When Morris came in the game for one play, I was rooting for a QB sneak. Hey, 1 yard is better than -2.
Picture Pages: The Dumbest Play In The History Of Football
I don't think I'm exaggerating. It's second and eight after one of Michigan's most successful RB runs of the night. Michigan trails 21-10 with six minutes left in the second quarter. They put some dudes on the field and move them around. When we come back from Matt Millen saying something about something, this process has already started.
Houma and Chesson are switching spots. What this is supposed to do to the defense remains unknown, because it did not happen. Now… there's something odd about this play. Since we don't ever see the outside WR, I don't remember if that's Funchess or Williams or whoever, but Michigan puts him off the screen to the field. Also…
They have no left tackle. They have put their left tackle at super right tackle.
I think this is a run.
Penn State thinks this is a run. They have eight guys in the box against six blockers.
ESPN's camera man thinks this is a run, zooming almost to the box before they even snap the ball.
It's a run. Specifically, it is a zone stretch to the boundary. Because this is the only run it could possibly be, Penn State is prepared for this. Kalis gets driven back. Bryant and Glasgow don't scoop the backside tackle (not that it really matters since there is an unblocked guy in the cutback lane and another unblocked guy checking Gardner).
This looks familiar.
Kalis finally finishes losing his guy, who pushes Toussaint to the edge of the field, where a ninth Penn State defender—a safety lined up over a formation that cannot have a tight end emerge from it to threaten downfield—comes up to tackle for loss…
…if Kalis's guy doesn't do it first.
Third and ten.
Items of Interest
This is the stupidest play in the history of plays. You can't pass because you don't have a right tackle and refuse to throw perimeter screens no matter how blitheringly open they are…
all of these occurred in the first 20 minutes of the game
…and Penn State knows this, so they put eight in the box against six blockers and have a safety overhanging who knows 100% that he has no immediate pass threat to deal with.
I mean, you can see the entire PSU D on the field here:
There is a wide receiver outside of Gallon. Only the dumbest playcall in history could allow a D to align like this and be successful.
You really confused them, though. Having Chesson and Houma switch places is the cherry on top here. Yeah, you fooled 'em up real good right there. Now Penn State's eight in the box against 5 OL and a WR is eight in the box against 5 OL and a FB. Green fields ahead, boys.
They're setting them up for something! If you don't have an automatic check to whatever your clever business is when you see two DBs on 3 WRs, you fail.
Line didn't do well, but whatever. Kalis gets blown up here, but since Michigan just told Penn State the play they were running it's not really the focus.
The bigger picture. This was insane and far from isolated. Michigan kept running tackle over stuff against a defense that was stuffing it even after Taylor Lewan went out. They asked AJ Williams to play left tackle, and because of Borges's increasingly legendary stubbornness they allowed Penn State to align in formations that doomed their crammed-together paleolithic run game without either testing PSU's young and not very quick corners or taking the buckets of free yards these alignments provided.
The bubble screen stuff took on a life of its own over the course of the last year, and it's come up again—a screenshot of Michigan's first snap of the first overtime screaming for a bubble has made the rounds of every message board. To reiterate, the bubble is a constraint: it prevents the defense from lining up in certain ways and thus simplifies your life as an offense since defenses can't pack the box as much without getting free yards on their face. Borges's allergy to getting the ball to guys in a ton of space went from annoying to crippling in this game.
How can anyone have faith in a guy who looks at this when he needs a field goal to win…
…and doesn't throw a bubble because it's not what Vince Lombardi would do? It boggles the mind. A lot of things lost this game for Michigan. Al Borges is high up on that list.
That's infuriating. The first play of the game wasn't much better.
What the hell happened since?
Huyge, Molk, Omameh were pretty freaking good.
Other than Molk, our current guys OUGHT to be an upgrade. That they are not, and are not even showing flashes of being so, is damning.
Greg Frey is an excellent OL coach. He took two true freshman 3 star recruits at Indiana last year (only one other Big Ten offer among both of them - to Illinois), and started them at LT and G. Both earned Freshmen All-American honors. Imagine what a good OL coach could do with guys like Kalis (RS Freshman 5 star). Our problem is not youth, inexperience, or talent, because a lot of teams are doing a lot more with a lot less.
I was thinking the same thing. Greg Frey coached up 2 star Patrick Omameh into a Manti Teo double blocking machine, and Molk had three years under him, and next year won Rimington. He also made Huyge and Dorstein pretty servicable. I think at indiana he's also the offensive running game coordinator. we could use one of those too...
Borges doesnt seem to make in-game adjustments very well. It is as if the plan was determined earlier and we go with the plan, regardless of how it is working.
I will say that our offense is much better than a GERG defense though. Our scoring offense is ranked 22nd right now and while I didnt look it up, I think GERG's defenses were ranked in the 100 range.
Just to add to the inanity of Borges' stubbornness, Michigan had smoke checks in Lloyd's offense. And bubble screens. Or, at least they did under Malone. Pretty sure even DeBord had them. I think that kind of says it all.
So thinking of the screens we have run this year, two that stand out to me from the past couple weeks are one to Funch against PSU and one to Chesson against Minnesota. Both plays brought the receiver to the middle of the field, where teams have been loading up since that is where we are running. Seeing these pictures confirms that you're going to have more space to run where defenders are not concentrated, such as the space where our receivers are lined up, especially when DB's are giving large cushions. Also Gallon and Chesson might be the best blockers on the team outside of Lewan, so why not deploy that advantage? I don't know. Clearly I'm oversimplifying things and I know nothing about X's and O's. But hopefully that'll be enough for me to be named interim OC.
We actually ran the tunnel screen to Gallon against PSU, and to good effect. But it only came out once. And of course we didn't run the counter off that, which is the stalk-block-and-go. Only ran that one like once or twice all last season even after teams finally started cheating on that screen.
Which reminds me, interesting question: DeBord or Borges? Still Borges, right? But this is definitely reminiscent of some of the worst sins of the '07 offense. Which, iirc, we fixed by going spread no huddle against Florida in the Cap1. Sigh.
What's the difference? We have Al De-Borges.
I got the feeling that Hoke was hired with explicit instructions to get away from this namby-pamby spread stuff and to implement power-I ManBall like a good old-fashioned Michigan Man ought to.
I seem to recall that Hoke and Borges had both used spread offense stuff as part of their total package in the past. The only reason I can think of for their sudden stubborness is that they feel pressure, either real or imagined, to make the power running game work at all costs.
Seems kind of tinfoil-hat, but I'm struggling to understand what's going on.
Difficult to say. You would think all of them want to win games.
Yeah, I know Brandon isn't well thought of by everyone here, but pinning this on him isn't just kind-of tinfoil hat territory, it's smack in the middle of it.
Yeah, I know Brandon isn't well thought of by everyone here, but pinning this on him isn't just kind-of tinfoil hat territory, it's smack in the middle of it.
Come on guys, everyone knows that you have to establish the run to set up the punt.
I'd chuckle if I wasn't already rage-crying.
or blocked FG
You have obviously cracked the code of what the goal of Michigan's offense is. You win the internets.
FUCK YOU BILL O'BRIAN! I DON'T CARE THAT YOU JUST BEAT MICHIGAN! I DON'T CARE THAT YOU COACHED TOM BRADY IN THE NFL! I DON'T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING! YOU FAIL BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T RUN A SINGLE MOTHERFUCKING BUBBLE SCREEN ALL NIGHT EVEN THOUGH MATTISON WAS GIVING THEM TO YOU! YOU FAIL! FUCK YOU! FIRE YOU! MAY VINCE LOMBARDI RISE FROM THE GRAVE AND FIRE/FUCK YOU!
You're better than the bubble screen tripe, Mr. Cook.
And yet so hard to fix. "People never listen, you know that that's a fact." -Lou Reed
Just throw a goddamn quick hitch pass Terry Malone style to any one of Michigan's WRs.
At worst Michigan gains 3 yards, which is better than this 27 for 27 horseshit up the middle.
is I think Brian is making the point that this was going on ALL game. An audible at the line wasn't even really necessary. Surely the offense should have adjusted to this on the sideline and they could have made it work on the next series. They never did.
I don't even know what to type. I've typed like 5 or 6 different htings in this space about my emotions, things about RR and Gerg, etc. and I just keep deleting them.
The "offensive system" itself doesn't even give an opportunity to fix this is what keeps coming into my mind. And that I have 7 tickets for the IU game. And that I may go insane during that game because it is happening again. You can't fix this in one week. Hell I don't think you can fix this in a year. It's just a complete failure of an "offensive system." The huddle takes away the opportunity to fix the playcall based on what the defense is showing. It's like going into a gun fight with a piece of rubber dogshit.
To be fair, is there anything you can do with rubber dogshit? I mean, I know novelty stores sell it, but is it really worth buying, ever? I think Borges is definitely bringing real dogshit to the gun fight. Its still soft and useless against firearms but it does stink, so there's that.
The only use for it I can see is if you get in a rubber dogshit fight, which is now my more PC term for "cripple fight."
Your description of the game (the monkeys throwing shit line) was the best description of a sporting event I've ever seen, and it was the lone highpoint of this last week in Michigan fandom.
The sad thing is that MSU seems to have fixed their offensive woes. With their D they only need to be adequate on offense to win games. With their crappy schedule they could easily run the table. I really hate those bastards. Michigan will have trouble scoring 3 points on against MSU.
While I agree this can't be fixed in a week (or the rest of the season), I really don't think its a failure of the offensive system. I don't even know if we have an "offensive system." I think the problem is that, whatever "system" we have had, is in its implementation. And the problem is that, those directing the implementation of this "system" are also responsible for correcting it. Yeah, that will work.
Regarding the huddle, and its implementation limiting/eliminating the offense adapting to what the defense is doing. Do we even need to huddle when the defense/opposing coaches/fans in the stadium/viewers watching on TV seem to know what type of play is coming given down/distance/formation/personnel? Would the results be that different if they just lined up at the line of scrimmage and just yelled out the damn play to be run?
The OL heads go straight up on a run play. They should be staying low, leading with the right foot and driving people off the line. Instead Kalis' helmet pops straight up. Predictably Lewan's helmet stays the lowest.
Also, had Gardner kept on the bootleg of that play, there was probably 40 yards of green ahead of him. But can't do that. He might get a first down too quickly.
I wonder how Toussaint feels when he lines up to carry the ball into such a poorly designed / coached play?su
We have turned into Tressel against USC.
Still one of the most eye-opening pieces of writing on X's and O's I've ever seen. This exact article applies. the players look like they suck. But it's NOT them. It's the scheme. They are not being put in a position to succeed on offense.
USC literally lined no one up over the slot receivers, and yet not once did Tressel instruct Pryor to immediately take the snap and throw the bubble screen. For most teams this is an automatic check or sight-adjustment, and it is by no means difficult (every high school runs it). Unless you force the defense to care that you are spreading the field, then all you're doing is hurting yourself; Tressel would have been better keeping an extra fullback in the game. Thus the rushing results were obvious. In the diagram above, USC has only one safety back and eight guys in the box, compared to seven blockers for OSU, not counting Pryor. Tressel called an inside handoff that was stuffed -- USC had more guys than OSU could block.
To add insult to injury, the author Chris Brown goes on to praise Rich Rod's offensive innovatnion.
But I think it underscores that what this Michigan offense is doing is like, some idiot's idea of what a pro style offense is. Like, for all his talk of being pro style and doing what the pros do, Borges has NEVER actually coached there, and it shows. Actual pro coaches uses quick WR screens all the time.They don't line up in formations that immediately give away exactly what they want to do. Guys who have actually coached in the NFL and come back to college don't do the asinine stuff Michigan's offense does and think it's what the NFL does.
And as a result, Borges has taken a wonderful lump of clay in Gardner and molded him into Terrelle Pryor circa sophomore year. turnovers, QB runs and fumbles.
And he adds this quote from the West Coast Offense guru:
We're witnessing the evolution of offensive football. Anyone who says you have to establish the run before you can do anything is fooling themselves. They’re living in the deep dark past. It’s just not the way the game’s played now. ...
We're never going to see that Woody Hayes-, Bo Schembechler- style of football again, that run-first mentality. The game has totally changed in a matter of eight to 10 years, and especially in the last three or four.
Even Bill Walsh thinks the Borges strategy is outdated. Sad stuff.
Didn't see the game so I didn't witness this...
...but that's at least 10 yards and probably a touchdown if you throw it out there. You're putting your slot WR in space against ONE defender (assuming the other WR holds his block).
Awesome analysis! Thanks.
Ya know, I have always been slow to criticize Borges for not throwing the screen or running a different style offense early during this regimes time, and a lot of that was my distrust for what Brian was stating... BUT OMG HE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. No sarcasm. This is ridiculous. Ludicrous. Offensive, but not offensively. This actually makes me mad (I am sitting at work, beet red).
I have officially lost confidence in the idea that Borges is some kind of evil genius who has a clue what he's doing. This is truly embarrassing (especially the whole FB-WR swap... Seriously WTF).
1. I started watching football in the 90's. The first offenses *I* ever saw throwing quick screens to WRs in space were Spurrier's Gators and Dennis Erickson's Miami teams. You know, PRO STYLE OFFENSES. I know Heiko did push the bubble thing in press conferences, but sweet f'n God, this stuff is BASIC if you want to throw the ball down field and run for power. If you throw down field enough, you'll get cushion. If you run up the middle enough, you'll get people cheating over. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. God. THIS ISN'T EVEN A SPREAD THING. THIS IS BASIC PASSING OFFENSE.
2. I'm not convinced all of the structural problems are necessarily Borges' fault though. The bubble thing is on him, because he's made it clear he hates them because he's a thick idiot. But the reliance and tackle over and refusal to stick with spread stuff when it's working and the reliance on MANBALL when everyone's puny? That seems like Hoke wanting his offense to be a certain thing and god dang it Al's gonna do what he can to give it to him
When Greg Robinson was at Michigan, everyone thought he was the dumbest cat who ever walked. He's now at Texas and he rehabbed a completely broken defense in the middle of the year and stomped on OKLAHOMA'S intestines. Even if you're smart, if the HC wants you doing things that don't make sense, you do them, because he's the boss. And Hoke wants manball, so Borges gives him manball.
That still doesn't overcome THE F'N SCREENS. GOD SCREEN.
I cannot take more examples of Borges failing, the line not blocking, and Devin's inability to audiblize. Wait, on Saturday I will see more examples of these things
Michigan can have my viewership, or they can have Al Borges calling plays, but not both.
Yes, snarkaholics, I realize I am a wolf howling in the wilderness.
If they pull this shit again on Saturday, I'm done watching live. I can't even enjoy myself during the games anymore because I'm so nervous or pissed off. I get enough stress from work. This is my escape.
Like I said Sunday, I will probably start taping the games and find something else to occupy time. Later I will check the score and determine whether it's worth viewing.
Understand that I can take losing. The RR years gave me a better appreciation for wins. What I can't stand is this staff setting up our guys for failure. That to me is inexcusable.
I stopped watching away games live beginning in 2007. I just couldn't do it anymore. I still attend every home game. I obviously didn't see this game but the loss still really got to me. I fear that Michigan will never be a dominate program again. Hoke seems to stubborn to make the necessary changes.