Al Borges In Repose

Al Borges In Repose

Submitted by Brian on January 9th, 2014 at 1:58 PM

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happier times with Heiko

Al Borges is gone from Michigan after three years. And I'm… relieved. Yes. I think that's right.

Not exactly happy, of course. A dude just got fired. This site had a bizarre frenemies relationship (see: all the tags on this post) with Borges that started with prodding about constraint plays from Heiko by my request. This developed into a press conference Odd Couple thing where Heiko would get crap from Borges and give a little bit of it back, all the while trying to gently ask about the latest debacle. The results were the most entertaining transcripts not involving Steve Spurrier ever.

Then last winter Heiko started agitating me about getting an interview with him. I thought it was a cockamamie idea that would never get past the gatekeepers. This take would have been accurate except for one thing: Borges wanted to do it. So Heiko eventually crept his way past the border guards, was promised 15 minutes, and got 45. The resulting interview ran on the site last summer and was a fantastic glimpse into the day to day experience of being Michigan's offensive coordinator.

Yesterday.

I also know that friend of the site Craig Ross did what he always does with Michigan coaches, which is badger them with paper until they are forced to respond. I don't know how he does this, but he does, and he dumped articles and questions on Borges until he eventually got a phone call one morning with Borges on the other end. A debate/harangue sort of thing occurred until Craig—Craig!—had to say goodbye because he had a mediation to oversee (the conversation made it into last year's book).

Personally, I took in Borges's session at the Glazier Clinic in Detroit a couple years ago and came away impressed by his command of the material and ability to communicate concepts.

Al Borges was not a bad guy, and helped us out. That he did so seemingly because Heiko's badgering amused him is the mark of a guy who can take some heat.

It's just that his goddamned offense didn't work.

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THINGS STARTED INAUSPICIOUSLY, as Michigan found itself down 24-7 to Notre Dame three quarters into the first night game at Michigan Stadium. Michigan had 141 yards of offense nearing the end of the third quarter when the delirium kicked in. Robinson threw off his back foot just before getting sacked, Junior Hemingway skied for balls between two defenders, Gary Gray refused to acknowledge the existence of footballs, Jeremy Gallon engaged his cloaking device, and when the dust cleared Michigan had squeezed out one of the most bonkers wins in their history.

In the aftermath, things felt ramshackle, and I said as much. Michigan returned nine starters from Rich Rodriguez's final offense, the one that had seen Robinson set records, and this was not that:

This isn't to blame anyone—it seems that coaches are who they are and as much as I want to, you can't hire a guy based on the two years left you've got with Denard. But I hope I'm not the only one who felt a sense of foreboding in the midst of the joy and relief. We've seen this script the last two years, and never has it been as rickety.

Michigan has to fix some stuff—lots of stuff—by the Big Ten season. The stakes are only Denard's career, everyone's faith in the Ethical Les Miles theory of Hoke's success, and the very survival of pandas in the wild. I'll take the escape. I wonder what happens when the drugs wear off and real life reasserts itself.

The drugs did not really wear off for a while as the horseshoe stuck in Brady Hoke's posterior saw them through some rough spots.

Things only came to a screeching halt when Borges unleashed the first of his incredibly terrible gameplans at Michigan State. Faced with a howling maelstrom of trash and in possession of Denard Robinson, Borges featured a gameplan consisting mostly of deep throws as he alternated between Robinson and Devin Gardner. After a stirring opening drive, Michigan went nowhere. They did eat double A gap blitz after double A gap blitz thanks to the fact that their center was telling the entire world the exact moment he'd snap the ball, which he'd done the year before to similar effect. Had any of Michigan's new staff even watched the previous year's game?

Actually, here's a better question: were any of them watching this one?

For the game Michigan tried to pass at least 41 times*, averaging 2.8 yards per attempt and giving up a defensive touchdown.
TWO POINT EIGHT YARDS
DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWN
RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!

Sorry. Sorry.

Michigan tried to run the ball 26 times and averaged… oh, Jesus… 5.2 yards per carry. Fitzgerald Toussaint got two carries, Denard twelve.

That was and is flabbergastingly stupid, but Borges managed to top that just a few weeks later when he ditched the spread entirely against Iowa, running a "pro-style" offense because that's what he wanted to do. This was tantamount to forfeiting.

When Iowa punched in their final touchdown on Saturday the clock read 10:42 and Michigan had acquired 166 yards of offense. Forced into a hurry-up shotgun on their final three drives, Michigan matched their production from the first 50 minutes in the last ten.

A chastened Borges went back to the spread for the duration of the season as Michigan scored 31, 45, and 40 to finish the regular season. The 40, against Ohio State, was amongst the best performances Michigan's ever had against the Buckeyes, with Robinson ripping off inverted veer runs for big gains, including the iconic touchdown run to open things.

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Michigan had just gutted Ohio State for 300 rushing yards while throwing 17 times. They did this despite running the veer wrong, blocking the guy who teams that actually know how to run the spread would option. It didn't matter. All they had to do was put Robinson in space against the guy they should be blocking, and magic resulted. That, and only that, concealed the rapid erosion of Michigan's ability to run the football. And when the bowl game rolled around, Virginia Tech knew how to defend a half-ass spread. Michigan managed to win that game thanks to the horseshoe; the offense played no part, acquiring under 200 yards of offense for the first time in the Borges era.

It would not be the last time.

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ROBINSON HAD SHED THE MANTLE OF INVINCIBILITY acquired over the course of 2010, when he crushed records as a still-raw true sophomore. His interception rate skyrocketed, he lost a half-yard per passing attempt and a whopping 1.3 yards per rushing attempt. That was nothing compared to what awaited the next year.

Setting aside the Alabama debacle as a game Michigan entered with no intention of winning, Borges again reverted to 1990s-style offense completely unsuited for his personnel on the infamous series of plays on which Robinson threw interception after interception.

This is where I deviate from old school hardliners who foist the blame for Robinson's panicked throws on the quarterback who'd been brilliant and efficient two years ago in that very stadium, running the stuff he was good at running. Borges had him run waggles on which not one but two Notre Dame defenders came roaring up at the 5'11" Robinson. He made the results as bad as possible; Borges created a range of results that went only from interception to second and twenty. By that point watching Borges try to utilize Denard Robinson was like watching an otter try to bash open a clam with a shoe.

Michigan did not throw a pass before third down on their two grinding second-half drives before the hurry-up was called for. Do that for the next eight games and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not.

When stressed, people making decisions find it very hard to move away from habit. Everyone reverts to their comfort zone unless they are making a concerted effort to get away from it. Even then, you fall back into old patterns. Lloyd punted. Rodriguez installed a 3-3-5 defense. Borges starts calling plays from a long-ago offense helmed by a guy who was a better passer than runner. Denard throws the ball somewhere, anywhere.

Robinson would go down with his elbow injury midseason, paving the way for Devin Gardner's insertion. This went better than anyone expected—including the coaches who had privately all but given up on him as a quarterback—and eventually Denard returned to the lineup as a slash player, which worked really well for about a game and a half until Ohio State figured out that Robinson at QB always meant run and played like it.

If you've poked around the flaming wreckage of the Michigan internet in the aftermath of Saturday, you have undoubtedly heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth because of that. But the thing is so stark it has to be marveled at again: when Denard Robinson entered the game against Ohio State, every play but one was Denard Robinson doing something. Once it was fail to chip Ryan Shazier and try to get out for a screen; all other times it was run the ball, sometimes with a pitch included. The fakeout was a six-yard completion to Mike Kwiatkowski in the first quarter, and there ended any attempt at deception.

Devin Gardner was at quarterback for three of these plays. Michigan held up a sign that said RUN or PASS, and didn't even try the token fakeout where Robinson goes over the top when the safeties suck up. Gardner ran three times. Denard passed zero. Ohio State figured it out. Surprise!

Most of the time the two quarterbacks weren't even on the field together.

Have I mentioned that Michigan's non-Denard running game was so bad we assumed it couldn't possibly be worse this year?

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four DTs and an SDE
two turntables and a microphone

And then, this year. While the unacceptably stupid gameplans based around distaste for the only thing you can get your team to do right evaporated, that was only because Michigan could no longer do anything right at all. After the de rigueur exciting offensive performance against a Notre Dame team that got everyone's hopes high enough to crush Michigan settled into a pattern of ineptitude so vast as to be unbelievable.

Personnel issues contributed, but when the reaction to those issues was the looney-tunes decision to put Michigan's two best offensive linemen next to each other even if they both happened to be tackles, it was over. Michigan put it on film against Minnesota, wasted their bye week repping the never-before-seen tackle over offense, and proceeded to have their tailback rush for 27 yards on 27 carries. The tackle over was quickly dumped, but only after wasting three critical weeks of in-season development for a painfully young offensive line.

That that offensive line had been asked to run first the stretch and then a bunch of power before finally seeming to settle on inside zone—ie, run the full gamut of modern blocking schemes—compounded matters immensely. Borges treated a collection of pups barely out of high school like they were the 1998 Denver Broncos and reaped the whirlwind.

Except the Broncos did one thing and did it very well. Michigan did everything and in the in the end, Michigan did nothing. Two years after a broken version of the inverted veer performed well enough to put 40 points on Ohio State, Michigan had been forced away from it because the only play they could pair with it was a moderately successful QB counter. Not once in Borges's final two years could he run play action off that look, and teams eventually boa constrictored it out of the Michigan playbook.

That was emblematic of the offense as a whole: tiny unconnected packages unrelated to each other, all of which could have worked if Michigan would just execute that one thing they practiced three times last month. When things worked they worked briefly and then were held on to long after the opponent had adjusted, because Michigan never had enough in its arsenal to sustain a full game of production without its quarterback playing out of his mind.

As the tackles for loss mounted and the press conferences got shorter, "we didn't execute" became Borges's self-damning mantra. Michigan could not expect to execute. There is your firing in a sentence.

Dear Diary and Borgesian Strategy Part II

Dear Diary and Borgesian Strategy Part II

Submitted by Seth on November 29th, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Selfie: Go save Christmas again.

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[Fuller]

Kids! Gandalf the Maize's follow-up on which factors seem to be the most predictive of offensive line play compared the r-squareds of 19 things, from o-line experience as a whole, to their recruiting stars, to the left tackle individually, depth, QB talent, how much the team goes long, etc., and found the ONLY factor with relatively high significance is…

[drumroll…]

.

.

.

Interior. Offensive. Line. Experience!

Let's get a DotW to the wizard, and tell Funk to put some years on his charges, RIGHT NOW.

Ron Utah followed up by showing the relative age of Michigan's whole roster versus teams of significance.

Part II by dnak438 on Michigan's offensive regression this week went back and added 2011-12 to the study of YPP versus opponents, tracking it by dividing Michigan's yards per play each game versus the average that team gave up. The results are charts that really show the history of Al Borges's various offensive strategies:

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Here's the progression:

[after the jump]

Hokepoints is On Notice

Hokepoints is On Notice

Submitted by Seth on November 12th, 2013 at 10:51 AM

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Incompetence on a level that Michigan unlocked against Michigan State and Nebraska cannot be achieved by one man or even one team (MSU is good at defense, and hey, Nebraska did some good things). There's still the possibility that Borges and his charges  are sabotaging themselves, but since that's impossible to prove let's permit that they do in fact wish to progress the ball forward, and parse out how much responsibility lies in the various inadvertent factors.

I thought I'd take us back through a timeline of the events that led to the state of the offensive roster, picking up blame on the way.

I wish we could blame this whole thing on the old coach. Wouldn't it be the most ironic thing if the great guru of offense was really at fault for Michigan's offensive woes? There are really three things I think we can lay at his feet, in order of importance:

  1. Hired DCs he couldn't work with and made them run defenses they didn't understand, thus dooming Michigan to another coaching transition.
  2. Recruited just one OL in the 2010 class.
  3. Didn't recruit a single tight end or fullback, nor a running back who can block except Smith, whom he didn't redshirt.
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    Michigan's 2009-2011 tight end recruits.

Tight End, Briefly

We've had #1 out, and #3 is debatable: Y U NO RECRUIT THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF BORGES'S OFFENSE, GUY WHO INVENTED THE OFFENSE THAT MADE BORGES'S OFFENSE OBSOLETE? I can't blame him for skipping fullbacks or running backs who can block since he had a track record of developing fullbacks from the walk-on program, while his backs, e.g. Toussaint, were recruited to operate in space. I wish he'd redshirted Vincent Smith, or gotten a medical for him.

But I do think he could have seen the need for tight ends even before the abilities of Koger and Webb opened his eyes to that. Rodriguez ignored the position for two years, and when he started looking again it was for the 2011 class that was devastated by Rosenberg and The Process: Hoke and Borges went on the hunt for last-minute TEs in 2011 and came back with Chris Barnett, a vagabond of the type that Michigan typically stays away from. Barnett transferred almost right away; I put that on having just a few weeks.

Tight end is another position that typically requires a lot of development, but Michigan knew by mid-2011 that its 2013 starters would be, at most, true sophomores, and knew a year later that neither of their 2012 recruits were much for blocking. At this point any sane human would not have made the ability of their tight ends to block a key component of their offense.

Offensive Line, Longly

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Rodriguez put all of his eggs in the 2011 OL recruiting basket, and Michigan ended up with all their eggs in a project recruit's basket.

As for the OL, the failure to recruit just one offensive lineman in 2010 is the centerpiece of modern bitching. Is that fair? Here's a line from Brian in Mike Schofield's recruiting post, dated June 2009:

"Michigan didn't need a huge offensive line class one year after taking six big uglies and graduating zero, but you never want fewer than three and you always want quality."

So yes it is established MGoPrecedent that fewer than three OL in a class no matter how much meat you have stacked for the meat god is not cutting it.

Offensive line recruiting happens a bit earlier than most other positions. Since they're unlikely to be starting for several years (even redshirt freshmen are pretty rare) OL recruits rightly look for coaching stability more than early opportunity. The 2009 class was narrowing down their lists before the 2008 season, and so on. With that said here's a timeline of Michigan offensive line recruiting:

2009 (recruited in early 2008): Tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, and guard Quinton Washington. This despite a huge/mixed haul from 2008, when RR added Barnum and Omameh to Carr's class of O'Neill, Mealer, Wermers and Khoury. For the record O'Neill left the team in June 2009, and Wermers was gone in July (though his World of Warcraft account was presumably active), so the coaches wouldn't have adjusted to either of those departures at that time. Meat for 2013 Meat God: three redshirt seniors, one a potential Jake Long 2.0, can't do more because there's still six guys from the previous class.

[Fail leaps atop fail, after the jump]

Hokepoints: First Down and a Long Way to Go

Hokepoints: First Down and a Long Way to Go

Submitted by Seth on October 15th, 2013 at 10:47 AM

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One of the most frustrating problems with Michigan's offense is they appear to be burning a lot of first downs by running Toussaint into stacked lines. Whether it's zone blocked or man, they've been tipping it the same with the same results. The concept has been discussed on here and will be again until it stops; my purpose today is to add some numbers to that discussion.

Love Affair with 2nd and Long. Excising all the non-normal situations (4th quarters, burning clock, attempting a comeback, 2-minute drill at the end of a half) here's a a quick breakdown of playcalls this year on first down:

  • 101 handoffs to running backs for 3.0 YPC and 6 TDs
  • 28 passes for 10.7 YPA, one interception, and 2 TDs
  • 20 play-action passes for 17.8 YPA, one interception and 4 TDs
  • 17 options for 5.6 YPA and a TD
  • 7 called Gardner runs for 2.7 YPA
  • 7 wide receiver runs for 10 YPA
  • 4 screens for 5.8 YPA
  • 2 false starts

Like basketball the efficiency of the things you do goes down the more you do them, and the efficiency of the counters goes up. I don't doubt that the ridiculous numbers for PA passes above are because it's five times more likely to be a handoff.

Michigan's is not the only bad offense that does this. The thing that MSU was doing when they had Le'Veon Bell was running him into stacked lines again and again to open up the occasional big play for a receiver or tight end. This burned a lot of first downs and killed a lot of drives but when you just need 17 points to win you'll take a high variance in drive results. What made it worthwhile was Bell was one of the best backs in the country at getting yards after contact. If a safety came down to fill the hole Bell could still run (or leap) over that guy and thus set up 2nd and manageable. This year they don't have the OL or the RBs to do that, so they line up to pass on 1st down far more often.

Borges doesn't have the RBs or the OL to do that and haven't adjusted. Instead he's gone the other direction, selling out even further with the unbalanced lines, and running even more often.

    UFR database (through Minn) says…
YPA, 1st Play of Drive YPA, All 1st Downs
Year Pass Run Total Run% Pass Run Total Run%
2008 7.0 4.3 5.3 63.2% 6.1 4.3 4.9 64.8%
2009 5.6 6.8 6.3 56.7% 5.6 6.1 5.9 65.3%
2010 9.2 6.1 7.2 63.1% 8.8 5.3 6.4 66.7%
2011 10.5 6.7 7.7 73.8% 8.1 6.2 6.7 70.9%
2012 8.6 5.7 6.6 70.9% 10.0 5.1 6.9 64.2%
2013 8.8 3.4 4.9 73.2% 12.7 3.7 6.3 71.6%

…that Michigan's drives are starting off with a whimper. If I take out 4th quarters and situations when Michigan is down more than two scores we're getting just 2.9 YPC on 1st down runs, which is over 73% of 1st down playcalls. But I showed the above because that's what Bill O'Brien was probably looking at when he and his coaches strategized for this game.

Let's play Being Bill O'Brien. This is how he responded. Here's the first play of the game:

[after the jump]

This Week's Obsession: The Borges Leap

This Week's Obsession: The Borges Leap

Submitted by Seth on September 25th, 2013 at 11:26 AM

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Oh boy.

Our roundtable's obsession this bye: what to do if you're Borges. The cast:

Scott Bakula as Brian Cook, a quantum physicist who becomes trapped on the internet following an experiment with trying to understand zone stretch plays.

Dean Stockwell as Seth Fisher, a cavalier, cigar-smoking hologram sidekick who's always playing with his doohicky smartphone thing.

Deb Pratt as Mathlete, a super hybrid computer that runs Project Points Above Normal.

Dennis Wolfberg as Heiko, a programmer and doctor described as short and annoying.

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Having Dileo in the slot blocks a SAM more effectively than asking Funchess to block that guy. [Upchurch]

Okay I'm out of Quantum Leap characters. Next person to respond gets to be the chimpanzee. That question:

By an extraordinary string of events that in no way represents unauthorized usage of the MGoBlog credit card, I have managed to procure for us one (1) trip via the Quantum Leap machine into the mind of Al Borges. We may send just one person--totally undetected--to control the mind of Borges from now until Minnesota kickoff, and must use it to fix Michigan's offense. Remember, once you are out of his head Borges takes over again. What would you do, implement, change, practice, and rep if this was you?

 Heiko: Well I actually succeeded in doing this and it resulted in the last two weeks so I am staying away now.

[After the jump: Brian's 8-step program.]

Dear Diary and the Life of Pirate Al Borges

Dear Diary and the Life of Pirate Al Borges

Submitted by Seth on June 21st, 2013 at 10:42 AM

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Bryan Fuller

If you've missed the bumping, Ron Utah has been following Borges's coaching history up and down the Pacific coast, and through about 14,000 plays called. Time to play catch-up:

Part I: A young Albison Issaquary Pirate Borges (that isn't his name) began coaching at Salinas High School as a 19-year-old assistant. He spent a year as an assistant at Cal, then went was a tight ends/receivers coach at Diablo Valley College. Then he was OC there, then at Portland State, then was at Boise State when they were making their transition up to Division I-AA. Then it was Oregon and UCLA.

Part II: Borges's ship is attacked and he is forced to join his hometown Cal Bears for the awful pre-Tedford times. After the mistake of joining the Indiana of the Pac Ten, Borges was ready to join the Indiana of the Big Ten, which was entering its DiNardo phase. Side note: Brian is going to be on a panel with DiNardo at a Chicago alumni event in July, the week of the Big Ten meetings. Raise of hands (or hooks) for those who think Brian will start asking DiNardo about Borges, and Gerry will be like "who is this guy?" Anyway then Borges went to Auburn and that's in there too.

Part III: After getting blamed for Auburn's awful 2007 offense under Tuberville, Borges took a year off then got a call from this guy who was taking over at San Diego State.

Part IV: Finally to the data, with career run-pass numbers and his far more efficient passing offense. We also go through his quarterbacks, and a lot of receivers with gaudy YPC numbers (evidence he likes the bomb) and running backs who mostly regressed. Ron also mentions Borges isn't really a recruiter. In the comments he mentions Borges's success on opening drives. Part V?

Diarist of the week assuredly.

Conference of the Crappy QBs.

1 LEAD and large as you can- Upchurch - 8193374455_6e3fdc8fe5_o1 IMG_35453 - Fuller - 8359807586_c3d90b3a39_oUpchurch - 8172718158_62a3847db7_o

Last week we welcomed back one of the great diarists from yesteryear, MCalibur. Fed up with passer rating, which as a standalone statistic can't differentiate between Chad Henne and Tommy Rees (see end of the diary) the diarist who is not a sword turned completion %, yards per attempt, touchdown % and interception % into passer ratings, and then used standard year-to-year improvement to project How Gardner should fare this season. He followed up this week by going through all the Big Ten's quarterbacks, and then the rest of the guys on the schedule this year. Here is his data on 11 quarterbacks assembled into a table (rank among the 11 is in parentheses).

Rk Player School Comp% YPA TD% INT% AVG
1 Devin Gardner Mich 132.8 (6th) 176.3 (1st) 177 (1st) 98.3 (9th) 146.1
2 Joel Stave Wis 129.8 (7th) 168.6 (2nd) 125.9 (6th) 152.4 (3rd) 144.2
3 Braxton Miller OSU 127.3 (8th) 144.5 (3rd) 137.8 (3rd) 158.4 (2nd) 142.0
4 Taylor Martinez Neb 143.5 (3rd) 140.1 (4th) 142.6 (2nd) 124.8 (7th) 137.8
5 Kain Colter NW 169.1 (1st) 102.5 (8th) 130.4 (4th) 146.3 (4th) 137.1
6 Tommy Rees ND 158.9 (2nd) 124.4 (6th) 123.4 (7th) 119.3 (8th) 131.5
7 Cameron Coffman Ind 138 (4th) 119.2 (7th) 107.1 (8th) 145.7 (5th) 127.5
8 Andrew Maxwell MSU 101.9 (10th) 102.3 (9th) 96.4 (9th) 171.3 (1st) 118.0
9 Chandler Whitmer UConn 124.5 (9th) 132 (5th) 90.6 (10th) 94.3 (10th) 110.4
10 N. Scheelhasse Ill 137.4 (5th) 96.3 (11th) 78.6 (11th) 125.1 (6th) 109.4
11 Philip Nelson Minn 88.2 (11th) 100.4 (10th) 128.9 (5th) 81.9 (11th) 99.9

Kudos to LSAClassof2000 for algebraically finding the individual-year APRs for the rest of the conference. Since we have rivals who aren't so good at algebra here's a table of their constituent scores versus ours over the BLedPRoCIAAga_81last eight years:

Year Michigan vs MSU vs OSU
2005 941 +35 -22
2006 978 +33 +47
2007 924 -12 -58
2008 945 +8 -51
2009 897 -49 -94
2010 946 +13 -25
2011 984 +28 -10
2012 981 -1 +11

To Sparty trolls: our oldest constituent score is a major outlier. Let's high-five for being just about even this year in a metric that measures attendance and retention.

To Urban Meyer: It's true that Ohio State was trouncing Michigan since getting trounced itself in 2006…until you arrived.

LSA was also the subject of Six Zero's latest MGoProfile feature, where he explains why he's the only guy here with an adorable pony avatar other those being punished by the mods for avatar infractions. 100% percent agree on the power to delete or edit one's own posts.

Etc. And Michigan's massive endowment isn't so big when you consider other academic factors (like that we have twice as many students as comparable schools).

Best of the Boards

BEST OF THE LOOT

The thread of Michigan swag owned by the readers got huge, and makes me feel pretty crappy about my collection, which is really just a folder full of my old Michigan tickets and old copies of the Daily. Here's MgoBlueD's basement:

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And here's the guest room that Wolverine Devotee keeps for when the Buckeye relatives come to town (I'm guessing):

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One guy named Stonecoldwolv said his '97 national championship ring.

There was also a "what's your favorite joke?" thread which is long and excellent if you're short on material, and a fan license plate thread.

BIG TEN WATER WAR

You know how Alabama installed a water fountain in their locker room? And how EDSBS suggested what other schools should do? Well 1484 covered the Big Ten. Northwestern's gonna be pretty pissed when they realize Mark Huyge's on our side.

ETC. Pipelines discussion is useful—would love to see a diary on M pipelines through the years and what happened to them. Avant's Hands discusses blowout decorum in anticipation of Spain versus 11 athletic-looking tourists Tahiti kidnapped from a cruise ship that was going by. UM Solar Car Team written up on FoxNews. Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne want to play you on Call of Duty. I'm too old for that, but anyone from Team 120 wanna play Goldeneye?

Your Moment of Zen:

The recruits are grateful for the warning.

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-20-12: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-20-12: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on November 20th, 2012 at 5:47 PM

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“Ah. How we doin’?”

Good.

“Got a full house today! Wonder why’s that?”

You draw a crowd.

“I’m being Elvis.”

Speaking of a full house … what is it that you call your formation with Denard in the backfield?

“We call it, ‘Denard in the backfield.’ How about the word of the day? We have to take care of that.”

What’s the word of the day? [Chantel Jennings would like to point out that this is not an MGoQuestion.]

“Resolve. Heiko, any technical questions?”

MGo: Uh …

“The finer points of attacking quarters coverage, maybe?”

MGo: Actually, yeah.

“That was stupid. That’s the stupidest thing I could have said. Go ahead.”

MGoQuestion: Virginia Tech’s aggressive quarters coverage made it hard for you to run the quarterback last year. Do you see that as a problem against Ohio State?

“They play totally different than Virginia Tech. Their structure is different defense. Really is. Now they may take a little bit of the same mentality, but from an X and O perspective, it’s a different.”

MGoFollowup: But in terms of having aggressive opposing safeties, does that make you hesitant to run the QB at all?

“Nope. Nope. Nooo.”

How many possibilities can there be having both Denard and Devin on the field?

“I don’t know.”

Legitimately you don’t know? Or do you just not want to answer?

“I don’t want to answer.”

Photos from Michigan vs. Iowa

Photos from Michigan vs. Iowa

Submitted by Eric on November 18th, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Yesterday was an interesting one for me. It was the first time that I've caught a catastrophic injury in photos. I will not be putting those photos in this post or in the gallery from the game. I wish Fitz the best of luck and I hope to see him back out there next year. 

On a lighter note, this will be my last gallery of the football season. I will not be travelling to Columbus and likely, not to our bowl game. I have enjoyed sharing my photos with all of you this year and I hope you have enjoyed them. Go Blue!!

 

 

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The Last Time

 

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Jeremy Gallon (I still don't know how this got through)

 

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Devin Funchess' TD


The Gallery: 

 

As always, photos are all creative commons licensed. If you have any comments or questions that you don't want to leave on the board, contact me at [email protected]

 

Iowa Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Iowa Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 18th, 2012 at 2:38 PM

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Opening remarks:

“It was a good game. A good football win. The seniors got to go up the tunnel singing The Victors for the last time in the stadium. We put a lot of emphasis on that because of the struggles and what they go through when you look at a guy who’s been here four or five years. So it was great for them and great for our team that the younger guys, younger classmen went out there and competed for them. That’s an expectation. The guys who are seniors who were playing in their last game at Michigan Stadium, I thought they did a nice job of going out there and playing 60 minutes of football.”

How bittersweet is it to see your seniors play at home for the last time?

“It’s always difficult because I’m a very emotional person, good or bad. So pick your poison. But we get very tight and close with the players because we are there to help them grow. From a personal life standpoint to an academic, to social, to everything else, they’re one of your sons, and that’s how we look at it.”

When did you make the decision for Denard to play, and when did you decide on his role?

“I didn’t make the decision for him to play. Once he got cleared, he felt good healthwise. We had talked about doing this for 18 months. You know, Al, when he got home last week after the Northwestern game, that night he had nine plays ready. And then we put six more in. I think Al does a tremendous job of taking your personnel and the playmakers that you have on your team and having the ability to get them the ball and let their god-given ability take over.”

How much do you know about Fitz’s situation?

“He’s in the hospital now and he’s had surgery. I think we’ll leave it at that for now and make sure -- his mother wasn’t here, he had two brothers here -- but we’ll leave it for that.”

How important was it to try out the Devin-Denard offense before the Ohio State game?

“You know, next week really never had anything to do with it. We had to beat Iowa. We’re still in a championship race. We wanted to win this game for our seniors and also because we’re still in a race for the championship.”

Was there any thought of using Denard as a passer or did you just decide to give him a limited role?

“Well, I think it would be unjust for us not to use him in the best way that we thought would let him be the most successful. He’s throwing the ball a little bit, not throwing it a lot, so we thought this was the best. This kid has put up with a lot of criticism at times and also he’s been praised at times --”

[Someone’s phone goes off, ring tone is “The Victors”]

“That’s a good song. He’s a competitive guy who loves the game and loves his teammates, and he showed great maturity the last three weeks and great leadership.”

Along those lines, did you have to do any convincing with Denard to tell him that he wouldn’t play quarterback?

“No … He wanted to play. Where could he help us best playing?”

Can he throw the ball?

“Yeah. But not as well as he’d like to.”

Can you talk about Denard and how hard it might be for a senior quarterback to not call plays in the huddle?

“Well, I think it tells you what kind of kid he is. What kind of a young man, I should say. And his development, his growth, his character, and the integrity -- this kid had some unbelievable moments here at Michigan and Michigan Stadium and have had some moments that weren’t so good, but he’s grown within this team, and this is his team. Him and Kovacs, all the seniors have a big piece of it, and I know that Devin said it the other day: he has been the face of Michigan football.”

Devin had six touchdowns…

“Say that again? I’m sorry.”

Devin had six touchdowns. They looked pretty easy for him. Can you tell us about his development?

“Um. He had six touchdowns?”

He had six touchdowns.

“Did he really. See, I don’t remember that stuff.”

He was pretty good.

“I -- well, I think you answered the question. He was pretty good.”

Did you hear the crowd chanting “Beat Ohio”?

“Yeah, and I said to someone next to me, ‘We need to beat Iowa.’ ”

You haven’t lost at home in two years. Is there something to that?

“I think there’s always, and you see it all kinds of sports, playing at home is something that’s treated us well. Familiarity with everything. I wish I could tell you. I just think there’s a comfort, I guess.”

Have your teams always been so much better at home?

“I have no clue. Again, it’s something that I don’t think about.”

Is this your offense moving forward, or could Denard move back to quarterback full time?

“Um … I don’t know. I guess he could. I don’t know. It’s an option.”

When was Denard cleared, and what did he have to do to get cleared? Can he grip the ball?

“Yeah. Yeah.”

When was he cleared?

“What’s today? Saturday? Probably six days ago.”

Is he cleared for good now, or do you have to go through another process? Is he day to day?

“He might be day to day.”

You talked about being an emotional person. You’ve just beaten Iowa, but what does the Ohio State game mean to you?

“It’s fun.”

It’s fun?

“It’s fun. Because it’s a great rivalry and there’s a lot of respect on both sides for those programs. For both programs. It’s fun. You asked? It’s fun. It’s going to be fun.”

You had a lot of success in vertical passing. How come?

“I think some play action set it up. And then I think Gallon made a terrific catch with concentration. The ball was where it needed to be, and it was defended pretty decently. I think one of the best throws and catches was an out on the sideline to Roy. I thought Roy did a nice job with his hands. That’s one thing I said this last week, but I thought Roy is catching the ball more with his hands and not with his body as he had earlier.”

When did you see that change for him?

“Eh, shoot. I don’t know. Some time. Probably in practice.”

It looked like you threw out things for Ohio State to think about. Is that something you planned to do?

“If I was that smart to do that, I would have done that. But no, we were trying to beat Iowa. We were trying to put our players -- because it would be selfish of us as coaches for us not to give these kids the best chance to win a football game. And whatever we do offensively or defensively or prepare, if we don’t do that then we’re short-selling this program and these seniors and these kids, and we’re not going to do that.”

You said you’ve been planning this offense since 18 months ago. What prevented you from using it earlier?

“How would I answer this …”

Honestly.

“Um. I would say, in doing it, it would have been done kind of like we did last year a little bit more when we had both of them on the field. And we just added to it. And we just added to it. And there’s a maturity level for everybody to be able to handle those things.”

So do you mean Denard at quarterback and Devin at receiver?

“Maybe. Sort of.”

Synergy between Gardner and the receivers?

“Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of truth to all of that. But I think our front’s blocking better. Part of it is the play-action game. Part of it is the play-action out of the I-back. I think that’s helped.”

How tough is it for the defense to prepare for your new formations?

Well, you have to spend some time on it. So sometimes that’s the biggest thing. You’re spending time maybe on a formation that was run maybe three times and thinking, okay, what can you do out of it, what can they do out of it? So as a coach, you’re spending your time, and then you’re taking practice time. So it’s time. And there’s one thing none of us have, is a lot of time.”

How confident are you that your team can quickly move on to Ohio State?

“Well they’re going to have to. I’m pretty confident in how our seniors have led and how we’ve gone to work every Sunday, win and lose.”

Defense?

“Yeah. You know … we missed some sacks. We don’t tackle. They’re knocking us off the line of scrimmage earlier. It was awful.”

Desmond Morgan?

“We thought he’d be ready, but he’s not.”

Details?

“No.”

Gary Moeller was honored today --

“Yeah, it was cool.”

What did that mean to you?

“Means a lot. Coach Mo as a person, as a coach, as a man. Means a lot. Means a lot to Michigan.”