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.

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Notre Dame

Submitted by Brian on September 11th, 2013 at 5:13 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan was split close to evenly between shotgun/pistol/under center. Notre Dame, meanwhile, was in a ton of four-man fronts until late, when they went back to more of a 4-3 look. Here you can see Shembo with his hand down and a 1-3-5 technique split to the strongside of M's formation:

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I know I've mentioned in the past that Notre Dame's defense is not really all that different from Michigan's, and this game was a good demonstration of that. ND prefers over fronts when they go to a four-man line since their SAM equivalent is Jaylon Smith, a fast light bugger. I guess that's kind of a big difference. The point is: ND runs a lot of four man fronts.

Here's ND's 3-4:

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The DL are head up on the Michigan OL, with the SAM over the TEs and Smith is over the slot.

This is the pistol. Pew pew:

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Another 4-3 over from ND.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB Gardner, RB Toussaint on almost every play. Derrick Green got in for two, I think, and M lined up Norfleet as a back once. The line was the starters the whole game, but when Lewan got poked in the eye, Michigan sent in Magnuson, not Braden. Lewan returned, so Magnuson didn't get a snap. He's your #3 tackle it appears.

Williams, Funchess, and Butt all played plenty; Williams went out with an injury, came back for a few plays, and then left permanently. At WR, Gallon (obvious) with Chesson and Jackson rotating more heavily than Reynolds, who may still be dinged. Excepting the Norfleet package early, the slot was always Dileo. Michigan never had more than two outside WRs in the game. On passing downs they filled out with Funchess and Dileo.

[After THE JUMP: slicing and dicing goes both ways.]

Hokepoints: Third Play Guy

Hokepoints: Third Play Guy

Submitted by Seth on September 10th, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Al Borges CMU press conference:

"He's a third play guy. You guys have heard me talk about the third play, right? He's a third play guy."

Devin Gardner's ridiculous redzone efficiency last year has gone to ludicrous this year. The standard answer we've been giving for this is "well his legs and size" but there's been more to it. I grabbed this one play from the ND game because it shows several things that Gardner and Borges have been doing to defeat what should have been one of their toughest redzone opponents.

The play:

What you saw: Michigan gets a 1st and goal from the 2 yard line after a pass interference. They line up in…is that an unbalanced formation? Then Devin checks out of it, runs what seems like an option play, then dives through the whole thing suddenly for the score. Afterward we learn Hoke was trying to call timeout.

Play the First: Ace 2TE Twins Unbalanced HB Dive:

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It is unbalanced: Funchess (on the l.o.s. just outside the left hash) is covered by Reynolds, and Schofield is an eligible receiver would be eligible if he had a non-OL number on. There's also some epic space between the end (Sheldon Day) and the linebacker to his side (Shembo).

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The middle linebackers are seeing this and pointing. Let 'em; we're motioning to something else anyway.

[after the jump]

Shovel On A Little More Coal

Shovel On A Little More Coal

Submitted by Brian on September 9th, 2013 at 12:14 PM

9/7/2013 – Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30 – 2-0

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Eric Upchurch

The media trend of the last ten years is a demonstration of the power of hope. There are now three national networks covering recruiting, plus ESPN, plus a cottage industry of who-dat bloggers who get picked up by these national networks far faster than actual journalism majors get picked up by, you know, newspapers. (Michigan has no journalism major, which explains why you can't throw a rock at a sports editor without causing him to hire a Daily grad.) This site alone saw two guys snapped up and almost hired a third who was snapped up just a bit later. Meanwhile, newspapers continue to give us Drew Sharp and wonder why they're withering on the vine.

Here's all you need to know about recruiting sites: they can charge for content on the internet. Hope, man. Hope.

Because the next guy is always going to be The Guy. The Guy will rescue us from the purgatory of not being Alabama and deliver us unto glory. He may be a defensive back, or a running back, or a quarterback, or a defensive lineman. He is going to be Woodson or Adrian Peterson or Andrew Luck or Jadeveon Clowney—except Clowney's defense just got torched for 41 points and lost.

Jadeveon Clowney! Indisputably The Guy, and somehow still not. If Jadeveon Clowney can't be the guy, well… there's always the recruiting sites. It's college football. The next arrival is always just around the corner.

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Devin Gardner turned in what I can confidently state is the worst play in the history of organized football—I have watched all of it from Pop Warner on up—and was still awesome Saturday night. Awesome. I do not mean this in the Spots-gave-me-extra-wings way. I mean this in the light-from-the-sky, tremble-at-the-power, bow-down-lest-we-all-perish kind of way. If I could use the words "yea" and "lo" genuinely, I would deploy them now. The numbers are amazing. The numbers do not do it justice.

Here's the thing about Notre Dame's defense: it's going to be just fine. Gardner ate plenty of defensive lineman Saturday, usually after delivering a perfectly-placed dart. Notre Dame blitzed him almost two-thirds of the time and got the one huge mistake and nothing else. Notre Dame defensive backs were, with rare exceptions, in position to make a play on anything other than a perfectly-placed ball. They could not make plays without committing pass interference, called or not, because Devin Gardner was spitting hot death all night long.

If you happen to rewatch that game you'll see did-that-just-happen surgical strikes even more impressive the second time around.

On third and goal from the 14, Drew Dileo screwed up his route. He ran next to Gallon, bringing a third defender into the area. Gardner fired a ball in between all three guys that hit Gallon in the hands instead of the chest because KeiVarae Russell was riding him like a horse. Earlier in the drive he'd tossed up that back-shoulder throw that he might have been attempting against Central Michigan when he got hit, and Gallon plucked it out of the air. Russell was there. He just couldn't do anything about it.

By the fourth quarter, Gardner and Gallon had become so proficient at the back shoulder fade that Notre Dame was actually sitting on it, which I have never seen before. There were a lot of things last night that I haven't seen before in a winged helmet, that have traditionally been the province of passing specialists like Texas Tech. They tried to man up Crab, once, and Texas Tech beat the #1 team in the country without a running game or defense. Michigan has at least one of those.

In the aftermath, Michael Crabtree looked a lot like you did at some point last night:

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IS THIS REAL LIFE

Oh and Gardner led the team in rushing at 7.5 yards an attempt. He might be The Guy. Gardner hinted at this kind of thing over the last six games, and now he has delivered. You could feel it coming, maybe, but Michigan just graduated a guy who was The Guy, like Jadeveon Clowney is, and could not get over the hump, like Clowney. Even in the world where talent comes through it doesn't always end up steamrolling the opposition.

Devin Gardner just left Notre Dame a two-dimensional smudge in the rear view mirror, and now it's downhill for a while. Shovel on a little more coal, and let's watch old 98 roll.

Highlights

Parkinggod has the Michigan stuff:

And Notre Dame has some things that Notre Dame did right:

Pressers are available from Maize and Blue News.

Gardner thing from Gameday:

Also a lady got hit real hard.

Awards

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Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. How does a guy who threw four touchdowns at nearly 10 YPA and ran for 90 additional yards split this award? Well, to get the award by himself he has to be a separate entity from guy who caught eight of his passes for 184 yards. This does not appear to be the case. DevinJeremy GardnerGallon, come on down.

Honorable Mention. Thomas Gordon and Jarrod Wilson (invisible all game in a good way), Drew Dileo (THROW IT TO DILEO), Brendan Gibbons (your record-holder for kicking consistency /2009 version of your head explodes), Blake Countess (drifted off his man for critical INT), Brian Kelly (thanks for not running the ball).

SPECIAL NEW RULE. Doubling points from this game because I can.

Epic Double Point Standings.

1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Jeremy Gallon (ND)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Since it featured Borges screwing with ND, an NFL dart from Gardner, a crazy spin move from Gallon, and Chesson The Destroyer reveling in the blood of the fallen, this is an easy pick:

Honorable mention: Countess's game-changing interception, Jeremy Jackson catching a long handoff for seven yards because ND is playing in the parking lot against Jeremy Jackson for some reason, Fitz Toussaint using a tackle attempt as an awesome juke to dart 20 yards when Michigan really needed something, either of Gardner's perfect back-shoulder throws to Gallon, Gardner nailing Gallon 40 yards downfield, and Gardner taking off on a zone read so open you'd think Stephen Threet was running it.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.

[After THE JUMP: offense, defense, and everything in-between. Plus incredible chicken gif!]

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Iowa

Submitted by Brian on November 22nd, 2012 at 12:51 PM

HAPPY THANKSGIVING. This will be the only post today, probably.

Formation notes: You make one offhand comment about how this notes section gets boring late in the year and Al Borges goes and does that. Okay, so. For the TE/WR/RB section I am classifying Gardner as a WR and Denard as a RB when they are not at QB.

Michigan had two different backfields featuring Denard behind Gardner with one or two lead blockers flanking him. I could have called this one "offset I three-wide" but it felt more correct to note it as a Fritz variant:

f-fritz-3-wide

Fritz 3-wide

Since Michigan does have a declared strength here I tabbed the Iowa defense here an under. They also ran the two-FB version, which is just plain old Fritz.

The thing I used to call Denard Jet also re-emerged:

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And then there was… this.

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In keeping with this blog's tradition of naming weird things he hasn't seen after the nearest equivalent in NCAA Football X, this was dubbed "far twin TE."

Formation lingo may not match your local football talking guy and is merely present to help facilitate communicative acts.

Substitution notes: Line as per usual. Tight ends as per usual. Joe Reynolds got some burn at wide receiver on actual passing plays, catching a long handoff type thing that Gardner clearly aborted to—about which more later—and a hitch on which it looked like he ran a nice route, for all I know about route running. Other than that, WRs were as per usual including usual lack of focus on throwing to Dileo when not throwing to Gallon or Roundtree.

Toussaint went out early with his injury; after that it was all Rawls and Smith until very late; Justice Hayes did get in at fullback(!) on a play where Michigan ran an iso. Oh and that Denard guy played some.

[AFTER THE JUMP: TURKEY no just UFR]

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

file

“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.”

Iowa Postgame Presser: Players

Iowa Postgame Presser: Players

Submitted by Heiko on November 18th, 2012 at 11:39 PM

Denard Robinson

Thoughts on your career as a Michigan quarterback?

“It means a lot. It means -- it’s hard to put into words what this means to me. Just being a leader on this team and being one of the guys that was picked by the team to be a captain and a leader. It’s kind of hard to swallow right now because it’s coming to an end.”

What have the past three weeks been like? When did you find out that you would be able to play today?

“I’ve been getting treatment a lot. They’ve been telling me a lot of this stuff, and I’ve just been getting treatment, and I’ve been day by day and been getting better. Once I got a chance to get the go-ahead, I went out and started practicing and started playing a lot.”

How desperately did you want to play in this last game? Did you have to lobby to get in the game?

“Oh no. I think everybody knew -- if they know me, they’d know I’d do whatever it takes for the team. I’m the kind of the person that if I go, I’m going to go. I’m not going to hold back because I do whatever my team [needs]. That’s my family.”

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.”

Hokepoints: The Difference a Devin Makes

Hokepoints: The Difference a Devin Makes

Submitted by Seth on November 13th, 2012 at 9:32 AM

8172287748_c65866642c_b8172718998_388740e068_b8173105342_0967b0d1a6_b

A good idea. / Also a good idea. / Not a good idea. (Upchurch)

Before we begin, since this is a Denard/Gardner comparison post, let's get this part out of the way:

Is Gardner a palatable Big Ten QB?

Absolutely.

Is Gardner a good QB?

Yes, I really think so.

So even if Denard is 100 percent…

NO!!! Two good starts from our 2013 starting signalcaller, albeit against two of the conference's worst pass defenses, are good things. Let's not ruin them by allowing the kind of people who see the world in Tall-Passer-Lloydball Pearl and Small-Scrambly-Spreadrod Onyx to, you know, start all that again.

But I am interested in knowing just how good Gardner has played. I'm also interested in how everything else about our offense changed when Gardner went in for Denard, and how defenses reacted to it. What did it do to the receiver corps to lose him, and what to the formations and personnel? 2012 is nice and all but I want to know what 2013 is going to look like now! Since this week was a better test and a better performance to the eye than what he did against Minnesota after one week of not being a receiver, I think we need Northwestern data. In fact I was so impatient I decided to not wait for Brian to UFR the offense this week and did it myself…in a mini version.

Shosho:

Drive 1:

Ln Dn Ds O-Form RB TE WR D Form Type Yards Charted
M25 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass 7 CA
M32 2 3 Ace 1 3 2 4-3 over Run 6 -
M38 1 10 Pro 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Inc BA
M38 2 10 I-Form 2 2 1 4-3 over Run 0 -
M38 3 10 Shotgun 1 0 4 Okie Pass Inc DO
5 plays, 13 yards, 13 mins left in the 1st quarter. Score: 0-0

We establish a few things, like Michigan is going under center, and Northwestern is going to defend that with the 4-3 over, and even 6'4 quarterbacks get batted sometimes. Easy out to Gallon that was still open all day, one batted, one perfect downfield throw on a blitz that was dropped by Jerald Robinson. Northwestern gives up on blitzing for the rest of the day. Michigan gives up on receivers.

Drive 2: Borges makes it rain RPS…

Ln Dn Ds O-Form RB TE WR D Form Type Yards Charted
M22 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass 6 CA
M28 2 4 Shotgun 2 1 2 4-3 over Run -6 -
M22 3 10 Shotgun 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass 10 DO
M32 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass 5 SCR
M37 2 5 Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel even Run 3 -
M40 3 3 Shotgun 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass 4 SCR
M44 1 10 I-Form 2 2 1 4-3 over Run -5 -
M39 2 15 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass 32 CA
O31 1 10 I-Form 2 2 1 4-3 over Penalty 5 NC
O26 1 5 I-Form 2 2 1 4-3 over Penalty 17 NC
O9 1 10 I-Form 2 2 1 4-3 over Run 0 -
O9 2 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass 9 SCR

10 plays, 78 yards, 2:30 left in the 1st quarter. Score: 7-0 Michigan.

This is the drive when Michigan started inserting superfluous apostrophes into the snap count (Wilcat's HATE that!). Note the CA on the 32-yard pass to Roundtree. That's close to "MA" since it's behind the receiver, but not so much that it changed Roundtree's momentum when he reached back to get it. Also note that NW's cornerback is awful.

[The rest of the drives, and how this and the other Gardner game compare to the Denard ones, after THE JUMP]

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-9-12: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-9-12: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on October 9th, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Al Borges

file

“How’s it goin’?”

All right.

“How we doin’?”

Great.

“What’s happenin'?”

Not much.

“Where’s your glasses?”

I don’t wear them every day. Yours look good though.

“You’re losing the effect. I’ve gone to all glasses. People started to think I was dumb. Now they just think I’m dumb with glasses.

"All right, you guys. Let’s have it.”

Were you surprised by how Purdue defended you?

“They played a little more 3-4 than I thought. They had -- it’s not like we didn’t prepare for it, but there was a little more 30 front than we thought, but the back end was kind of as we anticipated. There’s always a little nuance to handle Denard, the kind that guys borrow from other teams they watch on tape they think they might have had some success playing Denard, so they take pieces of that, and if they think it fits their team.”

Did you feel like they were trying to take away Fitz?

“Oh no doubt. If you watch the tape, they were following Fitz all over the field. Fitz had very good running opportunities on 17 carries. I went over the whole tape. It was the good news and the bad news though. We pulled a couple zone reads when they were all over Fitz, and Denard was wide open down field. It wasn’t like it was bad. It just didn’t make Fitz’s numbers look very good, but he helped us win the game, you know, kind of like a guy that has a sacrifice bunt. Helps you win the game. That was kind of the way they decided to defend us.”