11/24/2012 – Michigan 21, Ohio State 26 – 8-4, 6-2 Big Ten
In 1997, Michigan had a multidimensional weapon they'd take out of the garage for a couple dozen plays a game. His name was Charles Woodson, and I distinctly remember the disappointment that would wash over me 70% of the time he came in for an offense snap. This disappointment was because Woodson didn't get the ball. He ran a route, and something else happened.
Despite the disappointment, I got it. You can't just give the ball to the dynamic guy every time he comes in the game because if you do putting him in the game is tantamount to holding up a huge sign that says THIS IS THE PLAY WE ARE RUNNING. You can't flip up your hole cards before you bet.
Al Borges disagrees. If you've poked around the flaming wreckage of the Michigan internet in the aftermath of Saturday, you have undoubtedly heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth because of that. But the thing is so stark it has to be marveled at again: when Denard Robinson entered the game against Ohio State, every play but one was Denard Robinson doing something. Once it was fail to chip Ryan Shazier and try to get out for a screen; all other times it was run the ball, sometimes with a pitch included. The fakeout was a six-yard completion to Mike Kwiatkowski in the first quarter, and there ended any attempt at deception.
Devin Gardner was at quarterback for three of these plays. Michigan held up a sign that said RUN or PASS, and didn't even try the token fakeout where Robinson goes over the top when the safeties suck up. Gardner ran three times. Denard passed zero. Ohio State figured it out. Surprise!
Denard got a dozen snaps and watched from the sideline as Gardner tried to drive Michigan 70 yards for the win. There were six minutes left, and Michigan was reduced to throwing every down as a guy who might break the all-time rushing record for a quarterback watched.
What can you say? It's indefensible. It's a failure without any possible explanation. It caused legions of neutral observers to laugh or fume or sit slack-jawed as they watched it unfold. Sean McDonough was dumbfounded. Orson, in the stands, marveled. Twitter burst at the seams with furious mockery from people who don't care about Michigan but do hate to see Denard Robinson end his final Ohio State game on the bench, having averaged 11 yards a carry on ten attempts.
Here is a list of things Denard Robinson could have productively done on Saturday that did not necessarily involve him getting the ball.
Be a running back on the inverted veer.
Stand in a two-back set, then motion out a la Vincent Smith on a pre-emptive flare route.
Run a flare from the backfield
Line up in the slot and get a fake jet handoff, then run a wheel.
Line up in the slot, run a bubble.
Run a route you ignore but the defense cannot.
Fake a screen to him and screen to the other side.
There were ways to work around the fact that Denard can't block, primarily running your best play with your best two players. What can possibly be so hard about telling Denard "now you're the other guy on the play we run all the time"? Even if it's play action, it draws everyone. If he's on the field, one to three people are concerned with him, and if that's at the edge of the field that's as good as a block. It's a fantastic block. It is a much better block than most of the folk on Michigan's offensive line were capable of.
And nothing. Nothing. Here is a sign that says whether we are running or passing.
“They were a little bit predictable in the first half,” said Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. “You know, they put 16 (Robinson) back there, he was gonna run it. And they put 12 (Gardner) back there, they were gonna throw it. And after a while that became something that we keyed on.”
On the other side of the ball, things made sense. Ohio State's offense is a coherent whole that ruthlessly exploits every edge it can. Michigan spent the first couple drives unable to substitute as Ohio State went up-tempo. Afterwards they started running on right after the play; Michigan struggled to get set at times. When OSU slowed it down, they made a playcall after seeing how the defense lined up. They took every advantage the game gives them.
Once JT Floyd got turned around by Devin Smith on OSU's first drive, Michigan was faced with the prospect of repeating last year's festival of deep bombs or giving Floyd help. They chose the latter, and chose to contain Braxton Miller at all costs. To do this they had to give up two things: the underneath flats and the guy in the box that can be a free hitter.
The results: Miller was 14 of 18. Avery blew a deep corner route on a third and long early and there was the bomb. There ended downfield passing. Miller's other 12 completions averaged 9.8 yards a pop on a series of screens and quick throws in the soft outside section of the field. Carlos Hyde surged up the middle over and over again, picking up 146 yards on 26 carries with no Michigan player available to hit. Stat of the game: Will Campbell had ten assisted tackles.
The dispiriting thing is watching that and not being frustrated with anyone in particular when the other team moves the ball. There was no screaming some guy's name, no rolling your eyes and saying "come on make a tackle." When Michigan stopped them, it was a good play by someone. When they did not, it was because you can't play the wide receivers one on one so everyone's got a blocker.
Michigan was lucky not to give up 30 or 40 points. Ohio State is rickety. Botched snaps, penalties, and some heroic individual plays—Ryan checking Miller in space, Jibreel Black and Frank Clark combining to get Miller down on third and goal when Michigan had put four guys against three to the field—prevented that, but it was there. It will be there next year, and the year after, and the year after that. They will not be as rough as this outfit in its first year.
Michigan can only beat it by winning one-on-one matchups, lots of them. That's tough to do. Possible—see Stanford—but tough, and sometimes even if you're Stanford the Oregons of the world blitz you for 40.
The Hoke hire was alarming to me (for about two weeks) because it seemed like waving a white flag and going back to the Carr era philosophy that had seen Michigan slip definitively behind Ohio State over the last six or seven years of Carr's career. In a lot of ways, those concerns have proved unfounded. Carr was a puntosaur; Hoke is amongst the most aggressive coaches in the country. Mattison is as modern as defensive coordinators come. Whatever his flaws, Borges is a far cry from DeBord. He wants to score, for one.
There are two ways in which those concerns have been true, one tiny, one large. The tiny one is the spread punt. You've seen the coverage, seen what everyone else is doing, heard me complain about it, etc. I asked Heiko to bring it up a couple times over the past few years, and we did get an answer of a sort as to why Michigan doesn't run it:
MGoFollowup: Were you aware that they could run a fake out of the spread punt formation?
“Sure. Yeah. They had done it before, right up the middle.”
MGoFollowup: What’s your opinion of the spread punt formation vs. the traditional punt formation?
“Uh, we don’t use it.”
MGoFollowup: Is there a rationale for that?
“I think, you know … I’m more comfortable with what we use. That’s the rationale.”
That is a dull, unthinking answer. Heiko shot it to me as soon as he transcribed it and it depressed both of us.
Here is where the comparison to Beilein goes. Beilein, who has discovered the alley-oop and ditched the 1-3-1 except when it wins a game against Pitt, and wiped out his coaching staff to start anew. Beilein took his comfort level and chucked it out the window. We all stand to benefit. In the wake of this loss, I hope the football staff takes a similarly stark look at itself.
It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that huddling is an archaism destined for the dustbin. I say it’s a slight exaggeration because there is a value to huddling, primarily when you have a great leader at quarterback as a huddle is an opportunity for him to show his leadership skills. But otherwise, it’s inherently inferior to going no-huddle. It’s slower, which is a problem both in games but also in practice where your offense gets fewer reps, and, maybe most importantly, the safety net of a huddle leads coaches to transform plays that can be communicated in just one or two words into multi-syllabic monstrosities.
The Patriots don't use it, Ohio State doesn't use it, Oregon lol huddle, etc. And I see Michigan get out of one with 15 seconds on the playclock having determined what they're going to do without getting information from the defense and with little time to change what they're doing. And I think about comfort, and how dangerous it is to slip into old habits just because they are old.
It feels like Michigan is on the wrong side of history here. After Rodriguez the spread offense is anathema. It's the one thing that keeps Nick Saban enraged at night, and it feels like Michigan's going to ignore it because Rich Rodriguez's defense couldn't stop a six-year-old child, instead of for any defensible rationale. I'm not sure that's going to cut it against Urban Meyer.
OSU guy did this one but it's got all the important stuff:
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Well… this is close but since Jake Ryan saw something like 60 snaps instead of a dozen, his nine tackles two TFLs, sack, and impressive non-tackle of Braxton Miller get him the nod. One on one, he won his matchup. Now we just need five to six more of that guy.
Honorable Mention. Denard(obvious), Roy Roundtree (touchdown), Jeremy Gallon (six catches), possibly Will Campbell (ten assists!).
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Obvious.
Honorable mention: Roy Roundtree uses one man-Dileo convoy to score 75-yard touchdown, Frank Clark levels Braxton Miller a couple times, Denard turns not much into 30 yards on Michigan's first snap.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
11/10/2012: Mattison baits Fitz, Kenny Demens decleats Northwestern, game over. 11/17/2012: Denard WOOPS Tanner Miller in Big House finale. 11/24/2012: Denard uses PHYSICS to score a touchdown
Rawls lacks YAC, so what's the point? Michigan ended up in fourth and three on their first drive of the third quarter after a one-yard Rawls carry, a six yard Denard carry, and a zero-yard Rawls carry. The third down attempt was pretty much stuffed but Rawls could not manufacture even one yard after contact, something that has been a pattern after he got everyone's hopes up by running over some Purdue safeties.
But the real killer was the first down play, when Michigan successfully blocked everyone and got Rawls the edge. One on one in space with cornerback Bradley Roby, Rawls ran straight into him and went down. One yard.
Rawls's five carries netted two yards. Since he started picking up non-garbage-time carries against Minnesota this brings him to 68 yards on 32 carries, 2.1 per carry. Yeah, the line has something to do with that and Rawls is getting goal-line carries, but since he's getting so many goal line carries because he's bouncing outside the tackles or going down on first contact I don't think that's much to hang your hat on.
Yeah, he'll probably get better as he ages but at this point it would be a shock if he ever ends up anything but a short-yardage back. Chalk another one up to the Fred Jackson Hyperbole Curse.
This is a reason I'm skeptical about Drake Johnson making an impact. Guys Jackson personally campaigns for have a poor track record.
Bad time to get beat for the first(?) time this year. Michigan's first drive ended with a blindside sack and fumble yielded by Taylor Lewan, which was like… that can happen? I think Alabama got a blindside sack in the first game; since then nothing. Bad time for a bad play.
This of course means that he will slide down draft boards and return. That's the ticket.
Devin flaws exposed. It was coming, and it came: against a more talented defense than Gardner had seen so far he was hesitant. His throws were off, mostly deep, and throw after throw was a second late. Against Iowa and Northwestern and Minnesota it didn't matter, but Ohio State's defense is a really good unit that implodes to yield long touchdowns twice a game; when they were not doing that they're pretty good about closing down space.
All that's understandable. Hopefully we see a more polished version in the bowl game and go into 2013 with some confidence under center.
The stuff they got. Ohio State is a defense that is good, and then explodes spectacularly, and that's what they did on the Roundtree touchdown, which was just CJ Barnett making a terrible play. Good for Gardner to recognize that coverage; not a huge credit to the play itself. And then Denard used science(!) to burst through two tacklers on the 67-yarder.
That play was a credit to Borges as it was pretty much exactly what OSU ran some last week, a fake veer that turns into an outside play with a convoy of blockers. Michigan ran it to good effect in the first half, and then died in the second half because OSU adjusted.
"boy I hope this guy spends most of the second half on the bench" –nobody (Fuller)
Speaking of that play… find me the Michigan fan who was not in full FFFFFFUUUUUUUU mode the instant before after Michigan got the ball back with 1:30, ran for eight yards on first down, and then spent 30 seconds lining up. You can't even put it on Denard this time since there was the option to go to Gardner. Denard bailed them out of another hack job of a two-minute drill.
Rodriguez comparison point. That game was reminiscent of early Rodriguez offensive forays that worked fairly well for a half—think introducing MINOR RAGE against Penn State en route to 17-14 halftime lead—and then evaporated when the opponent took the fancy new stuff away and Michigan had no other way to move the ball. They came in with a couple things that worked, and then Ohio State said "we are not letting Denard run" and that was that.
Speaking of that concept… on the fourth and three to open the second half Michigan ran that same play again. The above picture is from the touchdown; on the stop, Barnum's guy shot outside and upfield, forcing a cutback, and Lewan didn't have an angle to get on an equally hard-charging Shazier. It's almost like they spent halftime preparing to stop it.
“My comment was, after I saw Denard Robinson sneak outta there for a long run, stop the quarterback run,” Meyer said. “That’s the input I had. Probably the same — I think 107,000 people said that as well.”
The most baffling thing… hmm. Not running your extremely fast guy who can actually throw the ball makes the top 20 of baffling decisions Saturday. What are you saving him for?
2013 peek ahead. I'm drafting a "22 Tickets for Team 134" feature that'll tackle this in more detail, but for now Michigan loses the following folks after the bowl:
WR Roy Roundtree
TE Mike Kwiatkowski
OL Taylor Lewan (probably), Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Patrick Omameh
The likely replacements:
WR Amarah Darboh(?)
TE AJ Williams
OL Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Jack Miller, and Chris Bryant
Bryant is admittedly speculative; Fitzgerald Toussaint may not make it back. How do we feel about this? On the one hand, four new starters on the offensive line. On the other, the interior guys are probably going to be better even if they're young. Possibly a lot better. While Schofield isn't Lewan he was a solid pass protector this year and should be able to cope.
The most important thing is getting those tight ends in shape. Funchess was a crappy blocker this year; more alarmingly, AJ Williams was hardly better. I don't know much about OL technique but Williams has stood out as so spectacularly unrefined that even a layman like myself can look at him and think "that doesn't look right."
Story of the season. Defense hangs in against good offense as offense curls up and dies, putting them in bad spots time and again, eventually cracks a little, and fades late as exhaustion sets in. Ohio State neared 400 yards and put up 26 points but I'm not even a little mad at what happened. It was all so obvious.
this was an actual tackle (Fuller)
Most impressive non-tackle of the season. Jake Ryan in space against Braxton Miller was a little different than Jake Ryan in space against most people, but he did hold Miller up long enough for the cavalry to rally. On the day, nine tackles, a TFL, and a number of "oh thank God you are large and fast" moments. All Big Ten, surely.
I am going to hit you very hard now. Frank Clark was the main beneficiary of multiple all-out blitzes Mattison sent on third down.
A couple of these threatened to send Miller out of the game or dislodge the ball; most other times Michigan didn't even bother to rush him.
2013 peek ahead. I'm drafting a "22 Tickets for Team 134" feature that'll tackle this in more detail, but Michigan loses the following folks after the bowl:
SDE Craig Roh
3TECH Will Campbell
MLB Kenny Demens
CB JT Floyd
S Jordan Kovacs
SDE: Jibreel Black/Tom Strobel
3TECH: Matt Godin/Chris Wormley
MLB: Effectively James Ross since the bet here is Morgan slides over.
CB: Blake Countess
S: Jarrod Wilson
That's a lot of youth, with Black the only upperclassman mentioned. It is at least highly-touted youth. Wormley was going to see the field as a freshman, Countess had a breakout freshman year before the injury that cost him 2012, James Ross is a summer in the weight room away from being awesome, and… well, Wilson is not going to be Kovacs.
2013 will probably be just as good as this year, if not a little better, and then look out in 2014: the only projected starters to graduate after next year are Thomas Gordon and Quinton Washington. (Nickelback Courtney Avery also departs.) Washington will be replaced by a fully groomed Ondre Pipkins; Michigan has a few options to replace Gordon.
Fourth and three from the forty-eight. My thought at the time was that was a coinflip decision, statistically, and yup:
Those are NFL numbers, of course, and can't be taken as gospel. Whatever adjustment there is to the college game it's not going to push it into slam dunk territory either way. That decision is all about feel.
From my perspective that feel includes information like "interior line cannot block these guys" and I was more nervous than happy when Hoke went for it, but it's right on that line. OSU blew up the playcall, which was a fine playcall since it involved Denard having the ball, and Michigan gave it up. Oh well.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. Since it's hard for people to get away from their base urges I prefer the guy who will be aggressive, even excessively so, since the vast majority of decisions to be aggressive will be correct, and even ones that seem weird like Saturday's are a push.
Yup. If you were wondering if the shirtsleeves would come off, nope:
If it's sleeting I think the guy should put a jacket on just because it's hard to think when you get cold to your bones.
Just the right amount of shoving. Football games are at their best when there is harmless shoving on a half-dozen plays a game, and M-OSU delivers on this count.
This was immediately after Mike Jones became "that guy who got the dumb personal foul in the 2012 game" to Michigan fans, and never threatened to escalate past this business. They've done this for years now, and I approve.
Weekly Devin Gardner lookalike photo. Recycled from last week because Bryan didn't get a shot of it, but Devin definitely went Mr Burns after the long touchdown to Roundtree.
* 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.
So as is the custom around these parts, the traffic to the site after a loss follows the same trajectory as general internet traffic does whenever illicit pictures of some starlet are “leaked” to the the web totally-unexpectedly-but-right-before-my-new-movie-Crushed Blue Velvet Girlfriend 2-is-released. For a graphical representation, here is a screenshot of the site about 4 minutes after the game ended
Click for full size
It will never approach RCMB or anything in the SEC not related to Vandy, but TWO redundant posts sarcastically “thanking” the coaches for losing the game, one out-and-out “Fire Borges” thread and one claiming he merely “sucked”, one thread already set for deletion, and about 1,100 posts in a game thread, 50% of them berating Al Borges and the team for a poor second half, is nothing to sneeze at. Subsequent posts included petitions to fire Al Borges, a couplecrying out for sanity, and one inferring a discussion about iCarly and Larry Hagman that felt appropriate for an 8th-grader’s “MySpace” profile. Then Ace showed up with his usual quality summary and solid reasoning, which is like, Booo this man!
In the end, I'm never going to understand this, I'm never going to understand them, I'm never going to understand that feeling. Jim Tressel is honored during the first quarter break of the Michigan/Ohio State game for his 2002 National Championship season, and he is carried off the field by his players to a standing ovation at the Horseshoe. Ohio proceeds to get its act together and win 26-21 to complete a perfect 12-0 season. A season in which they are ineligible for a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions related to Jim Tressel's failure to report what he knew about illegal benefits being given to his players to his superiors. A season in which they are ineligible for the B1G championship game next weekend because of the post-season sanctions. But it doesn't matter, a standing ovation for what Tressel did, not how Tressel got caught.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING RUNNING UP THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD WITH A RUNNING BACK BUILT LIKE A WATER BUG? WHY DID WE DO EXACTLY WHAT OHIO STATE WAS EXPECTING ON SECOND DOWN, AND THEN DO EXACTLY WHAT THEY EXPECTED ON THIRD DOWN AGAIN?! WE HAVE NOT ONE, BUT TWO EXTREMELY TALENTED AND MOBILE QBS, AND THESE ARE OUR PLAYS ON SHORT DOWNS?! WHERE ARE THE TRICK PLAYS TO ROBINSON AT TAILBACK?! ARGGGHHHHHH.
While Hoke never really talks about injuries, it’s not like there’s some gamesmanship required here—the bowl game is five weeks away. And let’s say he was dinged up and couldn’t run the ball for some reason–toss him in the backfield as a decoy, no?
Other than the lack of Denard down the stretch, the other frustration was how he was used in short yardage. He showed no indication that he was ever going to pass it and really didn’t throw in warm-ups. So if you aren’t going to have him throw it–at any point–then on short yardage put him in the backfield with Gardner and hand it or toss it to Denard, or fake it to #16 and have Gardner run it, or toss it to Gallon or ARGH.
After the 2001 Michigan State Spartan Bob game Lloyd Carr summed up how he felt about his team, when he said, “They deserve better.”
In the moments after the game, when I snapped this photo, the air was rich with the smell of marijuana, wafting down from the student section were people, from seemingly every direction flooded the field in a frenzy of drunken euphoria.
Between the Buckeye fans posing for photos in front of the team leaving the field with their heads hanging, and the idiots stupid enough to try and mix it up with Michigan players, it was all I could do to keep my composure and just walk away. I had to remember that I'm a credentialed media member and it's not my place to get involved. Just walk away. Props to the Michigan players for doing the same.
A week ago, the Wolverines appeared to have a devastating offense with two quarterbacks, including Denard Robinson, moving one of the most electrifying players in football all over the field. Not only did Michigan short-circuit on Saturday, the devastation was all their own unraveling.
"Yeah, we kind of knew what was coming when Denard was in and knew what was coming when [Gardner] was in," Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington said.
If Robinson was in the game, Michigan was going to run the ball without question. If Devin Gardner was in, there was a little bit more of a surprise, but more than likely the junior was going to throw the ball or try to.
Nowhere did this show up more than in the second half, when Ohio State adjusted to put nine players in the box when Robinson was in, essentially daring him to throw. Whether he couldn't or wouldn't, Robinson didn't. And that decision cost the Wolverines.
"Coach called the plays and we went with it," Robinson said.
The play-calling went from scintillating to stubborn to baffling, and against a good defense, the quarterback combo of Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson was snapped in half. Gimmicky rotations are effective for a while, but in a game like this, in Urban Meyer's rivalry debut, lessons get delivered harshly.
"You know me, we want to run the football and we want to do a good job stopping the run," Brady Hoke said. "We didn't do either."
I don't mean that I wish we had not gone for it after I saw the result, I wish that whatever coin that he flipped to lead him to his decision would have landed on the other side before seeing the result. There is a big difference between a well thought out strategic decision and saying "ah, the hell with it. It is coin flip anyway." And there is a massive difference between Carr's decision on Ohio's 39 in 07 and Hoke's decision in this situation. Once again, what about 4th and 3 at midfield on the first posession of the second half with the lead makes you think "go for it." What about the situation even makes you consider going for it? Unless you are championing the "never punt" philosophy, why is it even a question?
mid-yardage. And you cannot boil a decision like that down to mere probablities. There are times when going for it on 4th down is a no-brainer and there is everything else. On the no-brainers you go for it, on everything else you punt. Having Lloyd Carr punt even on the no-brainers has blinded us from the fact that there are bad times to go for a fourth down and that was one of them. I don't know, could be wrong.
Much like Belicheck throwing 5 wide when he went for it against the Colts in 2009 on 4th and 2 from the 29, which eliminated all threat of a running play, putting Denard in that situation made it glaringly obvious what was about to happen.
The only justification for having Denard in there would have been if he had been capable of completing a pass and Hoke/Borges were saving that fact for such a game-changing call.
As it was, the call that was made eliminated any thought Ohio State might have had of defending the pass.
When I saw Denard come out I thought they were saving his ability to throw for this one time to put the game on ice. I saw the 10 men in the box and thought they were going to pull it off. Then when they ran the play....I just sat there in disbelief.
Problem with call AND decision (but call was bigger)
Since the D got gashed pretty well in the first half, Hoke probably inclined toward aggressiveness on that decision b/c he felt the game was tending toward a scoring-fest. If he could foresee how heroically the D would perform in the second half despite the crappy hands they were dealt, he probably punts -- since flipping field position there might have given our crappy second-half offense the chance to pick up a few cheap points that might've made the difference. So the decision backfired. But that's hindsight, and as Brian notes, the stats show it's a coin flip.
The playcall, especially coming after a T.O., was unfortunately obvious as soon as the Denard-sans-Devin lineup hits the field. If Devin's at QB w/Denard in the backfield, at least the D has to respect both the run and pass. This is one of those situations when they both *have* to be on the field.
I get why Brian and everyone's complaining that Denard and Devin weren't on the field together more -- it sucks having your best playmaker standing on the sideline during crucial moments. But we have to recognize there was a limit to how many plays they could truly run from that set (Denard couldn't pass-block worth hell, couldn't throw, etc.) What is more upsetting is that they used up all the tricks available from that limited set of plays in the Iowa game. That Vince Smith throwback screen would've come in *real* handy against OSU, for example.
Last week one of the coaches -- either Hoke or Borges, can't recall which -- said they made no effort to "save" plays for OSU because they were focused on beating Iowa, winning the seniors' final home game etc. That's all well and good, but at some point you have to recognize Iowa *sucks* and keep some of this stuff in the bag.
... I'm guessing that a punt fake was called, but OSU left their defense on the field for the play.
If you've decided you're not going to punt, why go with a less favorable setup (your punt team versus the opponent's defense)? Might as well run your starting offense out there to improve your chances.
I had noticed what Brian said about the spread punt fake on jsut about every punt in The Game. There was a gaping wide hole and acres and acres of space in fron of the punter every time. It was practically a gift. They never pressured him up front at all. He could've slipped and accidentally gotten a first down. Unfortunately our playcaller decided he didn't like running plays that worked with our best players on the field anymore.
The quotes from Ohio coaching staff and players tells you everything you needed to know. They knew what was coming.
Contrast that to the Iowa game, where I was smiling from ear to ear thinking that Iowa wasn't going to know what was going to happen on any given play. Where did that go? What happened to having your best 11 on the field? Wasn't that the rationale for moving Gardner to WR in the first place? So in your biggest rivalry you deliberately separate the two?
Exactly. I haven't been this disappointed by a loss ever. Even 2006. This game was not lost by the players, it was lost by inexplicable and indefensible offensive coaching. I feel so bad for the seniors, especially Denard. It'd be interesting to hear what they're saying behind closed doors.
It's Monday and I'm still infuriated - this is a first for me. Yeah, the Crable hit in '06 was frustrating but at least the game was left up to the players.
I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game though, right?
Yes, it hurts because the game was imminently winnable, unlike all the beatdowns we suffered at OSU's hands under Rodriguez. And yes, the coaches were a big reason we lost -- they could've put their players in better positions to succeed and made better adjustments. But you can't entirely absolve the players. Borges didn't throw that pick intended for Dileo on the last drive; Funk didn't whiff a block on a DE that led to a fumble that cost us at least 3 points; Hoke didn't fumble the ball. To win tough games -- particularly on the road, which has been the Hoke regime's bete noire thus far -- you can't have these kinds of turnovers/mistakes.
I would love for Heiko (or anybody) to simply do this at a press conference for Borges or Hoke (or both).
1 - Read the quote from Withers aloud.
2 - Ask the coach for his opinion, and in particular, whether that means that Michigan was out-coached in the game.
The quote (in case you can't scroll upwards):
“They were a little bit predictable in the first half,” said Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. “You know, they put 16 (Robinson) back there, he was gonna run it. And they put 12 (Gardner) back there, they were gonna throw it. And after a while that became something that we keyed on.”
Too often, I hear coaches blame execution as the problem. It is a surefire go to, and an easy one, as most of us can't evaluate execution as we don't know the playcall. But when the other coaches say stuff like this, it is painful. Remember USC after the 2007 Rose Bowl?
I am not really Coach Schiano. -Coach Schiano on Mgoblog
To me it's more the lack of creativity/predictabe 3rd down play calling. For about the first 2/3's of the second half the play calling consistently put UM in 3rd and short situations if they got to 3rd down. The first and second down plays were:
1st down: 6 yd run
2nd down: 10 yd pass
1st down: 1 yd run
2nd down: 6 yd run
1st down: 30 yd pass (shoestring tackle from a TD)
1st down: 7 yd run and fumble
1st down: 2 yd run
2nd down: 6 yd run
1st down: 8 yd pass
2nd down: 1 yd run
After that it fell apart, but with the plays above, they were consistently finding themselves in 3rd and 3 or less. The playcalling (and possibly execution) just completely fell apart on 3rd down.
Heiko would have to find a way to very artfully word a question like that one though. You don't want to be an ass about it, or you'll get no answer, and just make things tougher for future (most likely he isn't going anywhere next year at least) pressers.
Again, I'd love to hear it asked, but carefully.
not just "douchey" MGoBlog user, but now TRUSTED MGoBlog user
It's amazing to me that Coaches can see every little misstep in a kids form, the minute problems with his footwork, the intricacies in his mechanics, the potential that raw recruits have to build upon, can forsee attrition, and manage multiple complex recruit classes simultaneously, yet something that's so blatantly obvious to the other coaches, both teams, all the fans in the stadium, the announcers, and everybody watching on television escapes them. I have to imagine Hoke and Mattison saw exactly what happened on Saturday. Im amazed that Borges did it anyways. For the life of me I can't understand why. Why not just take a knee if you're going to write off plays, or entire drives, like the opening drive against MSU? Why pretend, and run plays like there's a chance of them succeeding, when everybody knows full well they won't?
To me it is more execution than being predictable. Do you remember when Wisconsin ran the ball every play in the second half two years ago. I would say that was predictable. They executed and we knew what the play would be time after time. So it's not just Borges. It's talent and execution. We can't relay on trick plays to win.
"im saying to myself should i do it should i not. I crossed the goaline and hey...fuck it" Desmond Howard on his Heisman pose
Beer-soaked memory may be failing me, but re: sack, didn't Lewan have something similar happen in the ND game? I thought he got beat on a speed rush for a sack and then took care of business after that, much like on Saturday.
The only loss that hurt more than this one was the 2006 game. This was a winnable game, and It wouldn't bother me if Borges was fired. He coached like he was scared in the second half. Inexcusable when playing OSU. The turnovers didn't help, but the defense kept us in the game. Borges better learn from this.
OSU is a better coached and talented football team. The should have won the game and if anything it is a wonder the game was so close. As Brian pointed out but for the OSU defense proclivity to occasionally implode we probably would not have scored a touchdown.
Hoke is hardnose throw back coach who lacks creativity and imagination. His mantra is give me players who are big and tough. Sadly, to compete at the upper levels of today's football environment this approach is archaic. To coach on the sidelines in a sleeveless shirt in 30 degree weather without a headset tells you all you need to know what type of program he runs.
He needs to modernize and not believe everything Bo did is the right way to coach today.
Unless you think going outside in sub temperature weather...
...wearing sleeveless t-shirts is bat shit crazy, which could suggest Hoke is not all mentally there and cannot handle his job, then it might not be a non-sequiter. I know my mom thought it was crazy...so you have that.
I want Borges fired. I grew up through the Lloyd Carr era and I see too many similiarities. However ya have to look at it from Hoke's perspective. What gives the team a better chance to win next year. A third year in the same system or a new O-Coordinator in which everyone starts over on offense? Next year is going to be an impotant year for Hoke defining how he will be viewed going into 2014. He will either solidify his place at Michigan or be on the hot seat. In Hoke's position I would probably keep Borges and hope that the third year in a system makes the difference. There would be too much risk bringing in an unknown for a defining season. The time for panic on offense will be after next season if the team has another year like this one.
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill
On the one hand, the argument that states Borges isn't playing with "his type" of players in his preferred scheme is convincing if you believe that this season has merely been a bridge between offensive philosophies (and an unholy marriage between the two). One of the best analyses done at the end of last season suggested that 6-6 wouldn't be out-of-the-question for Team 133 because the coaches would be installing more of their preferred scheme and running it on behalf of the folks who will be here after this year, knowing full well that the current roster is ill suited to it.
On the other hand, it's equally valid to argue that Team 132 and 133 didn't possess the types of defensive players Mattison would have preferred either. Further, they were almost completely lacking in basic fundamentals like tackling. Nevertheless, look what he got out of them in two consecutive seasons. Team 133 is probably all the more impressive considering how suspect the DL was expected to be this year.
So, perhaps one more year for Borges is appropriate. But if we are as terrible running next year as well, and we can't seem to beat any genuinely good teams, he's got to go.
"If life is the road, then Ohio is simply a place to stop for gas." -- Scott Burgess, Detroit News, 9/16/2010
for all the goodwill Hoke has generated, he has gone 3-3 against our biggest rivals (0-3 on the road) and 1-1 in our showcase games (Alabama, VT). The problem hasn’t been our defense – and I think we can all agree that Hoke/Mattison will churn out elite defenses in the future – but there is a …. worrying…trend developing with the offense. Even though Borges has been working with offensive skill players that are not necessarily suited to his prior experiences, we do have some alarming data points from the past two years that transcend personnel. Including:
- Conservatism in biggest games: Outside of OSU last year we’ve come out mainly flat and predictable in our biggest tests. In Minnesota last year and Iowa this year we showed an unpredictable, unique, and explosive offense in the weeks leading up to a big game. But the play calls in MSU last year and OSU this year were largely more conservative than what we had been seeing. (And let’s not forget – we grinded out the victory against MSU this year, but Borges’ gamplan still left much to be desired). I see that Hoke just came out and said that he saw no problems with the gameplan – which leads me to believe that this is Hoke’s philosophy - keep it close and win it at the end with defense and field position. It is no coincidence, then, that our 3 wins against rivals come at home, where homecrowd is a field-goal advantage… and the three losses come on the road, where the margin for error in a close, conservative game is much thinner.
- Inability to run a two-minute offense: Off the top of my head, I can think of Iowa, MSU, and OSU where we looked completely disheveled in our two-minute offense. Like Brian says, Denard bailed us out in OSU – but that doesn’t absolve the fact that we were content to run off the clock with 90 seconds. Conversely, OSU gets the ball with 40 seconds left, keeps their foot on the pedal and drives down the field for a field goal. It wound up not mattering, but those are points that can kill you in a close game.
I thought that mattered a lot. OSU had been tied or in the lead for most of the first half. The exception was when UM went up 14-10 and appeared to have momentum on their side. With the Denard run on first down and then UM taking their time getting to the line, it definitely appeared that OSU was probably going to go into the half up 17-14 or worst case tied 17-17. Then boom, Denard goes the distance. Even on TV you could feel the air getting sucked out of the OSU faithful. But like you said OSU keeps the foot on the pedal and goes down and gets a FG to gain some of that momentum back. The 3 points on the board didn't matter with the final score, but I think from a momentum stand point that was very big.
Regarding our 2013 starters - where's Heitzman? I would imagine he'd be ahead of Strobel/Wormley/Godin at either the SDE or 3-tech spot, wherever they decide he fits best. He'll be the only one with any PT, and he has a lot of it at this point. Plus, Wormley will still be rehabing during spring practice, so he'll be a little behind as well.
I think Black is a guy who moves between SDE and 3-tech, with Heitzman rotating with him at SDE and Pipkins rotating with him at 3-tech. But it's possible that the three RS frosh start rotating in at either spot as the season progrsses.
"Greatness was never obtained from a position of comfort" - seems to apply to this piece well. Although, basic offensive play-calling in the 2nd half past the high school level might've sufficed.
I know it's easy to play armchair QB afterwards, but my lord - the comments by the OSU D coordinator - I guess I just can't rationalize why someone like Borges, with all his years of experience - doesn't understand or "get" this yet.
My only thought would be that when the heat is on, people in general seem to revert back to what they know or what they deem comfortable.
I think you're right about reverting to what makes you comfortable. I think both Borges and Hoke felt the fear creep in in the second half. Hoke said something in his presser today about how the mojo wasn't there in the second half for them to keep Denard and Devin on the field at the same time. I think he was talking about the kind of fearlessness that won us the Notre Dame game last year. Fear makes you shut down, and not want to take risks.
but I think you've gone a little overboard here. Borges had a bad half calling plays with an offense of mismatched parts. But his QBs dropped the ball several times and missed passes badly on a few occasions. Yet we still only lost by five on the road to a team that is undefeated. Hardly a reason to go off the deep end and declare us to "be on the wrong side of history" That sounds a lot like the the "the same thing that just happened will always happen" analysis that you so rightly mock time after time.
Meyer's offense is good, but not devestating. Despite us handing them the ball time after time in the second half on our side of the field they never could punch it in against a defense with maybe one future pro on it, a slow secondary, and little if any pass rush. His offense might be better next year, but so will our defense, and we get them at home.
Comparing Meyer's offense to Oregon's is about as silly as comparing our defense to the Ravens because they call similar plays. And I notice that you negelected to mention the most recent Stanford/Oregon game in which the Ducks choked away their national title hopes at home by failing to score more than 14 points.
It was a painful loss, but one that was fully expected at the start of the year, and especially expected after Denard went down against Nebraska. The sky is not falling, the program is still trending in the right direction. In two years, Brady Hoke's record here (19-6) is slightly roughly the same as Harbaugh's last two years at Stanford (20-6), Meyer's last two years at Florida (21-6), and is better than Kelly's first two years at ND(16-10), Carr's first two years here(17-8), and Saban's first two years at Alabama (19-8). I think we'll be ok.
Replying because your post is one that I want to re-visit from time to time. My guess is that it adequately describes the sentiment shared by a good chunk of the fan base at this stage of Hoke's tenure.
My heart is wholeheartedly aligned with your optimistic take on the future, but my brain is agreement with Brian's "wrong side of history" assessment. For better results, a lot of it will depend on whether Michigan can still land some top-flight skill position players in this year's recruiting class (e.g. Isaac, Green, Treadwell). If not, I believe things are going to look like they do now, both next year and for the foreseeable future. Let's hope Hoke and company can nab these important prospects down the stretch.
I like how you're comparing Hoke's record to Harbaugh, Meyer, Kelly and Saban. If he follows a similar projection, I, for one, will admit I was wrong about having doubts and will give him all the credit in the world. I hope others from our divided fan base will do the same. On the flip side, if that doesn't happen, I hope our admin doesn't hesitate to move in another direction, unlike the unyielding support it gave to Carr in the latter half of his career, despite losing to App State, losing 6 of his last 7 to OSU, etc. "The trend becomes clear next year" (i.e. Year 3) seems to hold some water as far as NCAA coaching changes go.
Kind of OT, but I still think Harbaugh is a longshot to coach here someday (many years from now) after he's fulfilled his NFL goals. If a few things wouldn't have come to pass in A2 like they did, we might have already seen him on the sidelines. That said, for a coaching legend-in-the-making like Harbaugh, a NC is a "must" for the mantle. And there's no other / better place than UM for that to happen.
In the meantime, let's hope your "sky is not falling, the program is still trending in the right direction" is the right call! GO BLUE!
I think you are right that the 'trend becomes clear next year.' That's part of why the Hoke narrative is so intriguing and fun to be a part of. We initially scratch our heads at the hire, then we think it was the best decision in the world, now we worry....and wait.
In hindsight, I know I'm glad about one thing: Harbough did not get hired. I'm not sure it really would have been about The Team, The Team, The Team with him.
While there are a number of items to be frustrated about with the later half of the Carr era, he won an outright Big Ten title in 2003 and a share of it in 2004 (with a true freshmen QB). He only coached 3 more years after the 2004 season and in one of those he went to Columbus with a chance to play in the NC game. When should they have let Carr go? After the 2005 season when he was only a year removed from winning back to back Big Ten titles?
From what I've heard he wanted to step down after the 2006 season but people talked him into coming back for one more year.
One thing that struck after the game is the lack of quick passes that UM seems to have in the playbook. Yeah, throw quickly throw to an outside wr at the line of scrimmage some but I'm talking more like a quick slant or crossing pattern over the middle. Like you said it was frustrating watching Gardner get pressured and hit on the blitzes because it looked on TV like there weren't any short routes for him to dump the ball off.