I love the idea of moving Funchess to receiver. I think that would help with the short/intermediate passing game and might boost our run blocking as well on certain plays. I'd like to see more of Funchess and Jake Butt on the field together.
This Week's Obsession: The Borges Leap
Our roundtable's obsession this bye: what to do if you're Borges. The cast:
Scott Bakula as Brian Cook, a quantum physicist who becomes trapped on the internet following an experiment with trying to understand zone stretch plays.
Dean Stockwell as Seth Fisher, a cavalier, cigar-smoking hologram sidekick who's always playing with his doohicky smartphone thing.
Deb Pratt as Mathlete, a super hybrid computer that runs Project Points Above Normal.
Dennis Wolfberg as Heiko, a programmer and doctor described as short and annoying.
|Having Dileo in the slot blocks a SAM more effectively than asking Funchess to block that guy. [Upchurch]|
Okay I'm out of Quantum Leap characters. Next person to respond gets to be the chimpanzee. That question:
By an extraordinary string of events that in no way represents unauthorized usage of the MGoBlog credit card, I have managed to procure for us one (1) trip via the Quantum Leap machine into the mind of Al Borges. We may send just one person--totally undetected--to control the mind of Borges from now until Minnesota kickoff, and must use it to fix Michigan's offense. Remember, once you are out of his head Borges takes over again. What would you do, implement, change, practice, and rep if this was you?
Heiko: Well I actually succeeded in doing this and it resulted in the last two weeks so I am staying away now.
[After the jump: Brian's 8-step program.]
1. Hire Zap and Laser from American Gladiators to batter Devin Gardner with JOUST padded whatnots whenever he crosses the line of scrimmage without tucking the ball away.
2. Rep inside zone over and over again. IZ is something that will allow M to blow guys off the ball and settle for two or three yards instead of -2. IZ is less hard and specialized than outside zone and lends itself to power from Lewan, Glasgow, and Kalis. Get IZ right.
3. Stick with Miller. I know, I know. Least bad option.
|The answer is Miller is their only decent snapper and Glasgow is their best interior lineman. [Upchurch]|
4. Get Kerridge to arc block various things. So much of modern responses to zone stuff gets gashed big if they misinterpret what a lead blocker or puller is doing.
5. Move Funchess to receiver, basically. Shift 80% of Reynolds/Jackson time to Funchess. Use Butt and Williams to substitute. Occasionally fold Funchess inside.
6. Pray that Chesson does not have Darryl Stonum disease.
7. Ditto Gardner's throwin' yips.
8. Move to a three-wide base featuring a lot of Dileo and Funchess as a hulking slot receiver.
Can you tell from this that I think things are kind of okay as long as Michigan whittles down the playbook and focuses on executing a more limited set of plays? I do. The upshot of the above is that Michigan should try to get guys out of the box since one miss often blows up offensive plays and Michigan is too inconsistent to put seven guys on the LOS and get everyone to execute. Maybe when the TEs are upperclassmen and the interior line consists of veteran starters. Right now it's get one of your best players (Dileo) on the field regularly and try to take advantage of the fact that Gardner's legs get more effective when the defense is spread over the field trying to defend verts and whatnot.
Mathlete: For a couple years after college I worked on staff for a small NAIA football team. The defensive coordinator was scrappy, adaptive and had a strong general philosophy on what he wanted to do, but would adapt it or modify it any way he could to be successful in a given week. He was like a mad scientist and always making adjustments. The head coach was the offensive coordinator and he was very much the offense. He had his set plays and that's what we ran. It wasn't a system and but it was his playbook and we were only going to work from that group of plays no matter what we did. His philosophy is that he wasn't going to adapt to anyone. His calling wasn't going to be determined by what someone else was going to do, he got to set the tone.
|The benefit of a stubborn curmudgeon is his players learn to do the thing he does well and he eventually gets the kinds of players he needs to do it. [UM Bentley Historical Museum]|
Both guys have had very successful careers and I think the head coach is a lot like Borges. The major problem with a guy like that is first he probably has to work from a position of talent advantage to be successful. Obviously at Michigan that will be the case, moreso in the coming years. Second, I think this mentality is prone to a couple a games a year that are just a mess. When you are not adaptive you are going to have a couple of games a year where a DC is going to have a great game plan against you and its difficult to pull out of that on game day.
I'll leave the specific game plan thoughts to Brian and company but the more solid fallback base set of plays Michigan has, the better position they are going to be in to pull out a game when a DC has their number.
As for this week, it's all about getting Gardner's head on straight. He's had a pretty rough last nine quarters. There are no other options and even at his turnover prone worst, he still gives us a great shot to win every week. If nothing else happens in the bye week other than Devin moves past the last 9 quarters it will have been a successful bye week. Of all the changes Borges can make, I'll take a confident, focused Gardner over all of them.
Seth: Brian captured most of what I was going to say in re: pick a play and have it be inside zone. The worst thing they could do is blow everything up and waste two weeks trying to do another thing they'll scrap the moment it doesn't work--your stock answer to anyone who suggests this is GERG's PSU game, also out of a bye.
|From PSU vs OHIO! last year. Those are two TEs lined up off the L.O.S. Note how moving size out of the box has done the same to the defense.|
GERG-to-Borges is not at all a fair comparison--everybody on this staff talks to each other, for one. The similarity is we spent two years preaching patience because "give them time to do the same things under the same coaches for a little while before we judge." That excuse is entirely contingent on steady improvement toward being good at the thing they're going to do. Its validity is now in question because UConn and Akron weren't just bad offensive gameplans, but unproductive gameplans.
They need to pick a thing, but they also need that thing to fit the skills of these players rather than expecting them to fulfill platonic ideals of their positions. I'd underline the part about Dileo and Funches: we're coming up on a part of the schedule with good corners who like to play press: Funchess's game should translate well to a punishing split-Y who can teach Darquese Dennard some manners and get Gallon/Chesson some cleaner releases. The things Bill O'Brien has been doing with (young TEs) Jesse James, Adam Breneman, and Kyle Carter--combos that get them matchups with cornerbacks and easier blocking assignments--is a great example, and one that should be right in Borges's wheelhouse.
I love the idea of having Funchess and Norfleet take reps at slot. One huge, hulking slot; one wee, mitey slot. Funny visual.
Jake Butt is my favorite freshman right now. I think everyone expected him to be good eventually, but I didn't expect him to come in and contribute so well this early.
I especially agree with the inside zone and have been preaching the same recently. That needs to be developed if this team wants to be a zone running team. It's a natural counter to the outside zone that gets the OL down hill. The question is: is the interior OL technically sound enough to actually get push with it?
Only minor difference between what Brian said and what I believe, I wouldn't put Funchess outside quite that much. I'd still split his WR/TE numbers fairly evenly, and try to find a way to reduce the number of things he's tasked with doing. He has blocked better since moving back to his nominal UB position, rather than Y-TE, but maybe give him a set of plays to block inside instead of being tasked to do it all.
Also, bunch formations. I said as much in a thread yesterday.
So do you think Funchess is an okay blocker, as long as we keep things pretty simple for him? It does seem like a good chunk of his issues are him just missing assignments and getting turned around.
I'll wait till the UFR comes out, but I thought that Funchess was blocking decently when he found someone. I think the issue is that he's not finding the right guy, or in some cases a guy at all. I don't know that putting him into a slot solves that issue in any particular way. If you ask him to block on a run he'll either find a guy and handle him or not, and assuming not now your still looking at an unblocked linebacker (probably) or a nickel coming up to make a stop in run D. I guess it's mildly better than him facing a defensive end, but position switch in midseason seems kind of like a recipe to fail.
I think the logic of putting him in the slot is that he'll spend more time running routes instead of going straight to blocking. He's enough of a receiving threat that he can demand a defender for long enough to open up some space, even if he doesn't find a good block to make.
And I think he's better than he is sometimes made out to be. I don't think giving him more assignments will necessarily help him going forward though to get better at the TE position. I also don't think it will help him maximize his potential. From a match-up standpoint, I like splitting him out sometimes, but if he becomes primarily a WR, I think he loses a lot of the advantages he brings.
UM put up 450 yds of offense with a couple nice runs called back due to holding. They turned the ball over 2x in the redzone and missed a FG - that's 3 trips inside the opponents 30 where they came away with no points. The running game might not have been as stout as we wanted against Akron but UM moved the ball pretty well. They just shot themselves in the foot to many times.
Total yards aside, the number of negative plays is really concerning, especially considering competition. Regularly conceding 2nd and 12 is going to kill us against better teams
Aren't we worst (or nearly worst) in the FBS for number of negative plays? I'd happily settle for inside zone or any other play we can get good enough at to reliably get 2-3 yards and sometimes a little more. That's about 4 yards better than our first downs runs have been lately.
Great suggestions. Now how to get them implemented? Once Gardner has a couple of good games then the focus will be developing the run game and improving all the younger players.
I agree with Funchess moving to receiver. He's more effective against a defender at thus point by running him away on coverage than he is straight up blocking him.
Re: Miller.. I keep going back and forth on this. Right now, my feeling is this is a good time to try someone new. I think running outside zone as much as we have and not having a counter is an attempt to play to his strength and paper over his weaknesses. That hasn't worked. We won't get another chance like this again this season to change if he doesn't improve.
We have another bye coming up
I know, but coming out of the second bye we get State instead of Minnesota though. Also at that point you're pretty much pot committed because your starters have 2/3 a season of experience and whatever replacement won't have time to develop. Hell, we might be pot committed already.
More Dileo targets. But since this is Quantam Leap, cant we time travel? If so, I want to go back to the winter of 2012 and push Borges and UM to continue developing Denard and Devin in the same offensive backfield, rather than moving Gardner to WR.....I realize not the issue/obession at hand
We do need to target him more, but even if we don't he needs to be on the field more - just spreading out the defense and forcing the d to cover him would take some pressure off the interior.
But Dileo is not a great blocker and "make the defense run away with you instead of trying to push then out of the way" may be insufficiently MANBALL.
Its validity is now in question because UConn and Akron weren't just bad offensive gameplans, but unproductive gameplans.
If the QB doesn't commit 6 turnovers, are those still bad gameplans? I dunno. Without the turnovers in both games Michigan wins by 20-30 points.
Part of the benefit of the analysis is that we don't just yell at the coach. Brian has shown that in fact the OL isn't doing that badly all the time and maybe Funk isn't terrible. After Akron you could see Devin screwing up his throwing style and making bad decisions. We can see that Fitz had a very bad game running behind his blockers. Some of those things happened again Saturday against UConn. Devin threw an INT to Gallon when a deep ball to Dileo at the same time was coming open. Fitz in yesterday's Picture Pages missed a hole that, even if he didn't break it, he would've gotten 2-3 yards instead of -2.
And I don't know how we blame the OC for Devin continuing to run around like Superman. At some point the QB has to listen to his coaches and run the play or give up.
I'm not sure I blame the gameplans, especially after what I saw against Notre Dame. I blame the turnovers and poor decision-making more than anything else, and that isn't Borges's fault.
I don't pretend to know the answer to this, but if the problem with the gameplan is not that it consists of ill-conceived plays per se (like quadruple reverse halfback passes from your own goal line) or THE SAME GODDAMN PLAY ALL THE TIME COUGH COUGH DEBORD COUGH COUGH but rather (1) seemingly sensible plays that (2) the players have trouble executing, then maybe the gameplan should be whittled down to feature mostly plays that the players can execute.
Por ejemplo: if we're staring 2nd and 12 in the face repeatedly because our interior line can't block the perfectly sensible playcalls, then maybe we shouldn't do that as much. Same with Funchess. I know he SHOULD be able to make the appropriate blocks, but if he can't maybe we shouldn't ask him to.
As I said, I dunno. I don't think Borges calls weird plays that have no chance of working, but it seems like he calls a lot of plays on first down that for whatever reason wind up with LBs in Fitz's face half the time. That would be my only (highly ignorant of actual football) critique.
It may just be me, but it seems like we're running a LOT on 1st down. Throw in a PA on occasion on 1st and 10, and I think we could loosen up some runs.
We've had a ton of negative yardage plays in two weeks against not very good teams. There will always be a debate on how much of that is play design, how much is execution, and how much is play selection not changing based on lack of execution, but there is no debate that the offense has been unproductive.
Someone above throws out the fact that we put up 450 yards on Akron, but that ignores how many of those yards were essentially free yards based on how bad Akron was. Funch outrunning the entire secondary, the gentle guiding touch of the Akron DE pointing Chesson towards the endzone and Gardner slicing through the secondary like a knife through butter was far more about them being bad than our offense being good.
and UM has to many negative plays but for the most part UM shot themselves in the foot that game. Here's their drive summary:
6 plays 75 yds, TD
3 and out
8 plays 46 yds, missed FG
9 plays 51 yds, fumble at Akron's 10
3 plays, interception (redzone turnover)
2 plays, interception
3 and out
4 plays 57 yds, TD
9 plays 86 yds, TD
3 plays, interception
3 and out
4 plays 25 yds, punt
4 plays 70 yds, TD
If they weren't turning the ball over, they were moving the ball into scoring postion on a high percentage of their drives.
So your argument is that when we weren't really bad, we were good? Listen, I count 6 drives where we failed to get a first down. Against Akron, that is bad offense. I don't care what you do with the rest of your drives.
And that's sort of missing my point. Michigan had 5 plays over 30 yards. These plays were big gainers primarily because Akron was bad, bad, bad. Saying we had 450 yards isn't impressive when we had 120 or so basically given to us.
we'll just have to disagree.
I actually think that Borges is a big part of the turnovers. How many of the INTs have been on 3rd and long? I feel that the root cause of the problem is wasting 1st down by continuing to do things that we are not good at, namely, I formation MANBALL. You have to know your players. You know that Devin is not going to survey the entire field like an nfl qb, he is a spread qb (no matter how much people want him to be Chad Henne). Give him one defender to read (this is what the spread affords you to do) I understand that is hard to do on 3rd and long, thats why Michigan can not waste 1st down.
With that said, Devin needs to make better decisions on third down, but he is trying to make up for what the offense is lacking on 1st down by making miracles on 3rd down.
A nice debut. I agree with much. Avoiding 2nd and 12 is very critical the rest of the season. That's on all of them.
Thanks a bunch... i have been reading all of you guys for years... now i decided to join the fun... lol
Yes, good start.
I disagree that Devin is the type unable to make more than one read. Denard, could not. Devin, from what we've seen from him, has shown the ability to make read progressions.
I'd like to say that all Michigan needs to do is figure out how to run the ball consistently. That is, in fact, true; a good, productive running game will make worlds of different to Devin and to our somewhat under-talented receiver corps. A lot of good stuff flows from that.
The problem is that running downhill into the defense has been THE stated goal of this coaching staff since they walked onto campus for the first time, and in 2.3 seasons they have been utterly unable to produce anything remotely resembling a good downhill running game. Maybe they really don't have the horses inside, but when something is a "goal" for that long you would think they'd have been able to do something about it.
So I wonder about the offensive staff's ability to coach the players. And I wonder just a bit about Al's "grab-bag" philosophy, with the concerns illustrated by Brian. Al is willing to use pistol concepts, for example, but he does not have a "pistol package." He has a couple of plays that aren't counters to each other that the team is not very good at running.
Leaving all of this out, though, I think Al's playcalling has been very good this season. He has been hurt by poor execution, not by poor choices. In the second half against UConn, he clearly made a choice to go into a bit of a conservative shell. Not in a bad way--he was banking on Michigan's ability to stop an anemic offense and on Michigan's superior physical talent to find a way to scrape out enough points to win a low-scoring game without throwing the ball much. It was a wise move and it worked.
But... I don't know. I feel like the players are not reaching their potential.
It does feel like they're almost beating a dead horse with the downhill running game because it's been so completely unsuccessful the last two years, but in year one it was very successful. I think that's mostly due to having an interior line of Schofield-Molk-Omameh that first year and a confident Fitz. Our run game had regressed almost to the point of futility up the middle, but our personnel is far less established right now, too. They're very much a work in progress. It doesn't help that it feels like they're being asked to do too much too soon on top of it all.
molk certainly helped run game in that first year but please do not forget denard robinson....hes only reason touissant had a decent year total yardage wise. hes a solid player but most decent DI backs wouldve put up those numbers with threat denard posed every single down as well as his center not being jacked up at point of attack. and theyre not being asked to do too much this year....it appears borges just has no clue what to stick with bc theyre awful at almost everything except for gardner running. im sure chopping the play sheet in half would help a little but i think its only marginal given the inferior talent / level of play. if kerridge and half the line cannot block properly on every other play and if underweight true freshman is your best blocking TE, thats a problem not easily solved
Fixing the offense really comes down to two things: limiting turnovers and turning negative runs into 2-3 yard runs. Everything else is actually really good. Gardner is basically death to defenses on third downs, which is saving us on all our third and long plays. He just needs to get out of his own way.
I'm totally in agreement about limiting the playbook. There is so much going on right now that we're not good at--perhaps we should try to get the young linemen and tight ends good at 2-3 things. I would like those things to be power, read option, and passing game counters. I feel like the options off of those are stronger than off of the zone plays, which tend to be things that intentionally leave ends unblocked, prompting Gardner to play heroball.
But i have been a reader for years... i will just come out and say what all the bloggers want to say. "SCRAP THE MANBALL". Spread and option concepts give you such a huge advantage schematically. The only team that can consistently get away with playing 10 on 11 is Bama because they just have better players. They could run whatever they want. NOBODY else has that luxury.
Also look at the personell. Devin is closer to Denard than he is Henne. The offensive line hasnt been able to pull without allowing run-throughs. And you have jitter bug WRs.
This will not happen. This is what philosophy Borges and Hoke have and they aren't going scrap it. ALL systems work. You have to believe in it, coach it, and recruit for it. This goes for spread styles, pro styles, triple option, wing t, etc.
Bama is NOT the only team succeeding in this style offense. How about LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Georgia just to name a few.
It seems as if most of this blog is under the impression that offensive football was invented in 2008 by Rich Rodriguez. Spread is all you people know and everything reverts back to how if a spread system was being run things would be better. Jeez I bet all games before the year 2000 were won 6-3 because the offense didnt have that critical 1 man advantage.
This system works. It has been a proven system long before spread systems started popping up. This isn't meant to say the "pro" is better than the "spread". Thats my personal preference but like I said before, they ALL work. Believe in it, coach it , and get the right guys.
You are completely oversimplifying what is going on with our offense (and has been for three years now) and making this about something it isn't (spread vs. "pro", whatever the fuck that means in this day and age).
We can use Stanford and Wisconsin as a basis for comparison (since I am more familiar with them and it is easier to see them as doing "more with less" in comparison to those SEC schools). Wisconsin has spent over a decade running the power play all day in practice. They recruit guys to run that one play. Then they are able to tinker and counter with minor adjustments when teams overplay that one play. If if looks like what they usually do, they can do something different and fool the defense with great success. Stanford is doing something similar, but they are also creating mismatches all the time by overloading on offensive linemen (they had what looked like 9 on the field during a short yardage situation against ASU) and/or TE so that teams have to alter their defensive scheme entirely or have a DB take on an OT on 1st and 10, as well as using unbalanced lines and shifts to outnumber the defense by creating confusion.
Those teams don't spend half their practice running stuff that isn't their professed bread and butter. They aren't installing a pistol package that doesn't feature any of the plays they supposedly want to run from their base under center package. When they fake the ball to the running back, the play looks like one where they might possibly actually give the ball to the running back (we didn't run play action off the inverted veer that was our most common run play last year until the Nebraska game). They don't complain that their linemen can't pull one year, then remove nearly all pulling plays from the playbook a year later when more of "their guys" are in the lineup.
We do too many disparate things on offense. As a result, teams that look at any film know what is coming based on our formation a good deal of the time. There simply isn't enough practice time to develop counters to the wide variety of things we do. Because we don't get to the line quickly, we can't adjust on the fly like other teams do (Remember how many checks Andrew Luck used to make at the line?). We don't create personnel mismatches in the way a good spread team or Stanford does, by forcing the D into unfamiliar situations that their setup isn't designed to stop. Our passing game is also completely disconnected from our running game (our play action holds linemen but never fools linebackers).
Fans seem to think this staff wants to operate on offense like Alabama, Stanford, or Wisconsin do, but as of yet we've seen no evidence that they are actually prepared to do what works for those teams.
I am not oversimplifying anything. I agree with a lot of what you said about the Michigan offense. You say I am making it about something it isn't (spread vs pro) but thats is EXACTLY what it is. Read the post above mine in order to see m post in context. My comment was in response to someone that said they should scrap the "pro-style" and go to a spread. Making the assumption that the spread is a superior scheme simply because of a numbers advantage. My response was defending the pro-style not necessarily defending Michigans offense at this point. Your description of Stanford and Wisconsins unbalanced lines and motion to overload is supporting my argument against that poster. That a perfect example of getting a numbers advantage without using your QB as a running back.
I am in complete agreement that Michigan is far from being Bama, Stanford, Wisconsin etc. Those teams are also much much further along in the process of installing and maintaning those systems though. Trust me I would love for Borges to cut out a lot of the "other" stuff he's doing, and just put it on the OL and RB shoulders to make the power run game work. Live or die with it.
As far as formations and movement they just dont have the flexibility to do all that yet. I trust that its in the plans though. They can't trust Funchess to figure out who to block most of the time. So they can't really throw more at him with movement and formations. They maybe have 1 more olineman to bring off the bench to run a heavy/jumbo unbalanced type formation like Stanford does. When Michigan has been running and recruiting for this offense for 5-8-10 years like those teams I believe we will see all the stuff you are talking about.
Stanford started a freshman at left tackle against ASU and didn't have a senior starter on the line. The extra linemen who got into the game included three more freshmen and a sophomore. If guys like Braden and Magnuson can't line up at fullback or TE and win a battle now, why should anyone expect things to get better when Lewan/Schofield are gone next year? The big recruiting gems like Peat, Murphy, and Garnett are all contributing at Stanford. So either that sort of offense isn't really what the folks in charge at Michigan want to run (my suspicion), or the great recruiting we've been hearing about isn't all it's been hyped to be perhaps (there might be something to that as well). We also haven't brought in a single running back who the staff will trust to touch the ball (while guys like Clarett, Peterson, Bush and LenDale White, Michael Dyer, Lamichael James, etc. contributed to quality teams as true freshmen).
Stanford was able to run the ball really well the way they wanted to in Harbaugh's third year and their offense was a juggernaut by his fourth. Wisconsin had been horrendous before Barry Alvarez arrived and he won the Rose Bowl in year 4. Our current staff has shown zero commitment to running an offense that remotely resembles what the fanbase perceives to be their goal. If their predecessors got fired after three seasons, why should this staff get a pass for half a decade or more simply because they say they want to play in a certain style?
I don't think things are as bad as most people here seem to (I think the turnovers are clouding perceptions and that this team should finish no worse than 10-2), but assuming we have a plan in place and are moving toward a goal that looks like Bama/Wisky/Stanford just isn't the case. People blamed it on Denard and his awkward fit (even though his passing numbers got significantly worse after the coaching change) but the same shit is happening now with Devin Gardner. Running zone left and some read/option plays with a passing game that operates completely independently from the running game is not a system. It would be great if we had one, but we just don't, and there is really no reason at this point to assume we will at some nebulous point down the road.
Boy, you've had a change of heart on the success of what Harbaugh was running at Stanford.
Just didn't like the folks that acted like 4-8, 5-7, 8-5 showed Harbaugh was destined for greatness before it happened (while citing the very fortunate win over USC but forgetting the shitting the bed against Wake Forest) while at the same time arguing that 3-9, 5-7, 7-6 indicated we were heading right toward the meteor (of an 11-2 season and a BCS bowl win).
Though I do dislike the guy personally, I enjoy the way his teams play and the things they do on offense (don't think he and Shaw get enough credit for the strategery aspect of what they do to create a bruising ground game). And I've always advocated a consistent approach over a particular scheme. I can remember talking early on here about Borges using Denard like Vick was used at Virginia Tech to use his legs while running a more conventional offense. Instead we got an awful mish-mash of 2 or 3 different offenses and the ups and downs that brings.
I agree with you man. My point in my original comment was directed to the person saying scrap it and go with a spread.
But you want to talk about Michigan’s problems. So I will too. It has become frustrating for me as well but I’m not giving up hope like you. You just said it took Harbaugh 3 years and Alvarez 4 years to really get things rolling the way they wanted. Hoke & Co. are 4 games into their 3rd season. So it’s not like they are way off pace here. They had better make a lot of improvement from here out though I agree. You’re asking why they get a pass and not their predecessors. It has nothing to do what scheme they say they are running it is as simple as 15-22 vs. 23-7. We can argue all day about what RR was handed from Carr and what Hoke was handed from RR but it doesn’t matter. Hoke is winning.
Harbaugh and Alvarez didn’t inherent dynamic QB’s who could make plays with their feet. And I think part of Borges’ problem is that he is trying to do too much to take advantage of Gardner’s feet. Especially with the recent success of guys like Kaepernick in the NFL. When really I think he should just force this team to execute the zone and gap schemes from 2 back and 2 te formations until they have mastered it. I don’t think running all these multiple styles is helping the OL or RB’s at all. I am a big defender of Borges but this I do not agree with. When your defense is forcing 3&outs vs. Uconn the offense should be trying to establish their identity and they aren’t. They are switching things up to try to make things happen now while their defense is giving them the opportunity to take their time. When they have mastered these schemes out of base formations then they can add on all the different formations and motions to get themselves in situations where they have people out numbered at the point of attack. I am not familiar enough to know how quickly Harbaugh and Alvarez starting running all the variations and adjustments off their base offense but I assume they had to teach the base parts and get the right guys there first. So while I agree that what Hoke and Borges are doing and saying aren’t jiving I also don’t think that it means they aren’t planning to do what they say they are going to do.
You mention all the young guys playing for Stanford and that is concerning. Is it recruiting? Is it Funk, Ferrigno and Borges? But Stanford is 4 years ahead Michigan in this process. They probably miss on a lot less lineman and tight ends. They also have the ability to get young guys on the field in certain situations because they aren’t still trying to get the older guys to do things right.
All in all I feel a lot of your pain. This is not the Michigan offense I have been waiting and hoping for. But think there is a lot to be said with the type of QB they inherited and the expectations they faced right off the bat at Michigan. Harbaugh didn’t have a ton a pressure to win right away neither did Alvarez. So they had the ability to say this first year might be rough but we are going to establish ourselves. Hoke came into a situation where he had to win first then establish his identity. So I’d argue Michigan is even further behind the Stanford and Wisconsin pace.
I actually think things are going pretty well on offense, turnovers aside. The continued hand-wringing about the interior o-line is overblown as well, imo.
As for the QB options, like I pointed out above to M-Wolverine, a conventional offense can use a QBs legs and still maintain a consistent approach. Luck averaged about 300-400 yards per year on the ground at Stanford. It isn't like you need to draw up lots of plays to help Denard or Devin make plays in the open field. Like you, I just wish we had either gone full spread or practiced running bread and butter under center runs while encouraging those guys to scramble when given any time/space. Instead we got a half-assed read/option attack (without the zone read in the playbook last year, with no coordination in the passing game to help open running lanes, and no play action off the read/option looks). Or we got the Iowa 2011 game. That was all about "identity" and it backfired because we didn't lay the groundwork to be successful at it.
They are sticking with the under center stuff a little better this year and things haven't been all that bad. With Fitz emerging more in the passing game (already surpassed his career high), he's putting up 96 yards of offense per game. And a little cleanup and increased experience should help that improve (and it is possible that Bryant is hurt and having him out of the lineup is slowing things down). It just still seems like at times we're pulling plays out of a hat, nobody knows what to really expect from the defense, and it appears we aren't comfortable with the play enough to react well on the fly. And since we can only do so much from each look, the defense has an edge in the chess game a lot of the time. Hopefully Borges will trust the guys to stick with it on the ground and will mix things up enough so MSU isn't beating us to the handoff point.
10-2? Wow. I don't normally use drugs but please send me some of whatever you are on. Thanks in advance.
Our zone stretch left and play action left plays against ND were well executed. They looked the same to me on TV (there are differences in the line blocking, but the WR/QB/RB motion is nearly identical) and it got Devin time to throw and the receivers room behind the hard-charging LBs.
To add to the other responses, the 10 vs 11 thing is pretty over simplified, especially given Devin is still always a threat to run. There are all sorts of ways non-spread offenses can get numbers advantages where it matters and put unblocked guys where they are useless. We just haven't been doing a good job of that because A) we don't have a coherent set of plays and counters that take advantage of defense's tendencies, and B) we aren't very good at executing anything so lots of RPS advantages get wiped out by missed assignments or guys getting straight up beaten.
There is no way this coaching staff every does what you're suggesting.
Stanford doesn't have players like 'Bama, and they have an extremely effective offense. Wisconsin has done just fine with MANBALL.
MANBALL can work, and if it doesn't, we won't be successful. Remember that this isn't your father's manball--Borges uses lots of shotgun and spread concepts in his offense. But we have to be able to run the ball with the RB for the offense to really hum, and, so far, that doesn't look too good.
That they will ditch man ball. Atleast not on first down. Which is sad for Michigan fans. Then will revert to utilizing Devins skill on 2nd and 12 and 3rd and long. In which they will have high success and high turnovers.
Playing 10 on 11 is exactly what u are doing when you have your QB turn his back to the defense and essentially be a designated hand off guy. Especially when that designated player is your biggest play maker.
And im well aware that the spread was not developed in 2008... lol. Im not some 22 year old that only knows the way it has been for the last decade. Im a 34 year old who has coached at the high school level for 12 years, 6 as an offensive coordinator (started as a pro style "I" form team then moved into the spread option.) Now i know this isnt nearly the same as coaching at Michigan, but i want all 11 players to be honored on every down.
Not only that but the playaction out of the spread can get wrs much more open than any route combo u can throw out there... not only do u have to honor the rb, but lbs must stay home on the backside as well (2wice the benefit)
And lastly, i learned the hard way just how hard it is to generate misdirection out of the "I" without doing some type of gimmicky motion. Counter Trey is not really misdirection if you are reading your keys. The zone Read for example, has no keys. The offensive line may zone run block to the right but the ball could go left, it can be passed to a seam, it can be thrown out to a backside screen. The defense cant inicipate where the ball will go because the offensive coordinator doesnt even know. The coach doesnt have to make adjustments because they are already built in.
This is the reason qbs average much more yards per rush than rbs in general. Its also the reason why offenses score more now than ever. Offense is about points.
- DevinG footwork drill: get that accuracy up so he can hit the new Funchslot
- Non Gallon emphasis...make JGallon the second or third read for a bit, and get Devin out of lock on mode.
- Throw the ball away drills: something to give him muscle memory on throwing the ball away when outside the hashes
I generally like Brian's idea, and certainly would love for this team to find an identity. I think they've been trying to find one, but haven't been able to do it.
Michigan ran the zone stretch 16 times against CMU. They ran some version of it 10 times against ND. They brought it out early against Akron; it wasn't working, and Borges adjusted (the power and iso running plays won us that game).
We averaged 6.85 yards/play against Akron. That is better than we did against CMU. The offense against Akron only looked bad because we kept giving Akron the ball. The gameplan generally worked, and the adjustments were good.
The UConn game is a different story entirely. Frustrated that DG couldn't complete a pass and that none of the plays were working, I think Borges got too creative and started calling plays the team hasn't practiced much. I think that was a mistake, but if he didn't "adjust" to new plays, I bet the board would be bashing him for doing the same thing over and over without getting results.
I do hope the team spends these two weeks trying to find an identity, and simplifies the offense somewhat. But I think people send conflicting messages when they say "keep it simple" and "make adjustments" in the same breath. It is very challenging to keep the playbook simple and still have the flexibility make adjustments.
Michigan has tried to establish an identity. It hasn't worked. I hope we can find one these next couple weeks, because if we keep playing the way we are, it will be a long season.