I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
|15 hours 50 min ago||Hope you're right||
If it doesn't get better, we will see a staff shake-up. Maybe not Hoke, but if the O-Line is still among the worst in the country, we'll see our OC and OL coaches go, mabye more.
|18 hours 56 min ago||That is not an impressive||
That is not an impressive trio: A former walk-on, a guy who is too small, and a guy who has not been able to stay healthy.
|1 day 18 hours ago||Borges covets mobility||
Every guy we've offered has at least decent mobility, and some are pretty good runners
Zach Gentry looks like an amazing prospect. We'll have much tougher competition for him than Louisville before it's all said and done. He has a cannon arm but still throws with good touch, can throw on the run, and can flat out run. With his size, he should be durable.
Gentry might be favorite prospect right now. Kearns is probably second, simply because as a pure thrower, I think he is the best of the bunch.
|2 days 12 hours ago||Below for most OCs?||
AB's offense produced the best yards/play against Ohio since...ever.
I have watched every snap. I see plays that are working and players that are executing.
If you're going to play the "1/3 off defensive mistakes" card, what percentage of AB's play-calls were ruined by our own team's screw-ups? And isn't it the OC's job to call plays that force the defense to make mistakes?
Ohio's defense is hardly 'Bama, or even Sparty. But they were the #13 defense in the country when we faced them, and we did far better against them then any of their other opponents this year.
I'm not going to defend Borges' season--it wasn't good enough. But to call ths game "above average for Al below for most other OCs" is ridiculous.
|2 days 14 hours ago||I'll play!||
This game is easy! Top Ten programs that have accepted your definition of mediocrity:
I could keep going, but hopefully you get the point. ALL of these schools have had stretches worse than ours with Hoke so far, and for longer. Maybe you're young, but Michigan dominated the Big Ten in the '90's and came up against one of the best coaches and cheaters of all time in Jim Tressel, that put us three points away from the MNC in 2006.
And this doesn't even mention that we hired one of the best minds in all of college football (RR) and went through three years of misery.
Give me a break. Michigan has not accepted mediocrity, they have decided to be patient with a guy (Hoke) they believe could be the next great coach at U-M.
If Hoke hasn't turned the ship around by 2015, he'll be gone.
|2 days 15 hours ago||Not sure if serious||
DG will be the starter next year, and will be picked before the third round of the NFL draft is over.
With one of the worst O-Lines in Michigan history, all he has done is put up the second-highest passing yardage total in school history, and was absolutely magical in a handful of games this season. Even with the pass-blocking getting worse as the season wore on, DG drastically reduced his INTs and improved his reads (although he did have a bad day against Northwestern).
When it's all said and done, Gardner will be #3 on the all-time passing yardage list (behind two four-year starters) and has a very, very good chance to top Navarre's 3,331 yards single-season passing record. He will likely finish this season with around 3,200, and I expect he'll have much better blocking next year.
If you're a troll, please leave. If you're serious, then I don't know what to say. Gardner is hardly someone I predict to win the Heisman next year, but I do believe he'll be a very good or great QB.
DG is completing 60% of his passes and averaging 8.6 YPA (17th). His rating is 146.07, good for #31 in the country and one spot behind Jordan Lynch. He's also #31 in yards/game, tied for 27th in TDs, and did I mention his 483 rushing yards (sacks included!) and 11 rushing TDs? He's #23 in yards/game, and has accounted for 32 TDs.
This is a long way of saying, GTFO. Devin Gardner is, and absolutely should be, our starting QB in 2014.
|2 days 15 hours ago||2014 WRs||
Remember, this is all speculation. Those guys might contribute next season since they'll have a year of experience under their belt.
The problem isn't that these guys aren't good, it's that the 2014 class is amazing. Moe Ways was supposed to be the sleeper but put up something like 55 catches for 1200 yards and 16 TDs this season. Canteen looks like he could contribute in the slot today. And Harris is most athletically gifted WR prospect we've had since...I don't even know. And he's an early enrollee, so he may very well contribute in 2014.
With Chesson and Darboh undoubtedly having big roles next year, and Funchess and Butt soaking-up targets as well, their most likely use is in the Reynolds/Jackson role as blockers and occasional pass-catchers. Don't forget that Hayes and Norfleet are both planned to be in the slot next year, and I believe both will produce.
|2 days 15 hours ago||Joey Burzynski||
Little Joe will be a RS SR next year and was in the running this year; the competition at LG could definitely include him.
I think Funchess will turn into more of a flex TE next year, ala Dallas Clark. I would expect Darboh and Chesson to be on the field with Funchess quite a bit.
LOVE this feature, BTW.
|3 days 10 hours ago||Rutgers commit Tyler||
Rutgers commit Tyler Wiegers
EDIT - He justed re-opened his recruitment and is now considering Iowa; they may be the favorite.
|3 days 12 hours ago||He didn't say that||
But Hoke did not say that he wasn't firing anyone. He said he anticipates the whole staff will be back.
This question presents a no-win scenario for a coach who is still in-season and in the recruiting season. Admitting any changes at this point upsets the apple cart and can't possibly do any good for your team and recruits, unless the guy you're hiring is AMAZING.
As I said above, I don't think Hoke's plan is to fire AB. But I also don't think saying he doesn't anticipate any changes on the staff is a guarantee of anything.
|3 days 12 hours ago||UCLA||
Borges left UCLA, he wasn't fired.
|3 days 13 hours ago||Akron||
The only reason to mention Akron as a poor offensive performance is ignorance. It was a very good offensive performance; the defense was bad.
PSU is more understandable; the first half offense was pretty bad, and Borges seemed to stick with the run for too long. It was not a bad game offensively, but there were a few calls that may have cost us the game. Of course, Gibbons making any FG he always makes would have won us the game.
|3 days 13 hours ago||Moe Ways||
WOW. He almost looks like a different player. Better hands, better routes, MUCH stronger, quicker...he looks like a top-tier WR now. I wonder if his ratings will change at all.
Canteen, Harris, and Ways...that is one helluva WR class for 2014. Hopefully, all of the '13 guys pan out, but even if they don't, all three of the '14 guys look like play-makers.
|3 days 14 hours ago||Coachspeak||
"Anticipate" is a word that covers a lot of things.
There is no other answer Brady could have given that would not have made the next month absolutely miserable for the team and the staff.
While I don't believe Borges will be fired, I certainly don't think today's answer meant anything.
|3 days 14 hours ago||EXACTLY||
I will believe they whole staff is back when the whole staff is back.
There is absolutely no other answer that makes sense here. I have little doubt that Borges will continue to be evaluated through the end of the season, and we'll see what the staff looks like in 2014.
That said, I maintain that I am not in favor of firing AB unless there is a suitable and proven replacement. This means:
That guy is not easy to find.
|1 week 2 days ago||Great post||
|1 week 2 days ago||We are substantially younger||
We are quite a bit younger than OSU.
I won't argue that Hoke is nearly the scheme-and-execute coach that Urban Meyer is. I will say that Meyer inherited a much stronger roster, and that I don't want Urban Meyer to ever be the coach at Michigan.
You don't have to be patient; it's a free country. But impatience probably yields another painful transition. There aren't many coaches who can be immediately successful with a bad roster. I believe RR is one of the best scheme-and-execute coaches in college football, and look what happened with him.
I believe Hoke deserves at least another year. If he's replaced, it had better be with someone that is an absolute stud.
|1 week 2 days ago||BINGO||
Most of these charts is completely expected with regards to the schedule: we play tougher teams late and usually our toughest game of the year is the last one.
I'd be interested to see the stats with the cupcakes removed.
I really don't see any distrubing trends here.
|1 week 3 days ago||Perspective||
We won a BCS bowl just two seasons ago.
Henry Poggi said he was coming to Michigan because he believed U-M and 'Bama were the best two chances at a National Championship.
In 2006, we were three points away from being undefeated playing Ohio in Columbus.
In 2007, we had an 8-4 season that included the Horror, but beat Tebow-led UF in our bowl game.
Bad to slightly above average? No. That's Minnesota. Other than '08 and '09, we're above average to pretty good, but not elite.
Get a grip.
|1 week 4 days ago||And read the most||
The critics on this site are here more than the rest of us.
But I, for one, am grateful for the free content you deliver, and I am looking forward to welcoming another Michigan Man this week.
|1 week 4 days ago||I'll bite||
Dear Team 134 Seniors,
Thank you. I am so grateful for your contribution to this team, this program, and the University of Michigan. You have much to be proud of, and your work is not done. In fact, even after Ohio and the bowl game, your work is not done.
You will always be Michigan Men--you must never forget the responsibility that comes with that. Please continue to give off the field as impressively as you have on it. The only way we'll build the program we all want is if everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Thank you, and GO BLUE!
|1 week 6 days ago||Hell||
Also could've been Hell, MI.
|2 weeks 14 hours ago||Good point||
And very true. Conversely, that helps the passing game, making it easier to use either side of the field on every down.
|2 weeks 14 hours ago||Rules||
Rule changes in the NFL have made the passing game much more beneficial:
The best offenses in college are still running the ball very effectively. Wisconsin, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Oregon, and Auburn lead the nation in YPC and rush for at least 285 YPG. Those teams don't lose very much.
|2 weeks 14 hours ago||Jet sweep||
I would like to do a jet sweep from under center like Wisconsin does, using Norfleet. You can run some great plays off of that action.
|2 weeks 14 hours ago||Excellent work||
Thank you for this; I have been hoping someone would take the time to research this topic.
O-Line is not an area where the young are typically successful, no matter how highly-recruited they are. Now we have the stats to back that up.
This year, we only have four guys on the roster that were recrutied with scholarships in their third year or later: Lewan, Miller, Bryant, and Schofield. Glasgow and Burzynski have earned scholarships since arriving.
Here are our scholarship guys (guys that were given scholarships as part of their recruitment) that will be in their third year or later next season:
This is where RR really screwed us...there are only six scholarship options that will be in their third year or later. Yes, we can now add Burzynski and Glasgow to the list, but it's not like we have a ton of options. In 2015--assuming no defections--that number will swell to 12, not including the walk-ons turned scholly players. That will be the first season we have a full depth chart of OL players with decent experience.
|2 weeks 15 hours ago||I don't want to argue.||
I don't want to argue. Slides are often called after you are at the LOS and set. I'm just saying that, based on football theory, there are two reasons your want your back on the field side:
Since neither of us know how this play was designed, we can't be sure what changes or calls were made at the line. I will say that if that RB's only job is to block the backside, then that's where he should align, unless that tips the play.
What I'm saying is that I agree with your point, but there are reasons teams align the way U-M did on that play.
|2 weeks 17 hours ago||Can't do that||
The RB needs to align to cover the most dangerous blitzer. You don't know who's going to blitz before the snap, so the RB will typically align to the field side where the defense has a fifth man on the LOS.
It is easier for the RB to get back to the ILB than to OLB on the LOS. The alignments were good, IMO.
|2 weeks 17 hours ago||They've been running IZ all||
They've been running IZ all season; this is the first game where they pretty much ran JUST IZ. It helped, but as Brian pointed out, Iowa is built to punish the IZ game.
That said, it's clear you can have a pretty effective running game with one very good base play (see 'Bama) and I wouldn't mind an emphasis on it again this week. But we need change-ups and constraints. Hopefully we can block the outside zone and keep the Isos picking-up a few positive yards.
|2 weeks 1 day ago||RE: QB regression||
Anyone would regress behind this blocking. It's awfully hard to be a good QB when you're on your butt every play.
I would actually argue Borges has done a nice job developing DG. Gardner looked terrible as a QB when he arrived at Michigan, and he has become one of our best players, and will probably finish with the second-most passing yards in a season in Michigan history.
Joe Montana wouldn't have looked good behind this line. You can blame Borges for that, but this is not a good year to measure a QB's performance.
|2 weeks 1 day ago||Quick passing game||
It looks to me like DG is only looking at one option in almost every single one of these plays.
Our strategy against Northwestern appeared to be based on 3-5 step drops, quick reads, and short passes. So perhaps DG was being coached to only make one read, but I seriously doubt it.
Almost every single one of those plays had someone WIDE open or much more open the target DG chose. I was yelling at Devin all game...he did NOT do a good job reading the defense.
In section three, starting with the youtube clips, here's what I see:
Working backwards, here's what I see in category #2:
Gardner did not have a great game, and I understand that. He's been getting hit on almost every passing play. But AB's plays were getting guys open pretty consistently on most of these near-INTs, and DG missed the reads.
|2 weeks 1 day ago||"screw the game plan"||
I think what's clear is that Borges and Hoke will NOT screw the game plan. They aren't just running plays for this year, they are trying to lay a foundation for the future. They won't revert to a spread offense, even if it might be more effective right now. I think they are focused on moving forward, and are taking the pains that come with transition.
2014 and 2015 will determine if it was worth it.
|2 weeks 1 day ago||BTW||
Awesome post. Nice mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis, and the discussion felt real. Bravo.
|2 weeks 1 day ago||My take||
Basically, I believe we are seeing the natural growing pains of a transition to a new system compounded by youth, some occasionally silly play-calling, and the RR dearth. I expect improvement in 2014 and great things in 2015.
|2 weeks 2 days ago||AGREE||
Stats are nice, but they are only a statistical reality. This team's inability to convert short yardage situations needs to be accounted for.
The eyeball test says it was a bad call. While stats might say it's a good call, this Michigan team has been struggling to move the ball and score points, and our defense has been shutting opponents down.
I still think we should have kicked the FG. I'm not furious with the decision by any means, but I would have preferred the FG try.
|2 weeks 2 days ago||Ohio 2011?||
Did you miss that game?
|2 weeks 2 days ago||BINGO||
I, too, am frustrated by our often predictable play-calling and running into stacked fronts.
But replacing the OC is a tricky proposition...there aren't many proven commodities out there that fit Hoke's philosophy and would come to Michigan. And even then, there's still no assurance things will be better.
IMO, if you're going to make a change this year at OC, you need to bring in a guy who runs a similar system, is a proven winner, and will be at Michigan for a long, long time. I don't think that guy exists.
Also, Borges has a mixed history of success and failure and has never been in one place long enough to prove/disprove himself. If he is a guy that can be highly successful with elite talent then we're on our way to highly successful because we will be loaded with experienced talent by 2015.
To change now would mean putting our players, university, and fans through another transitional period which could lead to more mediocrity and more transition in three more years. I agree with Brian that you only upset the apple cart if you're reasonably certain that the results will be apple pie instead bruised, rotten apples.
|2 weeks 2 days ago||AGREE||
Great work, Seth.
Using our Dileo tendencies to our advantage seems like a good idea. If we're passing 80% of the time he's out there and we're STILL successful with it, it seems like his presence could open some options for us. And--without looking at the full season of data--my guess is that about 90% of the runs with Dileo on the field are inverted veer/option looks.
I would like to see some single back, three wide sets. We had some good success with the I-form twins vs. Northwestern; spreading the field a bit more might be advantageous.
Everyone knows Dileo is a security blanket; Northwestern almost got a couple of picks out of that knowledge. It's time to use our tendencies to our advantage.
|2 weeks 2 days ago||agreed||
And if he can't make it work by 2015, I'll be calling for his head too (and maybe Hoke's).
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Deja Vu||
I appreciate your work on this!
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Thank you||
This is a good post. I appreciate that you're thinking of solutions.
You've left out some important data on Borges. At UCLA, he had three seasons of improvement. My guess is you've left that out because it hurts your argument, but it wouldn't be fair for me to say that Borges hasn't shown regression at some previous stops (although one year at Cal under a doofus HC is hardly a sample at all, and I would argue his second year at Auburn was an amazing achievement, but that still doesn't submarine your point).
Also, total offense is pretty lousy indicator of offensive success. Scoring is much more important than yardage (ask the 2012 Lions). But I won't argue that AB hasn't show regression--he has. And I won't argue he's a great coach--he hasn't proven that.
I would argue that Borges hasn't been anywhere long enough to prove he's a good or bad coach. I think it's clear he's not a GREAT coach--those can make an offense more productive upon arrival. But as I've said, they are extraordinarily rare.
As for Mattison, I think you hit the nail on the head: he saved us from the oblivion of the RR defenses, and is still honeymooning. Don't get me wrong--he is a GREAT coach and I don't want to see him leave EVER--but we have regressed as a defense this year, and there is no excuse for that. We have an easier schedule and a better roster on defense. I expected better pass rush, better LB play, and fewer big plays allowed in the passing game. Any truly objective observer would label the Akron game as primarily a defensive failure. If not for DG's turnovers, the offense probably scores 40+ points, and all of those turnovers were just bad individual plays--there were guys open when he threw picks and fumble was just...but our defense allowed almost 5.3 YPP (one of our worst performances against a low-level team in many years) while our offense produced 6.85 YPP. That near-loss is on our defense and our QB.
Anyway, I'm glad to see that you are looking for solutions, and actually trying to name some. If we could get Bloomgren--which we can't--I'd go for it right away. He runs the same base system we do (WCO) and the terminology is similar. But why would he leave Stanford? Look at his background...I don't see it happening. I'd love to be wrong.
Bob Stitt? The guy has never coached at a high level. But that doesn't matter, because his philosophy doesn't fit with Hoke, so you'd have to fire Hoke too. Are you willing to do that? Bob Stitt would be a huge flyer...you could very well be hiring someone else in three years, after spending three years recruiting for Stitt's system. He is far from proven, and would be a huge gamble.
Same with Taafe--Hoke will never run that system. That said, if we did decide to part ways with Hoke, I would support hiring someone like Taafe. But no way that happens this year, nor should it.
Sean Kugler's UTEP team has the 91st ranked scoring offense. Their total offense is even worse: 97th. Kugler has never been an OC. Did you mean bring him in to coach the O-Line? This guy has NO track record as an OC. I would not be pleased if he were hired as ours.
My point, as I made above, is that chaning the OC now means changing the system, changing the coach these kids have gotten know and work with, and asking the kids we recruited for MANBALL to play something else. If you're going to do that, you need to be DAMN sure the guy you're bringing in is an offensive genius.
RR is an offensive genius. He's one of the best offensive coaches in the history of the game. In year three, he still couldn't score points against top teams. How long are you willing to wait? And are you willing to screw all the great talent we've recruited out of the chance to play the system they came here to run? Isn't that what we're dealing with right now?
I'm not saying Borges is a great coach. I don't think he is. But I'm also not sure he's a bad coach. He might be good. What I'm saying is that these kids--even more than the coaches--deserve some stability and the chance to spend several years trying to learn a system. If you're going to replace Borges, it has to be with a surefire replacement who has proven success and would fit with Hoke. And that's damn hard to find.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Thank you||
This is a great post, and I agree with it. I would be very pleased with Mattison's OC equivalent. But if we had a better offense and had lost some of the games I listed because of sub-par defensive performances, you don't think our fanbase would be calling for Mattison's head?
Our defense is good, not great. We don't make many big plays. Even if we had a stronger offense, I'm not sure we'd be a top program nationally or even win the B1G. We don't get enough sacks, turnovers, or TFLs. We are solid, bend-but-don't-break defense. Honestly, I thought our defense would be better this season.
Having said that, I agree about Mattison. He is a great coach, and I certainly don't want to replace him, and I certainly don't yell at him. He makes bad calls, like every DC, and is not infallible, but I think he is a GREAT coach. It's hard to find guys like him.
Our defense has not improved from year-to-year. You could argue last year's strength of schedule accounted for our decline, but this year we don't have that excuse and we are not playing better. I submit that if our defense hadn't been SO terrible under RR, Mattison wouldn't be viewed as a savior and patience would be wearing thin for some of pitchfork and torch fans who will complain that our staff sucks unless we're winning every game.
My larger point is that firing people leads to more change, and change is hard for college kids and college programs. If you're going to gripe about someone, have a viable alternative in mind that you can be real confident will get the job done, because otherwise we're just firing someone else in three years. I honestly believe--despite his bad calls and some poor gameplans--that Borges should get more time. Not becuase he has been a great coach (he hasn't) but because we are in the first full year of a transition after three years of transition and these kids deserve some continuity and a chance to execute a scheme that they have been recruited to run. If Borges can't show improvement in the next couple of years, I'll be side-by-side with everyone calling for his head. If we can get a spectacular OC who runs a similar system with a proven track record, I'm on board. But my point is that is very, very, very hard to find, and if we can't find it, let's give these coaches--and more importantly THESE KIDS--the chance to do what they were recruited to do.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Greg Mattison||
Greg Mattison is a great coach. If you think it's easy to find guys like Greg Mattison to get them to coach at Michigan, consider how much we had to pay him and where we got him. It's not easy to find his offensive alter ego.
That said, there is no way this fanbase would be pleased with Mattison's offensive equivalent. In 2011, GM allowed ND, Northwestern, Iowa, and a middling Ohio State team to score 24 points or more. Those are the kinds of games Borges gets castrated for around these parts. In 2012, with much better talent, GM allowed 25 from Air Force, 31 from Northwestern, and our defense lost us the Outback Bowl (I won't even mention the 41 we allowed to 'Bama). And this year our defense got shredded by AKRON (418 yards and 5.29 YPP), allowed 30 points to ND, let PSU drive to tie the game and then beat us in 3OT, and allowed 47 to Indiana.
Our fanbase would not tolerate those performances from an OC. Furthermore, I take issue with it not being harder to hide deficiencies on defense. GM has not had to deal with any personnel issues comparable to this year's OL.
But let's leave that argument for a moment, because I do completely agree that Mattison is an amazing--and rare--coach who gets more out of his players than does Borges.
The Cal guy? His offense is averaging less than 24 points/game, 3.57 YPC, and 5.16 YPP. After starting the season strong for three games, they haven't scored more then 28 points.
Georgia's OC is Mike Bobo. He's been at Georgia since he was a freshman in 1993. He's not coming to Michigan, and the question was, "Who would you prefer to Al Borges?"
Furthermore, since Mike Bobo took over as OC in 2006, Georgia has lost at least four games in five of his eight seasons, including a seven-loss effort in 2010. He's also coaching a program that has some of the best talent in the country, all of which was well-seasoned by the time he took over in 2006. He does a good job, but he's also loaded with talent and experience. You couldn't honestly compare him to Borges for another two seasons.
Again, I am not defending Borges or saying I think he's a spectacular coach. But I'm tired of all the bitching about how any competent OC would take our offense to the moon. Good coaches are damn hard to find, and if you're going to complain about Borges, offer a viable alternative.
FWIW, the two names that I would consider (if I wanted to fire Borges--which I don't) would be Danny Langsdorf (Oregon State OC) and Matt Limegrover (Minnesota OC). Both of those guys play for less prestigious programs and make a lot less money than Borges, and both fit Hoke's philosophy. I'm not sure we could get them, but they are somewhat realistic options.
But I certainly wouldn't bet that either of them would do better than Borges, and we'd be changing systems again, and acclimating our players to a new coach again, and recruiting would change a bit, too.
For a Funk replacement, the only guy on my list would TJ Woods (Wisconsin OL) and I'm not sure he'd come.
TL;DR - There is not a clearly better alternative to Borges that I can find (and I have actually looked), at least not one that I believe is worth another coaching transition at this point. We are just starting to try MANBALL, and I'd like to give this staff--and these players--more time before we scrap the system AGAIN. Art Briles ain't comin' to Michigan, and even if he wanted to be our OC, Hoke would never hire him.
So if you want to bitch about Borges, please do. But offer a realistic alternative. And don't forget that for as bad as our O-Line is, Borges has a QB on pace to be #2 in passing yards, a WR on pace to be #1 in receiving yards, put up record numbers in a single game, shredded a good ND defense, pummeled a good Minnesota defense, should have beaten PSU, and is still averaging 34.3 pts/game.
Finally, I think all fans should ask themselves this question: Why don't we yell at Mattison every time the opposing offense connects on a big play? We've allowed more points/game this year than last by almost a TD while playing weaker competition, and laid some pretty bad eggs while inviting offenses to make more big plays against us than in the previous two years. In fact, our scoring offense is ranked 39th, and our scoring defense is ranked 51st. So, why aren't you yelling at Mattison?
|2 weeks 3 days ago||That would have been||
That would have been hilarious.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||I like how you didn't answer||
I like how you didn't answer the question. I also like that you used a coach as an example that still had a losing record in year three of his tenure, and didn't start winning until he had some pretty ridiculously good talent.
It is not magic, but there isn't an OC out there that is winning national championships with sub-par talent.
So I'll ask again: who is the OC that would take the Michigan job and lead our offense to success? It certainly wasn't anyone we had during the Carr era.
My point is that these amazing coaches that making something out of nothing are EXTREMELY rare, and often can't put together a winning team even if they can get their offense to work correctly. Saban didn't win a NC until he had SEC talent. Same goes for Meyer.
I'm not saying there aren't some great coaches out there. I'm saying they are hard to come by, and people need to stop pretending that there is a simple solution to our OC issues and starting naming someone that has a chance of getting hired and might do a better job than AB.
So, instead of pretending this is a simple problem to solve, I'm challenging you to find a viable candidate for the U-M OC job.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||FALSE||
The Auburn offense was really good in Al's second year; maybe better than his first. The passing game wasn't as strong, but the running game was about 0.4 YPC better, and they scored more pts/gm.
2006 and 2007 are interesting comparisons to our current offense. Borges actually improved Cox's rating and YPA in 2006, but weaker O-Line and RB play seemed to hamper the offense. In 2007, they started nine different players on the O-line, including two true freshmen.
That said, there's lots of valid criticism in this podcast: too many rollouts, not enough deep to Funchess (or red zone targets), and a couple silly calls on key downs.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Who is this magical coach?||
Yeah, I'm really excited about that guy, too. What's his name?
I'm not saying I'm in love with Borges, but who's your alternative? Name someone that would realistically take the Michigan job that fits that description.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Great answers||
I'm glad the questions were asked, because Lewan's answers were hilarious.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||His answer...||
You won't like it, but in 2007, Auburn had an extremely inexperienced OL that was hit by injuries and started something like nine different players...that season somewhat resembles AB's job this year.
In 2007, Auburn averaged just 3.83 YPC on the ground. The 2013 Wolverines are averaging 3.24. The difference is in the passing game: the Tigers mustered just 6.51 YPA while U-M is cranking out 8.8 YPA.
Lost it this season's misery is the fact that Devin Gardner is on pace to finish with over 3,100 yards passing--good for #2 on the all-time list at U-M. And he is throwing the ball about 20% less than Navarre did in his record-setting 2003 campaign.
EDIT: this is NOT an endorsement of Borges; I just think he'd say the young O-Line is a challenge for anyone, and has been tough for him before.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Wait...||
You guys can fit your genitals into a light socket?
|2 weeks 3 days ago||You are, of course, correct.||
You are, of course, correct. Thank you.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||DG's day||
I was disappointed in Gardner's day. Northwestern could have had a couple of easy picks, he missed reads, locked onto receivers...
I understand that he is dealing with the very real possibility that he could get hit at any moment. I understand that the weather was bad. I understand that there were some bad play-calls. But he's got to do better for us to be successful.
He wasted some good protection in this game and missed some easy reads; we were fortunate to win. YAY NORTHWESTERN!
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Disagree||
Just two days ago he was willing to commit to Fitz as the guy. I'm not saying Fitz will find himself the #4 option, but it's clear the staff was pleased with Green and Smith. Even if he starts, Fitz will be sharing more carries and will have to produce.
The key from the game, IMO, was the pass pro. Green looked capable, and that's more than we've gotten from Fitz in a few weeks.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Moe Ways||
Moe Ways and DCD got robbed. That ball is not secure until the kid is way out of bounds. Terrible call, and one that the SJ should have been able to make.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||Fitz||
According to the presser, he had a concussion. Not sure he was even cleared.
That said, Hoke's non-commital stance on starting Fitz this week speaks volumes.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||AGREE||
Last year's losses:
That's the two undefeated teams that played for the NC, a Nebraska game that severely distorted by the loss of our best player, the undefeated Buckeyes, and one of the most underrated and best-coached teams in college football that probably would have won the B1G.
This year, we lost to a below-average PSU team and and average Nebraska at HOME. While I believe MSU compares to any of the above teams save 'Bama, the PSU and Nebraska losses are inexcusable.
Only beating Ohio or a decent bowl opponent could make this year's record as pleasing or moreso than last year's, and that assumes we beat Iowa--which I think is a VERY dangerous bet.
|2 weeks 3 days ago||AB Head-scratchers||
I was not in favor of going for the fourth and two. I usually am, but this game's circumstances made that choice pretty unattractive to me. But I was far more disappointed when I saw the formation and play-call.
Borges did some things really well in this game, and deserves credit for those: the bubble-type screens, the draw plays, and his OT play-calling in general.
But man, some of those calls. The fourth and two was the worst, but I agree that we are generally over-using waggle and naked rollouts. I don't mind moving the pocket, but I'm not sure the play action pocket moves are paying dividends.
As for the first-and-goal on our first drive, Gardner checked into that running play. Probably from the naked bootleg--which I wouldn't have liked either--but that was not AB's call.
What I don't get is that we finally find some success with a formation (I-form twins with Funchess uncovered) and then we don't use it on critical downs.
I REALLY wish we'd add the Wisconsin jet sweep into our I-form package; using Norfleet as the jet/decoy. This accomplishes exactly what the bubble-type play to Funchess does, but also gets another play-maker on the field and gives another look the defense needs to prepare for.
|2 weeks 4 days ago||Ummm....||
Wisconisn is #1 in the country in YPC, and #6 in YPG.
Their rushing offense is the envy of the COUNTRY, not just the B1G.
|2 weeks 6 days ago||AWESOME!||
Great diary. I agree with just about everything you've said.
I think Borges and Hoke have basically said, "Whether we win or not, we're going to start learning how to MANBALL." That stance is obviously having an undesirable effect on our record this season. Whether or not it pays dividends in 2014 will probably determine the future of this coaching staff, or at least the offensive side of it.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||Not Trolling||
He actually started at Oregon for a year, where he was a very good OC running Belotti's system, but here's the rest:
To sum-up: UCLA got better for three years, then got worse. Not a steady decline at all. At Indiana, he got worse in his second year. At Auburn, he had two great years, and two years that weren't as good. At SDSU, they got decidedly better in his second season.
My point is that it's not nearly as linear as you suggest, that the sample size is small, and that he's never been anywhere for longer than five years...so it's really hard to say he's the cause of the drop in production.
But yes, at Auburn and UCLA his last two years were his worst. I'm not denying that. But I think it's hugely over-simplifying to say that he was the cause of the decline.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||You mean||
Until Gardner is dead?
I'm sorry, but the chuck-and-duck offense won't work if we can't block. DG will be annihilated.
If your line can't block, your TE can't block, and your RB can't block...you can't run an offense.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||Um||
That's exactly what we've done, and we still can't block it.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||THIS||
You have basically summed-up my view of AB this season: he knows what we need to do, but he can't get his players to do it. That is ultimately his responsibility.
The guy understands constraints, but can't seem to coach his players to get it done. AND he is happy to set-up his constraints by burning downs...I do not like that.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||EXACTLY||
But don't forget that Bosch (or any other player) also cannot be asked to block.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||I like how are now ignoring||
I like how are now ignoring his achievement at SDSU.
He also had two great years at Auburn, and even in the year he was fired his offense was 24th in FEI.
At UCLA in 2000, he had the 39th best scoring offense in the FBS playing the TOUGHEST schedule in the country that year. Not too bad.
Anyway, my point is not to say that Borges hasn't had bad years--he most definitely has. But he's also had good years.
I am NOT a Borges apologist, but the guy has had a lot of success. If you want to pretend he hasn't to build your case, go ahead.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||Has been posted||
I don't have the energy to go back and find all of these posts, but lots of people have posted opinions on this.
The spread can make offense look easy, but it certainly isn't easy. Ask Miami (OH), the worst scoring offense in college football.
FWIW, I thought AB's gameplan of max protect against MSU was on target. But if you can't block a blitz, you can't run any offense and expect to be successful.
Against Nebraska, we though we could run; we couldn't, and Borges wasted too many downs trying to, IMO. But as some point we have to learn to run the multiple scheme Borges and Hoke want, and I think they're clearly saying, "We are going to start learning how to run a pro-style offense right now, no matter what."
I don't like that attitude because it's costing downs and games, but I'd be pretty pissed next year if sucked at the pro style again because we didn't have any experience running it.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||Great post||
I love Brian's work as much as SC's, but there is no need for the tone of Brian's post.
Having a point-counterpoint is good for the board.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||FALSE||
And what made the SDSU talent NFL-caliber? Did Hoke's arrival magically turn bad players into great ones? You can't argue the guy is a bad coach except when he inherits great talent when SDSU had ZERO four-star players on offense. It was a mostly two-star team with a healthy does of three-star guys, but no one thought they were NFL talent until Hoke and Borges coached them.
|3 weeks 1 day ago||You are assuming that there||
You are assuming that there is a play-call our players could execute well on a consistent basis.
It's funny that you bring up Bo, since Hoke and Borges are saying the same things Bo said. If our team can't execute simple blocking schemes, what's the magic play they can execute?
Borges has tried virtually every running play, and then gets criticized for having too many plays. Early in the season, he got criticized for running too few plays.
What are these magical plays you speak of?
I am not absolving Borges--it's his job to get the offense to execute. But I am saying that calling different plays won't solve our problems: we can't block. What football play fixes that?
|3 weeks 1 day ago||Yikes||
While I agree that some of AB's calls are head-scratchers, I think there are some enormous assumptions being made here.
First of all, SC is not trying to discredit Brian, but is rather offering a counter-point to the analysis given. A very intelligent coach (SC) breaking down plays for the board is a very good thing for the board. To challenge him on the basis of frustration with his cogent analysis does not seem constructive.
Second, your writing style makes it seem as if there is some magical play-call that is easily executed and would solve all of our problems. As if switching to the spread is the sovereign panacea for our offenses disease. This ignores the fact that while several of college football's best offenses are spread outfits, several of college footballs WORST offenses are also spread outfits. The spread does not make you a good offense. Oregon just lost to Stanford. Again.
Third, there is no "easy" play to beat a defense. Kerridge was asked to make, IMO, a pretty easy block in space, and he failed to do so. If he even redirects that guy, the play could go for big yardage. What is your "easy" plan to make this offense successful? Where are the picture pages of the plays that this team can execute? Borges has tried virtually every type of play fathomable, and isn't getting results. If we threw a few bubble screens and they didn't work, would you be satisfied?
Fourth, I agree with you on this: several of AB's calls have been poor, and this game was no exception. But SC's point is that lots of our mistakes are NOT because the task is too difficult, but rather because the task simply isn't done. In play two (above), for example, if Bosch blocks the LB, this could turn out to be a very good gain. And Glasgow appears to identify the blitz pre-snap! Bosch doesn't need to manhandle the guy--just get a hat on him. That is not any "harder" than any blocking demanded by a spread offense. Play three is the same problem, except Bosch is pulling. That said, play four is a disaster, and should have been audibled.
Fifth, sometimes Brian makes mistakes. SC does too. In play one, I am pretty confident the slot LB is NOT blitzing. Watch his first step--it is lateral to the outside to cover the receiver. He reads the backfield and crashes down to make a tackle. And as Brian said, this three yard play later set-up some more effective plays.
I think SC's point is that it's pretty ridiculous to assume that a schematic change would solve our problems, or that simply calling a different play would make things "easier" for our players who aren't very good at executing anything. My main divergence from SC is that I agree with Brian that Borges does throw away downs too often, and doesn't pass enough on first down.
That said, Borges and Hoke have basically said, "Okay, this team is now composed largely of "our" players, and we need to start running our system so that we don't suck it running it forever." While this has obviously cost us some downs and some games, it is EXACTLY what RR did for THREE YEARS at Michigan.
Bottom line: Borges is making some bad calls and deserves some criticism. But there is no magic tonic for terrible blocking, no play that doesn't require OL execution, no system that magically erases huge shortcomings. That said, it is up to the coaches to get the players to execute the system they are running, and they are failing in that endeavor right now. For that, they should be held responsible, and SC has said that over and over.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||Great post||
I did a similar post after last year's MSU game showing how we got exactly what we wanted and didn't execute.
I completely agree with every single word of your post, and endorse you for President.
I wish so much that more people would look for the cause of the problem rather than just blaming someone.
I was serious about the President thing.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||Front page||
This content is front-page worthy.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||Borges||
In essence, I agree with the OP. But I'm going to add another angle.
Borges knows football theory. He's had amazing success calling plays at the FBS level--success few coaches have had. Not surprisingly, his success STRONGLY correlates with the quality of his O-Lines.
He's also had some major failures as an OC. He is not a guy that is going to scrap his scheme to paper over the deficiencies of his blockers. Obvious is obvious.
But this season he's been trying lots of different ways to find plays that will work for this team, despite their poor O-line. It is quite natural for a coach to vary his plays when his base plays aren't working.
We started the season running the zone stretch--it quickly became apparent that play was a liability. We've used, power, iso, inside zone, inverted veer, shotgun, pistol...we've tried just about everything, and none of it has worked.
Perhaps AB's failing is that he wouldn't stick with the bad plays longer, so that we could get better at them. I don't know. But he has tried lots of different ways to move the ball, and none of them are working (unless INDIANA).
The volume/variety of plays, IMO, is reflective of our inability to execute what we hoped would be our base plays.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||Wisconsin?||
You don't need more to make it work. You need better.
Wisconsin is not a recruiting powerhouse like 'Bama or Stanford, but they are getting it done.
And if the spread is a sovereign panacea, why are some of the worst offenses in college football running the spread?
Almost any scheme can work if it's executed properly. It's up to the coaches to build a scheme their players can execute.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||AMAZING||
Thanks for all the work that went into this. The data is very interesting and certainly suggests that youth in the interior is a big issue.
I am shocked that OT experience is basically useless. I am interested in the passing game.
However, Michigan is currently ranked 111th in YPC. Just for perspective, the last three teams to finish 111th in YPC are UAB, Troy, and Louisiana-Monroe. This is unacceptable, even if we're starting five pylons connected by kite string. This is Michigan.
Youth is a factor. Coaching, player development, and schemes are factors, too.
After Saturday, it's hard for me to find any excuses for this coaching staff. A performance like that against a team like Nebraska is completely unacceptable. That game, more than any other since Hoke's arrival, is damning to our O-Line coach and our OC. While I agree that we should have been able to run the ball against Nebraska, we couldn't. AB did not do a good enough job adjusting.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||WOW||
I believe in using data, but I also believe it doesn't explain everything, or even fully explain anything.
That said--this picture looks remarkably accurate: a clear top tier in the B1G (Wiscy, OSU, MSU) with a second-tier (U-M, Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa) and a close third-tier (Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State, Illinois).
|4 weeks 1 day ago||AGREE||
But I would mention that even it is the most significant problem, we should be better than we are, and that ultimately falls on the coaches.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||AGREE||
"My general view of the OLine is this: I don't expect them to be good or even really average. I just don't think they should be this historically bad."
Now this I agree with. I expect more from Michigan; more from the coaches, and more from the players. If anyone were to say, "the line is only bad because of youth," I would argue with them just as heartily as I have with the OP.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||AGREE||
Youth is not the only factor, but to say that it isn't a factor is pretty ignorant.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||True||
And our staff deserves some blame for that. But to say that inexperience isn't a huge factor is to ignore both reality and the data presented in this very piece.
I don't think anyone is saying that we should be satisfied with our line's performance, but pretending inexperience isn't a big part of the problem is pretty specious reasoning.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||BINGO||
Can't say it any better.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||Not unique||
IME, football coaches are very territorial dudes, and have plenty to do when focusing on their role. Defensive position coaches will often make recommendations about tweaks to the DC, but rarely does a coach on one side of the ball tell a coach on the other side of the ball what he should do.
In fact, I've witnessed some stubborn independence by position coaches who won't even take advice from other guys on their side of the ball.
I can't say for sure what it's like at the top levels of college football, but I suspect they are so busy with their jobs they don't have much time to tell other people how to do theirs.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||Probably||
Maybe it's because he respects him.
While it doesn't fit into the nice, neat narrative of AL BORGES - SUPERVILLAIN! the fact is that Borges has bailed-out Mattison's defense on many occasions: ND, NW and OSU in '11; Air Force and NW again in '12 (and nearly South Carolina); and ND and Indiana in '13 (probably Akron too).
Our offense isn't terrible, despite the assertions that it is, and while Borges is guilty of not always putting the best product on the field, Mattison has had some bad days, too.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||This is short?||
Well said, but no points for brevity.
I'm really not sure Indiana's offense compares favorably to Oregon, Baylor, A&M, or even LSU. They are 6th in FEI, and I would take those other teams' offense first.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||3x1||
I like this idea also, but we don't really have four receivers for that system, and that leaves five on the line with just Fitz in the backfield.
In an ideal world, we could run that. I'm afraid we'd have been even worse off if we'd attempted that on Saturday.
A big part of our problem was that Fitz couldn't block on Saturday, and having only five on the LOS would have forced him into duty even more.
FWIW, my best idea was shotgun three wide with two backs (on either side of DG) in to block; in hindsight the problem with that concept was that we'd have had two guys who couldn't block in the backfield. That said, it's not like the line was doing such a great job.
|4 weeks 2 days ago||Thanks.||
Feel free to add any insight; you're much smarter than I am in the football world.
|4 weeks 2 days ago||You may be right||
OSU can run the read option efficiently, block better than U-M, and they have good weapons on the outside. It will be a tough match-up for MSU.
Perhaps of greater concern in that game is that MSU will have to score; Indiana managed some yards and points vs. MSU, but the Spartans were able to score more. If OSU gets to 28 points, MSU will have a tough time winning that one.
That said, there's no way you can count MSU out of that game. If Braxton has an off day or makes a couple of mistakes, Sparty might get the win.
|4 weeks 2 days ago||Better!||
Thanks for the accurate data. We are definitely younger, and we are SUPER-ULTRA-MEGA-HYPER-TETRA-UBER young in the middle, where our problems lie.
I'm not sure this does anything other than reinforce how youth can negatively impact performance.
Additionally, youth is our only option. The other teams on here (with the notable exception of UCLA) that have youth on their line are teams that had good upperclassmen as options, but the youth was so good they passed them.
At U-M, we have a grand total of FIVE scholarship OL with more experience than RS Frosh: Lewan, Schofield, Miller, Bryant, and Glasgow. Miller was beaten-out by Glasgow, a former walk-on. Bryant has never been healthy.
Facts are stubborn things, and the RR era badly hurt our O-Line stock--the position that uses redshirts most frequently and values experience the most in college football.
I'm not excusing our coaching; we need to be better and that always falls to the coaches. But we are, undoubtedly, an extremely young and thin group up front still, and that does not bode well for us.
|4 weeks 2 days ago||99% sure||
Denard actually says, "Shoot...Dang it!"
|4 weeks 2 days ago||Excellent, measured answers||
This is why I love MGoBlog.
Great answers to all three questions, full of rational thinking despite the temptation (that I feel myself) to get MOAR ANGREEE!
While next year should show us some marked improvement from Hoke's first full class (2012), we won't be in full bloom until 2015 or 2016. Dantonio had to deal with similar circumstances.
Perhaps Saban and Meyer have done worse things to college football than be complete douchebags: they have created unrealistic expectations for fans. And even that is a bit skewed: Saban has never even immediately taken a program from bad to great. MSU only had fewer than five losses in his fifth season, LSU only had fewer than three losses in one season, and even at 'Bama his first season was a 7-6 attempt. In fact, at LSU, he was 5-3 in the SEC his first three seasons.
Meyer is the true exception to the rule. Dude turns around programs on day one, and may be the best scheme-and-execute coach in college football history. I hate Ohio State as much as anyone, but to deny Meyer's ability to win is to deny reality. In 12 years as a HC, Meyer has ZERO seasons with fewer than eight wins and only two eight-win campaigns: his first year with Bowling Green (YTBG) and his last year with Florida. While his character may be rightfully questioned, that guy can get his kids to execute his excellent gameplans.
|4 weeks 2 days ago||Thank you||
For this additional data. It really demonstrates just how young our interior line is.
As for the OP, I appreciate the post, but I'm not sure it proves any point. Our interior is where all of our problems are; our 4.5 guys are playing well. All is see that is that where there is experience, there is better play.
|4 weeks 3 days ago||Wha?||
Stalemated ND? Not even close. ND was in our backfield all game. It took a heroic performance from DG to win that game. He made throws with guys in his face, ran the ball well, and even made some pre-snap adjustments.
MSU was BY FAR the best defense we've faced, and one cannot reasonably argue that because the current line didn't fare well against MSU that they're any worse than the group that started the season.
FWIW, I like the current line because it signals a recognition that we're going to have win games with our passing attack; we just can't get it done on the ground.
It may be true that the original group was better, but beating one good opponent (ND)--who was in our backfield all game--and three craptastic teams does not exactly define success.
|4 weeks 3 days ago||THIS||
This whole Scout article is a load of crap. How stupid are we? Do you really think Greg Mattison doesn't know about advanced DL techniques? Do we really believe that pre-game warm-ups are a good coaching barometer? Do we really think some guy's opinion (which could be biased or a flagrant attempt at bashing Michigan publicly) means anything?
Greg Mattison has coached some of the best college defenses, college defensive players, NFL defesnes, and NFL defensive players. I think it's safe to say he's not in over his head. And FWIW, club, rip, and swim moves are beating NFL O-linemen every week. They are vital techniques, and are by no means any less important than turning shoulders.
Watch the game again. It's not shoulders getting turned or even brute strength that's getting MSU through the line most of the time, it's missed assignments and free runners. The only guy that I saw consistently get out-muscled was Fitz.
Have we gotten to the point where we'll beleive anything that reinforces our ignorant view of our coaching staff?
|4 weeks 3 days ago||Excellent, thank you||
Your posts are one of the reasons I'll keep coming back to this blog, no matter how bad things get. Thank you.
I completely agree with everything you said. I think Borges blew it in the first half against PSU, and I think anyone who believes he could have done anything to beat MSU is completely deluded. Now, execution and player development fall on the coaches as much as scheme does, but play-calling was NOT the problem on Saturday. Offensive system was NOT the problem on Saturday. The problem was that they were better.
I find it fascinating that "Borges apologists" have a label on this board while anyone who says anything negative about Mattison is branded as a moronic traitor. I thought Mattison's gameplan was worse than AB's on Saturday, and that we allowed State to do what they wanted on offense far too often. Don't get me wrong--I'm not calling for Mattison's job or even saying that our defense sucked (it didn't), but we didn't do enough to counter their passing game and we didn't get off the field on 3rd down. Unacceptable.
I am hoping for vast improvement for us next year; MSU will not be as good on defense, but we are on the road in EL again AND have to go to Columbus. It's going to be a tough to win our division, but at least everyone else has to play OSU too.
|4 weeks 3 days ago||+1 TRUTH||
Thank you. The malicious ignorance of the board is hard to stomach
|4 weeks 3 days ago||The problem||
Not fixing the point system has created a bigger issue than the MGoCreators counted on. Not only do the idiots' posts show-up now, they are attracting more idiots, and making it okay to be an idiot.
The failure to address this issue is at least as glaring as any failure of our football team this season.
For me, it's a series of moments more than just one single thing. The commenters (and writers) that repeatedly post contradictory statements about what they want to see and how they want to see it are so chock full of ignorance that I no longer think of MGoBlog as a source of information, but rather an advertisement for a style of play.
I will not stop coming back to the site, but I'm less likely to post diaries and read comments. I just check the site like I do all the Michigan news sites to see if there's information worth knowing. It's sad how far the board has fallen.
We need negs back.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||Bright Spots||
There was some good news, and it's worth mentioning. There are a few guys that played well, and suggest that our future may be...well, at least not this:
I hate looking forward to next year. But there is reason for hope. In my mind--assuming we win at least a couple more games--Hoke deserves at least one more year before he's judged too harshly. Next year he'll have a roster mostly full of his guys, and he needs to produce, even on the road in EL and Columbus.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||Just not good enough||
Play-calling wasn't the issue today. Scheme wasn't the issue.
When you can't block a running or a passing play, you can't move the ball. When you can't get a pass rush on defense, you can't stop the pass.
This season was always going to come down to our success in the trenches. Our lines--on both sides--aren't good enough. We don't have a single game-breaker on defense.
On offense, we have some weapons, but when you can't block, you can't play football. Fitz was awful in pass pro, the young middle was awful...game over.
I am not excusing the coaches. It's their job to coach-up our kids and maximize their talent. I don't think we're getting that. But AB's gameplan had NOTHING to do with our loss today. In fact, I liked most of his calls. You cannot execute anything if you can't block--that is on the coaches and the players. And it's awfully hard to play defense if your line can't pressure the QB--we can't. Quite honestly, I was more frustrated with Mattison's calls than AB's today.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||Gross exaggeration||
AB doesn't run constraint plays? This is so far off. I've criticized Borges this season, and I stand by it, but this is a ridiculous statement that evidences either a flagrant bias or denial of reality.
Borges runs the ball to set-up his big play passing game. The runs are the constraint plays. His entire offense is predicated on constraint plays. His route trees and progressions are all designed to make defenses pay for over-playing his tendencies.
I'm not saying the guy is the best OC ever or advocating for him. What I am saying is that the guy basically calls a "constraint" play on every play. All of his plays have variations and counter-punches built-in. They're not always effective, and they're certainly not always the ones we'd like to see, but Heiko, that was just an off-the-charts absurd assertion.
|4 weeks 6 days ago||Great post||
This is why I love MGoBlog! Thanks OP.
There is no doubt that Meyer inherited a FAR better situation: better players, better culture, better fit. Hoke was saddled with players on both sides of the ball that did not fit his philosophy and still found fabulous success (a bit lucky, perhaps) in year one and decent success (a bit unlucky, perhaps) in year two.
But I really don't think you can put Hoke in Meyer's league as a scheme-and-execute coach at this point. Meyer has been successful everywhere he's been, and, while I tend to believe he's a bit of a douche and is definitely a win-at-all-costs type, you can't argue with success.
Let me be clear: I would not want Meyer to coach at Michigan. I'd rather have a Lloyd Carr type than a dude with as much shady history as Meyer. But it's awfully hard to look at their records and not conclude that Meyer is more likely to produce a winner.
All that said, I am very pleased with coach Hoke so far, and feel he has generally overachieved. His roster will not be adequately re-stocked until next season, and not really in full bloom until 2015. Time will tell if Hoke is an elite coach. Meyer has already proven it.
|4 weeks 6 days ago||Don't care how it happens||
I just want a win. U-M 21-20.
After two weeks of waiting, I'm more excited for this game than I am nervous. That's good, I guess.
|4 weeks 6 days ago||VICTORY||
|5 weeks 12 hours ago||Um, yeah, Sparty gonna Spart||
First of all, Sparty has PLENTY of in-state fans that are not alums, and they don't complain about that. But their school has no national appeal.
Second, I gave a talk yesterday to a Rotary club and met a Spartan. His granddaughter just asked him if she should go to MSU or U-M, and why. He responded: "If you want to have a good time, go to Michigan State. If you want an education, go to Michigan." Michigan's academic and athletic prowess make it a package that very, very few schools can come close to matching. Even Spartans know this deep in their soulless hearts.
Finally, I am not a U-M grad, but much of my family is. My aunt actually raised money for the university on a full-time basis for years after going to school there. U-M has been in blood and on my TV since I was born, but getting a scholarship and the opportunity to play college sports elsewhere lured me away.
Saying you can't be a fan of a school you didn't attend is akin to saying you can't support a professional sports team if you don't live in that team's city. It's pure jack-assery, and exactly what I expect from MSU.
|5 weeks 12 hours ago||More scheme questions||
Both Borges and Mattison LOVE to talk football. Instead of asking stupid, emotion-driven questions designed to create headlines, we need the reporters to ask scheme and strategy questions (not about what Michigan WILL do, but general questions) and get them talking.
Borges never tips his hand, but he will get going about football theory. I want more of that from both of them.
As for Hoke, you're never going to get anything other than Fort Schembechler.
|5 weeks 19 hours ago||This||
Is Awesome. Thanks to both of you for the detail.
As for the whole "scared of MSU" thing, no. MSU is favored, and should be. Michigan has not yet proven they can get it done with any sort of consistency, and that's what this game will require: consistent execution.
We need to be Ice Man instead of Maverick in this one. We can't afford to make mistakes, and, quite frankly, Maverick is unlikely to break open this MSU defense.
All that said, I have faith in that our team will step up to the challenge. 21-20 U-M.
|5 weeks 1 day ago||NO, and the facts||
You're wrong. At UCLA, Borges ran the ball more than he passed, rushing 2,235 (56%) times and calling only 1,741 (44%) pass plays. Just because he had a good QB doesn't mean he was a "pass-first" coordinator.
At Auburn, the only season Jason Campbell was his QB (2004), he ran the ball 64% of the time for 2,435 yards. That's a lot of smashmouth football. From 2005-2007 he called runs over 60% of the time. At Auburn, he was even more run heavy than he was at UCLA, running 2,023 (61%) times and passing just 1,281 (39%) times.
For his career, AB has called 56% runs and 44% passes. Running the WCO doesn't mean you're pass-first, and doesn't mean you're a finesse coach. Borges runs a lot and uses deep passes to get chunk yards, and that has been his pattern almost every season. The only season where he was really pass-heavy was at Oregon when he was coaching under Mike Belotti and executing Belotti's scheme.
There is no doubt he adjusts to the talent and strength of his team (and his head coach), but he's not a finesse coach.
|5 weeks 2 days ago||Not so linear||
SC doesn't defend the coaches ad nauseum. He's pointed out differences of opinion. He's simply saying that the people who act like Borges is a moron are morons.
It's good to question the coaches; even better to do so with evidence and a cogent argument. But it's foolish to call Borges an idiot or pretend that his understanding of the game is anything other than top-level.
I have disagreed with some of AB's decisions, but I won't pretend he's an idiot. There's a big difference.
|5 weeks 2 days ago||Not sure...||
This really depends on your definition of MANBALL, but Al has definitely been a power running game guy that runs more than he passes.
He's definitely NOT a finesse coach.
|5 weeks 2 days ago||What I would love to see||
Because of the exotic nature of MSU's blitzes--usually coming from the A-gap or the CBs--I'd rather have my extra help in the backfield. If DG starts in the shotgun and has a back on either side of him (Butt and Fitz) then those guys can read the inside blitz or the CB blitz. An in-line TE might not be able to help with either one.
Of course, the downside of this is that backfield blocking is not typically as effective as LOS blocking--those backs probably aren't going to hold their blocks very long and the pocket will be constricted. But that risk is tempered by the fact that now we've got three guys running routes--Gallon, Funchess, and Chesson/Dileo/Jackson/Reynolds--that can make the defense pay. If the blitz doesn't come, the backs can leak out to force the LB's to respect them.
I'm not sure if this would work, but it's a concept that I think makes sense against MSU and would allow our backs to keep their LBs off balance with blocking and route-running. I'll take Fitz vs. any of their LBs, and I'll certainly take Gallon and Funchess one-on-one against any of their DBs. We just have to keep DG on his feet!
|5 weeks 3 days ago||Not "Wow"||
Four base plays in the run/pass game is PLENTY. 'Bama has TWO in the running game (inside/outside zone) and they do just fine. RR, Kelly, and Meyer all probably use about four.
One power/zone play can be run out of 10 different sets, and then you can play pass off of that. Route trees are about exposing the defense's intentions (man or zone; number in deep coverage) and using the width and depth of the field. Not hard to use four basic trees and vary off of that.
You can run A LOT of variations off of four plays in both the running and passing game. Most teams use this base concept.
If you think college kids can handle having 20 nuanced plays in the run/pass game, I think you're being unrealistic.
|5 weeks 3 days ago||Smart answer||
Please stay neutral and keep getting the info from these kids; I love it.
Great write-up. Thanks.
|5 weeks 3 days ago||I like that list||
Kearns' accuracy is uncanny. He confidently fits the football into tiny windows, and I think he appears to be on another level when compared to the other three on that list. In fact, accuracy-wise, that is one of the best reels I've ever seen from a HS kid. I believe he looks better than either Morris or Speight in that regard. It's not just how he can pick his spot, it's how he can vary the arc of the pass to drop it in. He's the kind of kid that can hit a receiver in the facemask. Amazing for a kid his age.
That said, he's smaller, and not as athletic. I really liked Johns' film, too. He looks like a gutsy, no-nonsense type. He's not as accurate as Kearns, but he appears to be the only one on that list that's asked to run the ball, and he does it well. Looks built enough to handle punishment.
Neal and Malzone are both strong-armed, accurate throwers, but don't appear to be spectacular. Both would be great recruits, IMO, even if they're not as accurate as Kearns or as athletic as Johns. They are probably more accurate than Johns, but Johns appears to be (just based off of film) a more emotional, gutsy leader.
None of these guys are statues, and they all show the ability to extend the play. I think this is Al's wish list, in order of preference:
I don't think Borges recruits a Navarre (too immobile), or, obviously, a Denard (not accurate enough or big enough). He's looking for accurate passers with escapability before he's looking for arm strength or pure speed.
|5 weeks 3 days ago||Indiana?||
Our gameplan against Indiana was decidedly different from anything we've seen this season. It's closest relative was ND. If we KNOW we're going to line-up in shotgun over 50% of the time and/or pass more from under center, wouldn't we want the best OL for that gameplan?
Magnuson is not a drive blocker. Borges knows this. If he's starting, we're not going all out MANBALL.
|5 weeks 3 days ago||NOPE||
This isn't simple division...it's the amount of yardage you gain per attempt. If we gain 27 yards on -2 carries, how many yards would we gain on one positive carry? That's what yards/attempt measures.
The answer in this case = infinity
|5 weeks 3 days ago||OL Starters||
If we are starting Magnuson at RG, I have to believe we'll see the more spread-based concepts we saw against Indiana. Don't get me wrong--there will still be plenty of under center stuff, but starting Mags is an admission that MANBALL will not be the focus of our offense.
I think our best shot at winning is utilizing a heavy dose of max protect to snuff the double-a blitzes and letting Gallon and Funchess try to win their match-ups outside.
I actually think the big key for us will be our defense; we need to hold them to 17 points or less to have a decent chance, IMO. Obviously, life gets tough for our defense if we're giving-up short fields or pick-sixes on offense.
|5 weeks 3 days ago||AWESOME!||
We got 27 yards on negative two carries? BEST RUSHING AVERAGE EVER!!!
|5 weeks 3 days ago||B1G Championship||
This game is a MUST win if we want to have a chance at the B1G title. Even if we win, we probably still have to win out to make the B1G game, since MSU probably won't lose again.
I think our offense will score 17-24 points. The questions are: Can our defense stop MSU? Will we give them turnovers that lead to short fields or defensive TDs?
I don't know, man. We have a pretty solid D but no game-breakers. On offense, I think we'll only score if we use the Indiana/ND gameplan and DG plays like he did against ND. That's a pretty high risk offense, but I'd rather lose playing that way than lose playing conservative, I-form football we KNOW we're no good at.
So here's my uneasy prediction: MSU 20 U-M 21
|6 weeks 21 hours ago||"Guard"ed Optimism||
If we're keeping Bosch and Magnuson at the guard spots, I have to believe we're going to be in the shotgun more. Mags is definitely not a masher at this point in his career, and is better served using his athleticism to block in space. Don't me wrong--we'll still try some under center stuff to set-up play action, but if Magnuson is your starter at RG, expect a heavy dose of shotgun.
I hope Borges uses the multiple calls he used against Indiana, although I'm sure he won't get 83 plays against MSU. 60% or more shotgun, please.
|6 weeks 3 days ago||MSU's defense||
State is not going to do anything differently than they have been on defense. They'll play cover four, frequently use the double-A-gap blitzes, and use press coverage.
Their defense is not unpredictable; it is simple, it is smart, it is well-executed. We have to win some match-ups to score points:
Basically, we have to win our match-ups with their very good secondary, keep their very good D-Line and LBs out of backfield, and have Butt, Chesson, Dileo (if healthy), Norfleet, or someone step up. All of these things are really hard to do.
|6 weeks 6 days ago||I'm afraid it may be both||
While I won't defend AB's play-calling--particularly on first down--I do believe he's in a tough spot. The OL is not very good, as evidenced by the fact that we'll see two first-time starters at guard tomorrow. And his concerns about DG, while perhaps less concerning than our ridiculous running game, are well-founded.
He doesn't have an easy job this season. Let's pray that Wellman (S&C coach) can get these OL youngsters strong in a hurry, or next year will be another rough ride.
|6 weeks 6 days ago||RB Metric||
Obviously, the RB metric is really judging the success of the running game when a player carries the ball, because I think Fitz has been playing very well since the bye.
The numbers on 3rd down support my (and almost everyone's) point that we should passing to set-up the run instead of the other way around.
The argument that DG is a turnover machine holds no water when you're forcing yourself into 3rd-and-11. Now you MUST pass, and your turnover-prone QB is put in a situation where he's much more likely to turn it over.
I'd much rather see us come out throwing on first down with Gallon/Funchess in a one-on-one situation than being forced to throw against a defense that knows it's coming on 3rd down.
|6 weeks 6 days ago||1st Down||
If we lose, it would be a supreme disappointment, and the end of any hopes of a shot at the B1G title. So Iet's just ignore that scary and somehow real possibility.
What I'm watching for is our production on 1st down. I don't really care how we do it (although it seems pretty obvious our power running game won't make it work consistently) but we need to average at least 4 YPP on first down for me to be happy. I'm interested to see how AB addresses this.
|7 weeks 14 hours ago||SC is right...but||
I completely agree with SC's assessment of the OTs and the play-calling. It is spot on. He has demonstrated perfectly valid reasons for all of the calls Borges made.
BUT, that doesn't get to my specific gripe. Borges uses "set-up" plays to open spaces for big plays later. He does this very well. But his big plays are already set-up when we start the game because teams are playing to our tendency (ie, run on first).
What I would like to have seen (and to see) is for Borges to come out throwing, and force teams to do what PSU did--switch to seven in the box. THEN we can run the ball.
I understand AB's hesitancy--his QB is a turnover machine. But we've proven we can't run the ball against stacked fronts. And we have two very good receiving options in Gallon and Funchess, and some good role players in Dileo, Butt, and Chesson.
Borges should, IMO, be using the pass to set-up the run early in games with our team. We simply have not shown the ability to run the ball with any consistency. And he should be quicker to bail from the MANBALL philosophy to try force the defense to react.
We just can't run into stacked fronts. So I think it's on our OC to "un-stack" the defense. That said, I understand his hesitation given DG's proclivity for turnovers.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||+1 Funny||
Now that's what we need on this board.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||Thanks||
Great post. I completely agree; I love well-founded criticism, but there has been far too much pure hatred.
You are a knowledgable poster--even for a coach--and I value your posts and hope you keep them up.
There are some valid criticisms of Borges--the biggest in my mind is his handling of the 2nd and 4th OTs--but there is far too much of personal insults. We're not MSU, fergodsakes.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||FALSE||
Borges has had four seasons with a 60% passer in 17 years. Considering the offense he runs and the YPA he gets, that's not too bad.
But he does deserve to be questioned for his play-calling, particularly in the 2nd and 4th OTs, when we had the ball first.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||100% Agree||
When we were on offense second, I had no issue with Borges playing for the FG, since Gibbons has been so money. People criticizing these choices are clearly just pissed, because if you asked me how many times out of 10 I'd take a 33-yard FGA from Gibbons for the win on a windless night, I'd say 11.
When we were on offense first, there's no excuse for not going for the end zone.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||It's not the MLB||
I'm worried about the WILL, not the MIKE. He is most definitely reading the guard (if he's doing his job) and should shoot that hole if the guard comes out to the MIKE. There is no way Schofield gets there in time to block him if he shoots that gap.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||WOAH||
Borges is worse than GERG? Not even close. We had one of the worst defenses in the country with GERG, and were completely unable to stop other teams from scoring. Borges is taking heat in a game where we scored 34 points in regulation.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||+1 Funny||
You sir, need points for this.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||Not really a counter then||
I think you lose a lot of the deception on this play if your guards don't step right at the snap. Bryant needs to block the NT to make the counter work, IMO.
I think Glasgow got faked out by the LB biting so hard on the counter. He takes the wrong path, IMO, and that doesn't help. I'm not sure he and Schofield block both of those LBs anyway, but it certainly could have been better.
I'd score this one 60% OL, 40% playcall. I like that Al used the counter, but I'd rather be throwing against that front.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||If we were 6-0, I'd be||
If we were 6-0, I'd be inclined to agree. Borges has always taken his shots on this board--as would any offensive coordinator--but this is the first time I've seen almost the entire board attack him.
The problem is that we've almost lost to two terrible teams, and did lose to a mediocre team with a true freshman QB and no discernible defense.
If we go 9-3, we're showing progress, and I'll probably be happy.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||Yeah, no||
MANBALL can work. Alabama does it, Stanford does it, Wisconsin does it. You just need to block it right.
That said, when it's not working, it's not working, and we need to do something else.
|7 weeks 2 days ago||+1 Funny||
Thank you, sir. I needed that.
|7 weeks 2 days ago||Interesting||
I enjoyed the data. It's interesting to see that Stanford was able to transition so quickly.
There are some significant differences though:
Our situations are not comparable. I also didn't mention that Stanford plays in the Pac-12, where MANBALL is rare, not the corn-fed B1G where defenses eat until they're heavier than the offense and then thay HULK SMASH!!!
We're still only halfway into our MANBALL transition, but it sucks so far. That's all I know.
|7 weeks 2 days ago||Don't need to bubble; don't need to audible||
We don't really need to run a bubble screen out of this formation. A quick pass to the outside WR (Gallon, I think) with the other WR (Funchess, I think) sprinting in front of him to block the CB is all we need. The bubble screen would be great, but clearly this staff doesn't want to waste practice time on such things.
If this were done, it would be Gallon one-on-one with the safety. If he beats him, he scores a TD. If he doesn't, 5-6 yards is probably a worst-case scenario.
Not only should the quick pass be the play, it shouldn't require an audible. This defensive alignment is so clearly begging for this play that DG, Gallon, and Funchess should immediately switch to it upon lining-up.
The best part is that this requires almost no practice for it to be successful. DG has to make a quick, hard pass to Gallon, Funchess has to get to the CB, and Gallon needs to catch and run. This is easy, backyard football. The O-Line needs to hold their blocks for about one second, and can still run block, though on the stretch play Williams would need to occupy the EMLOS so that he couldn't disrupt the pass.
The point is that Brian is correct: this is easy yardage if we take it. But we don't.
|7 weeks 2 days ago||+1 to the OP||
I agree with the OP. But man, if we don't improve our stubborn play-calling, we will be looking at 8-4 as a blessing.
I have not called for anyone to be fired, nor do I believe anyone should be fired...yet. But that doesn't mean we can't have some blunt criticism of some of the more boneheaded choices we've seen from this staff and team.
As I've said before, problems abound:
But as the season has unfolded, so have a few strengths:
We need to do a better job of taking advantage of our strengths, and minimizing our weaknesses. I think the board is justifiably frustrated that's not happening.
That said, it doesn't mean we need to fire everybody or assume we're going to lose every game.
|7 weeks 2 days ago||Reality vs. Borges||
Al Borges seems set against dealing with reality: he doesn't have a good OL, he has two very good (if not great) receiving threats, and a very good QB.
What Seth's numbers and pictures show is that opposing teams can play the odds and keep the game close enough to win, because we just don't go away from tendency enough.
We've run the ball 256 times this season. We've thrown 153 times. We're throwing 37% of the time. 37 F***ING PERCENT!!! With Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess? Not to mention Dileo, Butt, Chesson, and Norfleet? That's criminal.
I know we don't have the best receivers of all time, but damn. 37% is pathetic. That's not balance. That's stubbornness.
If we want to be able to run the ball--and we clearly do--we need to pass teams out of these stacked fronts. Use short, safe passing routes to loosen the defense, and then run. We can't do it the other way around. We just can't.
Maybe it's the coaching, maybe it's that we're a young team, maybe it's the play-calling, but we simply are not capable of effectively running power on 1st down. So it's time to stop trying so much.
Funchess' success vs. Minnesota obligates Borges to use him more. He's a weapon; so is Gallon. USE THEM MORE. Defenses will adjust, but only if you make them. Then you can run.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Those Hoosiers||
Those IU teams weren't nearly as good as this one. Make no mistake about it, every game on the schedule from here out is tought for this team.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Amazing post||
You captured my feelings in words and gifs almost perfectly. I don't have anything else to add.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Assumptions||
I'm afraid Hoke is just as responsible as Borges. It would be easy for him to say, "Al, we need to play more from the shotgun and use Gallon and Funchess. That's the gameplan I want."
My fear is that we bring in another OC and run the same stubborn offense because that's what Hoke wants.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Lions||
Borges would do well to take a closer look at what Linehan does for the Lions. The draw play can be effective out of shotgun, let alone running DG.
This team is clearly better when Gardner is in the shotgun.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Great post||
Borges had a bad game. At this point, Hoke also bears some heavy responsibility for the play-calling, since he can always say, "Al, stop the under center crap and throw to Funchess and Gallon." In fact, he must say that.
Gardner's two picks can't be excused either--TOs continue to cost us games. The O-Line can't be excused either. Nor can the few defensive breakdowns you pointed out.
But Borges called 30 RB carries that netted 28 yards. That's inexcusable. The YPA is bad enough...but 30 times?
We ran 54 times and threw 28 (and one spike). That's not okay on a team with Gallon and Funchess, and role players like Dileo, Chesson, and even Butt that are capable receivers.
Before Minnesota, Borges had more of an excuse to run when Gallon is doubled. Now that Funchess has emerged as an unstoppable threat, he needs to alter his gameplans, and make teams prove they can cover one of the better pairs of receiving threats in all of college football.
And Hoke needs to make him do it.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Yeppers!||
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Missing the point||
Actually, I agree with much of what you said. Ahead by a TD, I really don't have a problem with running the ball, especially given DG's proclivity for turning the ball over. And in OT, we have one of the better kickers in Michigan football history, so those choices weren't terrible, but they were playing not to lose instead of to win.
What you're missing is the rest of the game: too many wasted first downs, too much under center, too little passing. In a game that went to four OTs, we only attempted 28 passes. With Gallon and Funchess as weapons in the passing game, that doesn't make much sense to me.
Yes, I understand that DG has been turning over the ball alot. Yes, I know if DG throws another INT we probably lose too. But the strength of this team is working from the shotgun in both the running and the passing game, and for our RBs to run 30 times for 28 yards is inexcusable. You can't call those plays 30 times if they're not working.
Look, Borges should NOT be the scapegoat. The O-line can't block, DG is a turnover machine, and Hoke is ultimately responsible for the team's philosophy. But to say he doesn't deserve a share of the blame is just silly.
That said, I don't believe firing Al Borges will fix anything, and I'm not (yet) in favor of doing so.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Excellent post||
Great stuff, Mathlete.
There is no defending what Borges did in this game. Repeatedly running from under center and almost always running on first down has basically given us two downs to get our first down, and it's ridiculous.
I'm going to take it a step further and say this falls directly on Hoke's shoulders as well. Clearly the philosophical goal of instituting MANBALL has become more of a priority than running an effective offense. Brady needs to stop insisting on his philosophy and start doing what works. No secondary has proven capable of covering Funchess AND Gallon.
That said, there's blame to go around here. The defense had opportunities to win the game, and didn't. Gardner gave away 14 points and a fumble. Gibbons missed an easy 33-yarder, after missing a 40-yarder and a 52-yarder. Funchess dropped a TD catch. The O-Line can't block. Lewan was injured. Bryant too?
This team is far from great; after UConn I amended my prediction to 8-4, and, unless we show we're willing to make some significant changes, I'm standing by that.
|7 weeks 3 days ago||Mostly agree||
As I stated below, Hoke bears just as much blame as Borges. But Borges is still giving away first down.
There are lots of problems with this team though, and making Borges the scapegoat won't solve them. But he has to do better.
|8 weeks 16 hours ago||Yes, please||
Great tape on Crawford. Enjoyed the write-up too.
He looks athletic enough to do lots of things on the football field, and I think he'll be fine in coverage and could present a great option in the return game. He could also play the nickel if he adds a little bulk--this kid looks to have the speed and agility to cover the water bugs we often see in the slot.
Worst case scenario: he's a slot receiver. If his size truly limits him, he's a Norfleet type who can return and make an impact in the slot.
Love this pick-up by Hoke and crew.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Great stuff||
Great stuff. I think it's clear that shotgun is where we go when we need yards quickly. Adding the threat of DG running is a bonus, and we pass better out of it as well.
I wonder if you just looked at under center stuff and running plays exclusively if we wouldn't see decidedly more success and fewer TFLs out of our Big Minnesota sets.
It's clear we're going to use power and inside zone more going forward; I'm curious to see how Al will respond when we are behind or NEED yards; he usually employs shotgun in those cases.
If we can get consistent yardage out of our under center formations--even if it's not great yardage--I'll be happy.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Logic behind the DC's call for Minny||
This is one of those situations where I can see the DC's logic clearly. You have already figured out some of the things that were important to MInnesota to defend:
You've now used four of your available eight defenders in pass coverage (two for Gallon). You're left with three DBs and one LB to cover the bunch.
If you've scouted Michigan--which you most certainly have--you know Al Borges loves to use the bunch on third down to get open players by using a similar route tree to what he employs here. One guy heads for the sideline (usually the inside guy), one guy heads inside the hashes, and one guy tries to take the top off the defense by going deep.
USUALLY--and in fact, later in this very game--the pass goes to the guy heading to the sideline, because his man has had to move through the trash trying to get to him and he's often open. This is similar to what happened on the Dileo play (pass off his finger tips when he was WIDE open) though they may have been in zone on that one. If it doesn't go to the sideline, it usually goes to the inside guy (also Dileo in many cases). I don't think I've ever seen this route tree go to the deep man, whom I believe usually runs a fade or corner.
So, knowing all that, you use your LB to play a robber--reading the QB's eyes and seeing if that throw goes inside or outside--and trying to double the receiver or make a quick tackle after the catch. Also, Funchess is "just a tight end" before this game; he's had his moments, but has never been the featured receiver. You have to believe a good DB can cover him, because the alternative is to leave those inside/outside routes in a one-on-one which is VERY difficult to defend in straight man.
Bottom line: Michigan went against tendency to a guy they haven't used much on deep routes, and Funchess ran a great route and made a great play to score. Here are your alternatives:
It appears Minnesota wanted to give help on Dileo, who is definitely a third-down security blanket. Not a bad call, and one that I might make in that situation. I like even better trying to have the LB split the difference between Dileo and Butt, since those seem to be the commonly-used routes.
What I'm trying to say is that this is an RPS. Michigan is going against their own tendencies and using a guy that has never been used as he was in this game. Great call by Al Borges, and none of the alternative plans of action by Minnesota would have yielded better match-ups, IMO.
Of course, this is why the shotgun with four credible receiving threats is so hard to defend--you can't cover everything as a defense, and this is with only a three man rush.
AND...this is why this game was SO important for Michigan's offense: we now have another credible receiving threat to take pressure off Gallon. Double Gallon? Fine, we'll throw it to Funchess. Double Funchess? Fine, we'll throw it to Gallon. Cover two? Fine, we'll run MANBALL and beat you up in the box, or use our underneath threats (Dileo, crossing routes and middle screens to Chesson) to move the ball in the air. Heck, we might even throw-in a quick pass to Jeremy Jackson (but not a bubble screen).
This was a vital development for us; we haven't had anything but Gallon as a real threat up to this point. I can't wait to see how Borges uses Funchess the rest of the way. I sure hope we don't see any "Bad Al" from here on out, because when he's on, he calls an amazing game.
EDIT: FWIW, I think this is also a great read by DG, who recognized the defense and saw the opportunity with Funchess. Butt was open too, but Funchess is clearly the better option.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Neither||
Funchess will NEVER be as fast as Megatron. Though they are roughly the same size, Funchess isn't going to be a WR in the NFL. He's a guy who is almost certainly destined for the Dallas Clark, Joseph Fauria, Tony Scheffler type of role at the next level.
He's also probably never going to be Gronk--I'm just not sure Funchess will ever be much of a blocker. I think he's closer to Gronk than Megatron, but I do believe that Fauria is a better comparison.
|8 weeks 3 days ago||Borges hate?||
Great job guys. Enjoyed it. It wasn't the most fun game to watch, and it certainly didn't relieve all my anxiety, but I feel better and believe we're improving. Can't wait for PSU.
I really don't understand Ace's Borges hate in this podcast. The unbalanced line worked well, and the offense was extremely efficient. We only ran 52 plays, and we averaged 6.69 yards/play. That's better than we did last year against Minny. Sure, you'd like a better YPC average in the running game, but the running game set-up the big plays. We scored TDs on 5/8 drives, and one drive should've been extended by an obvious PI call. The TFLs were down, and even a slightly inaccurate DG averaged 13.8 YPA and completed 76.5% of his passes.
As for whether or not the unbalanced line works in the future...we'll see. But it sure worked on Saturday, and Michigan did establish more of an identity as a power team.
Borges had a great day. He's earned some criticism this year--most notably against UConn--but he's been darn good in our four other games, and addressed the TE issue on Saturday.
Mattison had a so-so day, IMO. I'm with Brian on that one. Our defense seems pretty passive right now, and I don't like it. As I've said before, I think he's in a tough spot: we can't rush with just the D-Line and don't appear to be very good at blitzing either. But after five games, we need to find ways to put more pressure on the opponent, and some of the pressure stuff worked against Minnesota. MOAR PLZ.
|8 weeks 3 days ago||Unbalanced line||
Do you remember if they used a TE as the backside OT on those plays? The fun thing about the current alignment is that the defense doesn't know what's happening until we actually line up; AJ Williams could be playing TE, or could be playing LT. This keeps the defense from putting a "big" package on the field.
|8 weeks 3 days ago||Blurred lines||
While a terrible choice for a song at a football game, it's at least an appropriate title given our team's performance.
The O-Line looked a lot better, but not where it needs to be. It's a bit alarming that our TE blocking is so bad that we have to move Lewan to TE in order to get yardage out of those sets. Overall, I'm pleased with the progress, and think it's too bad that Bryant wasn't healthy to start the season. That said, we have a long way to go if we're going to MANBALL MSU and Ohio.
The D-Line just isn't that good. We're not getting enough pass rush, and our most consistent pass-rusher (Black) is a liability on inside runs. It doesn't help that we just lost Pee Wee for the season. I hope Henry steps-up.
The LBs also concerned me a bit. It sounds crazy to say that on a day when JR3 and DM combined for 19 tackles and a fumble recovery, but on QB scrambles your LBs need to make plays, and Leidner is no Martinez (or Armstrong), Colter, or Miller (or Guiton). We must do better against QB runs if we're going to have a chance against Northwestern and Ohio.
The flipside is that something hugely important was accomplished: a receiving threat that isn't 5'8". Gallon's cloaking device will be usable once again, I believe, because teams won't be able to roll a safety to his side on every passing down with Funchess lined-up wide. I had no idea how fast Funch was--that fly route was pretty amazing, even with MInnesota disclaimers.
Also, I have to give Fitz some major props. He went hard to the hole, didn't try to bounce everything, and didn't leave many yards on the field. The UFR will reveal that he ran well and made the most of his blocking. The stretch play was almost non-existent, and that is fine given its recently Dyson level of suck (although Green had a nice run in the first drive on the stretch play).
As for the coaching, today's prize goes to Al Borges. Moving Lewan around and Funchess to the outside was a stroke of genius. I hope he's got more tricks up his sleeve, because there will be stouter defenses down the road. He had another great call--one he's used many times--on a DG rollout on 3rd down, but the pass was too high for a wide open Dileo. I also give the guy credit for not getting completely complacent when we're ahead--the fly route to Funchess was worth the price of admission, and is a shot across the bow of all our future opponents.
Mattison's unit and play-calling was underwhelming, IMO. Nothing bad, but not enough pressure, too soft, and still playing not to lose. I will say that I think he's in a tough spot: we don't appear to have many good blitzers and the front four aren't talented enough to make consistent plays. I'm interested to see how he deals with PSU's creative offense.
All-in-all, Hoke's coach speak is spot on: it's better, but not nearly good enough.
|8 weeks 4 days ago||Malzone and the 2nd offer||
One thing is for sure: in a small class, there is NO WAY they give two scholarships to QBs. Hoke has been strict about keeping it to one per class, even when there were only two scholarship QBs on the roster.
A preferred walk-on probably won't be enough to lure Malzone, who will have offers at other good D1 schools before it's all said and done.
|8 weeks 4 days ago||+1||
for all Reservoir Dogs references.
|8 weeks 6 days ago||It's a Loop||
Pipkins is looping on this play, not slanting. His first step is correct: it should be short, quick, and lateral. But the key with a loop is to STAY LOW. He doesn't.
FWIW, his feet were doing the right thing: short, quick lateral step follwed by a driving step with the back foot into the hole. But if you stand up, you're going to lose.
Henry was slanting, which means his first step was into the offensive backfield.
|8 weeks 6 days ago||Appreciate the reply||
I understand what you're saying and it makes some sense, especially for DTs. But what about for DEs? Do you coach them differently?
It's definitely easier to stay square if your first step is lateral. And I think that might be more effective against a zone step by the O-line. But what about power? If you're stepping laterally and that blocker gets into you on a gap play, you're probably going backwards. I like kids to get themselves moving upfield ASAP to give them the best possible chance to penetrate and beat blocks.
But I really like your ideas and will definitely watch some film to compare your concepts with what I prefer.
EDIT: It occurs to me that maybe you're talking about a Loop? Or maybe you don't use Slants? Here's a quick article that I think is representative of the way most slants and loops are coached:
However, I disagree with stepping first with your opposite foot; so does Mattison, based on film.
|8 weeks 6 days ago||Best quote of the season?||
|8 weeks 6 days ago||Good and bad||
While it's definitely worth charting personnel too, any coach/coordinator will tell you that the shotgun is VASTLY different from an under center play. There are lots and lots of reasons for this, but the biggest one in the modern game is the threat of the QB to run from the shotgun is much higher; the QB is starting where a RB would start a play.
That also has huge implications for the backs: where and how they are receiving the football, their running paths, blocking, etc.
The Michigan offense is no exception. In fact, with DG's running ability, it may be an even more pronounced difference than with some other offenses (ie, Notre Dame)
I completely agree that personnel and alignment are also important, and worth tracking. I also agree that the I-form twins and the Shotgun twins have some similarities. But I think there is a profound difference between the shotgun formations Michigan runs and their under center formations, and the play selection from each bears that out.
|9 weeks 9 hours ago||Dillman||
Dillman looks like he's more athlete than QB right now. In today's college game, that is still worth five stars. Look at how successful Braxton Miller has been, and his arm was shaky at best when he got to college.
From the tape, it's awfully hard to judge the guy's arm. And I would assume that if he had more good plays throwing the ball, they'd be on his reel.
No way I'd offer him without knowing more, considering what our offense is trying to accomplish.
|9 weeks 14 hours ago||BTW||
LOVE the breakdown of the ISO.
I love that Fitz hits the hole and is immediately attacking the safety. If Funchess holds his block just a second longer, that play might have been worth six points.
I do hope we run this play more, as I think it can help constrain opposing LBs.
|9 weeks 14 hours ago||Not big, not little||
While I'm not going to pretend this is an issue like Bush at USC or the UNC grades scandal, this isn't nothing.
The loan itself isn't the issue here, it's that a player and coach were willing to break the rules. You might argue that Haha didn't know the rule (which would be a failure of coaching, since these kids NEED to be taught the rules to avoid breaking them), but the coach either knew the rule, or is galactically stupid.
That a coach would willingly break an NCAA rule about cash benefits, no matter the degree, suggests that perhaps that's an okay thing to do at 'Bama.
A small loan isn't the end of the world, but for a coach to be the one giving it is either tremendously foolish, criminally negligent, or indicative of a program that encourages such behavior. Or all three.
|9 weeks 15 hours ago||Interesting||
I would not coach it the same way you describe...do you not find your linemen losing ground when they step laterally? I'm assuming they keep their shoulders square, and having a hard time imagining how they can maintain leverage while moving directly laterally--a small step might work, but then you aren't really getting into your gap. This sort of reminds me of what Pipkins did in the picture pages that didn't work...maybe you can clarify? I'd love to learn better ways to coach.
IMO, for DTs, you are certainly taking a more lateral step, but definitely still trying to get upfield, ripping and trying to get into the gap ASAP. For DEs, we have our guys aim for the waist of the lineman towards which they're slanting, which is not really 45 degrees, but close, depending on the alignment and positioning of the O-Line.
I think the video is accurate in terms of where you want to go and even the stepping technique, even if the 45 degrees isn't precisely right.
But maybe your defense is better than mine :)
|9 weeks 15 hours ago||Bryant can move||
I think part of this discussion might be because Bryant is so big; but the dude can move (according scouting reports and player accounts at practice). I think we'll still see the stretch play with some regularity, especially against a Minnesota team that is strong in the middle but seems pretty weak outside.
If they worked on the stretch as much as it appears they did during camp, I can't see them going away from it too much.
That said, if this line proves they can run power better than zone, I'll gladly take it. I think what we can all agree on is that inside zone won't go away.
|9 weeks 18 hours ago||Rumor||
The scuttlebutt around the program is that Bryant has always been part of the "Best Five" idea, but that he hasn't been healthy. Word is that he was actually going to start against UConn before dealing with another boo boo, after missing the first few games because of a camp boo boo.
FWIW, I think it's really just been getting him healthy and/or having him learn to play even when it hurts.
|9 weeks 19 hours ago||Bellomy over Gardner||
Playing Bellomy was not the wrong call; Gardner hadn't practiced at QB and wasn't prepared to play. And while you could make an argument that Gardner should have been the back-up QB all along, you would have to remember that he was our best WR before he switched back to QB.
Anyway, I hope you are correct and that these last two games turn out to be an aberration...if not, we're screwed.
|9 weeks 19 hours ago||+1||
You deserve more points for posts like this.
|9 weeks 19 hours ago||Nice work||
Good stuff, Ace. I am very interested (notice I did not say "excited") to see how our new O-Line holds-up against a good interior defense.
I am also frustrated that I am using Minnesota as a measuring stick in any way.
Please, please, please let us mercilessly destroy them on every level, so that I might be able to sleep just a little bit before we play Penn State.
|9 weeks 19 hours ago||Was going to post this quote||
This is one of my all-time favorite BiSB quotes. LOVE IT.
Nice work as usual.
|9 weeks 1 day ago||Dumb list||
I hate these lists. Hindsight is 20/20, but RR was widely considered to be one of the best--if not THE best--coaches in the sport when he was hired. It was not a bad hire, it was a bad career.
Don't get me wrong--RR deserves the blame for ignoring the defense, failing to connect with Michigan's traditions, alumni, and fans, and for some general douchebaggery. But he worked his butt off and absolutely can coach--look at what he's done already at Arizona.
If the AD had done his job in supporting RR, along with Carr, alums, and the fanbase, he might have been a good hire. But someone needed to make sure that a proper defensive coordinator was hired, work with RR to avoid stupid screw-ups like the NCAA sanctions and some press conference blunders, and to help him forge a lasting relationship with the alums and fans. Didn't happen.
RR's failure was the program's failure, not just his. I wish him success and believe he's a great coach--he's just got shortcomings that neither he nor the AD addressed while he was at Michigan.
|9 weeks 1 day ago||Great expectations||
I really don't believe this is going to solve our O-line problems, but I am happy we're trying. While we know Bryant has a reputation as a punishing run-blocker, we also know he doesn't have much experience. While I am certainly excited and glad to see the staff is trying to improve things, the following remains unknown:
We are far from out of the woods, but I'm glad we're not just "staying the course," since that course was headed for shipwreck. That said, we're in uncharted waters now, and there may be new obstacles to navigate.
|9 weeks 1 day ago||FWIW||
Burzynski has been listed as the back-up center and back-up guard behind Bryant. I'm not saying they'd put him in at OG, but if they wanted to keep Glasgow at center, it would likely be Burzynski or Bosch coming in at guard.
|9 weeks 1 day ago||Cowherd||
He also said that Lane Kiffin was a great coach and would lead USC back to national prominence, if not championships.
He also ridiculed a caller for about 10 minutes last year because the caller thought the Vikings would win 10 games.
Cowherd makes money by making strong, polarizing, and often stupid statements and predictions and spawning controversy and conversation as a result.
|9 weeks 1 day ago||+1||
You need an upvote for this.
|9 weeks 1 day ago||Depth Chart||
Actually, Joey Burzynski is the back-up center, and Glasgow isn't even on the depth chart as a center:
I believe that Glasgow is sliding to center, and, if you believe the depth chart, that would put Chris Bryant at LG.
The outlying possibilities, IMO (only changes to current line are noted):
|9 weeks 1 day ago||Bosch||
Don't forget Bosch...he could easily be a starting OG next year.
I'm not concerned about the O-line in 2014.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||Awesome post||
What's alarming is the high completion rate we're giving-up on the weakside (Taylor) along with the high YPA. If you're going to play soft coverage and give-up some short stuff, that's okay. But not if you're also going to give-up long stuff.
In the middle, we clearly have work to do. I think our defense is soft here by design, but the LBs MUST do better at carrying routes and handing them off to the safeties.
There is nothing here opposing DCs don't already know. But we must fix it.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||+1||
It's funny because it's (almost) true.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||Disagree||
We're running more than 50% shotgun/pistol. Bad snaps could easily cost us games.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||Braden done at OG||
I don't think we'll ever see Big Ben playing OG. Hoke and Borges have said as much.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||Awesome work||
Love it. And I love the analysis that goes beyond the numbers--stats NEVER tell the whole story.
If we don't get INTs under control, 8-4 is a very real possibility.
B & D.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||Yes||
There are nuances to this technique, and modern coaches often want their players to keep their feet, but the concept of dropping the outside shoulder to split/occupy both blockers for as long as possible is still just as relevant. Even if you keep your feet, you need to get as low as possible to maintain some leverage. Some coaches will teach their players to "sit down" in this case.
On the goal line though, you'd want to penetrate and drop (unless you can beat the blocks).
|9 weeks 2 days ago||There isn't much passing in there||
In response to why we haven't offered him yet, just look at the tape.
He's obviously an athlete, and it's awesome that he plays both ways and lines-up at WR. Seems like the worst-case scenario is that he becomes a TE.
That said, there isn't much passing in this reel, and his motion is a little funky. I'd want to know much more before I offered him.
|9 weeks 2 days ago||Love it||
Perfectly taught and clearly explained. We don't use four-point stances as much these days, but everything else he said still applies (unless you're doing a scrape exchange).
|9 weeks 3 days ago||And||
Because he's Catholic.
BOOM! added religion to politicz
|9 weeks 3 days ago||Not so simple; read this||
I think the comment was unnecessary on the MGoBoard. This isn't a one-sided story and there's no reason to bring it up, especially in the context of wishing HS kids ill will.
It doesn't add anything to Ace's reporting. It's just vitriol. No matter where you stand on the issue, there's no reason for it.
|9 weeks 3 days ago||Agreed||
Kiffin just hasn't gotten it done, and bailed on the Vols for the greener pastures of USC. He will probably get a job as an OC of a second-tier BCS team before being a head coach again; I do think we'll see him running another program, but not in the near future (unless it's a small-time school).
|9 weeks 3 days ago||Thanks||
Always love to see the stats. Would love to see turnovers added.
Basically, these numbers put Michigan in the middle-of-the-pack in the B1G. That is not a good place to be. Here's hoping we get back on track vs. Minnesota.
|9 weeks 4 days ago||Northwestern||
I'd much rather see this against Northwestern than State or Nebraska, unless you're going to show how we'll handle the double A-gap blitz MSU uses.
Great stuff, although I don't see us running that trap play. I'd love it if we did, but I don't think we have yet, and I'm not sure we will.
I would LOVE to see more "Harbaugh" style whams and traps. Not sure why we don't use them, other than they are technically difficult.
|9 weeks 5 days ago||As noted above, we moved the||
As noted above, we moved the ball extremely well against Akron. DG just kept giving them the football.
|9 weeks 5 days ago||Yes and No||
We moved the ball almost at will against Akron, we just gave it to them before we scored. Now, turnovers are part of the game, but our offensive moved the ball extremely well against them (actually averaged more yards/play than we did against CMU).
That said, I agree that this team has shown some serious weaknesses, and not just on offense. Our defense got carved-up by Akron and then let UConn score TDs everytime they were in the red zone.
I agree that the last two games are more than an anomaly. But it's not just the offense, and Mattison isn't above criticism. The Akron game was terrible, then against UConn he made some very questionable calls on big downs and lost the battle in the red zone (something he always talks about winning).
No one on Michigan deserves a pass right now; Jeremy Gallon is the closest, but we need more plays out of our WRs too.
|9 weeks 5 days ago||Standard I would take the TE||
Standard I would take the TE on the left side of the line and turn him into a WR on the left side of the field.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||Agree||
Mone is obviously a force to be reckoned with. He does a nice job making himself small and penetrating, plays to the whistle, and has good quickness off the ball.
His speed, even for a DT, is lacking. I think he's probably 10-20 lbs. too heavy right now. I see him exclusively at NT in college, and hope he works to refine his physique a bit. I think he'll be an amazing player and am excited to have him. If he can pick-up even a little speed by dropping some weight, he's a game-changer for sure.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||BINGO||
It's not a bad play, it's just a bad time to call it, IMO. I am in favor of more bump coverage, but not on 4th and 29.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||Why?||
But why play press man on 3rd and 19? Why not play softer coverage when you know a slant or hitch won't hurt you?
If you're going to press on 3rd and long, you better be forcing the issue. We did a great job on a three-man rush, but I sure wouldn't count on that too often.
The play itself is fine, the timing of the call, I think, was poor.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||Agree completely||
I think this is exactly right.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||I laughed||
But can't upvote you.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||But why flirt with danger at||
But why flirt with danger at all?
There's no reason to worry about short routes on 4th and 29. We play with big cushions all game, then go bump-and-run on a 4th and 29? That makes no sense to me, unless we're blitzing. Which we didn't.
I love Mattison and he called a very good game, but this one stunk, IMO.
|9 weeks 6 days ago||Seam TD||
I agree, but think your initial analysis was correct. Bolden doesn't even consider carrying that seam. On his other mistakes, he has at least tried to carry the seam, but hasn't done a good job on his drops. On this play, he sits down right away, and it makes sense that the coaches are trying to keep him away from covering the deep seam since he seems (HA!) to suck at it.
I do think this is on Countess, but his positioning looks like he's trying to carry the TE to Gordon. So maybe Gordon is late too.