I appreciate the write up, and I can't argue with the points you made, but those mistakes were rather small compared to the numerous ones in the scheme in the second half, giving those kids very little chance of success. Running a well planned, effective offense, then simplifying it drastically and attacking the defenses greatest strengths with our offenses biggest weakness repeatedly for two full quarters is a bit of an elephant in the room. Switching to that scheme at all was infuratingly stupid, especially since the team has proved that plans ineffectiveness repeatedly this year, but doing so after another scheme worked so well, then sticking with it for the rest of the game was just, I don't know, wrong?
Amateur Overanalysis: 5 critical plays not on Borges
I actually don't think it was the scheme that was the issue as the specific short-yardage playcalls. We consistently got into 3rd and short, which means we did well on our first two downs. But our 3rd and short calls were brutal. I really don't understand why we never tried a bootleg with Gardner.
Also stopping the 2 qb looks, or the versatile one qb plays, for obvious offense of Devin comes out=passing Denard comes out=running. Any defense could defend that. And stopping the effective sweeps outside, and running and passing screens, and the read where our team was so dangerous with their speed, elusiveness, and downfield blocking, and Ohio was so weak being one of the worst tackling teams and biggest yards after contact teams in the nation for an offense where we run between the tackles, where we've been ineffective all year and they've been so strong all year, and basically telling them we're doing it before the snap.
The playcalls we ran on 1st and 2nd down were generally productive. We should keep that in mind. It was 3rd down that was absolutely disastrous and colors everyone's perspective. I agree 100% that those were lousy playcalls. But there were good calls at other times. The post to Gallon mentioned above was a great call and throw, and nearly went for a 90-yard TD. My takeaway from this game is that we specifically need to rethink our short-yardage game. We don't have to completely overhaul everything.
I went back through the play-by-play as well as my own notes, and the one thing in common that the three unconverted third downs out of the four total is that they were run plays. You're right about the short yardage game, in my view, and if we're going to to the ground in these situation, the inside runs and attempts to go up the middle are fine, but admittedly I have found myself wondering why they don't go to the hybrid running game that we are able to currently employ a little more in these situations as it suits the current personnel a little better.
Play, the second: I don't understand why M didn't simply punt here. There was no reason to go for it at that stage in the game on our side of the 50. I think this was the single biggest mistake of the game.
It was inexcusable. It flipped the field, changed the momentum, and we never recovered. Just an awful, awful decision by Hoke.
I think Devin and others may have talked him into it. Devin can be seen signaling to bench to go. Of course if he knew he wouldn't be in, he may have thought twice. If Hoke didn't have the conviction right away, you're spot on.
It appears his first instinct to punt was true
It's an easily debatable decision, but I wouldn't say it's inexcusable by any means. Brian, the Mathlete, and others have been advocates of going for it on fourth down. I would love to see what the math says in this situation. We had been moving the ball pretty well on that particular drive as well.
People talk about the impact of not making it and all the downsides, but they don't focus enough on the upside. Say we make it and really crush the spirit of the Buckeye defense, get momentum, etc. There is such thing as generating positive momentum, not simply losing momentum. There was a great Smart Football article about this.
Wasn't there a consensus on this board that "momentum" is overrated, and a bad tool for guiding your playcalling?
I disagreed with the specific 4th-down call, but I think people are making too much of it as far as how it affected the game. Ohio got only three points out of it. Yes, it turned out that we didn't score again, but I don't think anyone would have predicted that at the time (we'd scored 21 in about 35 minutes).
Our defense was playing well and it could have set the tone in our favor early in the second half. I was torn on the decision to go, think it was the right call even if we punted but I prefer he aggressiveness.
At that time in the ballgame. Our offense was moving the ball and was on pace to score 40 and our defense was on pace to give up about 40. I like the aggressiveness of going for it despite those stats. I just didnt like the playing towards their strengths and against our weaknesses especially when they have an 8 man box.
I would have liked to have one last chance when we had them to third and 7 at midfield on their last drive of the game. That would be one of my keyplays as well as the use of our second timeout on first and ten.
Was, why go for it? It was the first possession of the 2nd half, punt the ball, and try to flip the field. I especially thought they hold have left devin in for the conversion once they decided to go for it, he is much more versatile in that situation given that he can run or throw. The playcall was bad regardless of whether someone missed a block, we did not run a play that utilized one of our strengths against their weakness. I'm okay with going for it, I like the guts, I just don't think hoke was ever certain that he really wanted to go for it, he was hesitant, and then to call that play just made zero sense.
Wasn't that the first possession of the second half? UM's defense gave up 20 points and something like 230 yds in the first half. The defense did not play well in the first half and since OSU hadn't had the ball in the second half no one knew whether the second half was going to be another shoot out or not.
Going for it was the kind of gutsy call that I love about Hoke. Ferentz, Lloyd, DeBord, et al would have punted. A simple rollout with the option of hiting a 3 yard pass or running for it was all that was needed... and the PA would actually have worked in that situation! The call was cool, but running Denard into a stacked middle was Einstein's definition of insanity.
Jim Brandstatter said the same thing before the play occurred, if it works, great, if it doesn't, it sets the whole tone for the second half, and he was 100% correct.
I'm talking about ethics.
Loved Miller's Crossing
I was very very surprised at Hoke for this move. Especially with the way Hagerup has punted all year. We had a good shot to pin them deep there. In The Game you have to be smarter than to go for a 4th and anything more than inches on your own side of the field.
Although pinning them deep would have been great, hagerup would have been punting from around our 40 and given our generally bad punt coverage I don't think we could have "pinned them deep." It would have taken a 55 yard punt with great coverage to pin them anywhere near their goal line and the most likely result would have been a catch and return to the 20. Granted that would not have been nearly as good field position and may have been the smarter move, but I think you overestimate the possibility of pinnin them deep.
I like the chances of having denard get 2 yards on 4th down. That would have been a huge swing.
It was the waste of third down (Rawls into the middle on 3rd & 2) that I think was stupid.
You can't afford to throw away downs on a play that hasn't worked all season. (Denard up the middle following a caravan, on the other hand, has had some success.)
Lots of 10 man football out there. I noticed it as well. Borges doesn't call interceptions / fumbles / blown assignments. Although the counterargument goes, he needs to call runs that his players can execute, even if that only amounts to like 1 running play haha.
Excellent post OP.
However, I disagree on the 4th down play. I watched it over and over (sickeningly) on the game highlights at MGoVideo and Denard had already been engaged by a Buckeye defender. Lewan does whiff his block completely, you are right, but it's unlikely that Denard would have gotten 3 more yards while being slowed by a defender allowing Buckeye help to get to him.
While this wasn't a straight up the middle play, it also wasn't attacking the edge which we did earlier extremely effectively.
I'm still not sure why we don't just have Gardner rollout with a run-pass option. That seems like our best play threatening the defense in multiple spots.
I'll amend that a bit. The defender you're talking about did engage, but I think Denard could have slid inside him if Lewan had taken care of his man (Shazier, not Sabino).
However, that defender (Sabino) actually had 2 blockers whiff on him. Hopkins and a pulling Omameh both somehow miss him.
So in my mind the point stands - there are ample blockers to pick up that first down.
Exactly, watching the replay shows that the unblocked Sabino comes in because Omameh goes right past several defenders and doesn't block anyone of consequence. I don't think it would have made the difference but we will never know for sure.
It seemed like there were several blown blocks on those short yardage plays. Is our offensive line coach a problem?
In either case, in my opinion it's still on Borges for failing to recognize those things that our team does well and those things we do not do well.
Also, DAMNIT DEVIN, SCRAMBLE!!!!!!
Being in the stands there was a play in 4th quarter where devin scrambled and picked up a few yards but my biggest problem was tree was in the slot vs sabino and beat him on a vertical route bad with no saftey help. It was probably the biggest miss of the entire game from the passing aspect.
some people keep thinking "hire experience", but lets face it, Borges has bounced around to lots of schools, never staying reall long anywhere In the real world, we knoiw what that means.
He gave up on his own offense before the Alabama game even started. Remember how Denard had about 3 carries in the first half? Borges just assumed they would take away the run and he let Bama pin Denard in the pocket. (Manziel and Texas AM stuck with their own game).
And for all the bad calls yesterday, was any call all year worse than the Vincent Smith option pass from the ND 2 yard line?
We could spend all day itemizing the inferior job of Mr. Borges this season. Lets hope we have someone new next year.
that "so many jobs" is the norm, not the exception, in college football.
From the Michigan Daily article on Fred Jackson: "After leaving Madison, Jackson bounced from Navy to South Carolina to Purdue to Vanderbilt." http://www.michigandaily.com/sports/coach-j-and-co?page=0,0
Another example, Greg Mattison. Since starting his coaching career, he's been at 10 schools/jobs (Cornell, NU, Navy, WMU, Navy, TAMU, UM, ND, Florida, Baltimore, and back to Michigan)
Surely you recognize the difference between moving up in positions (e.g., from ND to Florida to a very good NFL team) and bouncing around multiple locations, being fired, not coaching for a year, and ending up in the Moutain West after your last position was in the SEC, right? Greg Robinson also held a lot of positions, and has more success on his resume than Al Borges. There is a reason why Greg Robinson was not in demand when RR hired him. There is a reason why Al Borges was not in demand when Hoke hired him.
One key play that hasn't been discussed yet and pissed me off at the time was not kicking into the end zone after Denard's long TD run. Instead we squib kick it and OSU gets the ball at like the 40 with plenty of time left. We did pretty well to hold them to a 52 yd FG but 15 more yards is pretty significant in that situation.
but--unless I'm missing something--I don't like the assumption underlying it (that someone is due to break out and gash you?) Maybe someone with insight about it can fill me in.
our kickoff coverage has been a little suspect all year, I didn't have a huge problem with it.
Should we just ignore all of the critical failed plays that can absolutely be pinned on Borges? In the last paragraph you say "not excusing Borges" so I know you aren't trying to ignore the elephant in the room. It's just frustrating because it was such a winnable game and Mattison and Co. held in the second half. Honestly, I think it's delusional to support Borges' choices in the second half.
and players make plays, on both sides.
But why we used Devin and Denard independently in the second half, allowing tOSU to focus on a narrow aspect of our total capabilities, rather than forcing tOSU to defend the whole arsenal, is beyond me.
So should the OSU faithful call for Meyer's head since their offense was stimied in the second half too?
I would add the decision to squib kick it at the end of the first half to your list. That is actually the point where the momentum began to turn for the worse.
EDIT: I just read that Goblue89 had the same suggestion a couple posts above.
#4 is the really frustrating one for me. I hope that was a legit hold on Schofield because that really hurt right when it looked like we were starting to put a drive together. As for #5, Gardner did do a great job to elude the rush and get the pass off, but yeah, the running lane was there. He's got to remember on 1st down that he doesn't have to get it all on one play. Of course, it's harder to remember when you've barely eluded a sack just before.
Te frustration thing about the call was I remember schofields man going way upfield and seemingly out of the play so my thought was how could it have been holding on schofield. I figured it was on one of te interior lineman but the refs just messed up the numbers like they do on some offensive holding penalties.
Play #2 was the worst play call ever. Even Miles wouldn't make that call. It's inconceivable. Wally Shawn says it best.
Also the long pass play where Roundtree got the questionable offensive PI call was a pretty big momentum changer.
It actually didn't end up mattering, because OSU fumbled the punt and we recovered about where Gallon ended up on that play - and went on to score a TD.
of the negative Nancies who have been clinging here for the last 24 hours, but. . . cooler heads than theirs were going to prevail anyway. If you fired every football coach whose head the "fans" call for after every loss, salaries would be more inflated than they already are.
After five, six years of coming here religiously, yesterday took some of the shine off in a way even the RR controversy hadn't. Somehow, even despite differences of opinion on that one, I felt like we all went through it TOGETHER. Yesterday we got. . . fart jokes. This is Michigan, goddamn*t. Act like a Spartoon somewhere else.
On 2 you can add that Denard has admitted he made the wrong read and should have taken it outside. That play had lots of problems.
3 kills me because he should have been gone and looking at the final score, a TD instead of a fumble (obviously) makes a big difference.
I watched #5 on replay several times. Gardner had running room, but that play had broken open. Funchess had beaten Boren deep, the safety was only brought back into the play a bit by the throw. It looked like Gardner wanted Funchess to switch to his right shoulder toward the middle of the field. By the time the ball was in the air, it was too late and Funchess turned the wrong way (inside instead of outside). It wasn't a perfect throw, but it looked like the opportunity and mismatch we wanted was there. On tv, you could see Funchess gesture that he had made the mistake.
does anyone with any reasonable football knowledge know the adjustments Ohio's defense made in the second half, or was it simply poor/predictable playcalling on our part???
I was talking 3 way on the phone with some friends, all watching the game, seeing play five unfold and hollering NO! When he released it I was sure someone was open but I saw how much room that he had hoped that he would take the time to take a sure first down. I think we might have thrown on all three downs that drive...
I like your points. I think it makes a good point on how a lot of things may have not actually been Borges's fault, but if you are looking at execution mistakes, you could make the very same arguments for Ohio. We were simply outexecuted this time, but hopefully we can continue to improve in the future.
I don't disagree with your point that players have to execute or schemes to work and for us to win games. Also, player mistakes can make play-calling look bad where if one or two guys had executed the play would have worked. However, I am fine being more critical of Borges than the players because Borges-and Hoke-are being paid well to coach and the players are not and are wry young men. Moreso, as some people above have mentioned, I don't think you have really mitigated Borges mistakes and poor play-calling by merely pointing out player mistakes throughout the game. Borges knows his players are going to make mistakes and not execute his play calls right everytime. He has to put his players in the best position to make plays which was hight questionable in the second half of that game. Calling multiple runs with Rawls and even Vincent smith up the middle on 3rd and 2 or 3 is not putting his players in a position to succeed. Everyone knows our interior line is te weakness of our offense and ohios interior DL is their strength. So why run right at it on critical 3rd down conversions? Only your second play call can really be deemed a potentially good play call that seems bad due to failed player execution. All of your other plays were generally or seemingly good play calls but didn't end up working or working completely because of failed player execution. So your basic point then can be characterized as Borges may have screwed up big time in key moments, however, if our players executed flawlessly or at least successfully executed their duties on other plays then those bad calls would have been irrelevant. Yes, having a bunch of all Americans or at least all big ten players would make Borges play calling more successful, but that is a ridiculous point because the very pointed sports is that it is a competition and we cannot always be an team full with elite nfl talent making everything looking easy out there. You characterize gallons post catch as his failing to execute because of a shoestring tackle, but do you realize how difficult it is run full speed, cut to throw off the defender, make the catch, and then try to keep your balance after a defender who you cannot see is tripping up your legs? Maybe it's easier for me to recognize how easy it is for someone to trip another person merely by disrupting their running motion because I played soccer, but frankly I don't think you understand that if gallon were able to keep his balance after having his legs cut out from under him-or a shoestring tackle-that would have been an all America type of play. If you think that play was a failure on gallons part you have a ridiculous conception of the physical limitations of a human being. That play was a success and didn't go for a td because ohios defender made a great play to trip gallon before gallon could pull away. Although I agree that not all of this was Borges fault, you really haven't mitigated his failure to play to his teams strengths or rather even play to ohios weaknesses.
UFR will have Lewan graded out to his worst game of the season. I seem to remember him looking sheepish on several plays. Very out of the ordinary for him, IMHO.
Borges is doing what he has been told to do. So is Brady Hoke. David Brandon wants manball, David Brandon hires and fires, David Brandon gets manball.
This could be a long decade of dominance by Ohio and ND, but I am not jumping on the "it's all Borges' fault" bandwagon until he has had a couple more years to get his own personnel in. When Shane Morris is a junior and Ohio and Nebraska are home games, with no ND on the schedule, then I will bitch about Borges if Michigan doesn't do well.
One of two things will happen by then. Either Michigan will take advantage of great recruiting and great coaching to have a 12-14 win season, or what has passed as "Michigan Football" for the last 20 years will truly be back, and Michigan will continue to average 3-4 losses per season.
For the transition, I will direct any ire I feel about the team toward David Brandon. He has made himself the face of the Michigan Wolverines. He had no problem taking credit for last year, so I have no problem assigning him the blame for this year and every subsequent year until Michigan is competing for championships again.
This was a good post.