"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
So you saw Michigan's backup plan in case Denard gets knocked out early in a competitive game. The plan was Bellomy. And you saw Bellomy. With regard to the skills, talent, and preparation required to be a competitive Big Ten quarterback, Bellomy was terrible. The offense immediately imploded, Michigan's Rose Bowl chances dropped to "not likely" and we were left facing the bleakness of a Robinson-less future.
So long as nards were left to nard we were perfectly content to ignore things like an apparent lack of receiver talent, or whether the redshirt freshman backup QB we snake oiled away from Purdue could perform well enough in an important game scenario that nobody would think to ask about Jack Kennedy. We could even be blasé about what appears to be persistent offensive coaching mistakes. It was all masked by Wheeeeee!! Saturday the whee was taken away and we got our first real glimpse of the structure they're building underneath it. We've got questions.
1. When your freshman QB is 4 of 21 with 4 interceptions on the year, why not try the junior 5-star quarterback you've got playing receiver?
Everyone can pick a moment. For me it was Russell's first completion of the game, a 12-yard pass to Kerridge:
Alright open man! Get there! … It's still not there. Okay coverage isn't there yet either. But what's taking so long? Did it just sail? No it's on target. Okay here it comes. Catch! First down on the Utah thirty-eigh…oh dear god.
We already knew how bad it could get, but this suddenly looked like we had an outer bound for how good it could get. The feet weren't set, and a guy was coming toward his face, and he got rid of it to the open receiver for 12 yards. Except Kerridge had been open over there for several seconds. And then with that entire windup the ball delivered is a full Sheridan.
With the opponent blitzing their brains out there's going to be open receivers, and Bellomy can learn to find them quicker. But the guys can't stay open so long that defenders won't arrive sometime during the three seconds the ball's in the air. The weird dropsies when Bellomy is throwing the ball could be related to this as well. Accustomed to catching zippy Denard passes, the receivers I imagine are getting thrown off by the the extra half-second of waiting for the ball to arrive. They're losing focus, putting their minds downfield or setting off internal alarms that the coverage is arriving. You'll note in this game more than a few of Russell's open targets were lit up upon reception—the personal foul on Jackson is a good example. Simply the anticipation of such a hit is a known cause of drops.
The scary lack of arm strength raised a few questions, like why he was recruited in the first place if a cannon is a pre-req for Borgesian offense, but a more pressing and more dire query is how bad can Gardner be if they've got this dude under center instead of him?
He's playing receiver. In fact, for all his faults at receiver, he's better at that than our other options. It falls a little flat to say if he's not out there Jeremy Jackson would be, since Jeremy Jackson is out there all the damn time. More to the point, Gardner practiced all week at receiver, and sending him in unprepared would have been unfair, would undermine his confidence, and probably resulted in yackety crap like that which ended the 2011 Michigan State game.
Your brain as it watched Bellomy could not compute this because fan brains tend to hit the panic button and authorize the flinging of excrement in the hopes of finding anything that sticks. This is why it nodded sagely at things like "throw Cullen Christian in there" when the 2010 secondary was staggeringly bad. It cannot compute that things could possibly get worse. The thing is, things can possibly get worse. Obviously the coaches felt that putting an unprepared Gardner in to run "Gardner and stuff" wasn't an option.
Hoke made sure to stress the "if you don't practice during the week at quarterback you don't play" thing in his postgame presser, getting it in as a response to questions about Denard's readiness for Minnesota. I take that as a not-so-subtle reminder that this staff has more patience than the last one, and more patience than the fan-brain. Their plan seems to be if Denard goes down in-game it's Bellomy, but if we lose Robinson for a week or more, Gardner will be preparing for that game.
[More things I don't want to ask after THE JUMP]
2. Are the receivers going to get any better, and who let them get to this point in the first place?
Brian covered the recruiting under Rich Rod. To recap (guys with catches this year in bold):
2008: Odoms and Koger played early. Stonum couldn't follow the rules of his probation. Moore was a bust. Roundtree was the seminal Purdue receiver who makes for a great slot but will never be big enough to win the physical battles Michigan's offense puts him in. Despite the size, he's a plus-plus blocker, something that can be said about Gallon too.
2009: Stokes is Bowling Green's sixth receiver. Cam Gordon is and always was a linebacker and nobody ever planned on him sticking on offense, so I'm not even going to count him further. Jeremy Gallon is a great slot bug and screen target but his size makes him a very limited downfield threat.
2010: D.J. Williamson wasn't a football player but only Michigan apparently didn't know this. Jerald Robinson is buried on the depth chart. Ricardo Miller became a tight end then moved back to receiver but that ship has pretty much sailed. Jeremy Jackson is a possession receiver who can't catch or leap very well. Ironically considering the outcry at the time of his recruitment, Drew Dileo has probably been the best receiver from the big receiver class. He had a career game against State but again, he's a slot not a WCO wideout. Devin Gardner (right: Upchurch) moved to WR this season and despite dropping a big pass per game, he leads the team in TDs, and is second to Gallon in receptions and yards.
2011: No receivers. Michigan looked good for Sammy Watkins until November when it started to look unlikely that Rodriguez wouldn't be returning. Hoke used the few weeks between his hiring and NSD to patch the defense, which was the more pressing need.
2012: Darboh is playing, but his major contribution so far has been bad blocking. A.J. Williams has played as a blocking TE but at that he's not as good as Kwiatkowski has been. Funchess has holes in his blocking but has shown to be an excellent receiving tight end. Chesson redshirted.
So blame: three slots recruited for RR's system, five badly scouted wide receiver-type guys, one leftover Lloyd TE who was a bust, at least one would-be sophomore lost to The Process, one on the player himself, and few tight ends because Rodriguez didn't think he needed them; his walk-on program did manage to turn up Mike Kwiatkowski in 2010. Blame abounds here, but it's hard to put it all on Rodriguez, since his system had somewhat different things it asked.
Gardner's spotty effectiveness and Darboh's no-show so far in stat lines both demonstrate the apparent difficulty of training new receivers. This is probably completely normal and I'm just biased because my experience with young receivers has been Rodriguez dudes who just had to block and run around and stuff, and the never-ending train of instantly sound wideouts from Amani Toomer to Junior Hemingway under the tutelage of Erik Campbell. I mean: ARGH!
Don't turn around, 'cause you're gonna see my heart breaking. /Ace of Base'd.
The things they screw up are not just West Coast Offense things, though that offense magnifies the mistakes of bad routes and bad adjustments. Hecklinski is an unquestionably good guy (says everyone who ever talks about him) but he's a young guy and seems to be here because Borges is grooming him to be a college O.C. someday. He did develop a couple of Biletnikoff candidates at Ball State, and S.D. State had several guys atop the NCAA ranks when he left, but I can't help but hold a lot of the fundamental mistakes by receivers at Michigan in 2011-'12 against him. Watching Iowa's receivers I'm reminded just how good Campbell was for us; if/when Ferentz and co. are let go I'd be very much in favor of bringing him back. Maybe Heck can be the QBs coach (he was a QB in college and the Arena League.)
Either way next year Michigan almost certainly loses Gardner to quarterback, and will lose Roundtree to graduation. Unless you see Jackson-Gallon-Dileo as a starter tandem, the 2012 and 2013 classes will need to produce a couple of starters.
3. Is Borges the Right O.C. for Michigan, and how valid are the persistent complaints about his playcalling/gameplanning?
Upchurch – from last year obviously
I had a minor freak-out when Brian mentioned in yesterday's game column that we won't know if Borges is any good for four years, by which time the guys recruited by this staff should all be old enough to buy beer. A Mattison-level coordinator for offense (of which Rodriguez is one) shouldn't need that kind of time because he can build a decent unit out of mostly useful parts (if Threetsheridammit is what you have to run your spread offense you're f'ed—but note that even with that OL and those QBs the rushing YPC was equal to the best under Carr). At this point we know Borges is not among the five human beings on the planet who can plan and teach an offense like Mattison does D. That's okay.
We also know that any value to hiring a guy who would have worked well with the spread would have come in 2011 and 2012—changing course again now would be counterproductive. The transition cost is plain to see: Borges might be able to incorporate the plays from the spread into his offense, but he doesn't ascribe to the thinking behind it, and won't ever.
So far I've been playing the pro-Al advocate around here since Brian's been consistently finding criticisms, most having to do with the fusion cuisine with Denard, and Borges's consistent inability to take yards that defenses are giving him by alignment. Last year it was the bubble screen, this year it's that and not running when they've got five in the box versus Denard, and still lining up in I-form on 3rd downs, and…stuff.
Against Michigan State and before we thought he was needlessly conservative and lacked the ability to audible. There's been a lot of handoffs from a read-possible play that looked like they were just planned handoffs. The whole offense seems like a big grab-bag: lots of plays but no packaging, few if any constraints, and creeping predictability as the contents of this mélange are picked through and recognized.
I think a lot of the Borges-Brian fusion cuisine mishaps are due to a significant difference of philosophical opinion between the two of them. Cook's take on offense is very reactive. He sees the defense align a certain way and then do certain things that make them weak somewhere in order to pile on strength to where they believe the play will go. He sees nothing wrong with the defense dictating its own destruction. It's a spread philosophy, espoused by Rodriguez and Kelly and Leach and Chris Brown, and if you've been reading stuff about offense in the last 10 years you've necessarily digested this approach. You know what this is, and not just because someone was showing you how Northwestern outscored Drew Henson and co:
It's not Borges's approach. You can hear it clearly when he responds to questions about running into a stacked front with "I don't want to get into a chess game." What he means is he doesn't see offense as responsive to defense; he wants to be the dictator. You'll recognize this sentiment from the hubris of DeBord, but there is an important difference between DeBordian thinking and that of Borges. DeBord comes from a 1970s college football philosophy that's willing to run right into the teeth of an overreacting defense because his players are going to be so much better than the other guy's players. When Michigan had a two-star advantage over every one of those other guys and defenses didn't think to sell out with 8 men in the box, etc., this worked quite well. Nick Saban has that advantage—on any given down he can instruct Barrett Jones to throw your nose tackle like a ragdoll into the middle linebacker—and uses it quite effectively. When Michigan no longer had that advantage, running Hart behind Long and Kraus into a stacked front was a recipe for 3rd and 8.
Borges is a dictator but a realist. His way to keep defenses honest is not to punish them for misbehaving but to be so unpredictable that there's no use guessing. This is why the quarterback has to practice all week in order to be effective—it's not a system but a lot of different plays. On any given down with any given personnel group there's six possible alignments and 30 possible plays the defense has to be ready for.
It's not a 100% thing. Borges does use packages, for example the Denard-Jet last year or the Gallon-motion this year. Here you can see the defense, which was slanting playside, get caught with the wrong safety motioning with Gallon, taking himself out of the play and presenting an opportunity for huge yardage except Mealer completely lost his guy:
If Mealer gets that seal Lewan has reached the backside end, two blockers are about to eliminate the 2nd level, and then it's Smith with Toussaint lead-blocking into the secondary. This is with Bellomy in. It's a Borges RPS+2 turned into a big loss by 10-man football because Mealer couldn't execute a zone block. So it's not like these guys are going to always put up huge gains if only we can teach the OC to be a guy he's not. On the other hand, you can see the opportunity—the tackles have both gotten playside of dudes moving that way at the snap and you like our chances with Barnum and Omameh versus linebackers. The embers of the offense that smoked defenses in 2010 are still there, and while Tate Forcier isn't walking onto that field, you can see it's still capable of doing the things they were brought here to do. It's frustrating.
If it were up to me, I'd go with the reactive way. I'd especially go with reactive when the current offensive line was recruited to be quick enough and smart enough to react to the defense in their zones, not to be big and strong enough to force our will upon the point of attack. In the passing game, most of these guys can pick up a blitz or catch a stunt, however somebody's going to break down after a few seconds of one-on-one. And there's Denard, who inherently forces defenses to do unsound things that you can then punish them for.
I think this is what we're stuck with now. It's certainly not ideal, and I'm more wary about underperformance-due-to-coaching-miscues today than before I witnessed the Rodriguezian defenses. I wouldn't equate this offense minus Denard directly to the 2008 offense once bereft of Mallett, since Lewan, and even counting uninjured freshman Molk that interior line was not better than this one.
Next year the WHEEEEEE! is gone no matter what. There's Devin (expecting Shane Morris to show up wearing #7 and performing like the the next Henne-Leach is unrealistic) and the tackles (please God let Lewan stay) and some slots left over, and they'll be mixed in with redshirt freshman linemen and strapping young receivers and tight ends. If it ends up looking badly coached and anemic, that's when we can start wondering if Borges is the guy. Judged on what he's got versus what he knows, having just a few blunderous games maybe isn't so bad, no matter how frustrating it is to watch would-be matured spread tools used for backhoeing.
For those claiming that the transition has hurt Denard
there has to be an opposing argument that it hasn't helped Bellomy either. This offense is/was built around the quarterback's read option. Bellomy isn't a read option quarterback. I think that the reason Hoke and Borges appear stubborn/evasive when it comes to their Qbs is because they understand that a lot of players on this team are simply victims of change. Borges doesn't run the spread, his offense is full of players brought in to do so. Because of these wildly different philosophies, the transition is, and does, look ugly. It's not necessarily anyone's fault, it's just a price that all teams pay with such a wholesale change at the top.
We were never likely to have totally smooth sailing
Too many things went wrong during the RR years and during the transition to Hoke for Michigan not to take a dip at some point. I say this realizing that they could still win the Big Ten this year, and I also do not say it to blame anyone. Michigan has various fairly serious talent deficiencies right now and will for a little while, and there is of course also the roughness that comes from switching schemes. I always thought last year was a bit of a fluke, i.e., Michigan put that season together by keeping things together with chewing gum and chicken wire, and we were lucky to see it play out as it did...Denard is imperfect, but he's also a once in a lifetime talent who papers over a lot of flaws. Losing him was always likely to be the beginning of a tough (if relatively brief) time. Unfortunately, it happened this year.
"All of the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes."
Back when Hoke was assembling his staff Brian commented that Borges' resume had a scary resemblance to that of Gerg. Some success years ago in situations that abounded with talent, but many stops along the way that were much less memorable. No recent success though, the the two years at SDSU were OK. I like Borges, but man....
A Mattison-level coordinator for offense (of which Rodriguez is one) shouldn't need that kind of time because he can build a decent unit out of mostly useful parts (if Threetsheridammit is what you have to run your spread offense you're f'ed—but note that even with that OL and those QBs the rushing YPC was equal to the best under Carr). At this point we know Borges is not that.
I agree that RichRod can engineer an offense that puts up very impressive stats but not because of anything he did in 2008.
The 2008 offense was awful. It was most certainly not a "decent unit." I understand that the YPC was similar to the Carr Era but it is more than an entire yard less than anything that came after it--including under Borges.
I don't think that cherry picking one stat from an absolutely terrible offense is a good indication of who is good and who is bad. The Borges offenses have been good. The 2008 offense was terrible. Your concentration on one particular stat has caused you to suggest something very different from that reality.
It's not a cherry-picked stat. Rushing YPC is what the spread 'n shred lives on, and it's one of the most solid indicators of offensive success.
It's also not an independent stat. If the offense can't pass worth a lickety damn, defenses should be able to key on the rushing offense and shut it down. That offense was terrible as a whole, but in the rushing YPC you could see the nascence of the new offense taking hold, whether it was getting McGuffie into the secondary or finding room up the middle to get some Minor RAGE on.
All we're looking for is evidence of scheme. Michigan in 2008 managed to get better at running the football despite replacing Long, Kraus and Boren (and some of Hart) with Ortmann, McAvoy and Molk/Moosman, and having no passing game. That was due to scheme.
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It was cherry picked in the sense that you picked one stat to show that the offense was good. There are no other stats that demonstrate the offense was good because it was terrible.
it's one of the most solid indicators of offensive success.
Unless you're willing to argue that the 2008 offense was good then in this case YPC was not a solid indicator.
In 2008, the offense looked it was going to suck and then sucked. Historically.
In 2011, the offense looked like it would be good and then it was good.
I don't see evidence for any conclusions here other than what we assumed would happen happened.
I think that some have philosophical differences with Borges and align more with RichRod, which equate to your 'evidence of scheme' comments, but that does not equate with proof of superiority. The 2011 offense was good.
You're still trying to pin me to a straw man here. The point is "the scheme was showing results" not "the offense was good."
You know why "2011 offense was better than 2008 offense, therefore Borges is better than Rodriguez at coaching offense" is a fallacy, right? Because it ignores the massive talent disparity for the plays being run between those two teams. So we need some way of eliminating the players and figuring out whether scheme.
What the spread 'n shred tries to do is get rushing ypc up from a shotgun formation. That's its first thing, and all the other success comes from that. The running game made the passing game easier, but Threet couldn't hit a bubble screen and Sheridan couldn't pass the ball downfield, so the offense failed. However as a proof of concept, the YPC stat shows the thing works.
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1. Devin should have been preparing. It was my understanding when Devin changed positions that he would still be getting significant snaps at QB. If he's not, then that's an error on the coaches' part.
2. Rodriguez did a poor job of recruiting wide receivers. He got a bunch of #2 or #3 guys (or worse), but not a single #1 guy.
3. Borges's quarterbacks are bad at things. Denard is a good runner, and he can hit short passes with some accuracy. Bellomy is a smart kid and good leader; he's kind of bad at everything else. Aside from bubble screens, I don't know what plays people think will work with quarterbacks who aren't very good at stuff and an interior OL that can't get any push.
against ND and that is why he has not practiced at QB. No idea if that is true or not, but it might explain the lack of QB snaps. If its not true, then I agree it makes no sense not to have given Devin ANY snaps at QB each week. You have to have at least 3 guys ready to go.
Last week I came on this site and read nothing but positives about how Michigan was back and MSU better prepare to go back to mediocrity because Hoke's recruiting will start to kick in (pretty much what Brian said), then I come on here yesterday and it's as if our entire program has been blown up and there is no hope for the future and it will take several years for our offense to be good again. Am I missing something, here? What has changed. Did we not realize that if we lost Denard we'd be absolutely fucked? We already knew this.
Bellomy is a redshirt freshman who was a generic 3-star recruit. Then he gets thrown in the game, cold, in one of the most important games of the year, on the road, in one of the most hostile environments in the country, against a team that isn't Illinois, running an offense designed around one of the most profilic dual-threat QBs in history. He turned in an absolute shit-sandwich of a performance, yes. He was awful, yes. But give the kid a break. That doesn't mean he has no chance to ever be good. He was probably so nervous he could barely breathe. If he comes into a game prepared to play, knowing he's the starter, with plays designed for his strengths/weaknesses, then he will have a chance to complete some easy passes, get his confidence up, and then we'll see what he can do.
I've decided to lay off the food for a while, and go on the booze.
I think, more accurately, the "Bellomy package" doesn't get practiced, because you can't practice 2 offenses every week, and you don't want to spend time practicing one that you won't use. This is why teams often try to get QB's with similar general skill-sets. Given that this staff doesn't want Denard-types in the future, we're in a bit of a pickle.
In other words, we didn't even see "The Bellomy Package". We saw Bellomy running the "Denard Package".
I like what Seth has to say here and I respect his take, but nothing in Borges's past makes me think that these deficiencies will be shored up as soon as he gets "his guys" in, except if by "his guys" you mean more talent across the board. And as we've seen in the past decade, unless you are the USC/Alabama types who will play fast and loose with the rules, UM is not going to out-recruit the best teams in the division/country.
And while the play call in the example above should have worked better, there are myriad of examples (hell, most of the MSU game) where Borges called plays that exposed his team's weaknesses and were easily sniffed out by a good defense. Now, if you want to call that "dictating" the playcalls, then I guess you can. I'd call that a stubborn reliance on a system that isn't viable both with the talent available and the competition. I'm sure the team will do better as better recruits come in, but I'm not going to assign all the credit to Borges, just like I'm not going to bury him completely for the past two games. But he has a mediocre track reecord both here and other places, and I'm not going to ignore that just because people like to promote counter-narratives.
Borges' teams regress. That is what they do. His high water marks in this century include his first year at Auburn, in which he inherited (didn't develop) a first round QB, two first round RBs, etc. (afterward, regressiona and then unemployment); and arguably his year 2 in the Mountain West, in which he developed his QB into achieving a 57% completion rate. Those are his successes. Greg Robinson's also long career has far more highlights than Borges'.
You are aware that points win games and not yardage totals right? Are you also aware that PPG under Borges last year were sustained and even increased during the difficult stretch of the schedule as opposed to being inflated against weak competition and then falling off in Big Ten play as they were in 2010?
Also you have made this claim that Borges' QB's regress over and over and over except you discount when it isn't true for various reasons.
You mention that he inherited a first round QB in Jason Campbell. That is simply not true. Campbell was not a great QB. Borges made him a first rounder.
Here are his stats as a junior under Hugh Nall and his senior year stats under Borges
He was not a first round QB prior to Borges arriving in 2004.
I think there are some offensive issues being overlooked here, and it's not just Borges. Last year's offense was equivalent, roughly, to Rich's 2010 offense, which is the high-water mark for many of the Borges detractors.
Why are we so far off this year?
One obvious thing to note is Fitzgerald. By my eye, there's a combination of bad blocking and some rampant impatience rendering him useless.
Another would be the departure of the only reliable receiving threat on the roster, and having no viable replacement.
I'm not sure if Huyge--->Schofield or Schofield---->Barnum are major downgrades, but I assume Molk---->Mealer is.
Borges didn't all of a sudden turn stupid, or change schemes from last year's VERY successful unit.
In 2011, we had the #23 Scoring offense (34.2 ppg) and the #35 Yardage offense (423 yards)
In 2010, we had the #24 scoring offense (34.3 ppg) and the #6 yardage offense (500 yards)
Given that Al was working out of fewer deficits and running more clock-killing stuff at the end, I'd say they're highly comparable.
It's not just sports fans, but human nature...we want structure to our world, and when something goes wrong, we want someone to blame. If someone is assassinated, it must be a CONSPIRACY!! If our wide receivers aren't good, someone must have screwed up. But with the multitude of reasons, is it any one thing person? People were killing Rich for having all those receivers recruited, and not enough linemen (and yeah, we needed a few more linemen). But now the problem is we don't have enough good receivers. I guess the problem is we don't have enough GREAT receivers...but they were probably good enough to do the job they were recruited to do in that system. (Now if you want to discuss whether it would have been ideal to put really talented guys in an innovative system, that's a whole other post.....)
And yes, Soup was great. I wouldn't count on any of the '12 or '13 guys stepping in and being beasts though, no matter their recruiting rankings. Look back at those guys you mention...and then their freshmen numbers. Most became contributors over the period of the season. But it took Braylon Edwards 3 years to become BRAYLON EDWARDS. The receiver who walks in and dominates isn't common. Your best case scenarios are up north in E. Lansing. Freshman receiver comes in, shows he's maybe the best talent in the corp, but still has a lot to learn. What usually holds guys back isn't running and catching. It's blocking.
3. I think is a good analysis. They both have pros and cons. The idea of a Borges is to do what you want on them, so they compensate for it, then you can do what you REALLY want to on them, and then their in middle ground, you can do whatever you want, and you've imposed your will (see passing on a team that can't stop the pass, so you can open it up to then run at will). Problem is if the execution isn't there, you never impose your will, and the defense doesn't have to change. (The difference from old school Michigan is that they wouldn't do what was the other team's weakness, but would do what their strength was...even if the other team showed they could stop that).
The other method, the reactive way, is to see how the defense reacts to your play, make ongoing adjustments, then change again when they try and counter it, and so forth. The problem is there if defense does something, and you adjust, and your adjustments don't work...where do you go from there? The back up back up adjustment? Think the few times Oregon has been stopped.
Both can work, and a prefence for one over the other isn't right or wrong. But it was a good illustration of the positions.
The emotion of Saturday's game has mostly passed, and I have a few thoughts.
1. Those freaking out about Borges results seem to forget about him scoring slightly more points per game in 2011 than we did in 2010 plus last years Nebraska and OSU games. Not saying he's perfect, but let's be fair.
2. MSU conservatism was intentional since the plan seemed to be their offense is terrible and our D is quite good. If we play conservative and don't turn the ball over, we can beat them 6-0. Not saying I like this plan, but this plan isn't typical of the other 21 games Borges has called at Michigan.
My read of the offense versus Nebraska was that Borges had started to open it up on the drive Denard got hurt and the offense was moving the ball well. Let's not forget we scored 40+ against Purdue and Illinois. If Denard can play, this offense can score points.
3. The defense if much better than expected and quite good. We should win our next three and Nebraska is at least 50/50 to lose to MSU or PSU. I see winning our half of the conference coming down to whether or not we can beat OSU which is not all bad even if I'd say the odds are slightly less than 50/50 we win that game.
4. Long term, I see a very productive offense with our awesome O-line classes, Shane Morris, Funchess, Darboh, Chesson plus Wyatt Shallman driving defenses nuts as a FB/h-back/TE. 2013 will be the transition year for the offense and won't be awesome, but hopefully the defense will be awesome enough to carry us through.
I'll take a wait-n-see approach until this time next year. By then, I'll see where the ship is turning and make up my initial hypothesis about where it's going. Two years from now, I will have my mind made up and I'll join either one of the two powerful camps. Keep vs. replace.
Unfortunately, Seth, this isn't NCAA Football 2013 and you can't just pause the game and slide in WR #12 at QB and run around all day. I'm betting Devin has probably gotten very few (if any) snaps at QB since the beginning of the season. Was Bellomy bad? Yes, but so would most redshirt freshmen with not a lot of prep billing playing in Lincoln at night.
I think you should stop ripping on these players for their perceived talent level when you have no idea what you're talking about when it comes down to it,
Remember when we put up huge points against some good teams last year? Neb and OSU mostly?
Then the offense lost 2 starters to the NFL draft (Molk, Hemingway) and has plugged in guys at those spots that aren't going to hear their names called in NY. The offense struggled without Molk last year. Hemingway damn near was the offensive output in the Sugar Bowl.
Think that might have something to do with the offensive struggles?
"Over? Did you say, over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!"
I invited Coach Harbaugh to my wedding. He did not attend.
Just going to say-- when Denard went out of the game and it was still a close game against a good NE team IN LINCOLN, we were screwed. Unless somehow Denard managed to get back on the field during the game we were going to lose. We don't have the talent pool that Alabama has to make us be able to make up for a lose of a starting QB. If A.J. McCarron at Bama would have gotten hurt, they could pound the ball down their opponent's throat and probably pull off a win... Obviously the way our run game has looked all year outside of Denard, we couldn't do the same.
Sure, When Braxton Miller went out and Kenny Guiten(Spelling?) came in and won the game, that was an exception... but they were playing freaking Purdue. It wouldn't have happened against a decent team. Go back a few years when Oregon had Dennis Dixon and he messed his knee up: They went from a NC team to a scrub team in one game.
You lose a starting QB that brings as much to the table as Denard, and I don't care WHO you put into the game or how you call the game as an OC... you aren't going to beat a good team on the road.
"Oh, but OSU did it with Guiten. Why can't Bellomy?"
Well, I watched the end of that game. Few reasons.
#1 - IT WAS FREAKING PURDUE. The same Purdue that Michigan's apparently sucky suck suck fire Borges doom suck of an offense torched for 44 points AT Purdue.
#2 - They were at home, nice comfy stadium. Not at night, too (if you don't think that matters, you don't watch much college football)
#3 - If you watched the game-tying drive, there was a play where an OSU guys was hand-wavingly wide open that went for half the drive. Any QB with a pulse could have made that throw (caveat: not sure if Bellomy could have made that throw at this stage in his career). That play was an embarassment for Purdue.
#4 - there were several times Purdue should have won that game defensively on the final drive. Ad they imploded each time. My memory may be wrong, but I think they had a few 3rd down opportunities, including a 3rd and long that was completed to a wide open receiver.
#5 - OSU has those things called receivers who actually caught the ball when it mattered the most. Bellomy made a pretty damn accurate throw to the endzone that was in the hands of his receiver, and it would have tied the game. But it didn't. WR is a major weakness of Michigan this year.
First let me say this: This is not an attack on Bellomy. What happened on Saturday wasn't his fault, he was just too young and inexperienced for the moment. No big deal, it happens.
However, a lot of people are acting as if there was a single moment of competence when he was on the field that should have justified him staying under center. From what I saw, there wasn't.
Also, there seems to be this consensus that Bellomy was at some sort of advantage over Gardner by having prepared for Nebraska...but at no moment was this advantage borne out by any result on the field.
Would putting Gardner in the game after Bellomy had led the offense to a single yard of offense through 5 drives have won us the game? I don't know. Maybe it does end up like the end of the MSU game last year. Or maybe he manages to extend a few drives to keep the defense rested and manages just enough points to win it.
The point is, at that stage in the game we saw what we had in Bellomy for the night and it should have been enough to at least give Gardner (A 5 star QB who has game experience and has taken snaps in practice into this season) the opportunity because he could not have performed much worse and has at least flashed the potential that he could have been better.
It's not exactly a novel thing for a freshman QB to struggle
This stat line is pretty ugly, from a game against a tough opponent in our own stadium:
7-20 passing for just over 100 yds; 3 INTs; one fumble; 14 points total generated. One of the INTs was returned to our 3-yard line, and was converted to a TD soon after.
The team we played that day was Ohio State, the year was 1975, and the QB was Rick Leach. Who, in contrast to Bellomy, had been playing virtually every down as a starter that year. In other words, even highly-talented players struggle as freshmen. It's the nature of things; only in extremely rare instances is that not the case.
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