Lloyd Carr coached every game like he had a fantastic running game and great defense. He usually had an okay running game and a good defense, so this caught up to him from time to time. When Jim Tressel arrived and showed the men of manball what manball really was, Michigan's downward spiral began. In time, Tresselball would come to signify the exact same thing Lloydball did except without the oh and we lose the most important game of the year every time.
I grew to hate Lloydball.
The moment I threw in the towel is crystal clear in my memory, and by this point probably many longtime readers: punting from the opponent 34 against Ohio State in 2005. It was fourth and four. The clock read 4:18. Michigan had a two point lead. They'd recently had a nine point lead, but OSU ripped off a five-play touchdown drive in under a minute to change that. Michigan's defense had faced four do-or-die drives* already that year and failed on all of them. Faced with third and eleven, Michigan threw a screen to Antonio Bass for seven yards. They punted out of a field goal formation, which was so obvious to Tressel that they put a guy back there to field it. He would have had a shot at a touchdown if the punt hadn't exited the field at the twelve.
Just minutes before—literally in the same quarter—Lloyd had taken his frenzied quarterback's advice and gone for a QB sneak on fourth and one on his own 40. This caused everyone in the stadium to pick a partner with whom to share an incredulous look. This was not the way things went. The fourth down was successful; one bomb to Manningham later Michigan had staked itself to a two-score lead. That only made the knife cut deeper when in the moment of truth Carr reverted to form.
Michigan punted once Saturday.
I'm not sure if it's football in general that has shifted or if it's just Brady Hoke, but when Michigan had a fourth and two around the same area on Saturday, eyebrows were only slightly cocked when Michigan went for it. While Michigan was down 10-0, this was still the third quarter.
Lloyd wouldn't have even thought about it if his defense had given up 139 yards to that point. But he wouldn't have been down 10-0 in the first place. He would have squinted at his quarterback, wondered where the six-six artillery piece had gotten to, shrugged, and told his offensive coordinator to thud out a ten-point win based on Michigan's superior ground game. Only he would have had that faith, because he always had that faith.
But it was true. Take out a knee and ND averaged 3.2 yards a carry. Take out three sacks and a bad snap for Michigan and they averaged 5.1. That's a cavernous gap, one that a dinosaur coach would have driven through to a boring, field-goal-heavy victory.
Instead, we got several more entries in our database of what happens when Denard Robinson gets unblocked rushers in his face.
Is it good? No. Does it make any sense at all to run play action from under center on passing downs? No. Is it ever going to stop? No.
Well, maybe. Michigan did not throw a pass before third down on their two grinding second-half drives before the hurry-up was called for. Do that for the next eight games and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not.
When stressed, people making decisions find it very hard to move away from habit. Everyone reverts to their comfort zone unless they are making a concerted effort to get away from it. Even then, you fall back into old patterns. Lloyd punted. Rodriguez installed a 3-3-5 defense. Borges starts calling plays from a long-ago offense helmed by a guy who was a better passer than runner. Denard throws the ball somewhere, anywhere.
Over the bye week, Michigan will refocus on what they're good at. This will get them through some games. They'll get comfortable with this, think they can install more stuff, and we'll get another Iowa, one they might pull out since the defense might be good and the Big Ten is definitely bad. And Denard will soldier through it, taking barbs from people who don't realize he could be in his first of two years at Oregon now, doing what he was born to.
He's not. He's doing this. This is "this": Al Borges has been Michigan's offensive coordinator for 17 games now. Five were against non-BCS opponents. A sixth was against Alabama and will be set aside. Of the remaining eleven, five were out-and-out debacles: both Notre Dame games, MSU, Iowa, and the Sugar Bowl. That Junior Hemingway rescued two of those doesn't change the fact that in about half of Michigan's games against real competition, the combination of Borges and Denard can't put up 200 yards until bombed out of the gameplan by events on the field.
You can blame Denard if you want. Sure, that happened in 2010, when Denard was a true sophomore and the second-leading rusher was Vincent Smith. I'm more concerned about the guy who isn't gone after this year, the offensive coordinator who vows to never work with a quarterbacks coach again and can't stand it when anyone dares to scream "RUN THE GODDAMN BALL" at him over and over and over and over and over, except whatever the press conference version of that is. Asking about bubble screens and stuff.
One day Borges will have a shining golden hammer of a quarterback, six-four, carved from marble, jawline for days. This man will coolly survey the field after faking a handoff to a two-hundred-thirty-pound bowling ball with knives sticking out of it. No one will run up in his face, because they are afraid the bowling ball has it. He will throw it to another six-foot-four man, this one long and graceful, built for escaping packs of hunters. This will be a good day. Nails are so dead.
Until then, here's to running, punting, and humility.
[Wisconsin: 52 yard, 11 play, four minute TD drive to win. Minnesota: eight play, 75-yard FG drive to win. Penn State: 13 play, 81-yard drive to wi—OH MY GOD MANNINGHAM. Iowa: 9 play, 74-yard FG drive to tie; Ferentz played for OT once in FG range, because he is Ferentz.]
All the INTs:
Bullets Yes More Bullets In The Head Please
Sanity check. I know I may not be entirely reliable on this matter, but stuff coming through my twitter feed from the folks I respect most as college football observers helped me think this was not just a mania. Smart Football:
Nice call Borges. Denard struggling? Let's run some kind naked waggle pass from under center where we let Denard throw vs unblocked DEnd
An Al Borges cooking show would be great if you like seeing someone throw everything into a blender even if it makes no sense at all.
Blaming it on "execution" is horseshit, plain and simple. When the offensive coordinator flat-out refuses to take free yards on the outside and has not once used the devastating play action on which Denard is moving towards the line scrimmage before throwing, it is on his shoulders for not using the tools he has in the way they are most effective.
A third of the way through the ND game, Michigan had run Robinson three times. Instead Michigan threw the ball all the time against a rampant DL. The first INT was a running back in the redzone. On the second, Michigan rolled the pocket and told a redshirt freshman fullback to block Prince Shembo. On the third an unblocked Te'o roars straight up the pocket. On the fourth he ran a waggle on second and seven, which got an unblocked Tuitt in Denard's face after having thrown INTs on back to back passes.
This is a consistent theme. They go into games doing something other than making their running QB a runner, and then are surprised when it goes poorly. They have the guy turn his back to the line of scrimmage and are surprised when 1) opposing defenses prioritize getting a guy out on him and 2) he reacts poorly. The exception was last year's OSU game, during which Denard threw all of 17 times.
Robinson failed, sure, but he was put in a position to do so by a guy who puts three tight ends on the field on second and goal from the twelve yard line and fools no one with the subsequent play action. Coaches have to execute too. Borges's gameplan was a disaster, again.
Come on Denard. Let's ask Peyton Manning to be Pat White stuff aside, at some point you've got to just eat the ball, or not throw it at a guy so covered you're trying to throw it through the chest of not one but two opponents. That first Te'o interception was probably the worst throw of Denard's career; if one of the two guys underneath it didn't get it a safety in coverage on the corner had a shot at a PBU.
I bet a dollar that someone else was open on that play.
The fumble was the real killer, though. Michigan has just taken their first drive of the half 71 yards and Denard has just made it first and ten at the ND 11, boom ball out drive over everyone thinks of 2010 when Michigan put up scads of yards and usually had ten points to show for it. Down two scores and suddenly running all the time, Michigan really needed that drive to pay off.
Blame Gardner? Some people on the twitter and then Ace suggested that the slant INT was on Gardner instead of Robinson. I don't think that's the case. It looked to me like he ran a fine route and was open and Robinson just missed.
When to go for high risk trick plays. When there is a payoff commensurate with the risk. The Gardner pass is fine. You've got a play that is potentially 70-some yards if everything goes well. The Smith pass gives you at most ten and is less likely to get a guy wide open just because there's far less space. Last year's Smith TD pass was 30 yards out, which gives the WR room to break past the safeties and the RB room to throw it long. Doing that in a constricted space is asking for it when Manti Te'o is raging his way into a running back's face.
The only time I can recall Michigan running a trick play like that inside the red zone was during the 2007 Illinois game when both teams were actively conspiring to lose. With Henne shuttling in and out of the game and Mallett insane, trying the Arrington end-around pass after a muffed punt was a defensible decision. At the end of an 11-play, 78-yard drive maybe not so much.
What is this huddling business again? There's a case that you shouldn't be doing it at all; not only is huddling a useless anachronism but going away from it locks defensive personnel on the field and gives you easier looks as the opponent struggles to keep up. See Oregon, of course.
But even if you're intent on huddling the time to do so has passed when you're down two scores with 6:46 left. There's something to be said for the idea that an offense should be using tempo as much as possible so that in situations like that they are naturals at it. It's a lot easier to slow down than speed up.
Anyway, I had bad flashbacks to that Iowa game as Michigan took 3:19 and used a timeout on their last drive.
OTOH, didn't mind the end of the first half playcalling since in that situation you're worried about giving ND a possession they can use and you've just thrown interceptions on three straight plays. Why throw a Hail Mary with 16 seconds left, though? And what was Roundtree even doing there?
Defense! Woo defense! Also filed under "if you told me before the game…" with "Michigan would punt once": "Notre Dame would have under 200 yards of offense with three minutes to go." Before Floyd stumbled on that third down bomb to Eifert, Michigan had held two ND QBs to 5.6 YPA and two interceptions, with the only completion over twenty yards another tough fade on the sideline.
From way up in the stands I had a great view of the routes developing and nobody was open basically all day. Combine that with Quinton Washington problems like "is not tackling when he bursts into the backfield on three consecutive plays" and you have a soothing balm to apply as you look forward to the rest of the season. I'm actually eager to get to the UFRing just so I can see how the guys on D did. Live I saw Ryan make plays, Campbell make plays, Washington make plays, and that allowed the linebackers to flow freely, with the 3.1 YPC results mentioned above. Kenny Demens looks a lot better when he's not trying to fight off two different blockers on the same play.
If Washington can translate those plays against UMass and Mattison hype into an impact day on the interior line against a real opponent, Michigan's biggest question that isn't "how will Denard fail to be Peyton Manning this time" is a lot closer to resolution.
Potential caveat: ND's interior OL may not be very good. They got annihilated by Purdue (Riddick: 53 yards on 15 carries, five sacks on Golson, two by Kawann Short) and ND didn't do much against MSU that wasn't deception (counter draw) or Wood getting cutbacks similar to the one he busted for ND's only big run of the day.
Caveat caveat: "only big run of the day." The shot above is Michigan corralling the play I started calling "That Goddamned Counter Draw" after DeAndra Cobb staked MSU to the lead they'd give up during Braylonfest. I call it TGDCD because Michigan has never stopped the thing (except once, I think). They did it up there.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the Week. I have no idea yet, but it's obviously someone on defense. There is a weird lack of stats for such a dominating performance, with no sacks and just two TFLs, one for Kovacs, another split by Morgan and Washington.
For now, Jake Ryan gets the nod for most impactful-seeming impactfulness, but I reserve the right to switch this to Kovacs or Washington pending review.
Freshman linebackers. They're basically co-starters at this point. I'm still nervous about them but if the D continues to perform like that in the Big Ten season, expectations for that crew will be enormous next year with four-ish returning starters, all of whom will still be around in 2014.
Demens did rotate in during the second half. He was in on six tackles, Morgan seven. Ross had one and Bolden did not register. IIRC Demens was the preferred option on passing downs, which makes sense since zone drops are often a struggle with young linebackers.
Norfleet. Please do not jump like that again. The air up there is dangerously low on oxygen and people are trying to kill you. Stay low, where you are under the radar and can execute deep infiltration missions.
ND future. I wouldn't get too worried about a full-on return to glory. If that interior OL is what it seems to be and they're flipping between Rees and Golson against the rest of their schedule, they'll drop some games. They'll still probably get that BCS bid so they can get stomped on by someone a lot better.
Funchess. Didn't really have much impact; I'll pick up the Mandich thing the next time he takes a significant step towards it. Did feature in this picture:
In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago.
WHY DID YOU DO IT RANDOM INTERNET POSTER GUY, WHYYYYYY
When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.
The results of this game and a record of 2-2 are not indicative of the abilities of this team, and it would do every Michigan fan good to forget about what has happened and to concentrate instead on what can be accomplished in the BIG. I rest easier after seeing the O and D-lines gel and play very well. Denard will bounce back.
The rest of the BIG continues to look shaky, to say the least, and Michigan should be licking their chops against the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and I dare say Michigan St at this point. Ohio has obvious problems as well, letting UAB run wild on them. Michigan should have distinct talent advantages against Northwestern and Purdue.
It’s well known that the media is prohibited from cheering in the press box but it’s not just a collection of writers upstairs at Notre Dame. After Denard connected with Gardner on a third down conversion in the first half some dude belted out, “DAMN IT!”. When Denard took off on a run later in the game, I heard, “GET ‘EM!”. And so on. I’m actually glad this happened because it created some much needed lighter moments on the glass.
The group sat in the family and friends section of Notre Dame Stadium. Steve wore his best friend’s varsity jacket. The two girls wore “Shoelace” and another Robinson-themed shirt.
This section is different. Here, the hits sound louder. The mistakes sting more.
From here, you can reach out and touch the bass drums in the Michigan band. When a Notre Dame wide receiver was open on the goal line, the parents shouted and pointed, so Thomas Gordon bumped over and covered.
Robinson’s supporters sat in the fifth row, tucked in between friends and family of freshman linebacker James Ross III and the family of fifth-year senior J.T. Floyd.
Robinson’s parents come to games “very rarely, very rarely,” J.T.’s father, James, said. Normally the Robinson clan gathers in Robinson’s grandmother’s house in Deerfield Beach, Fla. around a television.
“Every Saturday,” Durrel said. “Everybody (goes). I can’t even tell you who don’t go.”
When Alabama beats Oregon for the championship, it'll prove the spread is dead -- just like when Auburn beat Oregon a couple of years ago, amirite?
Forget that tired cliche about defense winning championships -- what really wins championships is playing against a spread offense (unless you're Oregon playing against Auburn's spread offense, of course).
In my opinion Borges got a little too cute with playcalling. I can understand going to trick plays when you are desperate and the defense is not holding up, but this was not the case in this game. As far as Denard throwing it up for grabs, I won't blame that on Borges, a senior should have the discipline to throw it away or at worst secure the ball and take a sack.
Denard is super irresponsible with the football when rushing, a lot of people gloss over this when they say we should run him more... he's an amazing runner but that Lewan TD could have easily been a touchback, and we got punished for his lackadaisical ball carrying in the ND game. He fumbles a LOT
Call Mr. Plow, that's my name, that name again is Mr. Plow
The game was bizarre. I had the feeling that Michigan was going to lose at halftime despite being down only 10. It was sad.
On the bright side, as soon as Q. Washington finds the ball carrier after breaking through the line Michigan may actually be fine on the D-Line. I'm a fan of Ross but Morgan played a nice game.
It seems to me that Michigan needs to stop having Robinson turn his back to the defense or roll out. Strangely, he's not good on the move, despite what I read in Borton's article. He's especially not good with pressure. Even nominal pressure off the edge tends to be an issue. Thus, the game plan could have been better.
It's also fair to say that after a performance like Saturday that Denard has to better. He needs to throw the damn ball away. Lord knows I wish he'd scramble more often, but I'm mostly giving up hope that that will ever happen. Notre Dame did a nice job on some delayed blitzes to get pressure on Robinson.
Anyhow, I'm solidly in the middle camp. Denard needs to play better and stop trying to hit home runs in less it's with his feet. They need to scrap the edge stuff. Denard doesn't handle pressure well, so avoid it when possible. The routes seem like they could also be a bit simpler. I'd like to see slants and flares. I realize that Borges excels at the pro passing stuff, but I'm not seeing great throws from Denard. I also liked the misdirection stuff, and I liked it in the Minnesota game last year. Bizarre game to run all that stuff in. I like packaged plays and Oregon as well, but we've got what we've got, making it work better is on both the OC and the QB.
I'm curious whether a light suddenly went on for Washington or whether it's the fact that the first two games were against a bruising Alabama line and Air Force chop blocks. Either way, I'll take what I'm seeing now. Now for Will Campbell hype.
"...and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not."
Right on, Brian.
Borges continues to try and square the circle utilizing Denard. You're not the only one who has noticed, but, you may the only one who uses solid data (citing the 17 games of Borges regime) to back up the theory.
"If you shoot me, you're liable to lose a lot of those humanitarian awards."
Like the game planning was for 5 straight picks? Isn't the fact that the offense was effective when Denard wasn't handing it back better data?
I mean 5 straight picks has as much to do with the play calling as saying "13-4 in those 17 games", which is ridiculous, but about as valid as the "debacle" idea. Even the picks Magnus points out mostly came on the type of plays everyone says Denard should run. We're not running read options on 3rd and 10 effectively, no matter what one wants to imagine the magical spread can do.
Honestly. Seriously. I get this viewpoint, but there is a sense of accountability there. When you senior QB is having a nightmare quarter / half - you need to completely drop into a bunker for a quarter or two. The way the D was playing, they should have completely gone run run run punt and ease Denard back into things.
Also. Where is Option B?I happen to think that when a game goes completely sideways like this you might want to look at your options.
When I see five straight picks, I think "Hmmm. Maybe this guy is super rattled. Maybe we should stick Option B in there for a series or two and see if he can calm down." OH. WTF. We don't have an Option B because Option B is out there running sloppy routes at WR.
Coaching is more than just the gameplan. More than the dumb play calls. It's considering angles before they happen. What is the contigency plan for the inevitable Denard injury? Why didn't we see that for a series or two?
But I'm not sure you can throw away possessions. Denard's turnover drives were run run 3rd & 11 Int, 1st play Int, run run run Int, end of half that doesn't really count, then run run run complete pass run run complete pass run run run with a fumble on the end. You wouldn't think Vincent Smith would make Denard throw an Int. and you wouldn't think he would do two in a row. Maybe the one after that they should have slow played, but after 3 runs the defense is probably expecting it. Then after a halftime calming a great drive killed by a fumble, not an Int.
And let's be honest....our contingency plan if Denard goes down is bend over and ask for another. Because our other options are a redshirt freshman and a guy who can't separate himself enough from a redshirt freshman that we move him to receiver. Think of that next time someone wonders why we don't run Denard 40 times a game even if it means we're more likely to win that game. Blame Rich's recruiting, blame Tate for being a screw-up, blame Gardner for not being better, blame Hoke for not getting any QB last year, blame Brandon for not having a coach soon enough to get a higher rated guy the first year, blame Shane for being too young or shake your hand at the fates. But it's the Denard train, all the way, and he can't get derailed.
Bend over cannot be the plan. You have to keep Gardner as QB2 and provide a reasonable option. When things go nuts like this, you yank Denard for a series. Let Gardner hand off some. Let Denard calm down and get his bearings.
Not to go all Musburger up in here, but there is huge mental / confidence component to football. I hated that Hail Mary heave because of it. Don't give ND another turnover. Don't do it. Kneel on it and regroup.
I don't necessarily disagree that maybe taking a knee and pulling it together might have been the better halftime action; but can you imagine the RAGE!!! if we hadn't tried to score there and just ran out the clock? Heck, there are posts here that think we didn't go fast enough to try and score. I will say I didn't think it hurt anything, because even with the INT when we got the ball back after the half we moved down the field, with passes being complete, and then fumbled the ball. Which didn't seem confidence related at all but just careless.
general complaints about lack of bubble screen and several posts about why it would be effective/has been effective in the past
posts regarding shotgun > under center Denard
Yes. Statement about 5 out of 7 bad games called.
I think Brian (and others here) bring it in terms of data.
I don't want to split hairs about how much has to be "wrong" in the <insert game plan here> to be declared a "debacle." The case for Denard's strengths not being optimized in this offense and by this coordinator is well thought out and argued on this blog. It is not just the spewings of a fly by night color commentator or sports journalist. It's a reasoned and detailed analysis with examples to back up that point of view.
"If you shoot me, you're liable to lose a lot of those humanitarian awards."
Two games against competent coaching staffs and the gameplan has been the same in both: keep Denard in the pocket and throwing. Expect to see a lot more of this in conference.
I love #16 like we all do, but the kid is never going to be a consistent passer. His mechanics are way too sloppy. You don't suddenly attain perfection halfway through your senior year. These woobly back foot throws are never going away.
The real issue is the run game. They can't get anything going against these stacked boxes.
Really. I kinda think that could have done better. The rushing attack seem highly predictable with very few wrinkles. ND's front seven is good, but you have to be able to produce against a team like this.
I don't really agree with this statement. I think Denard has the ability to be a good passer, we saw it on Saturday for a good number of throws until we got in the redzone. It was the decision making when there was pressure that really hurt him. Take a sack or two or just throw the ball away and I think we win going away because we were moving the ball pretty easily throughout the game.
This game wasn't nearly as frustrating to me as last years MSU or Iowa games where we flat out didn't move the ball. That goes on the gameplan. 6 straight turnovers goes on execution and decision making.
WTF. He's a senior. He is what he is. Sometimes he can throw lazers into tiny windows. Most of the time he has very sloppy mechanics and rushed throws. Combine that with terrible decision making and you get disasters like this.
Bama basically set the blueprint we'll see all season. Keep him in the pocket. Fluster him with disciplined rush lanes. He'll throw it up for grabs.
Seriously. How many blind tosses did Jr. Hemingway pull down last year? This season? No one's going to bail him out.
And Denard will soldier through it, taking barbs from people who don't realize he could be in his first of two years at Oregon now, doing what he was born to.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I love Denard, but a rather large part of me wishes he would have had the chance to follow RR to AZ ( had he gone there the following year rather than talking headed for a season) or gone to Oregon or something ANYTHING other than being a sophomore first year starter, a QB under a new OC or a QB under a terrible OC.
I hate to say I told you so, but I remember saying how you would end up hating Borges. Borges is just not that good. He just isn't. He has had weapons (3 NFL players on one roster QB, RB, RB) and done nothing with them. I don't think he is gawdawful but I know he is a serious step down from RR.
Hoke is fine.
Mattison is great.
This game made me want to die.
or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
How is he not being mentioned anywhere? This kid had a great interception, where he rolled into the flat, saw nothing, and squeezed out on a man he knew was behind him (which I think is exactly what he's supposed to do there). When he saw the QB winding up he jetted upfield and picked off the pass. Great play.
If he has the athletcisim and just needs to learn how to play zone defense, and if receivers were covered all day, I'd say we have our second corner. That's exceptional news.
Brian you should put Dez Morgan on your candidates list for best players on Saturday. I think it was the best game of his career. He was aggressive, decisive, and effective. That boy was hitting people.
I think you will probably change your opinion on Q, he had a nice game, and really helped set up the linebackers.
Denard will be fine next game. Hard lesson learned, but he didn't come close to throwing an INT in the second half, took a sack when nothing was available, and threw the ball well when asked.
Denard's fumble was part, he doesn't secure the ball well, part, refusal to carry the ball in his right hand, and part, ND d-lineman making a nice play, reaching out to knock the ball out of Denard's hands as Denard was racing by.
Give ND credit, they do have a nice D and nice D's are nice to have.
Going forward, M is in real good shape for rest of year if....
O line plays like they did in the second half against ND. No reason they can't. I bet they got their collective asses reamed at half time for their poor first half. They were a completely different O-line in the second half.
If... the D continues to improve like they did Saturday. This D is evolving just like last years D . In a nutshell... They are starting to play fast and aggressive in unison. It was fun to watch.
It may simply be that Denard Robinson is not a great, all-around quarterback. Mostly it looks like he lacks the mental, ice-in-the-veins calmness to make good decisions when they're most difficult to make.
So be it. He's still the best option Michigan has this season and for every game in which he struggles because he's too amped up or making bad decisions, he'll win at least one with his ability to break plays open or make big passes when he needs to.
I'm not happy with the "Denard is bad" crew in the same way i'm not happy with the "Borges sucks for not designing the Denardfense and riding it to glory". Both are overly simplistic and generally wrong. This was a good game plan, the one Brian said they needed to execute before it became all Borges's fault for implementing it.
How many times have we seen Denard evade the pass rush and then dump the ball into the stands? Heck, how many times have we seen Denard evade the rush, period? You'd think he'd be great at it, but he just gets this deer in the headlights look and then chucks it to the last receiver he sees before even trying to evade the rush.
The things that Brian mentions are mostly valid, but every coordinator is going to have some quirks. At the end of the day, you look at the final result -- Michigan moved the ball, but failed to put points on the board due to 6 turnovers, 1 of which was due to a dumb playcall, the other 5 were errors by the QB. Considering the mediocre personnel Michigan has on offense, I have a hard time blaming this loss on Borges.
Denard has to learn to throw the ball away if there's nothing he can do. Taking a sack cost us a field goal in the first quarter and made us have to settle for our first field goal in the 3rd quarter.
Play calling aside, Denard's interceptions have been VERY costly this year. His 8 interceptions have led to our opponents getting a combined 38 points (14 for Bama, 7 for Air Force, 7 for UMass and 10 for Notre Dame).
We can take comfort in the fact that the Big Ten is a dumpster fire this year but Denard still has to stop throwing the ball to the wrong team.
"wolverinehistorian, for someone so dedicated and seemingly level headed, his grudges are monumental." ~ triangle_M
... but fundamentally disagree with the "why u no junk your career for Denard!?" complaint.
We'd all like to see Denard run wild - he's one of the most exciting players I've ever seen (he's not number one largely because I was privileged enough to see Anthony Carter play live) - but I think we're letting our frustration with the loss and the lack of run-wild prevail over the facts.
Before the game, what were we worried about on offense? Whether our O-line could hold up against a resurgent ND defense that was stout up front with one of the best LBs in college football behind it. Whether Denard would be accurate enough and get enough time to take advantage of an inexperienced ND secondary.
The game plan that covers for those potential weaknesses is to suck up the LB with run action and throw the ball away from them. Those were, by and large, the plays that were called: Denard biffed them.
This is another thing that seems to get overlooked a lot - Denard has improved his mechanics, but has not improved his decision-making. He is reluctant to trust his legs and instincts when the play is a called pass, and is not very good at reading the defense. This makes using "packaged" plays or similar option-packages less attractive - they all depend on reading a defense (or at least a defender) to pick the right option. Both college coaches Denard has had - RR and Hoke/Borges - have run a bunch of option plays, watched him in practice, and then phased them out. This tells me there's something he's not picking up, and that - not some fetish about terminology - is why we're not running check-down bubble screens and tons of zone-read options. The coaches don't think Denard can do that.
Where I share frustration is with the play-action from I-formation without the actual runs, and with the lack of QB Oh Noes as a staple of the offense. It's a simple play to block, Denard knows it well, and it should work against everyone but Alabama. I am less frustrated with the Lazer screen thing because we've actually seen some this year - not as options to be taken when the defense gives it to you by alignment, but as a called play, and that's better than nothing.
What I fundamentally disagree with is the notion that Al Borges should be installing (or should have from day one) an offense tailored to Denard. It's not what he knows, and throwing away what you know how to do best to try to do something you've never done and have little experience with seems like a really bad idea. Hoke picked Borges because he knows him and trusts his experience; invalidating that experience likely takes away most of his effectiveness.
It would be an especially bad idea to throw away Borges experience to install something that Denard simply isn't good at - like a heavy option-based offense.
Whatever, ND still sucks. I'd rather have this conversation pre-B1G about outplaying the opponent decently and losing than getting massively outplayed and squeaking out a win. At least if we're already out of the MNC hunt, then this bodes much better for the B1G season.
Not to get all gushy, but I think this review is my favorite since I started reading a few yrs ago.
I kept asking myself where the screens were as ND aggressively pursued us and wondered where a lot of things that always worked were hiding.
Hopefully forcing Denard to use this system will make him a better WR at the next level. Maybe he will be able to understand the offense or the Qb's position a little better.
I could see the steelers drafting him next yr as they love WR converted from old Qb's. Ie Hines war and Antoine randel-el.
I have hope for his future as well as the defense and the offense future this yr as long as the borges gets resolved. It really was a crappy game plan, and I hope Brady or some one brings him on board.
Fear not brethren we have a lot to look forward to and much to be proud of.
QB is a turnover machine both INT and fumbles for his whole career, across two coordinators. He lays a massive 5 turnover egg, and yet it's his coordinator's fault.
You think blaming the execution is horseshit? All you did for 3 fucking years when the team turned it over all the time is blame execution. Now it's not execution at all, it's all coaching? Come on. Your favorite player shit the bed. It happens.
Wow, way to bring absolutely no analysis to the party. Where did Brian say anything about it being "all" execution vs. playcalling in any circumstance? He blamed Denard for bad throws but also laid blame on the coach who is running the wrong offense for the personnel he has. Same as Brian said when RR was trying to run the option with busted shoulder Threet.
Denard actually had his best season, a Heisman-trophy caliber one, under RR. And that was a first-year starter. Would he have kept throwing INTs? Yep, and he would also have continued to rush for thousands of yards and complete 63% of his passes. But we've all watched this team for the past year, and the reason they won last year was because that defense was unstoppable at times; the offense was crap against good opponents until, wait for it, Borges let Denard run around in the shotgun. And yeah, Denard still made mistakes and he was bailed out unlike this year. But saying Denard had a bad game should not invalidate any criticisms to be leveled against a guy who is paid lots of money (as well as his boss) from implementing an ineffective offensive gameplan.
Brian pretty much eliminated any split of blame between
execution and playcalling when he announced that blaming execution was "bullshit." Despite what posters around here think, Denard HAS NEVER HAD A HEISMAN WORTHY SEASON. Not in 2010, not last year. This is the case precisely because he turns the ball over way too much. Running Denard from shotgun is not a pancea. Even the almight 2010 RR offense had games where it completely imploded- e.g. OSU 2010.
One game does not a good or bad offense make, althought apparently here in the land of objective statistical analysis 5 games does. I can think of way more than 5 games from RR's first two years in which the offense shit the bed, but that offense ended up pretty good
Of course, right after he called blaming execution bullshit he linked to a video of Denard throwing that horrible INT and said "That first Te'o interception was probably the worst throw of Denard's career; if one of the two guys underneath it didn't get it a safety in coverage on the corner had a shot at a PBU." I may be crazy, but that sure sounds like blaming Denard.
But regardless, the pushback against everyone blaming Denard is that EVERYONE deserves blame for a game like Saturday. Denard threw some poor passes and should have eaten some sacks, but in no world does it make sense that you put Denard in PA under center when everyone knows they aren't running, then letting a free-running MLB jump in his grill .1 seconds are receiving the ball. And after Denard threw one INT, you don't then have him throw again on the next down. And barring that, you don't then ask him to throw AGAIN. Run the damn ball; its the one part of the gameplan that seemed to be working the couple of times it was tried in the first half.
As for your claim that Denard did not have a Heisman-worthy season in 2010, apparently finishing 6th overall as a first-year starter doesn't count as enough for you. Michael Hart's 2005 season was the last tiem a UM player broke the top-6, and he finished with fewer votes than Denard. And while I love Hart, that season was not nearly as impressive as what Denard did.
Nobody thought Denard would win the Heisman this year especially after the Alabama game, but to denigrate one of the few bright spots these past couple of years because he screwed up a couple of times in a game is just annoying and highlights the worst parts of this fanbase. Put Denard on any of those early-2000 Carr teams and given him even a modicum of freedom and he goes down as one of the best QBs in UM history.