They called a pass on the previous play that looked to have gotten them a first down. Fucking cowards.
Space Coyote: "Play calling put players in a position to succeed."
A brief way to sum up your argument and my rebuttal:
If Al Borges had the players able to execute those play calls in the particular situations described, then one could come to the conclusion that Al Borges called a good game.
Because Al Borges does not have the players able to execute the plays he called in the particular situations described, then one must come to the conclusion that Al Borges called a bad game.
I think what he's essentially saying is that Al Borges is hamstrung by a bad line and a turnover-prone QB and still managed to score enough points to win in regulation and got us into comfortable FG range when all we needed was a FG on two occasions in OT. And, contrary to popular belief, he was not conservative in the OTs that didn't just require a FG.
Its always a bad game plan when you lose, right? This is like you guys blaming the 2011 MSU game on Borges. He called a beautiful pass-first and on early downs when MSU was blitzing up a storm game plan. I'm. Was aggressive, which we all seem to like. It took what the defense gave him, which was all kinds of vacated zones and man coverage looks. The problem was the QB couldn't hit anyone. But when he did, on a quick slant against a 0 coverage blitz, we scored a long TD. Those were there all day. But because he QB couldn't complete them, Borges, who got him hose looks, is an idiot.
People blamed MSU 2011 on Borges for heaving up deep pass after pass in a game with heavy winds. The blame lessened when it was revealed that Fitz was probably hurt. Most of the blame came on his crazy 4th and 1 playaction call.
Its funny how people are using this "turnover prone QB" excuse and then, in the same breathe, going on about how great Borges was in 2011. I'm sorry, who was the QB in 2011? David "Surehands" Robinson? Yeah....
I said above: My problem was with OT1, OT3 and the final part of the second to last drive. On all three of those drives, at critical moments Borges put the ball in the hands of Toussaint (1 yard a carry) to do these things: Make a field goal easier or get a first down. He chose to do this instead of giving the ball to Gardner who was far more likely to accomplish those things. It was bad, conservative playcalling.
There's no reason to put words in my mouth. I'm not talking about Borges in 2011, only one game. And I'm right.
As for the turnover-prone QB, what are you saying, exactly? He had the luxury of a decent line, and had a career year from Fitz. Now that our backs can do nothing, Gardner is key. And he's been turnover-prone. Borges has actually done a decent job of coping with that, to the tune of 39 PPG and a 21st ranked scoring offense. To his credit, he didn't let the bad running game or the turnover-prone QB lose the game for us. Unfortunately, the kicker did.
The underlying assumption behind Coastal's argument--and he isn't alone in this--is that "conservative" = "bad" play calling, and any attempt at risk mitigation is conservative, "playing not to lose", and therefore bad.
There are no ties. Winning a game is exactly the same thing as not losing it. The coaches' goal is to win, and not lose. The moment that "playing not to lose" phrase gets tossed out there I know the time for rational argument is over.
You can make a cogent argument that Borges misestimated the odds here. But that argument would involve making some estimate of the odds, not just a waving of the hands and a 'he's playing scared".
for gibbons beyond 40 yds before the psu game. i've posted this a few times, if i counted them accurately. so borges/hoke must think those odds are good to kick a 42 yd FG instead trying to gain yardage for an easier attempt (he was perfect inside of 40 yds for his career). because in their minds they are playing with house money.
yet they also decided that punting to try to get 15-20 yds of field postion for psu at the end of regulation were better odds than a 47 yd kick (or even trying to improve that yardage on 3rd down or trying for a first down for a guaranteed win) and a potential miss or block. it all comes down to that. period. i disagree with both decisions strongly.
That's at least a cogent response, thanks.
I'm not sure it makes sense to use Gibbons's career average over 40 as your probability here--for one thing there's a big difference between Gibbons now and Gibbons when RR was looking under the team bus for a replacement. And while the overall average among kickers declines smoothly as you go out, for an individual kicker it's much more like a step function. We'd just seen what happens when Gibbons tries a kick out of his range--it's right on line but short. He's never going to make that. They would have watched him in warmups, and they'd just seen an exhibition of his range earlier--maybe they thought the dropoff was somewhere between 42 and 47.
But you're right that a 42-yarder is not a gimme. It's really a question of weighing the possiblity of increasing his odds by getting some yards, against the increased likelihood of losing via TO if you try. I wasn't sure at the time; I'm still not; nobody's really put together an argument that seems convincing to me or that even addresses the right question.
into a wind is pushing gibbons' limit, imo. even if he's 50-50 from there, i think 5-10 yds would be huge. plus, he's always been kind of a low trajectory kicker. i'm surprised he hasn't had a few more blocked.
also, i think he was 1-5 his first year. so even removing those 4 misses, he was still less than 50% from that range.
We're at the short end of "that range" and at the long end he can barely reach it, so I'm guessing he's better than 50%, maybe quite a bit better, given his record from inside 40.
Even so, I agree that five yards can matter a lot when you're anywhere near the edge of your range. I was especially surprised by the centering play, because that wasn't so much a matter of mitigating the turnover risk as trading three yards on a sizable kick for a precise centering. We were already on his better hash and it should have been possible to get a bit better centered without kneeling that deep in the backfield--I wonder if Devin did what they thought they were asking for there.
really interesting read... thanks for taking the time to break this down Space Coyote, nice to see another perspective! still have some problems with our playcalling though after reading this, though. a few thoughts :
1) I think, and have said this since the debacle happened, that I think Hoke is probably responsible for deciding when to mail it in and go conservative on a drive so I don't think Borges is necessarily to blame for the placalling on the first and third OT drives and our last series before giving it back to Penn State at the end of regulation. With that said, I think that playing for a field goal was absolutely a bad move, especially in the 3rd overtime when we had already missed twice. I mean Gibbons is absolutely money but since 2011 (when he started being good) he's still 8 of 16 from 40+... so it's by no means a guarantee that he'll make that kick in a hostile environment at the end of the game. Seems like if you play the percentages it's a much safer move to actually try to play offense and the option of kicking a field goal doesn't go away if you are stopped. Sure there are turnovers but we turned it over on 3 out of what, 18 (?), drives... so you're way more likely to miss a 42 yard field goal than throw a pick. Especially because you can still run some relatively safe routs that are way more likely to pick up yardage than a run up the middle (1 ypc).
2. The Space Coyote interpretation of what happened tends to not blame Borges for plays that could work based on the number of blockers we have versus how many defenders Penn State has in the box, but that doesn't really take into account whether or not we are any good at running those plays. I mean, yeah, a run up the middle when the other team has 7 in the box and we've got a tight and and fullback in isn't in theory wrong, but when your running backs have gone for less than a yard per carry on the night with like less than a quarter of those runs even getting 4 yards, you're not playing to your strengths by continuing to call handoffs to Fitz up the middle. You don't have to be an x's and o's expert to see that those playcalls aren't destined to succeed. Even on third and one from the PSU 15, I was begging Borges to do something besides run Fitz up the middle because I felt like we would get stuffed just like we have over and over again in that situation for the last few years. And you could say the same thing about our use of so many 1 and 2 wr sets... in theory there's nothing wrong with them but when you've got 4 good receivers and none of your tight ends are even average blockers it's the offensive coordinators fault if he calls a run out of a double tight end set and the guys he has in there can't block it.
3. The Space Coyote interpretation of what happened definitely tries to see things from Borges' point of view, which is useful if you want to understand why he called the plays that he did. With that said, it kind of excuses limitations on our offense that are a result of Borges coordination of our offense. I mean a bunch of his playcalls are (probably correctly) explained by Space Coyote as Borges anticipated a 7 man front and Penn State came out with 8 in the box and the safety playing up so his play didn't work. So maybe that's not a bad "playcall" but it's still the result of the limitations that his strategy has placed on our offense. If we didn't take all day in the huddle and had an offense that was actually capable of adjusting at the line to what the defense is showing, we wouldn't be throwing away plays every time that the other team comes out with 8 in the box when a run is called. I mean that is basic offense in college football these days, the fact that we don't do it is just pathetic. On top of that, like many people (including I believe Space Coyote) have pointed out, Borges is responsible for us having a decent line and a quarterback that doesn't throw picks. So even if you say he called great plays and the guys didn't execute, it's still largely his fault because he is the primary person responsible for getting the guys to execute.
He sometimes seems unwilling or incapable of adjusting the game plan to exploit what the defenses are doing.
And he did take advantage of what the defense was doing. I wrote pretty extensively about that.
You certainly know MUCH more about this topic than I do. While I respectfully disagree with some of your analysis, simply because I keep coming back to 27 for 27, I am curious: What do you think the ceiling is for Borges? In your estimation, do you think he is a fair, good, or great OC and why? And - in terms of his peer group - are there better ones out there that you think would be better fits at UM (green fields; ignore whether or not we could actually get them - I'm just curious who you think would be great here)?
Quick follow up: I ask these questions more as a student trying to learn from someone who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, rather than someone looking for an opinion that I can argue with...So, any response will be appreciated.
which I hate with answering this sort of question. I'm gonna hold off for now just so I can properly say my reasoning
But I want to reiterate that it's not that I don't hold the coaches, or Borges, responsible. They are in charge of coaching the players to make the plays. My conclusion is based on schematics and adjustments that the offense made to what the defense gave. In my opinion, the play calling bares very little responsibility for the woes of the offense. Coaching certainly does though.
FWIW. And I say this in an upcoming piece for 247, while Gardner didn't have his best game statistically against PSU, I thought from a fundamental QB standpoint, this was easily his best game as a Michigan QB. He has taken very real strides as a QB, especially in his ability to manipulate and move within the pocket.
My "silver lining" take after the game was Gardner played pretty well after the INTs. He was victimized by some drops too, and the Jake Butt pass break up probably is at least in part to Butt telegraphing the ball arriving by showing his hands too early. I don't even really think the first INT was on him, other than not looking off his receiver but it's a short throw and tough to do without messing up timing. The LB broke off coverage of Dileo just before Devin went to throw. That's a high risk high reward play by the LB that just read the eyes and guessed right.
I read your 1st half pieces yesterday, but I think I'm going to hold off until UFR comes out so I can follow along on the DVR while having both your's and Brian's takes open to compare. It should be very interesting.
Did the LB read his eyes, or did PSU roll their coverage over toward Gallon, with the safety over top of him and the player who incepted the ball under-cutting him?
DG reads the safety for the side of the field. Determines it's cover 3 (or at least single high) and should work inside to the outside on an in/out concept that picks on the flat defender. It was a misread in my opinion by DG.
Your case is that the coaches are being criticized rightfully, but for the wrong reason. I think you made your case well.
I think there's a nuance here, though. Sometimes maddening plays are called. But for any given team, there are a host of plays that if executed properly will work, but the team is just not good at executing them. So IMO, it starts to not matter whether or not the "right play" was called if it's clear the team is just not going to pull it off properly and this was almost certainly known beforehand.
I can't explain anything QB-related as well as someone like you who puts considerable time and effort into understanding this sport, but second-half Gardner was pretty measty, and any sane person can recognize that. Here's hoping for more.
There was one play in the game where the pocket collpased and he did this little shoulder juke/dip that reminded me of how guys in the NFL avoid sacks.
When I saw that I think I typed, "Thank you Geroge Whitfield" in the live blog.
there are many plays in the 27 that are clearly not gonna work: http://mgoblog.com/content/27-27-document
One quick look at the defense loaded up in 1, 8, 19, 22, you name it and we all knew what the outcome was going to be. So maybe it was RPS and the real issue is we didn't leave enough time to check into something that would work. Who's fault is that?
While we're at it - http://fergodsakes.blogspot.com/2013/10/man-sports.html :
UCLA starts 4 freshmen and 1 sophomore on their offensive line. They're averaging 190 yards a game on the ground, and 4.5 per carry. Stanford has Freshmen and Sophomores getting serious playing time at every spot on their O-Line, and they're...well, Stanford. Michigan recruits as well or better than both these schools, yet is unable to garner the same production from their OL.
Who recruited the young interior OL? Apparently other teams have effective O-lines as young as ours. Or maybe they design the plays to take the pressure off these young O-lines. Either way the current coaching staff needs to coach them up, and make adjustments to game plane so they don't have to clear out 8 or 9 in the box ...
I will allow them the beginning of the game, test the new line out, see if we can impose our will, and settle Gardner, but the last two minutes and playing for the chance of a field goal in the overtimes. No.
Remember beating Illinois in 3OT. We scored 3 touchdowns and a two point conversion and we won ... that last part on Saturday was conservatively coached manball at its worst.
Let sleeping dogs lie Space Coyote: it was a stinker, and we all know it.
They can be run. And I disagree with a decent portion of Brian's analysis. But, yeah, sometimes the defense wins one over on the offense and puts them in a very difficult position to succeed. When our DC does it he's a genious that no OC can out think. When our OC does it, it has nothing to do with the other teams DC and is because Borges should be fired.
after your opponent RPS's you say 15 or 20 times, you might want to come up with an alternate plan what to do the next time ...
Wait, lining Denard up at QB when he physically (elbow) cant throw telegraphs a run? You dont say. Space Coyote is dug in. Pretty obvious how simple-minded he is.
Lining up injured Denard anywhere was telegraphing run.
When he was at QB - run, because he obviously couldn't throw the ball.
When he was at RB - run, because he couldn't pass block to save his life, and was not a good receiver.
So I guess your solution was to just never use Denard then, huh?
But it's somewhere between slanted and untrue.
UCLA is young, give them credit. But not THAT young. They start two freshemen, a sophomore, a RS sophomore, and a junior.
And whatever "serious playing time is,", Stanford's starting Sophomore, Senior, 5th year, 5th year, Senior across the line with a Junior TE. (And their depth chart back ups? 1 5th year, 2 seniors, 1 junior, and 4 sophomores).
I don't think Stanford is helping his case.
look at the pictures - it is 7 on 9 and we're getting nowhere in the last 20 plays. Ok - our interior guys are young. They can't handle 8 or 9 in the box. Maybe it is time to try something different because this ain't workin'
I appreciate your perspective, and I really value having an opposing viewpoint and pointing out the reasons for the play calls. I've started following your stuff and am learning a lot more than I learned as a high school QB. That being said, I think you pointed out what I feel are some important disadvantages in our offensive approach than what I've seen other teams employ. I'm not making the argument he was too conservative, I just think our approach is not ideal.
First quote: "Borges is likely thinking stacked box, but wants to see how PSU reacts, and wants to run a quick hitting play that is the least likely to lose yards and pick up something"
With sideline checks, coaches don't necessarily have to burn plays in order to react to the defense. One could argue that you need to run the play to see how the corner plays the receiver, but I think we could have seen that in the first 80 plays of the game. If you pass here instead of 2nd down, you have two plays to pick up the remaining 1 yard.
Second quote, "If this pass is on target, the only difference between this and a bubble is that Gallon has now run the CB into the end zone and Dileo can turn it up field and probably get inside the 10 easily, if not score a TD."
Absolutely agree, if the pass is on target, this is a better play. However, the advantages of the bubble or just a simple dump off is that it is a much easier completion. Gardner wouldn't have to deal with throwing lanes and lineman in his face, or any worry about the linebacker jumping the route. This really illustrates my frustration with Borges not being able to get QBs easy completions. I think that was apparent with Denard and his completion % decline under Borges, and the beauty of the horizontal passing game is it takes a lot of the pressure off the QB and puts it on the WRs to block and make people miss. I just can't understand how we don't use more horizontal passing when we have a player like Gallon who is so good in space + the defensive alignments he gets.
Is a play the coaches expect DG to make, and for good reason.
And bubbles sometimes, especially when you don't practice them a lot, are the hardest throws to make because it seems like it's just tossing it out there.
Hmmm...Agree to disagree on the throws. An "out" and "hitch" (out - not in) are not all that simple throws, especially the deeper the receiver gets on the route. A "hitch" (in) is simpler one-on-one but also requires reading the defense more (especially if they are stacking the box, which most defenses appear to be doing against UM).
A bubble screen on the other hand is considerably easier. Not only are you usually throwing it less distance, which hopefully improve accuracy, you have to read fewer people than a "hitch" (in).
That's just my opinion. When I played QB in high school, I always hated the outs (general and hitch) because I was concerned about my arm strength. Bubble screens were pretty easy though and low risk / high(er) reward.
Ha! After reading this, I felt it was kinda silly. There's a reason I was not recruited to UM! My arm strength is really not a litmus test to apply to a college quarterback! Nevertheless, I think from at least an accuracy standpoint, bubble screens tend to be easier to throw than outs or hitches simply because you're not aiming at a moving target farther down the field.
Maybe it was because I was short. But it always felt the bubble was easier when I played because I didn't have to find a throwing lane, or read any linebacker. I was reminded of this when I saw the PSU lineman on the play with his hands up, possibly disrupting the throw.
I also believe that out play from the slot has also been picked off a couple of times by the outside CB coming off his man this year.
it's easier. the issue is all too often teams that don't suddenly have qbs that lose mechanics and throw awful passes. like any pass it needs to be repped at game speed in game situations is my point
We do have an offensive line. We might have the best pair of tackles in the country and an interior line, although young, has a supposed strength of run blocking. They might not be performing well at the moment, but I question if they were adequately prepared to run the ball going into this season either by poor offensive line coaching or an offensive scheme that is holding them back. I think we all expected some growing pains but we did eventually expect them to start gelling well at this point in the season rather than regressing.
Lewan wasn't in for about half the game, so... yeah. That's 4 RS Fresh or RS Soph on the OL for the 4th and OT.
Not to mention Byrant only has 1 start prior and Glasgow only has 1 start at Center prior. It's also their first road game (at the position for Glasgow). That was kinda the risk of starting Bryant and moving Glasgow. You hit reset on the gelling part in the hopes the individual ability is improved. So far, we've kinda seen a backslide in both areas unfortunately.
did i miss a bunch of games earlier this year when our Oline was good with Lewan in?
You don't think the line is any better with him in?
we are most certainly better with him. I'm just saying that because he went out in the 2nd half our OL didn't just get tons worse, even with 2 great tackles, one an all american, our O-line hasn't been productive.
or Taylor missing for a half is not an excuse we can use to explain OL problems
But when a comment says "We have 2 of the best OL in the league" I thought it made sense to point out that the one who will be a top 10 NFL pick was on the bench.
Hoke's first full recruiting classes are sophomores and redhirt freshmen this year.
In defense of Funk and the Oline, you're pretty screwed when you can't check out of a run into a stacked box. The PSU game was a defensive coordinators dream.
I get the feeling DG is not given the freedom to check from run to pass or pass to run. We see him making checks at the line, but I'm guessing those are little changes and not changing the play all together.
I believe you are right. So far we have seen him check to a speed option in goaline or short yardage situations. And we have seen him check to a weak iso when they get a 3 on 3 on the weakside. Outside of those checks I don't think they are giving him much more freedom.
I am not trying to criticize individual players, but I think it is an overstatement to say that we have the best pair of tackles in the country. We have perhaps the best LT in the country. I am not sure why people are as high on Schofield. He is a solif RT, but he has missed his share of assingments this this year, and is certainly not dominant like Lewan. Look at Brian's 27 for 27 piece and you can see that a few of the negative plays were on him. Again, not criticizing him. He is easily our best lineman, and would probably start at most schools. I just think that you are overstating him to make your point.
Also, to your statement that "an interior line, although young, has a supposed strength of run blocking": You could have stopped at young. Young linemen are not very good. They just aren't even Lewan, who could be a top 5 NFL pick, struggled during his first season at times, taking drive killing penalties with regularity and getting blown up repeatedly. Same with Jake Long. And those are probably two of the best LT to ever play at Michigan. OL is a position that takes a few years to develop at, which is why Wisconsin can have a dominant line consisting of primarily redshirt senior and redshirt junior nobodys, whereas a line of highly-touted underclassmen will always struggle. There is a reason that even this blog notes when reviewing incoming recruits, even monster recruits, "is OL, will redshirt"
All fair points. There's alot of things factoring into the situation: youth, center/guard switch, and poor scheme at times. Hindsight being 20/20, it may have been better to keep Glasgow at guard next to Lewan. I think that had alot of potential, but you would have count on Miller to eventually come along which is no guarantee. When it comes down to it, I think the coaches probably just botched the bye week preperation.
Again, I am not sure that you can say that the coaches botched anything, given the factors that we seem to agree on - youth and inexperience. We did put up a bunch of points in regulation against PSU. Who is to say that with Miller as C we woundn't have been worse? The line was horrible with Miller at center and it was horrible with Glasgow at center. Sometimes, the issue isn't on the coaches, it is on the players, and ours on the OL are just young and inexperienced, unfortunately.
Now the one criticism that I will lob at the coaching is that our OL players, while young and inexperienced, do not seem to be developing. If that is true, then perhaps this is on either Funk or Borges (likely Funk).
If someone's going to make the argument that "the coaches botched the bye-week preparation" by moving Glasgow to center, could we at least acknowledge that they did what the vast majority of posters here hoped they would do?
I'd have a lot of respect for the first person that would say "maybe I was wrong about what they needed to do during the bye week."