things go poorly
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- With the emergence of Funch, Mich has 2 (and probably 3 if you count Jehu) legitimate downfield threats.
- Mich has a good-to-great slot man in Dileo
- Mich has a good pass-catching TE in Butt
- Mich has a sure-handed RB in Toussaint to catch check-downs
- Mich has a QB who is able to compensate for a piss-poor OL with otherworldly scrambling ability.
- In other words, Mich has the potential on offense to outscore nearly everyone.
- Mich also has a very good defense that does decently when put in bad positions by offensive turnovers. Given a fair field, the defense is at least competitive with top-tier B1G programs.
|5 days 7 hours ago||Eye test....||
Skittish QB, below-average (but improved) OL, decent but not great defense.
7-5 regular season. Losses: @MSU, @OSU, PSU, and one of Utah or @Rutgers.
There were bright spots today, but it was still painful.
|1 week 4 days ago||That's the key issue||
The key issue is that our coaches seem to value the identity they want the team to have -- running from multiple TE/FB packages, etc. -- over what it seems like the team could actually do a better job with -- more of a spread out, pass-first, running QB type offense. One signature of Hoke's tenure is continuing to try to do things this team (and former iterations) just aren't well-suited to do.
|41 weeks 15 hours ago||Shoes to be filled...||
The only shoes that need to be filled are those of the OC. Talent on the team doesn't matter so much when the OC doesn't put the players in the best position to win each game, instead choosing to practice ineffectual plays in-game ad infinitum.
Three losses (at least) on the road in 2014. Two more OC game-sized blunders at home. A record of 7-5 next season, or maybe even 6-6. Book it.
|41 weeks 3 days ago||Why?||
Why does it need to be a traditional power running team? Because that is what Hoke and Borges want, apparently to the detriment of competing for a Big Ten title this season.
|41 weeks 3 days ago||No enthusiasm...||
I'm not raging over this, because it just figures that something like this would happen. Now, next year, we can go back to "practicing in games" and lose 2-3 games we should win, in addition three very probable road losses against the teams who are prepared to do what it takes to win *every* game, not just a rivalry game.
It's just sad that it's ten months away from kickoff for 2014, and I have no enthusiasm for this team. I feel a rant coming on, so I'll just stop now. My attitude toward Michigan football isn't close to how I've felt about Lions football over my lifetime, but it's inching closer.
One of the worst OCs in our history gets a vote of confidence. I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
|42 weeks 10 hours ago||It's the best||
It's the best Lions performance I've seen on Thanksgiving, for sure.
|42 weeks 1 day ago||Damn...||
UFRs were one of the big things that appealed to me when I started visiting here back in 2007 or so. Brian, do what you want with your blog - one of the best things on the internet for me - but damn, I miss the UFRs when they're not done.
Thanks for doing what you do, man...
|42 weeks 2 days ago||Sam Kinison||
Good teacher....really seems to care!
|42 weeks 3 days ago||After Penn State||
After Penn State, I ranted, raved, swore, and drank. I knew this team wasn't good, but yet I had hope after the Notre Dame game. Barely beat two cupcakes? Sure, we're in "practice mode", no big deal. But Penn State was my edge, and I went over it. I knew we were screwed, both in the short-term and also probably in the longer-term. Brandon's not firing Hoke before 2015 - not that he should - and Hoke's not firing Borges and/or Funk - and oh, for the sake of all things Maize and Blue he fucking should - and that leaves us 7-5/8-4 at best.
So, at least figuratively, I went bowling. I have DVR'd every game since Penn State, watching nothing live. That has allowed me to reclaim my Saturdays from a pit of run-into-wall despair. I don't see much point in watching until Michigan can consistently put a better - and more fun to watch - product on the field.
For those of you who say I'm not a fan, fuck off. I've lived and died with this team since Wangler-to-Carter. The moribund Carr years, The RichRod defensive stubbornness and now the Hoke offensive stubbornness have beaten it out of me, at least as far as watching live goes. I'll always bleed Maize and Blue, but I've taken a break for my sanity, at least for the live games. That in itself is a cryin' shame.
Something. Must.Change. Aw shucks, we know it won't.
|43 weeks 2 days ago||Totally Screwed...||
So, if we take as an assumption - which of course we can't take because we don't know, and won't ever know - that Hoke is forcing Borges to run some offensive concepts he doesn't like because RAWR MANBAWL and RAWR TOUGHNESS, then Michigan is screwed, at least for a while.
Hoke won't fire Borges, because Borges is doing what he's told. This makes some sense (note: I am saying SOME) if it's taken in context with Hoke telling Borges to try to score more to keep up with Indiana rather than RAWR PHYSICALITY. We also surmise that Brandon won't fire Hoke until at least after 2015. Thus, buckle up for a rough to very rough 2014, and maybe 2015 and beyond, folks.
|43 weeks 5 days ago||A win is a win...||
I'm always happy about a win. But if this saves Borges' job, it won't be worth it. The only positive thing that can come out of the off-season is Al and Coach Funk's firings. That being said, as long as Hoke is in charge, we have an unacceptably low ceiling, probably somewhere around 8-5. He's shown over and over this season that he's not the man. He's in way over his head and needs to go. After 8-5/7-6 in 2014 and 2015, he'll be let go, but it's going to be a tough couple years.
|44 weeks 2 days ago||Bigger and badder comment||
RE: The bigger and badder comment. I fully agree with this, except I think you've got the wrong person. It seems likely it's Hoke that has tried in his tenure to be the coach of the tougher, more physical team. The comment that before the Indiana game really resonated with me -- he pulled Al aside and told him to go for scores as much as possible. That makes me wonder if at other times, especially *on the road*, he's telling Borges, "hey, let's punch them in the mouth, control clock, and win with defense." If that's true, ugh....it's not the 1970s.
|44 weeks 3 days ago||How about common sense...||
The one thing I'd love to see is a shift away from the idea that Michigan is going to establish a certain identity in every game. It seems like the coaches have a serious inferiority complex going on, talking so much about "being tough" and "being physical". Well, duh, but how about you put it aside, since it's not working, and you use the tools you do have -- an above-average (trending to average, but still) passing game and some serious athletes at QB and in the receiving corps -- to show you're tough where it matters....on the scoreboard. The lockstep ideology has worn me out to the point where I won't even watch live.
|44 weeks 4 days ago||After PSU...||
After PSU, I decided I'd DVR the games, enjoy my Saturday afternoon, and check the score to see if I wanted to watch. Both games since have been deleted without a look.
Yes, the 2008 team was clearly worse, but not by much. We could easily be 5-4 and headed for 5-7. The thing that's very scary is that the failure is systemic. Hoke wants Michigan to be a run-first team, and we seemingly don't have the RBs or OL in the pipeline to do it. I don't mean this year -- what in our underclass RBs or OL gives us much hope? I guess Drake Johnson was #2 until the injury, but Green and Smith look clueless. It just doesn't seem like anyone on the offense is being coached up and improving.
As far as scheme and play-calling, the things we can do aren't apparently called enough. Someone talked about the first drive after the half and how we moved the ball. After that, those plays weren't seen again. That's ludicrous. Hoke made mention that before the Indiana game, he had to tell Al to go for the end zone. Why would an OC need to be told that? Either Borges or Hoke puts trying to control clock ABOVE scoring points? Maybe in the last half of the fourth quarter with the lead, but not as a game strategy.
I've been a fan since before I can remember, but this team is unwatchable, and looks to be so for the foreseeable future. Sad.
|45 weeks 12 hours ago||Of course...||
Of course I clicked it....this board is fun today ;) Why couldn't we just MAAAAKE PLAAAAYS??
|45 weeks 12 hours ago||There are forces....||
There are forces at work here much greater than myself. So, I negged....but then I upvoted. Yup, that's right, I have no idea what is happening. But I'm pretty sure it's racist.
|46 weeks 2 days ago||Faith in the program...||
My faith in the program would never change based on one game. That being said, if we show solid offensive and defensive gameplans with quality execution, and we get beat by a team that outplays us, that would be an acceptable, though unsatisfying, result. If it appears that we beat ourselves with nonfunctional gameplans, further on-field coaching mistakes, and/or execution that is clearly below par, even given expectations, then I would continue to wonder if we're headed in the right direction. It really is a big game, not necessarily just because winning would help us in our division, but also because it's on the road against a solid defensive program (which will require a more innovative and versatile offensive gameplan than we had against PSU) and a program whose offense can be disrupted by an aggressive defensive gameplan, which we have shown in the past, but not so much this year. How we play this game will say a lot about our coaches and where we are headed.
|47 weeks 13 hours ago||Did not mean to take out of context...||
I apologize if I've taken your comments out of context, or have distorted what you meant. I do think, though, that it is stubbornness to a degree. Hoke came to Michigan with a vision to be a running team first and foremost. He always talks about how important it is to him. Now, we'll never know how much Borges has felt he has to call plays to stay true to Hoke's vision, or if these repetitive, futile plays - which IMO put a great deal of pressure on Devin in bad down-and-distances - are all of Borges' design, but something's clearly going on here. When I say stubbornness, I mean stubbornness in sticking to "the plan", whether or not it puts us in the best position to win, whenever possible. Fortunately, someone got the memo that The Plan wouldn't work against Indiana - we'd have to take chances and outscore them. What is worrying to me is that the staff might get the idea that The Plan might work against MSU, et al. Clearly, I don't think we would have a prayer in that situation. Also clearly part of The Plan is extreme conservatism on the road. How many road games have we won against good teams?
|47 weeks 15 hours ago||Reeve's got it...||
Hoke and Borges want to play ball-control and use it control the clock and the game. Problem is, it doesn't work with the personnel we have. And no, beating Akron and UConn doesn't mean it's working. There's a stubbornness to philosophy here. What's not being seen -- either mistakenly or deliberately - is that being a pass-to-set-up-the-run team can also allow us to control the clock, especially given we use most of the play-clock to run a play. People are so pissed off here because it's so blindingly obvious what needs to be done. Yes, there might be turnovers, and yes, enough of them might cause a loss. But running plays that Michigan cannot be successful running over and over again, causes three-and-outs, doesn't control the clock, tires out the defense, and causes losses and near-losses. As long as there's stubbornness to scheme, we have a ceiling, and it's a lower ceiling than most people would like.
|47 weeks 3 days ago||Team Identity||
The team identity is often very different on the road than at home. I hope we're not all going to be disappointed in our game versus MSU, as it's clear that this team, no matter the opponent, has to pass to set up the run. Hopefully Borges and Hoke can keep from going into too much of a shell on the road. As I see it, letting Devin run a wide-open, pass-first offense may lead to losses against better defensive teams, but running a conservative, run-first offense more likely will lead to losses. The coaches have to put this team in the best position to win, even though it may be out of their comfort zone.
|47 weeks 5 days ago||If anything...||
If anything, the offensive performance today makes me MORE pissed about having to endure that chickenshit, bash-head-into-wall playcalling last week. Hoke and Borges (and, yeah, it's both of them) decide to play timid, conservative football on the road, time and time again. Pass to set up the run at home, success. Run into walls of defenders on the road, failure. Who'd have thought that would happen?
Not to mention, Borges is still trotting out the stupid tackle-over formation that doesn't work, and he's still running the zone stretch play that Michigan's OL can't block for. Pass to set up the run, and run from the shotgun/pistol and Michigan sets records.
Yes, yes, I know Indiana has a horrible defense. But Penn State's wasn't all-world; this gameplan may well have led to a comfortable win. But hey, why should Borges try? On the road, it might lead to turnovers, and we may lose.....wait....crap, well, then that's definitely on execution.
Bullshit. When you allow players to do things they have a prayer of doing, results are generally better.
Borges appreciation? When he comes out with a gameplan like this on the road, consistently, I'll appreciate him. When he stops being bi-polar depending on the location of the game, I'll appreciate him. Hell, dump the stretch play, it'll be a start....
|47 weeks 5 days ago||The Big Picture...||
The big picture for me is that, after working hard all week, I'd like to enjoy watching Michigan football on Saturday. For that, I'd like to see a team competitive with the best of the B1G and hopefully one that can sometimes measure up to the best teams in the country. This season, after sitting through Akron, UConn, and Penn State, watching is not much fun. Watching this team on offense, with its OL that is shockingly MAC-level bad and its boring, conservative, redundant, chickensh*t scheme, is excruciating. Watching the team on defense is better, though watching teams march up and down the field on Michigan isn't great, for sure.
Now, many of you are screaming at your monitors, "then don't watch the game!!" Well, that's exactly what will happen. I'll DVR it and enjoy my Saturday. The big picture. As someone said, though, we wait months to watch Michigan football. It makes me sad that I'm doing this, but it's not worth the anxiety and despair. I hope they get better - hell, I hope they improve today. But the issues seem very much to be more systemic than player-related, and that doesn't bode well.
|48 weeks 4 hours ago||starring...||
Starring Al Borges as General Gamelin.
|48 weeks 4 hours ago||Adding to the list...||
Adding to the list:
Even the most casual observer knows what we should be running. That we're not running it in a giant kick in the sack to Michigan fans.
We really should chip in and buy Al Borges a Mustang. He's clearly compensating for something with his neolithic offense.
|48 weeks 1 day ago||Good analysis...||
Good analysis.....this pretty much matches up with what I was thinking while watching the game. Namely, this playcalling blows, and the line is suffering from a serious lack of talent. I was watching, thinking, "Okay, I know why Borges / Hoke is trying to do this.They're going uber-conservative on the road with a turnover-prone QB. But they can't do it, so they need to do something else."
The fact that they were unwilling to do something else, that means changes have to be made. Even with a top-quality OL (questionable if it's even possible with Funk's track record), this playcalling will not work against the better teams with smart DCs and quality personnel.
|48 weeks 3 days ago||Put simply...||
Put simply, Michigan got up ten points and Borges played scared. The delay-of-game penalty was a major gaffe, but there's no doubt they were just going to try and hold on. The way I see it, Hoke and Borges feel they have a turnover-prone QB who can cost games. While turnover-prone, Devin is also has a QB that can carry this team, and has done so. It sends a terrible message to Gardner to basically say, "we can't trust you in crunch time; we'll leave it up to our kicker".
|48 weeks 4 days ago||I can connect with this...||
I've been a Michigan fan since I was a youngster, maybe around '79 or '80. Until I got out on my own, I couldn't watch as many games as I would have liked, but I did get to go and watch games live on a few occasions. I remember thinking how bad it was that UM went 6-6 in 1984.
Fast forward to '97 and the joy that went with it. After that, I pretty much expected that Michigan would be great every year. I was usually disappointed with the 8-4 type seasons. Then The Horror and the RR years happened, and 3-9 made me dial things way back. I was still a Michigan fan, but I just didn't have the enthusiasm and didn't get so invested in things.
Like others, I scratched my head at all the Manball talk when Hoke was hired, especially with Denard at the helm. But the Sugar Bowl season got me back into things with high expectations. Last season, things waned some again, and I started disassociating a bit once again. I've had to dial it back even farther; I can't let myself get stressed out and angry over a team that's broken in so many ways.
|48 weeks 4 days ago||At this point...||
At this point, I see 7-5, but 6-6 is a distinct possibility. 5-7 and 8-4 much less likely, but possible I guess. 8-4 is the ceiling.
This was not "the plan" when Hoke was hired. Our record the next few seasons, and ultimately Hoke's job (again, in a few years) will depend on how hard he pushes to keep Funk and Borges. I wonder if he even realizes that....
|48 weeks 6 days ago||As long as...||
As long as Funch gets 10-12 targets a game, I don't care what his position is listed as. But if Borges goes back to pounding square-peg-into-round-hole, he needs to be shown the door.
|48 weeks 6 days ago||Don't really see the reason for the complaints...||
This seems like a good analysis, and the trend is significant enough to mitigate the small sample size. That said, I worry about other things (offensively and defensively) quite a bit more. Devin should be okay, if (and it's a reasonably big if) Borges puts him in a position to succeed. The time is over to use games to "work on things". Time to use what best helps us win the game.