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.