This Week's Obsession: How Borges is Nuss?

This Week's Obsession: How Borges is Nuss?

Submitted by Seth on April 16th, 2014 at 10:15 AM



Question: Did you notice any appreciable difference in the Spring Game between the Borges offense and Nussmeier's? What are hoping to see by fall, and do you think they appeared to be heading in that direction?

Ace: Well...

Inline image 1

I might not be very useful in this roundtable.


Brian: Well... it wasn't much different in person.

And the stuff they did show was the usual vanilla business that is designed to be as basic as possible, so I'm not sure there's a whole lot to glean. It looked a lot more compact than last year's offense, sure. All spring games look compact as the bells and whistles are stowed away for use on a two-point conversion in the bowl game after you're down one billion points.

Michigan did seem to have a dedication to the inside zone with a side of power, and the linemen seemed more focused on making sure the defensive tackle was good and beat up before trying to get to the second level. That led to a lot of runs that made it to the line of scrimmage (hooray!) and didn't get much further. And that's fine. You don't dig out of a hole as big as the one Michigan's in quickly. Michigan looks like it's going to be mostly an IZ team that mixes in power to keep opponents honest, and as long as they look like that through the nonconference season and don't start flipping people about all willy-nilly, that is the first step towards competence.

So that's what I think we'll see: a boring-ass offense that tries to keep errors to a minimum and punts a lot. People will complain about its predictability and simplicity and they'll be right. Michigan doesn't have much choice, unfortunately.


Seth: It's impossible to compare Borges's Michigan offense to anything, because Michigan's offense wasn't anything under Borges for more than a few games. The three things I was looking for were 1) personnel, 2) a concept, and 3) how well those things could complement each other.

If you flup this up, Doug, so help me Bo…

Personnel was heavy, which was discouraging. For one Michigan has little in the way of tight ends. I didn't see anything from A.J. Williams, who was behind Heitzman, or Khalid Hill, who was behind Houma, and that was discouraging for hope of TE production before Butt's back. Houma is a fullback who lined up at the U only to motion back to fullback.

The operating theory on the OC hire was that Nussmeier at Bama was forced to use heavier formations than he wanted, however that compromise came down to 65% of snaps with three or more receivers:

Team Big 2 WR 3 WR 4 WR
Bama (Sugar Bowl) 3% 31% 58% 7%
Michigan 2013 8% 54% 29% 9%
Mich 2011-'12 7% 41% 43% 9%
Mich 2008-'10 1% 7% 76% 15%

Eyeballing it, the spring game was closer to Michigan in 2013. If there was a difference it was more Ace as opposed to I-form, but that's less relevant because those second TEs were usually Houma and Kerridge, i.e. the fullbacks. There's a fear shared by every Michigan fan with a functional nervous system that the run-and-shoot-yourself-in-the-face offense under Borges was, despite protestations to the contrary, a mandate from the top. If Nussmeier compromises for Hoke more than he would for Saban, well, that would be insane. If that was all just a bunch of spring practice hooey, well, why are they spending spring practice on hooey when every countable hour is precious?

Great scott Doc, this is too heavy. [Fuller]

On the upside, there was a concept. The running was mostly zone, with some power mixed in only because you need to pull somebody to sell play-action. The passing game was a slight departure from Borges, who used a lot of 5-step patterns last year. These were 7-step patterns with an outlet, matching what we saw from Nussmeier at Alabama. The difference here can be overstated; Borges used lots of longer routes with Denard but went to the quicker stuff in 2013 because he couldn't get protection to last longer than that.

How do I feel about that? Well it fits the receivers' abilities. There's no Gallon to turn every 7-yard cushion into an easy 5 yards, but there's Canteen and the Funchise and lots of leapy things who can reel in a desperation heave. I have serious doubts the offensive line can hold up that long, but that's why there's an outlet. On the play I drew up it was Funchess running what appeared to be an option route; with Alabama it was usually an RB.

Zone is good. It's what Funk knows, it's easier to teach to young linemen, and we've already established his charges' total inability to pull correctly. My guess is the tight ends are in there because the OTs need help, though any time you have Heitzman/Williams/Houma in there instead of Chesson that's a talent downgrade.

I think the great hope for an offense that can finish in the top half of the conference is Gardner. I think Nussmeier is building an offense that is simple for everybody but him.

Dear Diary Has Moved on to Appreciation

Dear Diary Has Moved on to Appreciation

Submitted by Seth on November 15th, 2013 at 9:00 AM


This isn't a stage of grief but it is a stage of life: at some point during the long process of disintegrating into a grotesque version of yourself, you stop asking rhetorically when the kids will visit, stop being horrified at the exponential indignities, stop trying to convince everybody you're still just as capable as ever, and just decide to be tickled to death at anything good. You're past caring what ol' so-and-so thinks, and save your opinion that Alabama is something to be ashamed of, not commit to, for the people at your bridge game.* When the doorbell rings you expect it to be Death; if it's the grandkids, we'll order subs and won't that just be grand!

MGoBlog, you've reached the Appreciation stage. Right now on the board you can see a thread for appreciation of Jabrill Peppers, and  appreciation itself, and one for Al Borges, and I even made one for you, dear readers. Where are the rest? Where did they come from? I'll allow you this peek behind the curtain:


Poor Ace. We'll put that one with Treadwell's and Levenberry's. And Armani Reeves and Sam Grant and Josh Garnett and Bri'onte Dunn and Anthony Standifer (the second time) and all of Tim's 2011 opponent previews, and some weirdness Brian puts up every once in awhile. Okay ONE example:

<)   )> ooohh 
  /   \

I don't know. But that's your user content this week: people admitting our program feels every year of 134. Next time we have Ohio State over let's wear our ratty sweatpants and make fun of their latest girlfriend. What is she 25? Really.

* [The Big Ten is analogously a bridge game.]


The Diary to Read if You Still Care is the one about how experience seems to matter a lot on the interior of the offensive line but not so much on the exterior. Get ready for Michigan and Purdue to be extreme examples of a gentle trend:


Having two 5th year senior tackles don't seem to matter at all. Having an average of 1 year in the program among the three interior guys is not good, but it's not death either: the second star to the left over Michigan is UCLA. Gandalf the Maize, you are the Diarist of the Week. Also I like your wizard hat.

Gandalf the Maize's picture

You probably already saw the incredibly detailed one by Space Coyote where he disagrees with Brian over whether Kerridge should be able to make that one block. I have a unifying theory: the part of the brain that has the ability to release the enzymes with which to formulate excuses is often destroyed in the process of playing or coaching football. Ask a coach sometime about the Alabama game last year; he'll probably tell you that was on execution too.

The Other Diary to Read if You Still Care is by a former D3 fullback who went over three complaints we've had about the offensive coaching:

  • Don't know their personnel/strengths
  • Stubbornly sticking to an offense their players can't run.
  • Tipping calls

The anecdotal approach both addresses where our expectations are too high (they can't run simple stuff AND not be predictable) but mostly confirms the general complaints about stubbornness and misusing the personnel.

Etc. I think Brian linked to the weeklies in previous posts, but if you missed it here's parallels between Michigan and the Soviet Space Program. Dragonchild wants to bring helpful signs for the other team that say "WE'RE RUNNING" or "WE'RE PASSING" that our fans can use to prove just how predictable they're being. Has nobody considered what would happen if Borges just starts calling whatever's on the signs?


I was right about where they'd put the new jug scores:


There are five lines up here, and room for six under each M—seven if they don't have header rows beneath. So that's maybe 26 years before we have to worry about how to fit more scores on the jug gain. How did we beat them 42-13 this year?

ETC. Victors5 broke down the offense by play and formation from UFRs. Rakefight's trying to boycott the preferred seat donation.

Your Moment of Zen:

Sedate me fast 'cause I don't want to think about this. /beats Alabama

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


“How’s it goin’?”

All right.

“How we doin’?”


“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.”