Borges is a genius for installing that cloaking device on Jeremy Gallon.
I hear DameFan1 got one for himself yesterday...
9/10/2011 – Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31 – 2-0
is this real life?
Not only can Denard Robinson redefine All-America teams, average nearly 500 yards per game against Notre Dame, and pilot the most insane fourth quarter Michigan Stadium has ever seen, but he can sum up what happened on Saturday in a single word:
If you still need evidence that Denard can do things other people can't, there you go. Because I've got nothing. I can gape, slack-jawed and twitching, if you'd like. Oh, and I can put my finger between my lips and go "brrrrrrrrrbbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrrbb" with crazy googly eyes. Also I can spin in a circle going "yip yip yip yip yip."
These are my capabilities. All other functions are currently offline. Attempt to access higher cognition and you will receive 503 Gateway Not Found.
That's fine. There's nothing to say that "brrrrrrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbrb" doesn't cover anyway. I am so high, you guys. I don't even know what I'm saying.
Seriously. I'm really struggling here to put words in the computer. I guess… okay.
The thing I really really hated about the first three quarters (other than everything) was the way the offense made Denard mortal. This extended beyond the usual reasons 90 yards of offense in a half make you homicidal. Not only were we lost and hopeless in our first serious game after returning nine starters from one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but the guy who didn't transfer when his offense got fired out from under him was busy playing out everyone's worst-case scenarios.
I don't think I can take football games in which I'd rather have Alex Carder than Denard Robinson. A return of freshman Denard looking like a sad panda is too depressing for a multitude of reasons but mostly because just look at him:
Shoehorning him into an offense that doesn't fit him is a crime against man and panda and manpanda. He had to be dying in the first half as he flung balls to Tacopants and ran waggles the entire stadium could predict. People twittered me about moving him to RB so Gardner can get on the field. I couldn't block them from my phone. The tweets sat there, whispering evil things into my ear.
As I projected Denard's state of mind my own got inky black. The road ahead seemed like another two years of painful rebuilding towards a goal Denard will never see, his career relegated to that of Brandon Graham when Desmond Howard seemed in reach. It's going to kill me if Denard ends up a really good player on a mediocre team for the duration of his career and Michigan doesn't end up making anyone who wants 16 in the future wear a patch with dreads on it. It's going to be worse if he's not even a really good player. Someone is at fault for this travesty.
I was running advanced equations of blame assignment amongst Bill Martin, Rich Rodriguez, Al Borges, Dave Brandon, and bloody fate when Denard rolled out. Corralled by a Notre Dame defender, he stood perfectly still but still delivered a game-changing dart to Junior Hemingway before two more ND players could close in.
From there the delirium took over.
That game was delirious because of the many improbable events stacked on each other. Jeremy Gallon jump-ball touchdowns. Tommy Rees's aiming device locked on Michael Floyd. Tommy Rees throwing a ball backwards for no reason. More jump balls to Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon turning invisible with 23 seconds left. All the reasons it left you with your finger between your teeth are reasons to wonder about the smoothness of this transition (not very), the repeatability of such miracles (even less).
This isn't to blame anyone—it seems that coaches are who they are and as much as I want to, you can't hire a guy based on the two years left you've got with Denard. But I hope I'm not the only one who felt a sense of foreboding in the midst of the joy and relief. We've seen this script the last two years, and never has it been as rickety.
Michigan has to fix some stuff—lots of stuff—by the Big Ten season. The stakes are only Denard's career, everyone's faith in the Ethical Les Miles theory of Hoke's success, and the very survival of pandas in the wild. I'll take the escape. I wonder what happens when the drugs wear off and real life reasserts itself.
For now, though:
The game is ova!
Pantheon placement. I think this is below Braylonfest—but only just—in the competition for Best Comeback Ever (that people 32 or under remember). For Michigan to pull Braylonfest out they had to recover an onside kick and survive not just triple overtime by an oft-forgotten 50-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation that was set up by a horrible pass interference call.
A good proxy for the level of kickass in your comeback is how many people left the stadium early. While there were some people who took off when ND made it 24-7, they don't compare to the legions who left early during that MSU game. And winning that eventually got Michigan a Rose Bowl appearance. The season-long significance of this ND game is going to be lower.
It easily beats out the Buffalo Stampede game, since it's not against Minnesota or in the Metrodome, and then it's a long way to fourth place.
As far as best game ever… it depends on what you're rating it on. I like my defining victories to be well-played and not hinge on the opposing quarterback throwing the ball backwards for no reason. In terms of pure drama it's up there but with both teams unranked and not looking likely to defy that I'd say most Ohio State games before we stopped being competitive had more salt to them. We lost all the ones that came down to the last play, though.
The entire Denard interview. If you missed this, you should fix that:
Commence the bitching about the offense. Watching Michigan run a play-action bomb from the I-formation after averaging exactly two yards per carry out of the I on previous attempts was exactly what I was beating into the ground over the offseason. No one is scared of Michigan's crappy backs running power out of the I-form so no one has to cheat to it. Thus instead of Worst Waldo plays featuring Roy Roundtree and twenty yards of grass we got a lot of hopeful downfield jump balls into excellent coverage.
Michigan was lucky as hell to get most of those. That was a Jeff Bowden special right there. I'm not alone in this. There has to be some adaptation now that we know the relative success rates of manball and Denardball. When Denard's averaging 7.5 YPC (sack excluded) and the rest of the backs under are 2, power is a lost cause.
Denard has to be the focal point of the offense, fragile or no. And the new offense seemed to remove Denard's legs as the primary threat without actually reducing his carries: he had 15 carries* in just 50 snaps. Project that to last year's 72 offensive snaps per game and Denard would have carried 22(!) times. What's the point of throwing away snaps on two-yard runs from the I?
Primary thing that may just work. "Chuck it up to Hemingway" may be the world's most primitive passing game but dang if it doesn't work. Hemingway not only has great leaping ability, he's enormous and therefore capable of boxing out opponents. Add in an uncanny knack for being able to high-point the ball and he's a hell of a lot like Marquise Walker before Walker got the dropsies as a senior.
Primary thing that did work from under center. Vincent Smith's throwback screen touchdown was a great call since it used Denard's legs. He rolls, defense freaks, he throws back, Smith should have an easy touchdown if any of the offensive linemen block that one linebacker, Smith makes it happen anyway. Contrast with the earlier screen where a short Denard has to float a ball over a guy leaping in his face and ends up throwing it eight yards too far and getting it picked off.
And introducing… Facepalm Guy. The facepalm guy from the sad fugee face picture in the "So I Was Like" post: the the new Lloyd Brady? He's already won an award for "Media Criticism" from Doctor Saturday.
1) He caught ESPN's camera's capturing his facepalm moment and gave them an oh-no-you-di'in't:
2) After the game he… well, he did this:
Can a brother get a Facepalm Guy touchdown Jesus photoshop?
(HT to MGoUser Haterade.)
Defensive events. Brandon Herron and Mike Jones were supposedly out with injury but if I had to guess they were not so badly hurt they couldn't play and Michigan was trying out their other options at WLB. Desmond Morgan started, played poorly—he got trucked like he was in a BTN practice highlight-type substance—and was yanked. Then Brandin Hawthorne came in and may have been plausible. He knifed into the backfield for one key TFL on third and short. I'm guessing he was at least partially responsible for a number of Cierre Wood runs that went for big yardage, but we'll see. WLB remains a sore spot.
The other sore spot is an alarming, unexpected one: WDE. Craig Roh had zero tackles for the second straight week and while he did get a QB hurry or two he seems less impactful from that spot than he did last year. I mean, last year he split two ND linemen and picked up a huge TFL en route to a +11 day. This year he'll be lucky to break even. Hopefully he's still sick. I wonder if we see more Black in the short term.
How did Jordan Kovacs only have eight tackles?
BONUS: Will Campbell got held! By an offensive lineman!
Special teams. Matt Wile has been at least average spelling Hagerup, and with only one more real-ish game left before the latter returns it looks like Michigan will escape that suspension without much real damage. I still hate the regular punt. If ND's John Goodman hadn't made inexplicable fair catches he had tons of room on two of Wile's five punts despite Wile's excellent hangtime.
The patch thing. It's pretty cool. Some potential tweaks and additions:
So there's this. Exploit your children for fun and profit:
Profit not applicable.
Pom-poms and RAWK and crowd noise. Is it just me or was the stadium not actually very loud when it would help out the most? The pom-poms encouraged people to use their hands shaking pom-poms instead of making noise and while the piped-in music was indeed loud, when it cut out the people in the stadium making noise were largely going "OH oh oh oh oh, OH oh oh oh oh" instead of "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA." The latter is louder.
Putting aside the insults to the Great Tradition they represent, is the noise level created by the frippery mostly cosmetic? It has seemed much louder in Michigan Stadium—I was frustrated as I was screaming myself hoarse on the last drive while people around me shook their little plastic thingies. Plastic thingy shaking is not that intimidating, people.
And then there's the guy two rows in front of you who's shaking the thing constantly so you can't see the game. In the South they have a protocol about these things: raise that thing above your shoulder during a play and you're not getting that arm back. Here we get them every five years or so and there's always someone who thinks row 14 is the last one.
ST3 goes inside the box score. Michael Scarn says trying to describe that game was like taking a picture of Bigfoot. Post-ND MonuMental riff by ppToilet. (You can't choose your username, man, it chooses you.) MonuMental himself shows up to modify his Denard action figure for the occasion.
Pretty much the best. An obviously drunk Jeff at Maize Pages digs up the fantastically entertaining Roundtree-Shaw Newlywed game BTN video in response to the delerium.
Photo galleries and assorted media. Pregame shots from MNB Nation. Other shots from MNBN. The Shredder took a zillion shots. Tailgating from AnnArbor.com. Also the game. Here's a great stadium shot from Melanie Maxwell:
Also here's this dude:
The whole gallery is worth checking out.
Wolverine Historian put together a 28 minute highlight reel.
Column-type events. Wojo. More Wojo. MVictors also fills you in on the techno viking behind Hoke: yes, it's Steve Everitt, and no, you do not want to get between him and his cubs. Kyle Meinke says Denard was a big part of the offense and the running backs weren't and that's not so cool. Florek in the Daily.
UGA/M dual-fan Michael at Braves & Birds wonders whether it's better to play poorly and win (as Michigan did) or play well and lose (as Georgia did).
Entertaining serieseses of bullets. MVictors:
On the sunny side, they pulled out all the stops in the press box for the media on hand. Witness the butter dish of victory:
This might have been Brandon's special bonus.
[Robinson's] total of 446 yards and 5 touchdowns was excellent, but how he got there was strange. Through three quarters of football, he was 4-for-14 passing (if that accuracy rate sounds familiarly horrible, that's because it's the same as Michigan's kickers circa 2010) for 136 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. In the fourth stanza, Robinson went 8-for-11 for 217 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, plus a recovered Stephen Hopkins fumble that he turned into a touchdown.
That graph is intended as a baseline estimator for a team's real-time win probability and is independent of situation, but the site also offers a crude win probability calculator, which, while it's calibrated to an NFL scale, can at least give us a decent estimate of how unlikely Michigan's victory was: four percent, Michigan's win probability after Notre Dame's slot receiver scampered into the endzone without a defender in site. Denard Robinson laughs at your probabilities and says, "Really? Oh man, that's crazy," and throws the ball to Jeremy Gallon standing alone in the Notre Dame secondary.
Maize and Blue Nation wins best headline: "The Denard. The Denard. The Denard."
National takes: Adam Jacobi marvels and notes that Robinson couldn't throw the ball even when he was completing passes; he also points out that uh… the Big Ten is not so much this year. Doctor Saturday:
Here, instead of merely covering poorly, Notre Dame subsequently failed to cover Wolverine receiver Jeremy Gallon at all, incredibly freeing him for a 64-yard sprint to the Irish 16-yard line with eight seconds left for a) A couple shots at the winning touchdown; b) A shot at a field goal to tie; or c) A confused catastrophe that left 110,000 people contemplated mass hara-kiri. With all of every one of those people secretly fearing c), Robinson delivered the dagger.
Robinson was, again, heroic for Michigan. He has brutalized the Irish the past two seasons, rolling up a mind-boggling 948 yards of total offense to go with eight TDs. His performance in the fourth quarter Saturday night was downright epic: 7 of 9, 202 yards, three passing touchdowns to go with six carries for 24 yards and another TD. In all, he accounted for a staggering 226 of his team's 229 yards.
Borges is a genius for installing that cloaking device on Jeremy Gallon.
I hear DameFan1 got one for himself yesterday...
As stated by Brian in the season preview, it'll be a long time before we someone as pure as Denard represent the Block M. When he told Fowler how he wanted to keep the jersey, I thought, "Thank God he didn't say sell the jersey."
I think some of it might be the situations we put Denard into.
For example, was watching ESPN this morning and they were showing why Cam Newton had some success yesterday. Carolina would come out at times in a Power I formation with two TEs and only Steve Smith outside. Thus the box was stacked and Smith got a 1-1 coverage, which for a guy his good he would win most of the time. As a result, Newton didn't have to think much and his guy was open for a good pass. Success as a result of what the offense was doing.
However it seems we are trying to force Denard into a spot where we rely on his arm a little too much even though we know its not the best. As a result mistakes occur.
I don't think the fault is on one party fully, but hopefully that shows a little bit of how the offense around the quarterback can set up success/failure (I know its not the best, and way more knowledgeable football people can probably expand/give better explanations).
that it's Borges's fault that Denard isn't a very accurate passer.
The argument is that it's a mistake to design an offense that requires accurate passes and good decisions when your quarterback isn't an accurate passer and makes bad downfield decisions.
What can Borges do when the RBs average 2 YPC and Denard is overthrowing passes by 10 yards? I mean, you can't run Denard on every play and you can't have every play that isn't Denard running be a throwback screen. At some point Denard has to be able to hit wide-open receivers or no offense is going to work.
My only criticism of the play calling is that whenever a running play did work, they went right back to the exact same play for a loss or no gain, putting us in a 3rd-and-4-type situation. Stop doing that and we might actually get a first down on 2nd down instead of going 3&out.
out of the gun as opposed to out of the I. And you can incorporate more 8-10 yard throws/bubble screens rather than bombing it down the field repeatedly.
I agree on the screens, but ND was set up defensively to take away everything in the short and midrange passing game. Their game plan, if you look at how they consistently aligned their CBs to the inside was to force Denard to beat them deep. That was a place to run bubble screens, and I'm surprised they didn't, but downfield fades are the other way to beat the coverage ND was playing (that they played it on the last snap, and didn't give Gray help over the top, is stupifying and sums up everything that Brian wrote about Diaco before the game).
Denard couldn't hit those 8-10 yard throws to save his life in the first half and when he finally started hitting receivers, they couldn't catch the ball to help him out. Plus, there are multiple receivers with different levels for routes on each play. You don't know if Denard just wasn't checking down when he should be. How many times did those deep passes open up the run for Denard and instead of taking off he tried to make a play to a receiver downfield? Even when he did check down, to a short pass, he couldn't hit it. Remember that 3rd & 12 early on where he checked down to the RB running to the sideline about 2 yards upfield? He threw it behind him and couldn't even complete that even though it would have resulted in a punt anyway. The play calling really isn't an issue. There is no offense that will work for Denard if he can't put a ball withing 5 yards of an open receiver.
What Brian said: Don't run plays out of I-form. The defense doesn't fear the RBs and it takes away most of Denard's ability to run. Therefore they can sell out on covering the receivers and Denard is forced to chuck jump balls. Run plays out of shotgun are just as effective and shotgun plays are more likely to create open receivers.
Every offense that involves "passing" requires "accurate passes and good decisions." It's not like they're trying to turn Denard into Tom Brady on last year's Patriots.
The implication is that the only offense Borges should be running involves Denard running the ball almost exclusively. Obviously we're not nearly there yet, but how is trying to get some balance in the offense a bad thing?
Borges has done everything he can to adapt his typical offense to Denard. We still have a ton of quarterback runs. We're doing zone reads. We're operating a ton out of shotgun. Yes, he's trying to add new elements (such as establishing a non-Denard running game), and yes, those new elements are working out great just yet. But I don't understand why people would think it's better to run a one-dimensional offense for the next two years, rather than keep what works AND try to improve in other areas.
I think the issue is personnel. Denard's never going to be some Brees/Brady/Manning kind of sit in the pocket and pick them apart guy.
However Denard also can't be a one trick running pony. He's not invincible, good B1G defenses can and will get contain on him and force him to beat them with his arm (or the hits will build up and knock him out of games). ND did that on Saturday. It wasn't just the passing game that stalled in the 1st, it was also ND throwing their front four, Teo, and the kitchen sink all at Denard to contain him. Often whenDenard scrambled there was someone there and they managed to keep him to 108 yards on the ground (which by Denard standards is contained).
What Denard really needs to shine IMHO is Braylon Jr. He has Hemingway as a jump ball specialist, but another 6' 3"/6' 4" jump ball specialist would really help. Denard starts to move, the defense panics and comes up to contain. In midstride Denard fires a ball out. If you have Braylon/Manningham/Terrel or someone of that dominate style jumping for it life is a lot better. Denard scrambling will lead to single coverage, so toss it up and let the WR bring it down.
The smaller guys force Denard to be more accurate in a lot of cases, whereas big targets let Denard exploit that rocket laiuncher he calls an arm and fire off 30 yard strikes on the move.
The offense did a good job of recongizing that ND's DBs had no help underneath and setting up all the underthrows, but I think a pick problem is still WR corp. Roundtree was shut down for most of the game. Gallon had some awesome catches, but also got outjumped by DBs a few times. Hemingway caught on fire in the 2nd half, but no one was just a dominate WR throughout.
The thing that I am encouraged by is that Denard actually looked good on the passes that he had good footwork and timing on. He has only had 1 spring and 1 fall camp in this offense and though we might take some lumps now, once he gets more comfertable and most of his passes look like the one he threw to Kelvin Grady in the 4th Quarter, our offense will be nearly impossible to stop. This will be because they will be multidimensional and not solely reliant on Denard running.
Why the hell does he have to be? You have hundreds of other media sources if you want pure objectivity?
This word "literally." It does not mean what I think you think it means.
Denards strengths are not taking drop steps from under center, sitting in the pocket, and throwing long passes accurately downfield. It is akin to asking Tommy Rees to run QB draw, QB power, or option. It doesn't make that much sense to ignore a players strengths and try to highlight his weaknesses.
A running quarterback that can't throw is probably better suited to play runningback. If he wants to play the position, he's going to have to work on his throwing. You can't just eliminate the passing game because you have a quarterback that can't throw. If you think that we should move him around between quarterback and running back, that would be one thing, but I don't think it's valid to criticize an OC for calling pass plays. Either Denard has to learn how to throw, or he should be moved to another position. I personally think that he will be a good quarterback with a little more experience and coaching.
All I hear is: "the nerve of this guy; asking a quarterback to throw? What the hell?"
you have a large and hopefully not irreversible reading comprehension fail. Literally no one, in any post ever, has made the case that Denard should not be throwing the football. The argument rather, is what type of offensive scheme will maximize the kind of passing that Denard does well.
How dare you leave out Condredge Holloway
Right now, DR is a better passer than every one of those guys you listed their whole career. JC Watts was a 40% passer for God's sake. Look up their stats, then go look up DR's from last year--his are WAY better then they were--as a true sophomorre in his frst year of real playing time. There simply is zero legitimate comparison to that "lineage" you reference.
Look, Denard has clear limitations as a passer, (and I agree he's not as good passing as Smith et.al) hence, we should try to maximize what he does well and minimize what he doesn't. But to say there no kind of passing he does well is really incomprehensible.
Triplicate. Caused by site crash.
The only solutions I've heard suggested is to run the "QB oh nos" or bubble screens. I think we need a little more than runs and bubble screens. Teams aren't going to keep their safeties back all game because they are worried that Michigan might run the QB Oh Nos once or twice per game. I think the better solution is to work on Denard's ability to throw the ball downfield rather than abandoning the downfield passing game.
they've been working on that all offseason? You think it's going to get better between games, between game-planning, during the season?
No, I think the better solution is to adjust the play-calling.
Right, because the defense is just going to let us do what ever we want. I forgot about that Big Ten Championship we won with our dynamic offense last year that no defense could shut down..
I think it will get better as the season goes on. The more reps that Denard gets the more comfterable he will be passing the ball in a west coast offense.
The issue is that he needs the threat of his legs to help him out in the passing game. Also, the shotgun allows him to see the field better. He is probably going to have worse stats this year passing and running compared to last year and it isn't because he is a worse player. Its because its easier for him to pass from shotgun and when the defense is respecting his running. Under center its much harder for him to run so the defense doesn't respect it and they double cover receivers. Its a subopitmal usage of his talents.
Saturday he showed he has a cannon for an arm and can be deadly accurate at times. But he also can be really off.
Well geez, it's a good thing that he has been operating from the shotgun in about 70% of his snaps then. From your post, you'd think we were lined up under center 70% of the time, instead of the other way around.
The "shotgun or death" crown talks about the shotgun the way Republicans talk about lower taxes.
"There should be more shotgun".
Well, what percentage shotgun would be acceptable to you?
Well, more is a relative term. What are you looking for? 50%? 60%? 70%? Denard's already in shotgun almost every down.
"MOAR SHOTGUNZ PLEEZE!"
Someone should draw a shotgun Laffer curve.
as well as for your argument, that you are correct in your POV regarding scheme. There is only one problem however: if an offense with 9 returning starters and a QB moving from a sophomore 1st year starter to a junior is worse of an offense, with that QB regressing in performance and the only variable being different coach and scheme, by definition you are wrong and Brian et. al are right. We'll see by year end.
It sounds like he was so amped up, though, that he was overthrowing everything. Maybe he just needs to learn how to calm down. It's part of Denard, though, being such a positive guy, it may be hard for him to do.
Also, I wonder if he is trying to hard to be the passing QB and forgetting to run when nothing is there. How many times do you see him standing there with space in front of him while he still looked for an open receiver. It seems like a number of times you could hear the crowd just yell "RUN".
The passing game was like that old yard game where one guy takes the ball 30 yards away and heaves it up to a crowd of guys and yells "10" points or whatever amount and if you catch it you earn that amount of points. That won't work much, bu thankfully it did against ND.
Internalize AAB's reply please.
It's funny. You seem 100 times more depressed about Denard's future than Denard does. Take it easy.
thanks for the advice!
You're the WLA dictator for life.
Denard has to be the focal point of the offense, fragile or no. And the new offense seemed to remove Denard's legs as the primary threat without actually reducing his carries: he had 15 carries* in just 50 snaps. Project that to last year's 72 offensive snaps per game and Denard would have carried 22(!) times.
They used him roughly as often as Rich.
But with Rich he was the focal point.
And with Borges he was not.
I don't get it.
Our passing game against Notre Dame, for the most part, was not centered around "holy shit Denard Robinson might run the ball!" Running play action out of the I makes the passing game less effective when you have Denard Robinson, because no one is scared of Denard handing the ball off to Stephen Hopkins, but everyone is scared of Denard taking off on a sneak.
Brian's beef is that many of the plays we ran minimized the threat of Denard running the ball, and thus made the offense less effective without actually decreasing the overall load that Denard bears.
We had just finished a football game in which our RB's, mostly, nearly ran for 200 yards in 3 quarters against a likely bowl-participant, albeit of the MAC variety.
I don't thing at least toeing the water there is stupid.
I'm not necessarily that mad that Michigan tried to run the ball with its running backs from under center.
I am mad that Michigan didn't run much (if any) one-man play action stuff with Denard out of the gun.
We can argue about the play-calling, but we are both schematic idiots, probably, right?
What I saw is this:
If Denard wasn't throwing the ball with a scatter-gun early, and if the WR's had actually helped him about a bit by catching some not-greatly-thrown-but-good-enough balls, that 24-7 hole doesn't happen.
I don't see how that's different from saying "if Steven Threet were fast the spread option would be way more effective."
I think any offense designed around Denard having excellent downfield accuracy is fundamentally misconceived. You can argue that Borges needs to get his system in place rather than running an offense he doesn't know that well built around one guy who will only be there 2 more years, but I think Denard is the rare player who is talented enough that the scheme can wait for a while.
it seems like he did adapt a bit, though, right? I mean, it seemed like Denard ran a bit more as the game progressed. Errors were made.
I was not happy that much of the passing attack was downfield jump balls, as I don't think that's putting Denard in a position to succeed long-term.
Again, opinions can vary, but I thought a number of those, particularly the Gallon and Roundtree TD's were intentionally underthrown, given the fact that the DB's were over the top.
It was the deep balls between the 20s that were driving me crazy. I thought our passing game plan (especially in the first half but also in the 2nd half) was a great gameplan for Chad Henne or John Navarre, but one that did not properly exploit the thread of Denard taking off with the football.
If you want to get the ball to Junior deep, you've got to lob it up. He's not fast enough to outrun most DBs, but he can outjump them.
The adaptation part here is key. Borges (and Mattison) are finding out what and who works in these games. Practice only goes so far. They (and we) don't know how good our line is. They don't know whether power will work against a good team. They don't know whether we can line up Hopkins in the I and have him gain tough yards. (Answer: no.) They don't know how well Denard will throw downfield and play within the pocket.
The measure for this year is how well Borges finds things that work. It seems in this game that he eventually did. The downfield jump balls were adjustments to ND lining their corners up to take away short routes inside and forcing Denard to throw deep. So far this team has shown they get better as games go on and I hope that micro trend will be continued across the macro course of the season. That's something that was not the case for RichRod's teams, as fun as they were to watch when the offense was working.