Picture Pages: The Dumbest Play In The History Of Football Comment Count

Brian October 15th, 2013 at 1:44 PM

I don't think I'm exaggerating. It's second and eight after one of Michigan's most successful RB runs of the night. Michigan trails 21-10 with six minutes left in the second quarter. They put some dudes on the field and move them around. When we come back from Matt Millen saying something about something, this process has already started.


Houma and Chesson are switching spots. What this is supposed to do to the defense remains unknown, because it did not happen. Now… there's something odd about this play. Since we don't ever see the outside WR, I don't remember if that's Funchess or Williams or whoever, but Michigan puts him off the screen to the field. Also…


They have no left tackle. They have put their left tackle at super right tackle.

I think this is a run.


Penn State thinks this is a run. They have eight guys in the box against six blockers.


ESPN's camera man thinks this is a run, zooming almost to the box before they even snap the ball.

It's a run. Specifically, it is a zone stretch to the boundary. Because this is the only run it could possibly be, Penn State is prepared for this. Kalis gets driven back. Bryant and Glasgow don't scoop the backside tackle (not that it really matters since there is an unblocked guy in the cutback lane and another unblocked guy checking Gardner).


This looks familiar.


Kalis finally finishes losing his guy, who pushes Toussaint to the edge of the field, where a ninth Penn State defender—a safety lined up over a formation that cannot have a tight end emerge from it to threaten downfield—comes up to tackle for loss…


…if Kalis's guy doesn't do it first.


Third and ten.



Items of Interest

This is the stupidest play in the history of plays. You can't pass because you don't have a right tackle and refuse to throw perimeter screens no matter how blitheringly open they are…


all of these occurred in the first 20 minutes of the game

…and Penn State knows this, so they put eight in the box against six blockers and have a safety overhanging who knows 100% that he has no immediate pass threat to deal with.

I mean, you can see the entire PSU D on the field here:


There is a wide receiver outside of Gallon. Only the dumbest playcall in history could allow a D to align like this and be successful.

You really confused them, though. Having Chesson and Houma switch places is the cherry on top here. Yeah, you fooled 'em up real good right there. Now Penn State's eight in the box against 5 OL and a WR is eight in the box against 5 OL and a FB. Green fields ahead, boys.

They're setting them up for something! If you don't have an automatic check to whatever your clever business is when you see two DBs on 3 WRs, you fail.

Line didn't do well, but whatever. Kalis gets blown up here, but since Michigan just told Penn State the play they were running it's not really the focus.

The bigger picture. This was insane and far from isolated. Michigan kept running tackle over stuff against a defense that was stuffing it even after Taylor Lewan went out. They asked AJ Williams to play left tackle, and because of Borges's increasingly legendary stubbornness they allowed Penn State to align in formations that doomed their crammed-together paleolithic run game without either testing PSU's young and not very quick corners or taking the buckets of free yards these alignments provided.

The bubble screen stuff took on a life of its own over the course of the last year, and it's come up again—a screenshot of Michigan's first snap of the first overtime screaming for a bubble has made the rounds of every message board. To reiterate, the bubble is a constraint: it prevents the defense from lining up in certain ways and thus simplifies your life as an offense since defenses can't pack the box as much without getting free yards on their face. Borges's allergy to getting the ball to guys in a ton of space went from annoying to crippling in this game.

How can anyone have faith in a guy who looks at this when he needs a field goal to win…


…and doesn't throw a bubble because it's not what Vince Lombardi would do? It boggles the mind. A lot of things lost this game for Michigan. Al Borges is high up on that list.


Evil Empire

October 15th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

The excellence demander in me is still pissed that Hobson didn't slow up to let Drake or someone else block for him.  There was no other Florida player within 15 yards and he had two escorts.  That would have been the football version of Jordan Morgan's dunk against Syracuse in the FInal Four.


October 15th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

But I wanted the post where pictures are highlighted of almost every single play in the overtimes involving the obscenely simple quick pass to the outside 10 yard cushion. Guaranteed 5-7 yard gain when trying to get into better fg range. All I could think about was that specific post. Disappointing. But not as disappointing as big Al.

Indiana Blue

October 15th, 2013 at 2:40 PM ^

I've been depressed since Saturday night, as I sat in the upper deck screaming to throw the FUCKING football.  The last pic showed the PSU defense, essentially on every play in OT.  The slot receiver has NO ONE within 15 yards of him ... THROW HIM THE FOOTBALL.

OMG - how can a supposed offensive coordinator sitting up in the press box NOT SEE THIS?  FUCKING MORON.   Wow ... used fucking as an adjective.





October 15th, 2013 at 1:58 PM ^

To get over this game Brian. That is a lot of space there, guessing that is Chessson in the slot there? Hard to tell. The one time Borges would call it we would probably biff it somehow.


There has to be easy checks out of these shitty calls? Right? Do they not trust DG to simple say Red red at the LOS which means abort the play and run the Red Audible?

I Like Burgers

October 15th, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

If you look at most of those screen caps, there's only 7-9s left on the play clock.  They just don't have time to make any sort of checks or adjustments.  Its just line up with 10s to go, announce HEY, WE'RE RUNNING THE BALL NOW, OK?, watch the defense line up and say 'sure', and then lose 1-5 yards.

Its they type of stuff that should get your OC fired.  But since Borges is Hoke's boy, I have my doubts about that happening.  This offseason will be a real test to see if Hoke's ready to be a big time CFB coach.  If you want to coach a top program, sometimes you have to fire your friends.


October 15th, 2013 at 2:10 PM ^

The thing is, you don't need much time check into the quick throw to the WR.  As long as it takes for the WR and QB to use some sort of signal that's all the time you need.  The other 9 guys don't even have to know it's a check because they will just run the play as is.  The problem is our offense doesn't have these "sight adjustments" built into our offense that even if we did try to throw the bubble Gardner would have to change up the play entirely and you are right, that would take time. 


October 15th, 2013 at 2:53 PM ^

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest QBs of all time, as well as one of the very few QBs that has ever called all his own plays at the line. He is also one of the longest tenured NFL QBs.  In addition, he never beat Florida.

Probably, bringing him into this discussion will not clarify anything.


October 15th, 2013 at 7:31 PM ^

There's a difference between calling plays (Peyton) and calling audibles and hot routes (basically every pro QB). Many QBs are expected to call hot routes in the face of tipped blitzes, basically telling their WR to go to the spot the blitzer is vacating - this check would be no more complicated than that, actually much less.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

October 15th, 2013 at 9:36 PM ^

I wasn't talking about audibling, I meant what I said:  QBs used to call their own plays.  Maybe this was before your time?  I'm not sure when OCs started taking over - 80s or 90s? - so it's been awhile.  But maybe playbooks weren't as complicated back in the day?  And certainly the 70s, when I got into football, was a simpler, manbally time.


October 15th, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

This is the easiest read in the history of football and should be attached to every running play.  We have a mistake prone QB, why not get his confidence going be letting him make an easy throw and seeing the WR catch it.  It's like a basketball player who is struggling with his shot getting to the free throw line and seeing the ball go in the hoop.  The thing is, literally only 2 people have to be on the same page for the quick throw to be succesful.  The other WR could literally block no one and the play would get 5 yds by default.  But because it's a called run play the other WR is going to be blocking the CB anyways.  I almost wish Devin and his WR's would just go ahead and do this without Borges' blessing.  And seriously what is the worst thing that happens?  The pass is incomplete?  Sweet so it's 2nd and 10 instead of 2nd and 11 or 12.  By that logic we gained 2 yds on an incomplete pass.   

Maize and Blue…

October 15th, 2013 at 2:18 PM ^

and we don't want to have to have a quick paced exciting offense because it might upset the blue hairs and big money donors.  This may be the only OC in the country that refuses to take free yards when they are presented.  Is it his stubborness? Maybe Hoke should put on a damn headset during the game and tell Uncle Fester to stop passing up easy opportunities instead of 30 rushes for less than a yard per carry.