Borges to look at Washington and 49ers film for the 2013 offense (per Heiko)

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on February 7th, 2013 at 9:26 AM

This seems to have been lost yesterday amid the news about signing day and the win over OSU.  He's picked two pretty good offenses to look at, if nothing else.  What's interesting to me is that both teams (at least once Kaepernick became the starter in SF) employed the read option. 

For those who didn't see much of Washington, they were a typical Mike Shanahan team in that they ran a lot of zone runs.  What made this team special was the threat of RGIII keeping the ball and taking off to the other side of the field (though he didn't run as often as watching highlights might make you think).  Teams learned to be afraid of him quickly, and this gave Alfred Morris the space to rush for 100 ypg. Washington's rushing attack was the best I've seen in the NFL in years (though I don't follow the league very closely) when they got things going.  They ran for 186 yards v. the Ravens, for example, at 5.3 yards per attempt...EDIT:  Washington also ran a fake inside zone handoff that turned into a play action pass with good success.   

I didn't see many San Francisco games, but they seemd to follow the Jim Harbaugh mold of using multiple TEs and lots of pre-snap motion.  EDIT:  See Space Coyote's post below for more info on the Niners. 

I'm sure we're all looking forward to seeing what the offense will look like post-Denard, and it will be interesting to see how much of the 49ers or Washington we see in it.  Like I said, they are two good templates to start with at the very least. 

Finally, this photo should be posted more often:



February 7th, 2013 at 11:58 AM ^

"If he [ Gardner ] gets his medical redshirt then I see him almost certainly developing into an early-round NFL QB prospect."

Speaking of ... any news on that?  Last I heard Hoke was expressing pretty solid confidence it'll come to pass.


February 7th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

they're looking at Washington and SF's offenses, both of which rely heavily on extremely mobile QBs with pretty decent open-field speed. Speight might have a bunch of good qualities, but fleetness of feet ain't one of them.


February 7th, 2013 at 10:57 AM ^

Speight is honestly in that bubble where he may never see the field except I'm backup roles. Kinda like bellomy is now.

Morris is quite mobile in a Aaron Rodgers since and could run the zone read. Then I would bet we make a run at jayhu Campbell out of Cass tech if he continues to progress, and I be leave he is in Devin Gardner mold as a QB


February 7th, 2013 at 3:28 PM ^

Just wondering if the staff already indicated him as a priority or any basis for your stance.

Kevin Dillman from La Mirada will be a top 3 QB recruit for 2015, runs a west coast O, and thought the UM staff already contacted his HS coaches.  He would be my guess for the first offer and Malzone as the second option.



February 7th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

Interesting.  One thing to remember about Michigan's offense last year was that it was built around a QB with extremely limited passing abilities and then had to morph, mid-season, into something completely different.

I'm not sure what we're going to get this year from Borges but my guess is it'll be pretty different than what we've seen to date.  Not sure if it'll be like SF's or Washingtons or San Diego State or a fusion of all three but one thing i AM sure of is that it will look nothing like what we've see so far.

And Eric - you definitely post great, great stuff.  Nice job!


February 7th, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

Denard completed 62.5% of his passes and threw 18 TD to 11 INT as a true sophomore (when he was the top offensive player in the conference).  Those numbers then got significantly worse after the coaching change when one would expect a maturing QB to, if anything, improve.

The problem was that our offense wasn't based around Denard, but was instead based around making sure we did a bunch of stuff under center and incorporated the West Coast passing plays Borges brought in. Then, to mix it up if/when (usually when) those things proved ineffective, we ran a couple of designed runs for Denard or (by this past season) one type of read play. 

We ran two offenses that weren't integrated (teams knew what was coming by alignment much of the time), weren't complex (when you have to split practice time you can only install so much, e.g. the one read play we used this past season), and didn't use our team's skillset all that effectively (even on the read stuff we were pulling guards on virtually every play who by all accounts struggled at doing just that). 

None of that should impact the team going forward though.  The offense will look like a good, conventional offense, with the occasional Gardner scramble mixed in.  That should yield fantastic results.  That doesn't mean a great opportunity wasn't missed the last two years though or that it is somehow the fault of the most productive offensive player in school history.

eamus_caeruli (not verified)

February 7th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

Didn't you mean the Pistol offense?  Yes, it has read option concepts, and even some zone blocking schemes, but there is a distinction between zone read option teams and Nevada/BYU/San Fran/Washington Pistol schemes.  

I would love it if we worked in more Pistol, trememndously versatile and can use those hybrid TE in even more ways.


February 7th, 2013 at 1:07 PM ^


Derrick Green deep, Shallman close; two tight ends and a balanced line.  Here's the snap to Morris....

Smells like.....Victory!


February 7th, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

Honestly, the way San Francisco used blockers out front of the QB reads sounds like stuff that Michigan was trying with limited success this year with Denard. Remember how perplexed Brian was that Michigan was putting a blocker on the defensive end? San Francisco does that and does it effectively.

SF's use of blockers on read option plays is consistent with the finest MANBALL traditions. One of the reasons I enjoyed watching them so much this year is because they demonstrated that you don't have to be Oregon (which I also enjoy) to run creative, explosive read option plays. 

The Green Bay game was the one that everybody really noticed because of CK's huge runs, but the Atlanta game is actually what Michigan wants--the threat of Gardner removing a defender, while the blockers plow open space for Green to destroy defenses. I expect to see a lot of that this year.

Ron Utah

February 7th, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

I think we'll see a big step forward for our offense this year.  While some may argue with me,  I believe our offense was much better with DG passing and Denard as a RB.  If we had a whole off-season to work on those concepts, for DG to play QB, and a decent interior O-line...the results could be very, very good.

I really believe the 2013 season hinges on two factors:

  1. Can the O-line open some holes for the running game?  The reason Denard was the only player able to consistently get yards last year is because God-given talent was the only way to get loose with last year's O-line.  If the 2013 version can do well enough to make our running game a consistent threat, I believe DG, Gallon, Dileo, Funchess, and some of the younger guys (Darboh, Chesson, Jones, York, Dukes, Butt) will help our passing game explode.
  2. Will a consistent pass-rushing threat emerge?  There is no doubt in my mind that Michigan will once again field a top-ten defense in 2013.  I believe it will actually be noticeably better than the very good 2012 version.  But who will be our pass-rusher?  That is the one missing piece to the puzzle at this point.  I believe Ojemudia will win the WDE spot on passing downs, and if he can get 8+ sacks, I think that gives us an extra win or two.

DG has proven he's a pretty darn good passer, and he's not losing any significant production at the receiver position.  I firmly believe that replacing Roy Roundtree is a much easier task then the two above.

Using Pistol and other schemes designed to get more blockers to the play, or open up more space in which to run, seems like a great idea to help move the football.  But the most important factor will always be execution, not scheme. 


February 7th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

I like your outlook, though I think the more interesting question to me regards Devin's development as a passer. Without standout physical talent on the edge, Michigan will rely on route-running and use of space to get guys open, and Devin has to hit the open men.

A dominant pass-rusher is going to be a question mark for Michigan for a while; if one of the young guys can emerge here, the defense will be scary-dangerous. I totally agree with you on this.


February 7th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

Especially modeling on SF. Throughout the playoffs i kept wondering if SF's offense is the future of the NFL. I still don't think that there will be true, running spread offenses at that level; however, much of the best QB talent coming out of college will continue to be dual threat.

SF runs my ideal of a hybrid offense, and i would be incredibly happy if UM looked like SF. I think we all would be, because we're likely to win a lot of games over the next two (hopefully) years with Gardner running a SF style offense.


February 7th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

While much of the best QB talent coming out of college will continue to be dual threat, the one thing Newton, Wilson, Griffin and Kapernick (sp?) have in common is they are all really good passers. The dual threats coming out of college that have a chance to make it in the pros are the QB's that can throw.  The Pat White/Denard Robinson dual threat college QB isn't going to make it in the nfl as a QB.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

"While much of the best QB talent coming out of college will continue to be dual threat, the one thing Newton, Wilson, Griffin and Kapernick (sp?) have in common is they are all really good passers."

Agree.  The QB needs only to run well enough to pick up first downs and keep plays alive.

That's why I think Gardner at QB -- assuming his passing effectiveness improves -- will prove more potent that Denard.

By the way, that's exactly what Meyer is doing with Miller at Ohio State ... he's said as much.  He's trying to get Miller to view his legs as secondary to passing.

Borges on record as saying: "You run for yards but you pass for miles."

Wilson, Griffin and Kaepernick seem to understand this ... and they have the passing skills to be effective in that part of the game, and the legs to make plays if they have to.


February 7th, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

All the above posters have valid points about zone vs man blocking schemes and when & how to use the Pistor formation. 

However, isn't the core issue whether the OL can execute fundamental power plays?  Does Al need another variation to confuse the D so the OL execute the basics?

We were dreadful last year in short yardage and the interior OL was problematic the whole season.  Hoke's whole program is based on controlling the LOS and SF-style pistol is just an extension of Harbaugh's manball.


February 7th, 2013 at 11:50 AM ^

I assume that this means that Borges will be looking into the Pistol offense. Based on that, I'd hope for a few of things.

(1) I hope that they reach out to SF to get a more in-depth look at the offense that they run. With Harbaugh's connection to Michigan, I would think that would be easy to arrange.

(2) I hope that they reach out to Chris Ault. Nevada ran a lot of packages with TEs, so he might have some more tips on how to get them more involved.

(3) I hope that they run the veer (not inverted) out of the pistol. Borges loves pulling guards. Running the veer would allow them to pull the guard, get our RB going north and south, allow the QB to make the read, and allow the QB to run east and west on the event of a keep, which could potentially lead to PA off of the keep. I don't know that I've seen too many teams running this variation, but I think it would fit perfectly with what Borges is trying to do with the offense.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

by Borges.  These offenses allow great diversity via read-option, pistol formations that can make even an elite defense struggle.  I don't care how elite your offensive line and running back are, an elite defense can stop a traditional I-formation offense and force a quarterback to rely on drop back passing.  An elite defense can not stop a highly efficient read-option, pistol based offense.  Yes, it works in the BIG and in the NFL, if you have the right caliber athlete.  This is still smashmouth, hard nosed, Schembechler football, just coming from different angles.  OSU does it and led the conference in offense and you saw how bad our offense was in 2011, with essentially the exact same players.

Darth Wolverine

February 7th, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

Hell yeah. I love the SF offense. The way they use Kaepernick in that offense is great. That kid has a cannon arm, is huge, and can run. While Gardner isn't as big (weight-wise), he does have a rocket arm and is mobile enough to be an affective runner when the need arises.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:50 PM ^

The Vikings were not going to pass..they hand off to Peterson and everyone is going to stop it..but they cant..its because they block good and AP runs harder than any i want our running game to look like Minnesota but with a legit threat to pass..its not about faking option and QB can be simplified if you execute..and we are heading in that direction with our OL recruiting and the power of Green


February 7th, 2013 at 1:00 PM ^

This would have been great the last two years.  Gardner is a totally different player from Denard, especially in terms of quickness/size (Gardner is just a bigger guy and a less "darty" target in a confined space). 

At this point we should just stick to one offense (the one Borges has always run) with the caveat that Gardner be encouraged to pick up first downs with his legs if nobody is open (basically what we saw at the end of the year, just with an expanded playbook and crisper execution as Devin gains experience and actually practices at the QB position).

Switching it up now that Denard, Omameh/Barnum, etc. are gone and the personnel is a better fit for what Borges likes to run is just kind of silly and only makes me sad that it took this long to figure out.


February 7th, 2013 at 2:27 PM ^

It's worth mentioning that the NFL's struggles were at least in some part related to the fact that they simply haven't seen much spread to run stuff.  College defenses (like Narduzzi's, for instance) are clearly designed around the idea that the QB will be a run threat.  They know that traditional pass-only defenders need to be involved in the run.  While I'm sure plenty of NFL guys know it too, the number of times when teams just flat out screwed up their numbers just doesn't happen in college these days.  The scheme is too old. 

Relatedly, I saw a great screen shot of the Bears lining up against one of the spread teams this year in obvious C2 (turned out to be C2 man, at that) against a 4 wide set.  That left 5 in the box against 7 for the offense.  Guess how well that turned out. 

I don't watch the NFL that much but I bet if I went back to the All-22 and checked out the numbers on a lot of defenses that they lost the battle well before the snap.


February 7th, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

I still think that the MANBALL mandate from DB has kept Borges from incorporating everything he wants to.  I also want to see Borges get five years and have his own class of redshirt seniors before judging him harshly.  

It's obvious to me that the only way Borges is going to be able to be creative is to say that it's one of Harbaugh's plays, because he can use the "Michigan Man Lineage" argument to get it past the AD.  

Bottom line: the OC can only do what the HC will allow, and the HC can only do what the AD will allow.  I hope Borges is allowed to be really creative soon, and I hope it doesn't take four more losses to Ohio and ND before it happens.


February 7th, 2013 at 3:35 PM ^

with right pieces.  Love Denard, but he was not a QB for any system other than RR's run first spread.  Had we stuck with that offense under Borges it would have stunted the growth of the program, so I think they did a decent balancing act.

Gardner has more tools to work with than Denard.  Let's see if it all comes to fruition.


February 7th, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

Washington, SF, and even Seattle have shown that even in the pros a big and mobile QB can be deadly in an offense that incorporates that mobility into a strong passing offense. Gardner seems exactly like the type of big bodied, strong arm, speedy QB needed to run such an offense.


February 7th, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

Whatever keeps Al Borges from running Vincent Smith from I-Form into an unsurprised defense in the biggest goddamn game of the year....oh wait, that already happened. 

Yeah, I'm still not over it.