10/27/2012 – Michigan 9, Nebraska 23 – 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten
Well, it finally happened.
Pundits and opponent fans have been predicting the demise of Denard Robinson ever since he picked up that snap against Western Michigan, but the series of bumps and bruises that frightened Michigan fans every third game had never really cost Michigan anything. In 2010, Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead Michigan to a frenetic victory over Illinois and nearly did the same against Iowa. Last year, Devin Gardner shepherded Michigan through the second half of the Illinois game. When Denard's boo-boos knocked him out for halves instead of plays, Michigan got through just fine.
They were always tempting fate, though, and upped their bet that the football gods' vast malevolence was laser-focused on the Iowa running back situation by moving Devin Gardner to wide receiver in the fall. That seemed like a risk worth taking.
Unfortunately, the containment field is down.
yes, it's true. this man has no elbow.
First it leaked from the Iowa running backs to their offensive line, which suffered two season-ending injuries minutes apart last week. This week, the Big Ten set to murdering football in the morning and afternoon, then this happened to Marcus Lattimore's knee:
By the time Friday night rolled around the ambient malevolence levels in college football were so high that Notre Dame won a marquee matchup to enter the national championship shortlist.
So of course Denard would be knocked out of a potentially fun, definitely important game by falling harmlessly to the turf, thus turning the rest of it into a death-march trudge. AIRBHG is no longer contained. The forces of wheeeee that (mostly) preserved Denard through three years of running at top speed into Manti Te'o have been overrun by the forces of grinding doom football. Now we're all boned. Hail Saban.
And so it came to pass that words never before spoken—words so impossible CFL teams who don't even think it's weird they're all named "Roughriders" cock an eyebrow at their assemblage—came to pass.
I don't know, man. I felt ill for most of the second half but it's not like anyone is at fault other than everyone. I mean, if RR doesn't implode or Forcier is a normal person who goes to classes or Michigan doesn't hire Hoke three weeks before signing day, maybe the guy backing up Robinson has a prayer of moving the ball forward. Maybe the wide receiving corps is not so awful that it must include Devin Gardner.
In the aftermath you've got the columns declaring Gardner's move to WR a stupid idea, but I haven't seen anyone reference the column questioning it they wrote before last weekend. It's easy to be a backseat driver after whatever that was. Meanwhile, Gardner is this crappy receiving corps' #2 WR, #1 if you discount Jeremy Gallon's 150-some yards on screens.
Gardner's not good. The alternative is throwing more than four balls in the first half to Jeremy Jackson. They've needed their crappy, crappy receiver who is also a quarterback even if he is dropping a 50-yard pass in most games. Whether Gardner is worth an extra three scores against Nebraska is… debatable. His performances to date suggest he is not.
Michigan was always rolling the dice on Denard's health, and that was the move to make. Didn't work. That's life as a rickety program that's endured two coaching transitions in three years—when you have to go to the bench you get tumbleweeds.
We're now entering the period of time when most program shortcomings can be blamed on Rich Rodriguez's recruiting, which is only a slight transition from the period of time when most program shortcomings could be blamed on Lloyd Carr's recruiting fade and represents very little improvement when the one completely awesome guy at the most important position is removed from the equation. It turns out that Michigan 2012 minus Denard Robinson is pretty much Michigan 2008, and that the only thing saving us from the abyss was Denard staring down a decision to stay or go and not pulling the Mallett.
He stayed, but in the game that probably decided if he would be a champion or not he watched from the sideline because his elbow hit the turf the wrong way. Malevolence is out of control these days.
"He's got that nerve (injury), he hits it the wrong way (or) gets hit (and it's hard)," Hoke said. "The difference (today) was he didn't come back in. But, he gets better as the game goes on." …
Asked whether or not he was concerned Robinson wouldn't be available next week, Hoke replied "No." He also said the normal rehabilitation process for this type of injury is mainly rest and time.
He'll probably be fine by Tuesday and start against Gophers. Every time his elbow brushes up against the softest kitten in Minnesota the collective intake of breath will be audible. Sounds fun, and by "fun" I mean "paralyzing."
That said, there is a clear narrative of decline in the defensive performance. Nebraska's first eight drives gained a total of 148 yards. Their last four gained 178. It's not easy going out there after a blizzard of three-and-outs. This would be better measured by plays instead of TOP.
BLAME BLAME BLAME BLAME. Why are we here at QB? LET'S BLAME PEOPLE WOO
Rodriguez's horrible recruiting at the skill positions: 40%. If Michigan has a decent deep threat at WR, Gardner is playing QB and Michigan may salvage that game. Instead, RR recruited receivers are… 2011: nobody. 2010: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson. 2009: Je'Ron Stokes. The only one of those guys to see the field is Jackson, and he's essentially a skinny tight end. That 2011 class may not be RR's fault, because there were…
Unavoidable transition costs: 10%. RR's WR recruiting would look slightly better if Sammy Watkins was included in that group, but once he got fired Watkins was gone.
Darryl Stonum's inability to just do what the court tells him to: 10%. Relevant to previous two bullets: we're desperate for a guy who has three catches for Baylor. Baylor's offense is pretty good, but he can't even get on the field.
The Process: 20%. Maybe Michigan gets a guy more ready to play if they're not scrambling with three weeks left. Maybe Michigan recruits one dang WR in 2011.
Hoke not taking a quarterback last year: 10%. Always take one every year. If Michigan has another freshman around maybe he's better than Bellomy.
Hoke inexplicably passing on Devin Lucien: 10%. Lucien has 10 catches as a sophomore for 6-2 UCLA and their #12 offense. He still wanted to commit to Michigan after the transition, and Michigan said no by saying they wanted him to play DB.
There. It has been blamed. Seriously, though, the Lucien thing drives me nuts.
I'm not there. As soon as Denard went out and it became clear that Bellomy was light years away from readiness I was pretty much like whatever. There's not much you can do when you already can't run without your QB and the guy you put in is overwhelmed and throwing moonballs.
Before that happened, Michigan was moving the ball decently and poised to score to go up 10-7. That's okay I guess—but we're also talking about a team that is 90th in the country in run defense, so…
I saw this: after Nebraska got torn up by Hundley and Miller it seemed clear they went back to the drawing board and were going to play it safe. When Michigan put 4 WRs on the field, Nebraska responded with two high safeties and 5.5 guys in the box. Michigan ran the ball and got five, six, seven yards virtually every time. That's stealing.
I mean, when I was learning about the spread some years back I watched the videos Rodriguez put out about his offense. When he talked about making a run/pass decision based on the safeties, his general rule was one deep safety was a run, cover zero was pass. The idea that someone would maintain two high safeties against his offense never even crossed his mind. Nebraska was doing it, and Michigan didn't force Nebraska out of it. I don't get it, man.
The truly crappy thing is it's going to be four or five years before we have any real read on whether Borges is any good. At this point, year three is going to be Michigan rolling with a true freshman QB—probably, anyway—and four new OL starters—probably, anyway—with what's likely to be a horrible WR corps. Anything other than an awful offense next year is a point in Borges's favor. Hurrah transition.
But Auburn? No. 2004 Auburn had the following guys on that team: QB Jason Campbell (first round pick), RB Ronnie Brown (first round pick), RB Cadillac Williams (first round pick), OL Ben Grubbs (first round pick), OL Marcus McNeill (second round pick), Ben Obomanu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 37 catches in 2011), Devin Aromashodu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 26 catches in 2011), and Courtney Taylor (sixth round pick, now in CFL after 2008 multiple sclerosis(!) diagnosis). When you can call anything and have future NFL players on both ends of the exchange that doesn't say much either.
First Nebraska touchdown: where is that? Nebraska's first touchdown was a route that exploited Michigan's man coverage. An inside receiver ran a little hitch designed to pick the outside guy, the outside guy ran a post to eliminate the safety over the top, and the inside-inside guy used the pick to get open by yards. It didn't really matter if the receiver who ended up targeted was able to get separation naturally; the play got it for him.
Where is that from Michigan? I can't recall a wide open downfield guy that got open strictly by the play design. Gardner's been open some when DBs fall over or suck up on a double move or something; not so much the play bits.
This wasn't actually a problem last year, when Michigan quarterbacks made sport of ignoring the the wide open guys Borges was machining downfield. Is it just Junior Hemingway's absence?
I think they watched film. Congratulations, Nebraska: you are apparently the only Big Ten team to ever watch tape of the Michigan offense and leap on the throwback screen. It's not exactly hard to find, since the first time Michigan goes under center in any game is virtually guaranteed to be the throwback. It's pretty bad when everyone in the room I was watching said "throwback screen" as soon as Michigan lined up in ace.
Q: why is that play consistently run from under center? There doesn't seem to be anything about it that would require it to be.
Bellomy. Well… that wasn't very good. The most disturbing thing was probably one of Bellomy's few completions—a ten yard wheel-ish route run by Kerridge that picked up a first down and took just decades to get where it was going. Accuracy issues and a tendency to scream in horror during plays themselves (@ right by Upchurch) can be fixed with time. The arm strength deficiency probably can't.
That particular throw made me wonder why Michigan recruited the guy at all since it seems like the #1 thing on Borges's radar screen is the ability to laser it in just inside the sideline. Hurrah Process/unavoidable transition costs. Boy, is next year's offense going to be a wow experience or what I tell ya.
Offensive line. I'm not entirely sure how they did since once Bellomy came in it was open season and Michigan settled into a routine that exposed them to the same "eight of them, five of us" problems that Michigan experienced against MSU. Hoke was not impressed.
Ryan got edged. When Michigan gave up some yards it was often on the edge when various Nebraska players broke contain. The most spectacular incident was when Abdullah broke Cam Gordon's ankles…
…but it happened to Ryan a few times. When Nebraska was not bouncing it outside they were getting very little; excellent day from the interior DL and the LBs.
Roh beastmode. Also Roh, who took the opportunity presented by Abudullah being assigned to block him to destroy Martinez in a hilarious beastmode sack. If you've ever wondered why tailbacks always cut block guys on pass protection, that's why.
Where is Rawls? I don't know what happened to Toussaint but at this point I'm not even irritated at Vincent Smith carries because it's not like Toussaint is consistently making yards past what the blocking gets him. Meanwhile, Rawls ends up watching, even when Michigan deep into Bellomy panic time and trying to run from under center.
I'm sure there's a reason they don't trust him yet; whatever it is it must be pretty bad. If you're down to running power from the I-form—and Michigan was—you might as well find out if your backup guy can break some tackles.
Defense: stepping towards elite. Nebraska entered the game averaging 512 yards and 42 points a game, leading the league in rushing yardage, pass efficiency, total yardage, and points per game. Michigan held the Cornhuskers to 326 yards and 23 points. Six of those points were field goal drives of two and five yards in length. Without turnovers, that's 17 points.
Relative to the quality of opponent, that's their best performance of the year by far and a major step away from criticisms that Michigan's defense hasn't actually stopped anyone. If the offense doesn't implode with Denard out those numbers are undoubtedly better, probably under 300 yards for the game for the Huskers.
Not relevant but worth it. This happened after Northwestern's win over Iowa:
It speaks for itself except for the fact that guy's wearing #1.
Michigan + Nebraska == refereeing atrocity. The Roundtree catch that was overturned was one of those plays where it's not clear either way because of the goofy fuzzy catch rule and should be left to stand, and then you've got that terrible terrible late hit call and some terrible terrible pass interference calls both ways. This combination of teams is not good for ref sanity.
Cats! So hey like if you follow me on twitter I'm sort of sorry for retweeting like 30 cats into your timeline except not really. People started sending them to me, so clearly there was a need. Here is another cat if you are not satiated.
* As bad as we played, the first downs were close, 20-18 in favor of Nebraska. Of course, 6 of our first downs came from Nebraska penalties.
* Nebraska's 20 1st downs translated to 326 total yards, we managed 188 total yards. At least we were efficient with our first downs. Why get 20 or 30 yards when you only need 10?
* We won the TOP, 31:36 to 28:24. Yippee. We did control the clock early, and I was expecting that to pay off in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to grind down their defense, but then, you know, Denard got hurt.
Edit: I forgot the main silver lining, BELLOMY CAN AUDIBLE!
Duct tape. It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice. And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?" But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson. That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.
You watched the second half perhaps with some hope that Spring Game Bellomy would emerge but save for a few late first downs it wasn’t really even close. I swear I caught Jeremy Gallon staring off into space after the RS freshman was calling a pass play early in the second half and remember thinking, “Gallon knows this ain’t happening…”
That play was the horribly underthrown toss (yes, headed for Gallon!) which was easily picked off by Nebraska.
Also, Denard's jacket was old school split M style now verboten.
Three Bellomy interceptions rushed the defense back onto the field and into quick-change situations. Nebraska started drives in Michigan territory, including one on the four-yard line. There’s a good excuse.
“No,” Kovacs said. “We take pride in that. Our motto is: ‘Spot the ball.’ It doesn’t matter where the ball’s at, just put the ball on the field and we’re going to go play defense and not let them get any yards.”
That's a Rodriguez-era phrase that remains as mysterious today as it was when it was introduced and probably should have gone in the bonfire with GERG's playbooks and stuffed beavers and hair. I guess that's appropriate for the reappearance of the 2008 offense. If someone says "hold the rope" any time soon I'm going to hide under the bed.
The red balloons floated upward, little harbingers of doom dotting the night sky. I didn't know what to make of it, but it could not have been anything else but that. Or, maybe they were just balloons.
I have the same questions about Gardner. I would like the coaching staff to address why Gardner wasn't available. All we have now is some speculation about injury. But last I heard from the coaches, and this was weeks ago, was that he was taking snaps at QB as well as WR.
That was perhaps the worst stat line I've ever seen. Most freshman QBs are shaky, but that was total black hole-style collapse.
When you have a running QB who has a propensity to get dinged up, you MUST MUST MUST have a viable backup option. What happened on Saturday CANNOT happen and shouldn't have happened in the first place. If you're both the OC and the QB coach, this should be priority #1 or #2 right from the start.
Oh man..that Bellomy photo is funny and sad at the same time. I think the receivers really screwed him with the dropped passes/toss to the other team for easy interception. It's tough to get a rhythm going after that.
The pass to smith was an awful pass. Bad luck that it turned into an interceeption, but if you make your RB dive for something in the flat and he doesn't make the catch, that's on the QB. Bellomy suffered from 1 or 2 drops, the rest of his passes were mostly horribly innaccurate.
One completely silly, and one unavoidable thing to blame.
Completely silly thing to blame Saturday's loss on:
Rich Rodriguez's recruiting at the wide reciever position. Gosh, if only he'd have known that he needed to do a better job of recruiting tall NFL-prototype WR's for Al Borges' San Diego State offense.
One unavoidable thing to blame Saturday's loss on:
The failure to prepare Russell Bellomy to lead Michigan's offense, given the unfortunate reality -- if not liklihood -- that Denard Robinson might lose time due to injury, as well as the election to switch Devin Gardner to WR. This is Bellomy's second full year in the Michigan/Borges offense.
We've now seen one very big difference between Michigan and Ohio State this year:
Michigan's starting QB goes out of the game, and things go from tight to craptastic.
OSU's starting QB goes out of the game, and Kenny Guiton comes in to help them win it.
One of the most interesting receivers in the corps is Roundtree. People were calling for him to wear the #1 jersey after his last season with Rodriguez - he was a superstar in the slot position. And, now, the last two years, he's been non-existent. So saying Rodriguez couldn't recruit receivers is interesting in Roundtree's case because he appears to be a victim of the new system (???) rather than not being good in general. Not sure if that's really the case or not, but he was outstanding in the spread offense. Maybe he just benefited from the pressure that the spread puts on the defense in general? I'm not sure, its just an interesting case study.
Well, I think Roundtree had major hands problems under Rodriguez as well. In 2010, did we not have a meme that "INTERCEPTIONS ALWAYS FOLLOW ROUNDTREE DROPS"? Again, I think his hands have always been suspect.
Obviously, Roundtree was better utilized under Rich Rod - I think he's better in the slot (he can't get off the line right now against press coverage), but I think Gallon took his job (understandably, BTW). Also, Roundtree was the chief recipient of "QB OH NOES", which, I'm not sure he's responsible for.
So I agree with you to a point - but I think many of Roundtree's current problems were evident under Rich, and I think the rest are a result of Jeremy Gallon being better at playing Roy's chief position.
The guys that RichRod recruited to play WR would be terrible in any offense. Receiver isn't nearly as specialized for spread vs pro as people make it out to be. The most successful guy, incidentally, is the guy that I would have figured to disappear under Hoke. Namely -- Gallon.
Given that receiver is a position where young guys often come in and contribute, Hoke does share some responsibility for this too.
My brother and I have discussed AC and Desmond in the same respect...not having NFL-esque bodies. But they CAN be used in college ball to great effect...not saying Gallon has similar speed/acceleration, but 5'10" and 185 for Desmond isn't a yawning gap to Gallon at 5'8" and 180.
My comment "The WR corps is largely terrible" does not mean I think every player in it is terrible. Dileo definitely has good qualities. I don't tihnk either of us would argue he's a great player. He's a good role player.
Look, I counted 7 drops on Saturday. That's not good.
I've been saying for a few weeks now that The Game might come down to a battle of the backups. Neither starter is particularly durable, and given how banged up they already are, I can't imagine either one finishing the game. For OSU's sake, I hope Borges keeps Gardner at WR. OSU's defense can handle big, slow statuesque QBs, but anyone more athletic than Bernie Kosar gives them trouble.
dude, you have no idea if bellomy was "prepared" or not. he played like ass, but this is not the first time that a michigan qb (including the currently ensconced starter) played poorly for a half. it doesn't mean he wasn't prepared, it just means he stunk the joint out. bad results don't mean bad preparation.
Bellomy was thrust into a very difficult situation, in a hostile environment, at night, and with receivers who dropped balls. And with a line suddenly blocking for a different style of offense than the one Michigan runs with Denard at QB. Did Bellomy play great? Of course not. But should we write him off based on 2.5 quarters of play (on the road, at night)? Seems a bit premature to me.
I'm disappointed Michigan lost, but man it seems that there's a lot of whinging going over this loss. Denard's likely to be back next week and the slate's pretty undaunting until The Game. We knew we were thin at receiver and QB going into the season. Not that much has changed (apart from the disappointing season Fitz Touissant has had) other than the surprising development of a very stout defense.
Can we allow for the possibility that things will work out OK this season?
"Of course I care about that stuff. To the point of irrationality. It will always be Michigan first, cancer second." Jim Mandich (RIP)
Technically, he's a RS Junior but your unstated point remains: RS Juniors playing at home against a sh*tty opponent (Purdue) usually fare a little bit better than RS Freshman playing a night road game against a good-but-not-great opponent (Nebraska).
I don't understand what Guiton as a senior has to do with it.
I simply made the observation that a significant substantive difference bewteen Ohio State and Michigan this year is Guiton. I wasn't crediting OSU or Meyer for that. I wasn't blaming Michigan for that. It's just a fact. Like OSU hasn't played Alabama or Notre Dame this year. Braxton Miller is in the same class-year as Russell Bellomy, right?
No; the abject failure of Russell Bellomy in Saturday's game is a separate matter. And even then, I don't suppose I am ready to blame one player, or one coach, or one game. But if Denard Robinson is your QB, you had better be ready with Plan B in case Denard is unable to play due to injury. Devin Gardner is an upperclassman; if Kenny Guiton's upperclassman status is so critical, there you go. Make sure that either Bellomy or Gardner is a workable Plan B. And if the loss of Tate Forcier is so bad, then recruit more. Whatever. Just have a Plan B. If it means a simplified playbook, so be it. If it means Wildcat offenses, or a different playbook, so be it.
Whatever you do, please don't blame "WR recruiting" for dismal QB play; if Russell Bellomy is somehow excused as having merely had one bad game after adequate prep, I'd suggest that the same goes for the WR's.
I hate to admit it but I agree. Sure, the WRs are not great, but they work for the type of offense RR was running. He doesn't need pro-style guys running deep routes in tight coverage; he needs Gallon and Roundtree-types who can work in the slot and take advantage of defenses keying in on the running game. The fact that Borges doesn't run that offense isn't anyone's fault, but blaming a guy for not recruiting for the guy who would replace him is kind of silly. We have no idea how these WRs would perform in RR's offense, or how this team would be functioning.
As I've said before, the problem with RR's teams were the defense. Martin didn't open the checkbook to get the DC he wanted, and he lost. Now they open up the checkbook and Mattison is fielding an elite defense while the offense struggles. I would love to see how this team looked with RR leading the offense and Mattison on D.
I think it is interesting that in RichRod's first year at Arizona, he just beat #9 USC... he has 3 losses and all were against ranked teams, with the exception of Oregon, they were all very close.. His offense is averaging 39 points per game with a team that was 4-8 last year, in a conference that is arguably more competitive than the Big 10.
So what does this mean?
Borges is taking a team that was 11-2 last year with most offensive players returning including two 1000+ yard rushers and has driven it into the ground.
The only reason there is discussion of Bellomy is because Michigan can't run or catch.
I'm thoroughly unimpressed with Borges and I'm less open to the "let's see how he does when he gets his recruits in there" logic
Great point about Ohio.. and this is with a work in progress QB (granted he's very good), brand new coach, and sanctions.
At this point in the season, MIchigan will most likely be 6-6 or 7-5 in the regular season.
After last year, Dave Brandon seemed like a genius for canning RichRod, but I think the jury is still out.
The defense is the only positive, but it can't do it alone or we'd have two more Ws.
Yes, however, the big improvement last year was defense. As is the case this year. The offense continues to struggle as it did last year in the VT game. Defenses know what we are going to run and we don't have a line that is executing to allow the conservative play calling. Each loss this year can be blamed squarely on the O.
This year's Arizona team is a perfect example of what Michigan would have looked like in 2010 if we had been +4 on turnovers in a few games instead of -4. Their defense is as bad as our 2010 defense in terms of yardage, and they have won two games in which they allowed over 600 yards of offense, because they were a combined +8 in those games.
This is completely unscientfic to say, but I wonder how much of the pressure/acceptance thing has to do with it. RR was under immense pressure here to succeed right effing now, and the players knew it too (they weren't oblivious). At Arizona, they welcomed him with open arms, and that good mojo has transferred to good luck on the field at least so far. Completely unscientific thing to say for something that has been shown to be basically random...but call it karmic retribution if you will.
a Michigan game is normally a festive event at my house. lots of singing Hail to the Victors, lucky maize shirts being worn, my dog dressed in his Michigan shirt getting milk bones for every score and 3&out ....
saturday, my wife was able to take a nap (she's an IU fan.....). it just seemed to get quieter and quieter.....more anti-climatic and depressing as the game went on. by the start of the 4th quarter i was glumly watching while everyone else was asleep!
sweet Shane, come quickly! (bring Treadwell and Green with ya!)
"...when the ole' season is over, you and I know, it's going to be Michigan again; Michigan!"
The thousand red balloons floating skyward into the dark,
released when the 'huskers first scored, made me think there must be a huge white egg hovering somewhere high above, awaiting the lucky balloon which was first to find it and, --nevermind--, it was strange feeling.
here's what i don't get: toussaint running sideways on seemingly every carry he gets out of the shotgun. i get the whole mesh point / read thing (okay, no i don't). but it seems like we're asking him to outrun people to the edge before he even turns up field. i just don't get it.
the second half made one thing clear to me: denard's successes have been in spite of al borges.
and i've been using #diealborges as a twitter hashtag for two months. you could look it up.
You lost me a few paragraphs into this whiny piece of bitch-lore. "The Team, the team, the team" is a nice motto until we lose, huh? Grow a pair and accept this loss as an out-coached and out-played match. Yes, coaching your backups properly, and having them play well, is included in that sentiment.
1984. Sophomore QB Jim Harbaugh dislocates his shoulder againt MSU and is out for the season. Back-up QB Chris Zurbrugg takes over and Michigan goes on to lose to MSU, go 3-4 the remainder of the season and finish 6-6 on the year. By your rationale, Bo Schembechler and his staff, who I think most would agree were pretty good coaches overall, were bad coaches in 1984?
Sometimes your backup players are a big drop-off in talent level from your starters and when the starters get hurt, it costs you. It doesn't mean the coaching staff is bad at their job. I think Brian hit the mark perfectly in pointing out that 5 years of coaching and recruiting turmoil finally came home to bite us in the ass and cost us in a big game. The positive is that Denard's injury isn't season-ending and we're not out of anything yet.
"...what do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"
during one of many snowflakes or hotseat threads, that 1984 team was the last to be shutout, 26-0 to Hayden Fry's Hawkeyes. Poster actually mentioned Russ Rein (I'd forgotten him...easy to do...and you mention the guy I remembered, Zurbrugg).
After that Iowa game, the Hawkeye players indicated they'd not seen such a simplistic offensive gameplan since their high school days, so there was a bit of that possibly dialing back too far, too.
(**I think Harbaugh broke his collarbone, actually.)
The thing to remember about those teams back them is that Michigan was not known for being a program that developed quarterbacks for the next level, so it wasn't like Bo ever had a QB stable at his disposal.
"...what do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"
and I say that as someone who isn't a fan of Borges. The first two years tell us that Borges is a crappy spread option OC, which isn't all that relevant since he wasn't hired based on his spread option knowledge. Next year, we'll probably be starting a bad QB, which is doom for any OC.
I don't think Borges is the guy, mostly because his claim to fame is the stacked Auburn team Brian references above. I also think it's notable that Auburn fans talk about Borges in a completely different way than Florida fans talk about Mattison. That being said, the "4 years" thing is based more on circumstances than Borges himself.
There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter.
I don't disagree, but people around here RAILED on RR for not getting his offense running as soon as he landed on campus, and even at the end of year 2 there were complaints that UM didn't have time for RR to get his guys in and that he needed to start winning. Borges has the advantage of Mattison and Hoke fielding an elite defense, but I've never been impressed by the guy at any of his stops. Auburn, as pointed out, was a great situation he didn't mess up, and San Diego State looked good on paper but it was in a conference where defense doesn't really exist.
He'll be around because Hoke likes him and he inherited a tough situation. But if he was a good OC he'd find a way to make the sub-optimal parts he has into something competent. I mean, Mattison did it in a year. Borges has shown little innovation beyond letting Denard make silly plays and some WC passing routes.
but the people railing against Rich Rod for offensive stuff were dumb, and Michigan's offense was somewhere between "good" and "totally awesome" his last two years. I'm on board with people questioning whether Borges is the guy, but I don't think it's an indictment of him if the offense is bad next year (which it almost certainly will be).
There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter.
Again, I agree that equating the offense with Borges 100% is unfair, but at some point a guy needs to show that his offense works with the talent available and that he can make some gold from lead. Otherwise, just hire some random GA off the street, give him the Madden playbook, and don't even have an OC. The reason guys like Borges get paid like offensive coordinators is because they are expeced to produce competent offenses almost in spite of poor talent. Nobody is expecting a top-25 offense next year, but we've had two years of Borges not really innovating when the defense takes away what he likes to do, and his struggles integrating Denard into his WCO have been well-chronicled.
Greg Mattison is paid well because he can take Will F'ing Campbell, Jibreel Black, J.T. Floyd, and a bunch of underclassmen and pump out a top-10 defense. Al Borges entered the year with a senior, former AA QB, a sure-fire 1st-round offensive tackle plus 1-2 more guys who will at least get a chance in the NFL, ,a guy who ran for 1,000 yards last year, and some young but talented players at TE and WR and hasn't scored more than 14 points against anyone with a pulse and hasn't scored a TD in 2 games. That's the difference between the coordinators.
I'm not sure we can make a fair comparison between Borges and Mattison. If you think about it, Borges has the tougher job. All Mattison had to do was come in and teach these guys to play defense his way and it has worked. He didn't have the square peg / round hole problem with skill position players that Borges does. In a couple of years, with a QB under center who can make all the throws a pro-set QB is asked to make, we still show an inability to exploit holes in our opponents defense, then criticism is warranted.
All we've learned so far is that Denard isn't that guy, but makes up for it with his feet. Bellomy doesn't appear to be that guy and if we're forced to start him, we can expect a lot of pain. Gardner doesn't appear to be that guy because if he was, he'd be starting over Denard. Morris is believed to be that guy, but we probably won't know for certain for a few years. We have to do the thing as a fanbase that we've proven to be pretty bad at over the past few seasons...be patient.
"...what do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"
The thing is, I don't think you can dismiss this distinction as merely being Mattison teaching his system with less resistance. He turned J.T. Floyd from the guy who ran 10 yards the wrong direction on a pass to a guy who could be a fringe All-Big 10 2nd teamer. The defensive line lost its two best linemen and has been at least competent all year. I get that he had fewer round holes and pegs, but he also had very little to work with. Borges inherited a far better offense, one that could do some of things he liked to do at other stops.
And even if Denard isn't his optimal QB, he should be able to do more than he has. I mean, RR had freaking Sheridan and Threet his first year and no real running game and produced an offense that scored 20 points a game. With the second year of this unit, Borges's offense produces 28 points a game, and that's largely because of the 63 he dropped on UMass. I'm sure the scoring will be up because Minny, NW, etc. are coming up, but Nebraska was a poor defense coming and they really did stifle Michigan even with Denard in there.
I hope that Borges can turn it around and with his QB he'll be successful. But he's been in coaching long enough that if he can't make it work without the perfect combination of talent, he shouldn't be coaching in college.