Seeing that picture of the championship game tip-off makes me sad
Mailbag: Argument For Borges, Montgomery Departure Effect, Emo Business, Don't Play Skyrim
Brian Sipe and Al Borges did not see eye to eye
Nope. When Borges arrived someone asked him about having a QB coach, and he said that he wasn't a fan of the setup they had at SDSU, where Brian Sipe was hired as a dedicated QB coach. That relationship was strained, it seems, and Borges now handles all that himself.
My google-fu has failed me in an effort to find this quote, but a couple years back there was a direct statement from Borges that he prefers to work with the QBs himself, alone.
UPDATE: a commenter comes through.
“I’m sure there were times I was driving Brian nuts, because I was being driven nuts. Coaching quarterbacks is more my M.O.”
What is the argument for Borges?
What is the argument for Borges?
Watching bowl games and I'm jealous of Iowa and their dinosaur coaching staff occasionally running up tempo offense.
Al Borges has either had the game pass him by or hasn't trusted his QBs at michigan one bit. They don't/can't run tempo, don't/can't get out of the huddle in time to gather any info on the defensive alignment pre-snap and don't/can't commit to any spread concepts that put playmakers in space and pressure defenders to make one on one plays in space.
Michigan's offense doesn't take advantage of ANY of the benefits of modern college offenses.
The argument in his favor is that he does tend to have high YPA offenses when he has decent quarterbacks, and in YPA is generally regarded as the stat most predictive of victory. If you've heard the roundtable on WTKA this year you've heard Craig bring this up weekly, at which point I shoot him down because Michigan's running game is just so so bad this year. Then he brings it up the next week because his pet YPA stat was actually pretty accurate, and we repeat the cycle.
Anyway. In year two at SDSU, Ryan Lindley had a 9.1 YPA, which is near-great. In three years at Michigan:
- Denard 2011: 8.4
- Denard 2012: 7.9
- Devin 2012: 9.7(!)
- Devin 2013: 8.6
Things at Auburn were great, then increasingly grimmer. Jason Campbell cracked the 10 YPA mark in year one, then Brandon Cox went from 7.6 to 8.1 to 6.6, whereupon Borges got fired in favor of that Franklin spread guy who got fired midseason the next year, leading to Borges's current pathological worldview.
I'm not even sure how much of the Cox degradation I blame on Borges. I saw Cox live and in person in his senior year, and by that time his arm strength had degraded to Russell Bellomy-against-Nebraska levels. Meanwhile Tommy Tuberville's staff was a collection of Just In Charge Of Something For No Reasons that undermined the next guy and got fired as a unit as a result—they were Rodriguez's defensive assistants and Borges was Scott Shafer.
This year's actually-quite-good YPA stat (23rd nationally) is impressive in context. I think you can make a case that with a functional running game, Borges can pilot an effective offense. The program is pretty dinosaur all around, but at least Borges has shown that he is looking for the knockout punch.
I've read and heard a lot about our miserable offensive line and how Coach Borges's hands are somewhat tied with such an incapable unit. But it seems to me that the larger problem is the predictability of his play calling. I don't study tape or rewatch games the way our opponents must, but even I feel like I know exactly when he's going to run the ball and when he isn't. The Nebraska players said as much after they completely shut us down. The only game that I can remember saying to myself "I didn't expect that" with regard to our ground game was against OSU, and in that match-up our O line suddenly looked average/competent against a good Buckeye unit. I feel like Borges is a guy that really believes that as long as everyone "executes", it doesn't matter if the opposing defense has an idea of what's coming. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.
Thanks again for your hard work.
When one half of your offense is totally incapable of picking up yard one in most games you do tend to get predictable. Defenses figure out the thing that you are trying to do and shut it down because they aren't worried about the other thing. The Kansas State game was a great example of that: once the Wildcats figured out what Michigan was doing and adapted to stop it there wasn't much else Michigan could execute so they had to keep doing the one thing they could do.
This pattern is familiar from 2008, when Rodriguez would insert various tweaks and folds into his rushing offense that would work great for about a half and then die in a heap. Remember the 2008 Penn State game that was 17-14 at halftime and then ended something like 80-17 Penn State? Same thing: unleash something unexpected that really works (in that case it was MINOR RAGE), then have bupkis when opponent adjusts.
Predictability is a hallmark of crappy offenses, but it's more a symptom than a disease.
The Jerry Montgomery effect?
I see a lot of Michigan fans saying they will give the defensive staff a pass for this season's defensive performance because this is the same staff responsible for vast improvements seen in the first year under Brady Hoke. But, this isn't the same staff. We lost Jerry Montgomery to Oklahoma last offseason. Our d-line was definitely disappointing this year. Could you please comment on whether Montgomery leaving was a bigger blow than anticipated? Also, could you please comment on Roy Manning's performance as the linebacker coach?
Thanks and Go Blue!
How disappointing was it, though?
Our impressions are always colored by the most recent thing to happen and those two things were eviscerations by OSU and Kansas State, but the overall picture is less than awful. Michigan finished 35th in raw YPC without an imposing pass rush and without a whole lot of blitzing or load-the-box safety help. Their YPC allowed (3.81) was identical to last year's number, when Montgomery was around.
On an individual level, by the time the Ohio State game rolled around Ondre Pipkins had torn his ACL and Michigan's first choice nose tackle was 285 pound Jibreel Black, which went about as well as you might expect against what was by far the nation's top rushing offense. That is a huge and obvious personnel issue caused by injury—I continue to assume that something was just not right with Quinton Washington because otherwise his deployment makes no goddamn sense at all—and youth.
On an individual level, Michigan got strong upward ticks from everyone on the line:
- Frank Clark went from hype bust of the offseason to a solid, Tim Jamison-as-senior effort.
- Willie Henry went from obscure rotation guy to solid starter and potential future star.
- Black was considerably better than he was as a junior, though completely overmatched because of his size at certain points.
- Brennen Beyer… actually went backwards a bit, okay. But again this was Michigan's first choice SDE against OSU, a 250-pound dude.
The lack of imposing pass rush is an issue that needs to be addressed, yes. I don't think this season was necessarily that disappointing when you look at the roster at the three interior DL spots (SDE counts as one in my book). There is a gap akin to the interior OL on the roster.
Remove injured Pipkins and your non-freshman options at three interior DL spots that really need about six guys to rotate through are Black (285 pounds), Washington (inexplicable lack of PT), Ash (never played meaningful snaps in his life before OSU), and Heitzman (dumped from rotation in favor of 250-pound SAM). All things considered they were doing really well to hold up like they did before the season-ending collapse.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma was 53rd in rushing D, giving up a third of a yard per attempt more than M. I don't think Montgomery was a huge blow.
As for Manning, he's got the outside linebackers, which means SAM and only SAM. Michigan got quality play from first Beyer and then Cam Gordon; Jake Ryan was not as impactful this year but with the injury that's understandable. Tentative thumbs up in year one.
It wasn't too long ago that you were ready to cut someone about something something
EMO QUESTION OF THE WEEK OF THE YEAR
Is there a point for you at which fanhood of Michigan football is so disappointing because of things besides kids trying their best (e.g., Borges/Hoke insanity, almost everything Dave Brandon) that stop...like, really, at least sort of? As we as a fanbase get to consider your experience of being a fan and weigh it against our own, you shared some, I don't know, despondency or something at times this season, usually in appropriate situations. And in a time in my life when I am thinking of getting ready for my marriage, and getting something resembling a career going, and God help me I'll be a father in a few years...this football stuff just seems like a waste of time when everything besides the kids gets me as worked up as [REDACTED TOPIC OF CHOICE] does.
Honestly, larger than the blog, which I could see continuing in a hundred ways, is there a "this far and no further" point in your tolerance of extraneous bullshit for the sake of the joy or whatever it is that's so incredible when the kids on the field do amazing things?
I mean, after the 2009 Illinois game, I locked myself in a dorm and turned off my phone and didn't talk to anyone until late Sunday. As crazy and immature as that was, nothing about the disappointment of a loss has ever made me feel like I should stop following the team. But now I read about BWW Bowls and Jerryworld II and I'm like...whatever, man.
This is a natural consequence of aging and putting things in your life other than football that poop all over themselves when you would rather they not do that. Eventually, this will be you, wishing you weren't pooping all over yourself while watching Michigan poop all over itself in a hologram.
Anyway. It is an annual rite for person X on message board Y to declare that they just don't have the steam in them any more. I get it. To be blunt, I've been struggling with motivation issues since about midseason and understand anyone who flips the TV off and goes bowling*.
But, again, it is a human tendency to project most recent thing as thing that happens forever. It is not so. It was just last April that I was in the Georgia Dome, panicking about a Ke$ha song (probably, anyway; getting to the point where I can't necessarily discern which pop ingénues is which) because it was the thing going on before the national championship game. If they had played The Final Countdown I literally would have grabbed my buddy and gone AHHHH AHHHH AHHHH until he slapped me.
This season has been particularly enervating because of not only the suckiness of the team but its total unwatchability. As I mentioned in the post-bowl column, the 3-9 outfit was a worse team but they came by their awfulness honestly. Not that these folk didn't, but there is a special pain in rushing for negative yards consecutive weeks. It is transmitted direct to your eyeballs.
When this is not the case, you will discover the terror of your attachment again. Probably.
In your specific case, I've tied my career to this and don't have the option, so I don't know man. I tend to think I might get fed up, but I'm still getting hockey tickets and no one really cares if I go to hockey. Maybe I would just complain about feeling like a sucker and continue acting like a sucker.
*[I finally broke down and played Skyrim. Do not do this. Skyrim is the kind of awful that only reveals itself after you've set 60 hours of your life on fire listening to boring conversations and dully hacking things in the face. Their open world is beautiful and soulless, shiny on the outside but hollow in the center. Bethesda's mechanics are hopelessly broken in every single game they make, and while being able to jump across a continent in Morrowind was charmingly broken, Skyrim's mechanics invite you to a dull, iron-dagger-laden trudge through one moronically designed UI after another.
I just played the computer version of Michigan's 2013 football season. I DID IT TO MYSELF. AGAIN.]
Obviously changes need to be made, and probably already have for all I know. I posed this idea to some friends this morning and got intrigued responses but it was ultimately dismissed as unrealistic: Michigan should hire Pat Narduzzi as head coach right now.
He's obviously ready for a move, would clearly help Michigan's defense tremendously (and bring in a new OC who could only be an upgrade), and this would really hurt one of our division rivals who is on the verge of becoming a regular contender. I would say this move would be on par with hiring Bo (who, at the time, was an Ohio State guy, even though he was at Miami). Getting Narduzzi now is no different, except skipping the middle step of him coaching elsewhere first. Has anyone suggested this idea yet, and what do you think from the perspective of is it possible as well as is it a good move?
IT HAPPENED, JV
IT HAPPENED RIGHT NOW WITH EVERYONE WATCHING
I honestly don't care who our coach is as long as we win and run a clean program. Previous job experience at rival schools shouldn't be a reason to make them off limits.
We could offer Narduzzi the job, he wouldn't take it for obvious reasons (BURN ALL THE BRIDGES!!!), and then we'd just end up looking really, really stupid.
He does that to us already so it might be worth a shot. However, I never said we should hire him. Just that coaches from rival teams shouldn't be over looked if there is genuine interest from both parties because they have coached for rival teams.
Does that mean we should consider Jim Tressel who unlike Narduzzi is a proven HC?
Narduzzi's response to the question "what did you think of the attempted murder of Denard Robinson by Gholston?" was "60 minutes of unnecessary roughness, bitches."** I'm not convinced he'd qualify in the clean program department.
People also do not give that big of a middle finger to their mentor. It is pretty delusional to think Nards would leave a Porsche of a defense he has build to come coach our 1984 Ford Escort.
Also, Dave Brandon is going to have to be fired before Hoke is fired, Dave has a fair ego on him and is for sure the captain going down with the Hoke ship.
"People do not give that big of a middle finger to their mentor." Narduzzi coming here right now would be only a slightly larger middle finger than what Bo did, in my opinion.
I read awhile back that Dantonio - a former MSU and Ohio assistant -inquired about the Michigan job's eventual availability (and apparently was told it wasn't coming open for awhile) before he took the MSU job in the 2006-07 offseason. (How's that one for a counterfactual history? Imagine Lloyd stepping down that offseason, like he wanted to.)
A good job is a good job, and guys won't pass one up just out of fear for offending their current boss. Biggie Munn, the man who built MSU's program, was a former U-M assistant.
The bigger issue is that hiring an assistant with no HC experience is a gamble. Some coaches are awesome coordinators and mediocre HCs. Bo Pelini comes to mind.
the statement "as long as we win and run a clean program" are mutually exclusive in todays FBS college environment.
Everyone has times like this, I believe. Its a season that we just witnessed that highlights it the most. We all love it when our team is on top or winning even if they don't win it all. But these are the real trying times.
For myself, it was a moment when walking through a local bar that an osu fan claims that I "almost got my ass kicked" simply because of the Michigan sweatshirt I was wearing. At that moment, I decided that I'd filter out the bad and accept only the good.
I won't go into too much detail, but the result is that I'll always love my childhood favorite team no matter what but won't let losses get me down. Like Brian said, he's tied to the program too much to avoid it, but most of us don't make our livings based on it. Pick and choose your battles and realize there's some that you A) can't win, or B) shouldn't even fight in the first place.
Is this the quote you were looking for?
“I’m sure there were times I was driving Brian nuts, because I was being driven nuts. Coaching quarterbacks is more my M.O.” - Michigan offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Al Borges, on watching Brian Sipe coach the QBs at San Diego State the past two years. Borges has coached quarterbacks 22 of his 25 years in college football."
you did NOT just disrespect my 377 hrs of Skyrim?
"I think you can make a case that with a functional running game, Borges can pilot an effective offense."
I have zero doubt this is true. I just wonder why Hoke and Brandon settle for "effective if everything goes according to plan".
I sense most people can discern the difference between "everything goes according to plan" and averaging more than 1 ypc with your RBs in a game, and how that relates to Brian saying "functional running game". The "plan" is likely striving slightly better than "functional".
I sense most people understood my point: Why are we settling for an average offensive coordinator?
I sense you weren't one of those people. Which is completely understandable.
But your point begs the question. Many of us aren't conceding that Borges is an average offensive coordinator. We had an average offense. One of the reasons for that could be the OC, but there plenty of other factors that could explain it. We had some awful games offensively and some incredible ones. Our defense was similar, but because Mattison already has a reputation, fans blame everything but the DC (and IMO, not incorrectly). I know Borges hasn't earned the respect that Mattison gets from his resume, but that doesn't make him more culpable for the struggles on his side of the ball.
Actually, no they weren't. And no, our offense wasn't average.
Let's forget the bowl for a second and concentrate on the regular season.
The offense was atrocious in five games (UConn, MSU, Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa). They were shaky in two more (Akron, Penn State). They were par for the course in two games (CMU and Indiana*) and above average/excellent in three (Notre Dame, Minnesota, OSU).
The defense was atrocious in two games (Indiana, Ohio State), shaky in two more (Akron, Penn State) and met or exceeded expectations in the rest. People might say "But they gave up a bunch of yards against Iowa! Michigan State scored 29 and won by 23!", but both of those things are directly related to the failings of the offense (5 straight three and outs, not to mention the loss of Ross and Morgan...And just go back and look at the third quarter against MSU). And even in the shaky games, they only allowed 17 points against Akron and a lot of Penn State's success came down to turnovers by the offense (14 points) and overtime (9 points). Not to mention the defense had 4 turnovers and scored a touchdown. And when you look at what Ohio State did against good defenses (8 ypc against Wisconsin, 6.8 against MSU), while against us when we're lacking Pipkins, Wilson and Ross, its pretty obvious that the one true bomb was against Indiana.
Now, certainly someone could try and makes the same arguments for the offense: Iowa has a good defense! UConn is underrated! MSU destroys everyone! But our offense was simply the worst it could possibly b against those teams. I don't think any team had fewer yards than Michigan did against Iowa, MSU or Nebraska. I think that we were in the bottom two against UConn and Northwestern. And hell, 7 different teams scored more points against Akron than we did. To compare, only two defenses held them to less than 17 points.
So I think the idea that the units were "similar" is wrong. I think its very clear that Mattison is a very good coordinator and Borges is an average coordinator. Mattison took a flawed roster and had it playing pretty consistently all year. Borges took a flawed roster and watched it bottom out for four straight games in November. If you don't want to concede that point, that's fine, but you're in denial.
*What we did on offense was no different than any other talented offense, we just had to score more due to our defense playing their worst game of the season. Hell, Illinois had 600 yards against Indiana.
Clearly we just disagree, but I'm not ready to point to a game where we turned the ball over like crazy (Akron, UConn, PSU) or dropped tons of passes (Iowa) and blame that on the OC. Iowa had one of the best defenses in the conference, but if Funchess doesn't forget how to catch or DG doesn't fumble the ball at the end, we score one or two more TDs and win.
I also find it funny how you'll excuse the D for injuries, but not the O. Darboh should have been a starter all year, Drake Johnson was our #2 RB who played one game and DG was hurt for the better part of the second half of the season (where most of our losses came). Lewan even missed a decent amount of time.
RIght, see with a normal average offense, there are mistakes and they are pushed through. Kind of like how Iowa throws three picks and somehow overcomes it. Michigan has a few drops and then goes three and out. Under Borges, it seems like mistakes don't stop potential touchdowns, they just stop Michigan from running five plays instead of three.
Yes, losing Drake Johnson and Darboh before the season starts is the equivalent of the injuries mentioned. You'll notice I didn't include Jake Ryan (the best player on the defense who missed half the season and probably wasn't himself when he was back) in my assessment. The offense was exceedingly lucky when it came to injuries this year (Dileo being the only guy hurt). You have no point.
(BTW, big mistake for me: Wisconsin shut down OSU pretty well. I got so used to looking at big rushing numbers from them I looked at the YPA instead of YPC. So if we want to move OSU into a total bomb of a game, that's fine too).
Edit: None of this matters, the people who matter agree with me.
I invested more than 200 hours when it was released and I was never bored. Will probably go back and start as a new character.
After not having played a lot of video games for years I wasted 100s of hours exploring and going on adventures. I can remember my heart racing when I'd first hear the music for a dragon. I think I'm going to play me some skyrim this weekend.
Your view of the program mirrors mine almost to a T. This was quite a surprising read, considering the tone of the blog this season.
You deserve a lot of points for staying rational in your worldview despite the obvious emotional hell our struggles put you through.
The obvious question, then, is do you predict next season to go well enough that you are never tempted to skip a game and go bowling?
I had the exact same reaction to reading this. Thank you, Brian, for the rational perspective.
I just started my second playthrough of Skyrim last week! Man, do I love that game.
Full Daedric is definitely the bees knees.
Skyrim is video game [insert drug of choice for metaphoric purposes here]. So wonderful when you pick it up, so hard to put down. Was it a waste of 80+ hours of my life? Perhaps. But it was also darned fun. Stormcloaks forever.
(and bring in a new OC who could only be an upgrade)
Making a lot of assumptions here.
As frustrating as Borges is at times, we really could do a lot worse. With Borges it's been a roller coaster, but at least we put together some good (if not great) offensive games.
If you bring in literally anyone else as OC, you don't necessarily or automatically get an upgrade.
For the amount of money they are paying Borges, you would think they could find at least one OC who would automatically be an upgrade. Although I guess that assumes there wouldn't be any Schafer at Michigan/Franklin at Auburn assistant undermining, but that isn't a problem with the OC.
There are positive aspects to his tenure, too. In 2012, we set a school record for third-down conversions. We've averaged 33, 30 and 32 ppg in Borges's three seasons, despite him not having a QB that really fit what he wanted to do.
You're also assuming that we'd hold a nationwide search for an OC. How do you know we wouldn't just hire Mike DeBord for a third go-round?
That's quite true. Brian compared Borges to Schafer in the post regarding the composition of Auburn's staff, but that analogy could be appropriate here as well. Schafer's firing begat GERG. Its not out of the realm of possibility that something similar could happen.
There are no automatic anythings in college football.
Michigan's question isn't whether Borges is good or bad, because that doesn't matter all by itself. The question is whether Michigan can do better. I don't pretend to have an answer.
In my opinion, this has been the important question the entire time, which is why I haven't bothered to get entrenched in debates with Space Coyote. He's provided legitimate reasons why Borges isn't the worst ever. I don't happen to care. It's a red herring, as far as I'm concerned.
Given the money we're shelling out for that coaching position, I don't see how my answer to that question can be anything but "yes."
Hiring a very good coordinator is a lot more difficult than you're suggesting. Any of the top 20 or so coordinators in the country are likely not leaving their job where they're having success just to take the same position at another school. They're usually looking (and are in the conversation) for a HC spot. The exception is if the guy is at a smaller (non-BCS) school, the the pay might be enough for him to move, but hiring the top OC from the MAC or Sun Belt is far from a slam dunk. You just don't how that guy will fare against top competition.
Even if you find the next up and coming coordinator and get him to come to your school, if he works out he might be out in a year or two, leaving you hoping to find another diamond in the rough and going through another offensive transition.
Why is it that money doesn't talk when it comes to college football coordinators the same way it does everywhere else in life?
It certainly does, but Borges doesn't make enough more than the other very good coordinators to make someone switch.
If you're making 650k and you're rolling, are you going to move for 800k and start over with all new guys? Especially if you've been in the discussion for HC spots making twice that? Usually you won't.
So you just ask what it would take to make them move and you pay it. Oh wait, you seem like the type of Michigan fan who thinks our program is on par with Arizona or MSU when it comes to resources. Never mind, its pointless to argue with that mentality.
I don't think he said or even implied "literally anyone".
Why are we still trying to get rid of Hoke? Can we pump the brakes and let his recruits at least shed their red shirts before we start saying he can't coach. Look at the class that graduated this year and the class that will graduate next year they're skeletons. They can't even be called classes. I'm dissapointed w/ play calling as well on offense but I'm also realistic enough to realize the talent wasn't there on the line. Hoke w/ out doubt recruited the best line class in 13', has two good ones in 14', and may have the best tackle available in 16' already on board. In reference to the letter where he asked Brian where do you draw the line of fandom I don't know I've never been close to what that point might look like. But damn if all this 'fire this guy and fire that guy' crap doesn't make me want to be a solitary fan.
one way or another. But I hope you don't mean we have to wait for the 2014 (let alone 2016) line recruits to become seasoned?
Hoke's first two recruiting classes will me mature enought to take over. If we are losing at home to our two major rivals, MSU and OSU and we finish with 4 losses again then this would be the season to dump Hoke and company. At least the next coach may have a better starting point then the previous two coaches.
I hope not either. But once again realistically we will be breaking in two new tackles so there may be some growing pains. I would love it if these 4star and 5 star kids came in ready to play. Some of them may be able to mentally and some of them may be able to physically but it's a rare kid that can come in and do both. Look is the Big10 down a little, sure, but the D lineman that come out of the coference are as good as ever as are the LB's. I've made the point before but I'll do it again, there is a big difference between a player that has been in a college weight room for 3,4 or 5 years than one that just hasn't. I'm a Michigan fan so of course I want immediate results but if the last 7years has taught me anything it's to be careful how high I want to get because the come down sucks.
To be fair, I think that Rich Rod would have been successful going forward had he not lost the fanbase or his team. Hoke hasn't gotten to that point yet, but I think he'll be there with another 7-or-8-win season, especially if he doesn't beat our rivals.
...or his recruits. That 2010 recruiting class is the gift that keeps on giving, and it would have been whether RR was retained or not. I guess the outstanding question is whether he could have gotten it back on track in 2012 or beyond, but there wasn't much evidence for it when he left.
Well, he did have two 5-star commits that both peaced out once he was fired...
The peaced out once the mounting evidence had them believe that he was going to be fired.
Also, FWIW: Dee Hart was a 5-star; Fisher was a borderline 3/4 star that leaned towards 4.
Point still stands that being a lame-duck coach certainly didn't help him recruit, for many reasons.
was considering Michigan in the Fall of 2010 as well, another consensus 5 star.