Iowa game wrap (in brief)

Iowa game wrap (in brief)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on November 10th, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Out of whack

So that game kind of sucked.  If you're wondering why this diary is so late in the week, I try to wait until I feel like the foul language will be minimized after we lose. 

Despite the video above, I'm not really blaming Borges for this loss.  Not entirely anyway.  He did not have a very good game.  But that could be said for many people.  Denard, Hemingway, Vince, Roundtree, Morgan, Floyd, the refs. THE REFS.  THE MOTHERFUCKING REFS. But we'll get to that later.

You know when an offense is clicking, it's when guys are wide freaking open.  And not just in the passing game.  When an offense is in rhythm, running lanes open up too.  That really didn't happen on Saturday until the final drive (when Iowa was backed off in prevent). Every pass and running lane was contested. That's partially due to the vanilla cover two.  But a larger problem for us is our failure in self-scouting and our lack of an identity on offense.  

A lot of what an OC does during gameday is psychological.  You're supposed to mess with people's heads.  RR was great at this.  And the people he targeted most were the outside linebackers, DE's, nickel backs, and safeties.  The reason why all forms of the option offense are so strong is because of the ability to always make a player wrong.  You read which way he goes, and then go the other way.  It's about taking what you're being given.

Which leads us back to Borges's failure this week.  Ideally an offense creates an identity by beating a defense in a certain way so much that the DC has to adjust to take away those plays.  But when that happens, it opens up the companion play.  

Back during Lloydball that script went something like this.  Offtackle run, offtackle run, offtackle run, bootleg pass for a TD.  It was boring as hell, but when it worked, it was a thing of beauty.  Tuman wide open in the Rosebowl, Breaston taking a reverse for a TD, etc.

With Richrod it was more like, zone read/bubble play left, zone read/bubble play right, Denard, Denard, Dena-OH SHIT! TD!

With Borges it is ... uh ... ? What exactly?  Brian discussed this at length already, so I'll just add that it feels like we're just throwing random crap at the wall to see what sticks.  Borges has called better games and it's hard to establish an identity when your 'bread and butter' plays are getting stuffed.  But our best play this season has been for Denard to hold the ball too long in the pocket and then heave a prayer downfield.  No one is going to mistake Denard for Andrew Luck, I don't understand why we're trying to use him like that.  I don't understand why he's in the pocket reading pass coverages.

What is our base play?  A zone read?  Then why the hell don't we have the companion bubble screens?  Is our base play an I-form Iso?  Then where are the reverses that keep the backside DE honest?  I'm getting sick of watching the backside end or OLB making a tackle in the opposite B gap.  Are we running Denard?  Then why are wasting a blocker by handing it off to him?   

I understand that we're trying to keep him healthy, but we're losing the numbers game.  Every time we go to that Denard Jet Sweep formation, the defense doesn't have to account for him.  We hardly ever give him the ball, and we never throw it to him.  And why is that the trick play formation we're stuck with?  When we came out one week with the diamond Fritz formation and then had the jet sweep thing the next week, I was expecting to see 5 more different variations.  Instead we've settled into this one that opposing DC's have figured out.

There's only three games left.  It's time to take the reins of our biggest offensive threat.  It's time to put in all those counters and companions and make play calls during the game that are, uhm..., like fucking coherent.  (I wrote and rewrote that sentence 5 times, and still have an expletive, if not in all caps.)

I understand you're transitioning to a new philosophy and we're under-manned and can't hurt people with the base plays you want to run.  But there's only three games left, if we want to win any of them, some of that will have to go out the window.  I know you're not trying to use up Denard, but there's only three games left.  If not now, when?  

I appreciate that we've only lost two games, but there's only three games left and none of them are gonna be any easier than the two we lost.  There's only three games left, and none of them are against Minnesota.  There's only three games left.  It's time to bring out our "A game". 

A bad game all around.

So I noticed Brian noticed my noticing of Desmond Morgan getting a good tackle on a kickoff against Purdue.   How was his game against Iowa?




It's pretty bad when even the TV guys are pointing out your bad play.  (Although Spielman is one of the handfull of guys that knows the game pretty well and points out good and bad LB play)

And Fitz had a great game against Purdue, did that carry over?


Oh. (That's two unblocked middle linebackers on an A gap dive.)

But at least we've still got Denard who has been excellent at reading blockers and -


Oh. okay. 

It's hard to blame any one person on offense when the entire blocking day was sub-par.  


Looks ok here.  That is a linebacker (and supposedly an above average one) not a DB. So our little slot guy should either go low or try to pin him inside.


Oh. Nevermind.  But look, Fitz is leading the play for Denard, so we're still good.


We've got two guys on him, no problem.  Except Denard has no place to cut back because Huyge couldn't maintain his backside block. 


Still, a 2 on 1 means Denard should be able to bounce it outside.


*sigh*  I guess this is where I'm supposed to mention something about teaching cut blocking and then I get pissy about how small blockers should take on big defenders by going low ... but I just can't get too upset about this play.  I guess my rage is being reserved for something else...

And about those refs....

They started the game by missing a holding call


And then they decided that pass interference was no longer an enforceable rule.  


They actually threw a flag and then talked themselves out of it. Maybe they thought it was uncatchable.


Maybe they're FUCKING BLIND.


And this was on Denard's interception right before the half.  Denard has thrown some bad interceptions this year.  This was not one of them.  

At this point, someone needs to be in the ref's ear.  I know Hoke is not the fire and brimstone kind of guy, and that's fine, but we need somebody to be working on the refs.  The same thing happened during the Northwestern game, the refs never woke up and gave us a makeup call. 

And our receivers need to do a better job of getting the call.  Throw your hands up and dive on the ground.  Watch some European sissy boys play soccer and learn how to embellish a call.  I'm not saying all the time, because 'boy who cried wolf, blah blah blah.'  But when you've got a legitimate case, don't be afraid to hop up and down a bit more.  Make the ref peek at the video board and maybe you'll get the call next time.

Or just ... fuck. 

So there's about 14 points that they owe us.

Hey refs!



If this diary seemed overly critical, you win as a team, you lose as a team.  Win and there's plenty of credit and high fives to go around, lose and everyone gets shat upon.

Amongst those few that had good games:

  • Gallon, not as dropsies as Hemingway or Roundtree
  • Interior O-Line, not as bad as the tackles
  • Fitz, his running and hole reading were not as bad as his blocking
  • Demens, not as bad Morgan
  • Countess, not as bad as Floyd
  • Martin, ... ok he was still awesome, in fact the entire D-line had a decent game.  I guess that's what happens when you've got 3 D-line coaches (Hoke and Mattison are both ex D-line coaches)
  • Mattison, not as bad as.... well I think I've covered that already. 



Moving Picture Pages: Multiple Flood

Moving Picture Pages: Multiple Flood

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on November 4th, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Original Picture Pages here.  Analysis courtesy Brian, as usual.  Now the slo-mo works but I'm back to non-lower-case lower case letters. Whatever.

Setup: Borges is setting up 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situations.  On the play prior to this one, Michigan sent Hemingway, Roundtree, and Grady to varying depths along the left sideline.  The corner stepped up to take away Hemingway (running the middle depth of the three routes), but Roundtree beat the safety to the outside for a big gain.  This play is designed to get one man open no matter which way the corner plays. 

Wha'hoppon: Gallon is split left, Denard in the slot right, and Hemingway split right.  Pre-snap, Junior motions in, and the defensive reaction reveals zone.  On the snap, Gallon runs, well, I'm not sure - it might be a streak, or a fly, or a post, or a post-corner (#7).  One safety steps up into a robber zone and the other forms a Cover-3 with the corners.  Gallon's corner runs with him and the safety comes over.  Hemingway runs what starts out as a deep in, I think (#6?), but continues it all the way across the field, getting free of the robber and being wide open in the spot vacated by the corner.  The LBs are occupied by the threat of the end-around first, then a potential Denard wheel route second, which prevents them from dropping into the passing lane.  Gardner finishes both fakes, has a quick lunch, tweets "no1 w/in 10yds of me lol wide open" and proceeds to throw into double coverage towards Gallon.  Armpunt.

Full YouTubage at


Heiko vs. Borges and the mystery of the missing bubble screen solved (maybe)

Heiko vs. Borges and the mystery of the missing bubble screen solved (maybe)

Submitted by Thorin on November 3rd, 2011 at 9:19 AM

In yesterday's Mailbag, Brian offered two explanations for why Borges wouldn't answer the question:

1. He is vaguely aware of the fan zeitgeist about this and is sick of these laymen bothering him about a stupid play.
2. He is going to bust it out as part of Michigan's ever-evolving baseless offense.

WRONG (Borges smug?) and KIND OF WRONG.

The bubble screen is the base offense. Everything they've shown on film so far is a trap for Ohio State. On November 26, Borges will break out 5-wide ninjas, all bubble, all the time, left bubble, right bubble, all the way down the field bubble, 500 yards and 48 points of bubble. They'll go for 2 and make it 50 with a bubble screen.


OT: Tulane HC Position Open For Next Year: Bob Toledo resigns. RichRod an option?

OT: Tulane HC Position Open For Next Year: Bob Toledo resigns. RichRod an option?

Submitted by markusr2007 on October 18th, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Tulane AD Rick Dickson has accepted resignation of HC Bob Toledo (formerly of HC of UCLA 1996-2000). Al Borges was the OC for Bob Toledo at UCLA from 1996-2000.

Bob Toledo was 13-35 at Tulane over 4 years and never coached a winning season there.

In December 1998 when Tommy Bowden left head job at Tulane for Clemson HC postin.

The then Tulane AD Sandy Barbour appointed Rich Rodriguez as the interim head coach.

At that time Tommy Bowden was recruiting hard for Rodriguez to come with him to Clemson to be his OC there.

Rodriguez said this back in December 1999:

"Of the four, I'd prefer to stay as Tulane's coach," Rodriguez said. "I've kind of set next Wednesday as my deadline to decide. That's when we begin practicing for the bowl game."

Would Rodriguez ever wish to return to New Orleans, LA? Time will tell.

What Went Wrong?

What Went Wrong?

Submitted by hart20 on October 15th, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Simply, what went wrong? Was it the playcalling? The execution? The refs? The wind? Dirty plays? The 88% full moon (Waning Gibbous)? What are your thoughts? And before I get negged, the purpose of this post isn't to rag on anyone, I'm genuinely curious about your thoughts. And please, keep it sane. No personal attacks or any thing of the sort.

Personally, I think the defense played as well as it could have. They got the turnovers, they put the offense in positions to make something happen. The offense just couldn't get it done. Why the offense couldn't get it done? I think it had more to do with the play calling than the execution, although the execution wasn't pretty. We were able to move the ball running and then we suddenly switched to a passing offense. It made no sense. MSU was timing the snaps, yet we continued using the same snap counts. And that 4th down play call....deep breath.... I don't care how wide open the receivers would have been if Denard had time to throw. We needed a first down and MSU was giving it to us. We have Denard and an easy first down. WHY DO YOU PASS IT??? If someone has a legitimate answer, please tell me. The execution wasn't pretty at all, but I felt like the players were put into tough spots.


We could've/should've won that game. What went wrong?


Scouts Inc.'s KC Joyner on the M offense

Scouts Inc.'s KC Joyner on the M offense

Submitted by Callahan on October 4th, 2011 at 11:30 AM

He's impressed with what Borges is doing and how standard ideas on stopping running QBs don't work with Denard. The interesting part for me was this, about the passing schemes:


It wasn't just the drop-backs that were impressive. The Michigan receivers were also using an extremely wide variety of pass routes. The slant, quick out, deep out, hook, hitch and wide receiver screen were more than enough, but then they were augmented by the checkdown/seam, wheel and throwback screen routes.

The first set of routes listed above is used to attack any manner of coverage, but it is the second set that makes the Wolverines' passing game highly dangerous. They are key-buster routes that make it extremely difficult to gameplan for this offense and are one major reason Michigan is the real deal in 2011.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, Hoke for tomorrow - Minny

Learn from yesterday, live for today, Hoke for tomorrow - Minny

Submitted by Lordfoul on October 2nd, 2011 at 10:01 AM


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” 
Albert Einstein


Learn from yesterday...

After a beat-down like what we witnessed yesterday there is much to say, but perhaps not so many new things to learn.  It was a statement game, a confirmation by Brady Hoke, Al Borges, and Greg Mattison that leaves no questions as to their intent nor their identity.  No one questioned the talent differential between Michigan and Minnesota as the 20 point line neatly points out.  But the difference between being a 20 point home favorite and the utter deconstruction that was yesterday's contest is vast and there is nothing that I saw that would make the final 58-0 score in any way a fluke.  Brady and Co. have this team pointed in a direction more right than we fans could have dared hope.  The old ways and the new are coming together in what looks to be a very promising new era for Michigan Football.


Live for Today…

Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:

1.      Fitzgerald Touissaint – I don't recall seeing running like that since the A-Train rolled out of town.  Great cuts, jab steps, and acceleration showed on the stat sheet with over 100 yards on only 11 carries.  The future for Fitz is bright indeed.

2.     Vincent Smith – Scoring a TD rushing, receiving, and passing the ball is remarkable.  Coupled with Touissaint, Smith gives Michigan a potent 1-2 punch out of the backfield that was desperately needed.

3.     Denard Robinson – His feet are a given, but it was nice to see him connecting on the  short hitches and seams taylor-made to bring back his confidence.  Borges is molding the offense around him and playing more and more to his strengths.  8.9 YPA is quality.

4.     Blake Countess – Countess looks like the best Michigan defensive back on the field. He was blanketing receivers all day, breaking up passes, stripping the ball, making sure tackles.  Hard to believe he is a true frosh.

5.     Michigan's Defense – Pitching a shutout against any opponent is impressive, as is forcing another 2 fumbles.  Minnesota barely sniffed Michigan's side of the field, and when they did threaten Michigan came up with the timely turnovers.  This unit is gaining swagger and could be pretty good by November.

Also of note:  Jeremy Gallon, Mike Shaw, RVB, Junior Hemingway, Kevin Koger, BWC (showing that fire in the belly), Thomas Rawls (nice debut, young man), Devin Gardner (haz moves too), Gibbons (3/3 is 3/3, no matter how long) and basically everyone on the team.  Great job guys.

Hope for Tomorrow


My trust and confidence in this coaching staff was already pretty solid going into this game. I actually DVR'd it, a Michigan Big 10 opener, which is not something I would have felt comfortable with at any point in the past that I can remember.  Yes, the opponent was obviously overmatched but it was still a Big 10 game, against Big 10 athletes that had a lot to prove to the world.  I am a big believer in luck and karma, and a firm believer that watching a game live contributes to both, so this wasn't a decision I made lightly.  In the end my trust in Brady and Co., coupled with the lure of great deals on Amish made furniture* at a local auction, made it OK.  I still squirmed with discomfort when I ignored my phone going off several times during and after the game.  Family and friends were trying to reach me to discuss the game and my first instinct was apprehension bordering on conviction that it was all going horribly wrong.  

After watching the game later I can honestly say that such feelings will not again occur while this coaching triumvirate remains intact.  I checked the score when I got home, not wanting to make my family deal with my uncertainty, and was of course more than relieved at seeing 58-0.  I then watched what I assumed would be a series of ridiculously fortunate events leading to such a ridiculous score.  There was none of that though, only near-perfect execution by a team that looked so well coached that my pride as a fan went through the roof.  That was a domination that harkened back to watching Bo's teams crush the "little-8" back in the day.  This is no coincidence either. The parallels between then and now is a head coach with strength of will and vision for what Michigan Football should be, coupled with the quality of coordinators needed to make that vision a reality.

It is not hard to see the qualities of Bo in Brady Hoke.  At first I cringed at his seeming overconfidence, at his seeming overuse of Bo-isms, and wondered if he was trying too hard to win Michigan fans' hearts with his bravado.  I don't doubt the man any longer. Brady Hoke has a Bo-like level of expectations for those he leads.  He has expectations of effort, execution, and yes "toughness" that no coach since Bo has required from both his players and his staff.  Hoke isn't making Michigan great again by being an innovator on either side of the ball; he is acquiring the best available parts, constructing a beast-machine, and driving the thing to eventual domination.

Greg Mattison is Greg Mattison.  He is everything he was advertised to be and is turning this defense into a capable unit quicker than anyone could have hoped or expected. His experience since his last stint at Michigan, especially in the NFL, have given Michigan an advantage over the competition.  Give the man a few years and he will have Michigan's defense back amongst the best in the country.  Mattison will prove to be to Hoke what Gary Moeller was to Bo, only better.

The man that has the potential to put Michigan in National Championship contention as soon as next season is Al Borges however.  All reports on the man were positive when he came in with Hoke, but all reports also sold Borges far short of reality.  If we can take anything from the first 5 games of 2011, it is that Al Borges is in no way married to any system.  Instead Borges is both humble and extremely intelligent.  He has taken this offensive personnel, with all of their considerable talents, and used the soft part of the schedule to tinker and learn.  He looked at what worked last year and used it to beat a good Notre Dame team.  He used his knowledge of SDSU and Rocky Long to make that contest look easy.  He played with the parts he has and got to know their strengths and weaknesses and displayed much of what he has learned against Minnisota.  My first reaction to seeing such elaborate trickeration was he should be  "keeping it in the bag" to be used when needed.  As the game evolved, and the offense rolled out new wrinkles seemingly every drive (for the first half at least), my thoughts changed to how on Earth was the next opponent supposed to game-plan for this?  Al Borges may make this offense look like a modern version of the Mad Magicians by year's end, and it will be in a genuinely humble effort to do what it takes to win each game.

I realize this is a lot to take from a single game against an overmatched opponent, and that these words could look ridiculous in a month's time.  I don't care.  I'm calling it now: Michigan is back and better than ever.  They may not (probably don't) have the pieces to run the table this season, but if this staff stays together it won't be long before Michigan rises to the top.

*Seriously the only uniquely nice part about having to live in south-central PA.


Go Blue and stay safe.

Innovative Al and Devin Gardner

Innovative Al and Devin Gardner

Submitted by mghorm on October 1st, 2011 at 6:08 PM

A couple people touched on it earlier but I'm almost ashamed of how excited i am about the DG wishbone formation. I think that Al borges was just testing it out to see if the concept was even plausible. Even though it had mixed results i think this was very vanilla version of what we could see moving forward. I wholly expect to see more and more of this in the future. There are two main reasons for this. First, there are so many possibilities. Having two athletic quarterbacks on the field just gives so many options (speaking of which think of a DG to denard option play). Second, this allows DG to get more game experience and its not going to be just scrub time. It puts DG on the field under pressure without distrupting our offense. DG is just too good of an athlete to be riding the pine for the next season and a half. Here's to innovation and terrified D coordinators.