the strength of the young O-line (and it's easier for young guys). By comparison, in the five games where DG was QB in 2012, Michigan ran the ball 59% of the time, even though three of those games were extremely close. The Outback Bowl was more balanced, but still had to get #16 more involved, and finished with a 45/55 pass/run ratio.
Back to Lindley. He is similar to DG in that he is very strong-armed but maybe not as accurate as you'd like. DG is more accurate, and far more athletic, although Lindley moved decently and could throw on the run. I don't think Borges will call the plays that differently, but may coach DG to run a bit more when the lanes are there. Here's Lindley's 2010 stats:
That would be the best passing season in U-M history (yards and TDs), and by some distance (499 yards and 3 TDs). SDSU had two very good receivers who accounted for 136 (56%) of the team's 244 receptions and 67% of the teams passing yards. In fact, their third leading receiver (by yardage) wasn't a receiver at all--it was RB Brandon Sullivan (26 rec, 383 yds). The number four guy was a TE named Gavin Escobar, who is now in the NFL and racked-up 29 catches, 323 yards, and 4 TDs. I mention that because I believe those numbers are least we can expect from Funchess this year, and because I believe we'll have much more receiving production from our backfield.
Here are DG's numbers from last season, actual and extrapolated:
Even with the extrapolations, DG has nearly 100 fewer attempts than Lindley did. Again, I expect that to change, and would guess that DG will probably throw the ball 350-400 times. Michigan ran 820 plays in 2012, and I believe blowouts will allow DG to sit out a few quarters, giving around 20 attempts to other QBs.
The 2013 U-M version of Borges' WCO seems unlikely to have two near-equal WRs atop its receiving chart. Jeremy Gallon will likely lead all receivers, but Borges has a long history of having two primary WR targets in his offense, and that is good news for Amara Darboh. I expect that whoever emerges as the #2 WR will vastly exceed expectations and have at least 40 grabs. Of course, Funchess could take on that role, but that hasn't been the Borges pattern.
So what happens if you extraploate DG's numbers with another 50 attempts or so? Really good stuff:
Those stats would have made DG #16 in yards, #2 in yards/att, #9 in TD passes, and #8 in QB Rating nationally in 2012. He would still rank #66 in att/game, so we're not talking about a pass-happy offense.
In terms of Michigan history, that would be #1 in passing yardage, moving well ahead of Navarre's 3,331 in '03. It would be #1 in TDs, well ahead of Henne's 25 in '04. And it would be tied for #4 in completions. But before you say, "No way does DG set single-season records in yardage and TDs his first year as a starter!" consider this: DG's extrapolated 2012 numbers would make him #2 in yardage and #1 in TDs--and that was running a watered-down version of Borges' WCO. Even if you bump DG's yds/att down to Lindley's 9.1, you still finish with the #1 passing offense in U-M history, with Devin throwing for 3,412 yards.
This is obviously not a perfect prediction, but it is reasonable to believe that DG has a very good chance of having one of the best passing seasons in Michigan football history. Before you get too excited about that remember this, too: Lindley's '10 Aztecs went 9-4.
Now with Lewan coming back, Brian and others have made some predictions for what the line might look like. My question for some of the more knowledgeable posters is what type of line and play calling you would expect from Al and why some players would project to right guard vs left guard and so on. I know that with Long Michigan ran a lot of zone to the left, while under Rich Rod, our guards and center needed to get out to the second level.
With Lewan returning and Kalis a mauler, does this mean that we should expect to see runs go left with a pulling guard or tackle? Or are runs expected to go right up the gut? I'm looking for more of an explanation for what Al's offense might look like now with Devin and his lineman and what players are fighting for which positions and why. Do they need to be quick/ strong/ agile? Thanks in advance for the feedback.
In the Tuesday Presser, which seems like ages ago already, Al Borges said, "My creative juices are flowing all the time. Depending on the game, I’m considered creative or idiotic, but they’re always flowing. That’s what kind of makes this game fun for coordinators." I'd say about 99.9% of the MGoBoard is going with idiotic. I won't defend Borges here. When Rodriguez was fired, Brandon said that they were going to pay the going rate for top notch coordinators. Mattison has earned his salary, and then some. The same cannot be said for Borges, not yet. Part of getting paid an astronomical amount for being an assistant coach is dealing with the inevitable criticism that comes when the team falls short.
At that same press conference, Borges said, "...the key is to keep the chains moving so you can call more plays." Borges called 47 plays on Saturday.
More Borges: "When people are complaining about, ‘Well, how come this guy’s not touching the ball more? How come this guy’s not touching the ball?’ Well generally it’s because you’re not getting first downs." Michigan had only 13 first downs on Saturday, three were a result of Buckeye penalties.
Borges: "You don’t get the turns. You don’t get the calls out. What Devin’s done a good job of is, when it isn’t there, creating something to get us more calls." Michigan was 4 of 10 on third down. Not great, but not terrible either. There were just so few chances.
Borges: "Get the receivers touching the ball more. Get the tailback touching the ball more." Devin Funchess had zero catches. Drew Dileo had one. Thomas Rawls had 5 carries, Devin Gardner had 7, four of which were sacks. After getting 6 carries for 117 yards in the first half, Denard had 4 carries for 5 yards in the second. Those carries were for 6 yards (over left guard,) -2 yards (over left guard,) a no gain fumble (up the middle,) and a 1 yard gain for his only carry in the fourth quarter (this time, over right guard.) Nothing went outside. They never went back to the play that resulted in a 67 yard TD run.
Borges: "There’s just no way you can call everything perfect. Can’t do it. So what’s going to happen when you don’t?" The MGoBoard is going to eat you alive.
On the 60 Minutes broadcast that featured Michigan Football last Sunday, there was a fascinating story about babies. They put two bowls of cereal in front of a baby and a couple puppets. The baby preferred the puppet that liked the same cereal as the baby. The lesson was that we are hard-wired to like those that are similar to us. I would guess that the majority of the MGoBoard is closer in age to Denard, Devin, Jake Ryan, and Jordan Kovacs. It is easier for us to walk in their shoes, than the old guy sitting in the pressbox. And so, Al Borges becomes the villain. I'm not sure that's fair, but he's the one getting paid.
Burst of Impetus
* In the first half, Ohio scored. Michigan answered. Then, Ohio scored again. Michigan answered. Ohio scored, Michigan answered, Ohio scored. Halftime. Ohio scored, and scored again. Wait, WUT? Yeah, I know, the pattern was broken. Michigan went for it on fourth and three from our own 48 yard line. Had we made it there, perhaps we're talking about an amazing victory over the hated ones. We have generally supported Brady Hoke for going for it on fourth down, so we shouldn't be critical just because we were stopped this time. The play call, though, we can criticize.
* The leading tackler was WLB Desmond Morgan with 11. Last week's leading tackler was also the WLB, James Ross III. I guess they are not kidding when they say there is an expectation for the position.
* Will Campbell had one of the craziest defensive stat lines I've ever seen: 0 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles.
* Jake Ryan was back making plays all over the field, 9 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. On Thomas Gordon's sack, Ryan jumped on Gordon's back and tried to sack Gordon and the QB. It's been said of others, but I don't think it applies to anyone better than Jake Ryan, he plays like his hair's on fire.
* We had 7 TFLs for 51 yards, including 4 sacks for 39 yards. The sack yardage masked what was our biggest liability on defense, an inability to stop their run. Hyde ran for 146 yards and Miller was good for 108 on his positive running plays.
* We actually faired better on third down than ohio did, as we held them to 4 of 13. No one is calling for their OC's job, though, because they won the game.
Ermahgerd, Erts (almost) Ervehr
* Denard's day was a microcosm of his career at Michigan. We all remember the 5-0 starts, those runs where he lost a shoe, and the Heisman talk of his Sophomore year. We also remember how that first season stalled. He had an electric run in the first half that gave us a temporary lead, but wasn't able (or allowed?) to finish what he started.
* I think it became clear that Denard wasn't able to throw, which allowed Ohio to bring their DBs up close to the LOS, sealing off the outside. The counter to the outside runs is either throwing - which wasn't an option - or running inside. We found out what happened when we tried to counter with inside runs.
* Devin was 11 of 20 for 171 yards. That was almost good enough to win. However, the two fumbles, four sacks, and one INT made sure that didn't happen. Let's not forget his only other road start was at Minnesota, where Michigan QBs turn into hall-of-famers. All-in-all, it's about what we should have expected from him in his first true road test.
Bunches of Funchess
* It's clear that Devin and Gallon have developed a comfort level. Gallon caught six passes for 67 yards.
* Roy Roundtree caught three for 92 yards, one of which went for 75 yards thanks to a great downfield blocking effort by Dileo.
And Justice for Rawls
* Would Toussaint have made a difference? I don't know, but ohio was playing without John Simon. His backups fared better than ours. We still have depth issues due to the transitions and the Free Press hit job.
Norf and Souf
* Net kickoff and punt return yardage was basically even. Ohio was obviously kicking away from Norfleet, who had one return late for 27 yards.
* At halftime, Urban said, "If that's a late hit, what game are we playing?" Showing that he comes from the same branch of the coaching tree as Narduzzi and Hayes. Mike Jones later demonstrated to Urban what a late hit is.
* Ohio was hit with 9 penalties for 74 yards. I kept waiting for a holding penalty on the guy blocking Roh. It never came. On our last drive, Schofield was hit with a holding penalty that wiped out a 9 yard gain. I don't recall seeing a replay. That put us in an obvious passing situation. Gardner threw incomplete, and then an interception. Ballgame.
* First downs: M 13, O 22
* Net rush yards: M 108, O 207
* Turnovers: M 4, O 2
* Red zone chances: M 1, O 5
* Braxton Miller: 14 of 18 passing
So as much as we'd like to be able to point the finger and blame someone, I think we were fortunate to keep it as close as we did. In the end, it still comes down to "The Team, The Team, The Team," and our team did not execute as well as that other team. I've seen a lot of comments asking why we used all of our good plays against Iowa. Well, buckeyes and hawkeyes have the 'eyes in common, but that's about all they have in common.
Outside the Boxscore
The one thing that bothers me most about this Blog are the posters who claim that there is some sort of moral equivalence, or that we're no better than them. We are better. We do things the right way, and when we falter, we punish those responsible. We do not bring them back and celebrate their lying, cheating ways. We do not hoist them on our shoulders and parade them around for all to see. That display with Tressel and the 2002 team sickened me. Ohio's athletic director should be fired by their worthless excuse for a president for allowing that to happen. Additional scholarships should be taken away, and the post-season ban should be extended, because it's quite clear, those assholes still don't get it. Sour grapes? Maybe, but I'm still PROUD TO BE, A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE!
How are you dealing with your grief?
What happened today is depressing. My solution is to work out. Maybe do some cardio, watching Chizik get embarassed for the last time (guilty pleasure).
Finish work out in time to hopefully watch USC beat Notre Dame. It would make me feel better.
It's the best I can do.
This day can be depressing. Good luck coping everyone.
It's 4am and I wake up in a cold sweat. I've been dreaming about The Game but can't remember my dream. I start to wonder if Borges and Fickell are sleeping well these nights. My guess is they probably aren't, unless they rely upon prescription drugs for assistance.
Fickell's got a tough job defending two excellent athletes who are triple threats [maybe quadruple threats if they go back to the pooch-punting days of a few years back.].
Ultimately, though, Borges has the toughest job because Fickell can't really prepare defensive schemes; all Luke can do is make sure his best football players [Simon, Shazier, Boren, Roby] stay aggressive, but not too agressive, and do what they do best--make plays.
For Borges, he needs to do things which curb the OSU defense's aggressiveness and punishes Buckeye defenders whe they are overly aggressive. To slow them down, he must make the Buckeyes THINK, THINK AND THINK. When they think, they slow down. Here are a few suggestions on dealing with OSU aggressiveness in the Horseshoe:
- Keep Denard on the field most of the time, at least 2/3 of the offensive plays. He is equally dangerous as a decoy as he is when he has the ball;
- Run the hurry-up offense repeatedly but irregularly. Keeps defense off-balance as they try to cope with Michigan's 2-QB offense;
- Motion everybody everywhere Again, this gives defenders more to think about. It obviously also helps the QB read the defense;
- Before critical 3rd or 4th downs in the first half, line-up in a play, then call a time-out. Use the time-out to remind the play-makers they don't need to make a play at the expense of risking a turn-over. Also, it makes Fickell and his players THINK, THINK AND THINK.
- Use a trips back-field of Denard, Norfleet and Smith behind Devin. Send them sprinting out in patterns on the edges, then run the QB draw.
- DON'T GO FOR 4TH AND SHORT [Unless the game is on the line.] On the road, the better part of valor is to punt and force the Buckeyes to complete a long drive to score.
- On 3rd and 12 or longer, keep Smith and Kwiatkowski/Williams in to block, swing Denard to the outside, roll-out Devin and air it out with jump-ball 50-yard+ passes to Funchess and Roundtree. This avoids potential QB sacks/fumbles; even if its intercepted, its probably an equal percentage play re field position as punting to Brown will be.