27 For 27: A Document

Submitted by Brian on October 16th, 2013 at 3:53 PM

[SITE NOTE: Due to a confluence of things including a long drive home, four overtimes, thrilling CONCACAF qualifier business, the Tigers, this post, and a desire to stab my eyeballs whenever I look at the tape, UFR is not quite done and will go up tomorrow.]

Fitzgerald Toussaint set a Michigan record for sustained futility on Saturday by running for 27 yards on 27 carries. Since 1949, no other back has gotten as many carries without gaining at least twice as many yards. Posterity demands that someone detail what happened.

A note: blame is apportioned. When things are designated playcall it's because I don't believe it's reasonable to expect Michigan to block player X, either because he's an extra guy in the box or he's tearing towards the line of scrimmage on the snap because he has no fear of a pass. You can adjust your personal indignation levels on this based on how reasonable you thought running into stacked boxes was vis a vis Devin Gardner's 13 YPA and constant turnover threat; I'm just trying to figure out how much of the run splat was preordained by playcalls.

Ready? No. I know you're not. But here we go anyway.



Play: Power O
Formation: Tackle over I Form H
Yards: -3

Why it didn't work:

  1. Graham Glasgow ignored the NT.
  2. Predictable playcall sees PSU linebackers flow hard with effectively nine in the box.
  3. Jake Butt gets beat badly by a PSU LB in the hole.

Blame: 80% OL, 10% playcall, %10 TE/FB



Play: Zone stretch.
Formation: Tackle over I Form big
Yards: -3

Why it didn't work:

  1. PSU has straight up nine in the box.
  2. Michigan tries to be clever by running at Williams and Bryant, both of whom get destroyed.
  3. Schofield leaves immediately, so Lewan has no shot at the backside tackle.

Blame: 30% TE/FB, 30% OL, 40% playcall



Play: Power O
Formation: Tackle over Ace H
Yards: 12

Why it didn't work:

  1. Actually it did work.
  2. It works because Schofield gets nice push, giving Toussaint a crease. Glasgow gets movement on a DT and the eighth guy in the box for PSU tries to get over to the frontside when he should probably stack this up near the LOS.

Blame: Everyone is happy!



Play: Counter
Formation: Tackle over trips TE
Yards: 1

Why it didn't work:

  1. Seven guys in the box against six blockers; extra guy makes the stop.
  2. PSU WLB doesn't get suckered by the counter, gives Glasgow no shot to block him.
  3. Kalis gets shed, falling to the ground.

Blame: 80% playcall, 20% OL.

[After THE JUMP: just don't click through. I'm sorry I even did this.]



Play: Tricky edge pitch
Formation: Tackle over I-Form
Yards: 1

Why it didn't work:

  1. PSU has a DE flared out to the short side of the field who stays at the LOS and shuffles out to tackle.
  2. Toussaint can't run through five PSU players.

Blame: 100% playcall.



Play: Inside zone read
Formation: Pistol 2TE twins
Yards: 1

Why it didn't work:

  1. Gardner should pull.
  2. Bryant doesn't come off a double and an aggressive PSU MLB shoots a gap.
  3. Kalis gets no motion on a DT.

Blame: 50% Gardner, 50% OL. (Eight in the box is OK since they are trying to option one off.)



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: Tackle over I-Form twins
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. Glasgow and Kalis can't scoop the NT; seems like a Kalis issue.
  2. Schofield gets driven back by other DT.
  3. Penn State has 4 DTs and a DE on the field.

Blame: 50% playcall, 50% OL.



Play: Iso
Formation: I-Form
Yards: 2

Why it didn't work:

  1. Playside LBs are already at the LOS when the handoff is made.
  2. Eighth guy in the box is unblocked and there to deal with a good-idea cutback from Toussaint.
  3. Maybe Kalis doesn't get off his block fast enough but with LBs plunging down like this very difficult for him to do so.

Blame: 90% playcall, 10% OL.



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: WTF
Yards: –2

Why it didn't work:

  1. Michigan runs a stretch into the boundary with an unbalanced line.
  2. Six blockers against eight defenders.
  3. LOL

Blame: 100% playcall



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: Ace 3-wide
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. Kalis, Bryant, and Funchess get obliterated.

Blame: 80% OL, 20% TE/FB



Play: Power O
Formation: Goal line
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. No OL movement.
  2. Butt gets pancaked on a kickout block.

Blame: 50% OL, 50% TE/FB

(End of first half.)



Play: Power O
Formation: Tackle over twins H
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. Eight in the box with three guys flowing to a hole that will have two blockers in it.
  2. Butt runs past a LB to try and hit a DB, misses, but Bryant gets hit two yards in the backfield so it's not really relevant.
  3. When Fitz cuts back that blows up Magnuson's blocking angle. (Michigan is still running tackle over with Lewan out.)

Blame: 100% playcall.



Play: Power O
Formation: I-Form
Yards: –1

Why it didn't work:

  1. Shane Morris is in after Gardner's helmet gets knocked off.
  2. Williams loses a downblock against a DE.
  3. Bryant doesn't block either of the two guys who show.
  4. Kerridge picks off a DB instead of a LB.

Blame: 50% bloody fate, 30% TE/FB, 20% OL.



Play: Inside zone
Formation: Ace twins
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. PSU has 4 DTs and a DE on the field.
  2. They have nine in the box.
  3. Kalis and Williams get destroyed.

Blame: 40% playcall, 30% OL, 30% TE



Play: Iso
Formation: I-Form
Yards: 4

Why it didn't work:

  1. We'll count this one as working. Woo!
  2. PSU has two deep safeties.
  3. Blocking's good.
  4. Iso is generally not something that breaks for a lot of yards.

Blame: Ain't no blame on second and six. /highfive



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: Ace twin TE twins
Yards: 8

Why it didn't work:

  1. It did! Two in a row.
  2. M gets lucky as their blocking is gross but when Toussaint cuts back the backside end is unable to close it down.

Blame: we're cookin' now



Play: Power O
Formation: Ace twins H
Yards: 4

Why it didn't work:

  1. It did again. Three in a row.
  2. Da'Quan Jones trips on Kalis, falls.
  3. Nice kicks from Williams and Butt open up a lane.
  4. Safety makes contact two yards downfield.

Blame: this is almost like offense



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: Ace twin TE
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. Despite doubling a LB at the LOS, the two TEs neither kick nor seal him.
  2. M has no angle to get a MLB
  3. Williams then releases and blocks air.
  4. Toussaint bounces into a free corner since Chesson cracked down on a safety who is guy 7.5 in the box.

Blame: 50% TE/FB, 50% OL



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: Ace
Yards: 3

Why it didn't work:

  1. Fitz finds a hole as Jones gets upfield and there's a big gap between him and the backside DT.
  2. Glasgow helps create this hole with a shove and then blocks the MLB, which is probably wrong since that's Burzynski's guy.
  3. SAM is headed outside as that momentarily looks dangerous and slips as he cuts back with Toussaint, tackling Toussaint in the actual gap.

Blame: 100% OL, but amplitude decreased since this almost kind of worked.



Play: Power O
Formation: Ace H twins
Yards: 1

Why it didn't work:

  1. Butt gets rocked back by the LB in the hole.
  2. Magnuson gets pushed back by Jones, Burzynski trips over him.
  3. PSU is desperate to preserve clock and M kill it so they know it's a run.

Blame: 50% OL, 50% FB/TE

Twenty One


Play: Inside zone
Formation: Ace
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. MLB shoots interior gap on the snap before anyone has a prayer of reacting.
  2. Seriously, I don't know how you stop this.

Blame: 100% playcall



Play: Zone stretch
Formation: I-Form Big
Yards: –3

Why it didn't work:

  1. PSU has all DTs in.
  2. One of them beats up Williams.
  3. Glasgow and Kalis can't execute a scoop.
  4. Schofield gets good motion on playside DT with help from Burzynski but then peels off to shove a linebacker. This shove pushes him right past what would have been Kerridge's block and into Toussaint.

Blame: 40% OL, 30% FB/TE, 30% playcall.

Twenty Three


Play: Zone stretch
Formation: Ace twins twin TE
Yards: 1

Why it didn't work:

  1. Burzynski/Jones matchup doesn't go well(surprise!).
  2. Schofield gets blown up by the WLB, who penetrates.

Blame: 100% OL.

Twenty Four


Play: Iso.
Formation: I-Form
Yards: 2

Why it didn't work:

  1. PSU aligns two LBs basically holding hands and shoots both of them into the A gap. There is one blocker in there, Kerridge.

Blame: 100% playcall.

Twenty Five


Play: Inside zone
Formation: Pistol 3-wide
Yards: 3

Why it didn't work:

  1. Glasgow gets beat by the NT but because of the nature of the play there's a cutback lane; PSU LBs much more hesitant here.
  2. Burzynski gets thrown away by the WLB.
  3. Toussaint is trying to cut and it looks like he slips, so he does not get any YAC.

Blame: 50% OL, 50% Toussaint.

Twenty Six


Play: Iso
Formation: I-Form
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. Eight in the box, with every linebacker shooting forward on the snap.
  2. PSU stuffs up the hole, but M actually gets decent motion and there will be a cutback for Toussaint.
  3. Except the eighth guy roars in unblocked from behind and ends it.

Blame: 100% playcall

Twenty Seven


Play: Down G
Formation: Goal line
Yards: 0

Why it didn't work:

  1. Burzynski gets shot back into the hole by Jones.
  2. Magnuson gets pushed back.

Blame: 100% OL

Final Tally

Ten points per play were awarded.

  2. OL: 91
  3. FB/TE: 30
  4. FATE: 5
  6. GARDNER: 5

I'm impressed you got to the end of this. Hang in there, man.



October 16th, 2013 at 5:17 PM ^

I think we are on the same page here and I'm not trying to say a long hand-off is the only answer.  On the majority of those plays, 3 step drop passing does the same thing (outs, hitches, slants).  Borges is to blame for those plays.  He doesn't want to throw bubble screens and long hand-offs to WR's that's fine.  But he needs to recognize that the CB's are playing up to 11 yards off the WR in some casses and take advantage of that!


October 16th, 2013 at 6:02 PM ^

I'd love to see the extended hand offs. I'd love to see some three step drop passes, not only for his reason but because our line is shit and that would help hide that. I'm just really tired of the guys on here that know everything that is wrong but don't have any suggestions outside of the ones Brian picture paged during RRs tenure. I'm glad that you're not one of those guys. You're reasonable AND offer up a possible solution. I


October 16th, 2013 at 6:46 PM ^

Those INTs sucked but it bothered me even more that Penn State seemed to drop a defender right to where Gardner wanted to throw. I don't know if that is coincidence or they knew it was coming. If its the latter there are bigger issues. I think the simplest way to solve some problems is to stop being so formation based meaning throw from under center more and run from under shotgun.

Space Coyote

October 16th, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

They inverted their line, and the DE was in a stand up position like a 3-4. He then dropped into his flat zone because the play action didn't force him to maintain outside leverage because Green went the wrong direction. So he basically dropped right into the throwing window earlier than he should have otherwise.


October 17th, 2013 at 12:45 AM ^

can someone give borges some tape of derrick alexander and steve breaston.  those are two of the better guys i remember receiving those bubble screens; particularly alexander.  it seemed like he always made that CB miss in open space on his juke move.  i do think gallon would be pretty effective too.


October 16th, 2013 at 4:20 PM ^


I don't know why I am forcing myself to read these articles. Great analysis though. That ended up being about 40% Borges, 40% OL, 20% other. The boards these days make it feel like 60% Borges & 39.9% Funk.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:17 PM ^

with way more Penn State players in the box, than Michigan ones, and thinking unless there was a check option for Gardner to use, this play was doomed to fail. This is as bad as Ohio State last year when "if Denard is QB, then Denard is going to run it".

Until our line is like Alabama's or even Wisconsin's, we cannot succeed in this scenario unless there is a viable pass threat to keep our opponents from stacking the box. Clearly we don't yet have a line like this because not just Penn State: Akron and UConn could defend this.

Question: how did those other teams that handily defeated UConn, Akron and Penn State put up more than 1 yard per play on the ground?

Space Coyote

October 16th, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

This is at the 15 yard line, about as easy a FG as you're going to get.

Michigan just ran a pop pass to pick up 10 yards.

Gallon looked to me to get a fairly obvious first down on that pop pass, the ref spotted it badly, and video is never conclusive in those cases.

Also, Gardner sometimes fumbles on sneaks, and Michigan already showed the Iso fake boot earlier in the game on 4th and one when they got a false start flag.

Ron Utah

October 16th, 2013 at 6:02 PM ^

When we were on offense second, I had no issue with Borges playing for the FG, since Gibbons has been so money.  People criticizing these choices are clearly just pissed, because if you asked me how many times out of 10 I'd take a 33-yard FGA from Gibbons for the win on a windless night, I'd say 11.

When we were on offense first, there's no excuse for not going for the end zone.

Captain Scumbag

October 16th, 2013 at 4:27 PM ^


Half a league, half a league,
 Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.



"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
 Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.



Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
 Rode the six hundred.



Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
 All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
 Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
 Not the six hundred.



Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
 Left of six hundred.



When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
 All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
 Noble six hundred.



October 16th, 2013 at 4:28 PM ^

My past 30 minutes:

  1. Visit mgoblog
  2. Read "27 For 27: A Document"
  3. Read the board
  4. Google "How do I stop caring about sports?"
  5. Google "How do I become a hipster?"
  6. Drive to Goodwill.
  7. The new bombadil.


October 16th, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

with OL and playcalling and the reluctance to have Devin run and throw for next 6 games.

Michigan's rushing offense is going up against the following rushing defenses:

Central Michigan (82nd) - UM won by 50, 5.1 ypc

Notre Dame (23rd) - UM won by 9, 4.3 ypc

Akron (72nd) - UM wins by a butthair, 5.5 ypc

UConn (84th) - UM wins by a butthair, part deux - 1.9 ypc

Minnesota (28th) -UM wins by 29, 3.2 ypc

Penn State (ranked 19th) - UM loses by 3 in 4OT - 2.8 ypc

Indiana (109th)

Michigan State (1st)

Nebraska (63rd)

Northwestern (73rd)

Iowa (8th)

Ohio State (6th)

8-4 is best case scenario, but 7-5 or 6-6 are more likely.


October 16th, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

and this doesn't put any extra blame on playcalling for it not working the previous 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26... times and continuing to call for it


October 16th, 2013 at 4:42 PM ^

How much of the playcall blame should be placed on Gardner?  Certainly he is able to audible out of the playcall, as we've seen him do it more than once this year.  I'm not trying to deflect blame totally from Borges, but doesn't Gardner need to see 8 or 9 in the box and audible to something else?  Are "we" working on the assumption that Gardner has no audible allowance, like, ever? 


October 16th, 2013 at 4:57 PM ^

This, to me, is one of the key questions.  If the offensive system permits the QB (or the staff from the sidelines) to evaluate what the defense is showing and make pre-snap adjustments, then to some extent it doesn't matter what the initial play call is.  

But as Brian and others have pointed out, M typically gets to the line with very little time left on the play clock, so even if Gardner does have the freedom to audible at the line, it's not clear that he has enough time to make those calls on a consistent basis.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:14 PM ^

I'll bet most of those checks are directional. They call a play that they want to run at either the 3 or the 1 specifically, so they go up to the line with something like "Iso check with me". Get to the line, identify which side is preferable, and then he calls the play.

I don't think he's truly given audible power. Frankly, judging by a lot of his throwing mistakes, I don't really blame Borges. You don't want a guy who throws directly at dropping DE's to make judgment calls based on defensive looks.


October 16th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

with all of this? I'm imagining the year is 2008. Long after the Wisconsin game gave us false hope and it was clear that we were watching the football equivalent of a knife stab in the nuts. The difference is that we're 5-1 and we can actually win these games. So when we DO win, I can be joyously surprised and dance on top of the roof, drunk and naked while making up folk songs about Charles Woodson's awesomeness.

Yes, Al Borges has caused me to have a nervous breakdown. Now everytime I see Michigan run into a brick wall(again and again and again) I just laugh manically until I start sobbing.


October 16th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

 Borges prefers the West Coast type of offense. He's even written a book about it.  Isn't the pass supposed to be used to open up the run?  The stubbornness is mind-boggling.  Is there a possibility that Hoke has dictated to Al what he wants to run even though Borges may want to do something different?  I know this might sound far fetched, but I am still trying to comprehend our futility on offense and the obstinate refusal to try anything different.  Just a thought.


October 16th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

From plays 15-20 we had three successful runs (at least one of which was against an 8-man front) and two other plays that were 0% on the playcall.  Is this what Borges looks at when he continues to call these same runs?  Does he see some positive yards on some plays and pure screw-ups by the OL and then thinks he can continue calling the plays?     To me, the most frustrating part is the lack of counter at the LOS.  It would seem that an OCs goal is to force the defense to react to what you're doing - which we have successfully done.  They are stacking the box and playing a strange 5-2 D that's full of DTs.  Now you've gotten them to overplay their hand......EXPLOIT IT!  Maybe that's with long handoffs, maybe it is with misdirection, maybe it is a reverse or double-pass - I don't know......but you have now gotten your opponent to react in an extreme way.....so kill them for it!  The fact that Borges isn't doing that or worse, he isn't allowing Gardner to do it at the line is what infuriates me the most. 


October 16th, 2013 at 5:09 PM ^

Someone else mentioned above the fact that we don't currently seem to have the ability to check out of the 8-9 players in the box and on some plays we are holding our OL accountable b/c we are planning to option off the 8 or 9 player? No. If we go to the line outnumbered for blockers and have no choice but to run it...that is not on the OL, that is on scheme, not sure if that is the same as playcalling or not.

Related to that is the simple strategic question of running so often without anything else to keep the defense honest. Looking at the plays individually and why they didn't work (or did, in a few cases) is useful, but when you look at it wholistically, where the defense knows you are running largely to the middle, it is some function of playcalling to be that predictable. I would start each play with playcalling already 20% at fault and then apportion from there based on the specifics.



October 16th, 2013 at 5:10 PM ^

I disagree with your first play breakdown and couldnt read past that. If you see 4 linemen and 4 linebackers 2 yards right behind them, you better just throw the ball. If you run between the tackles you are running the wrong play, that should be 90% on the play call. Either change the play and send out the backs or just throw the ball deep and wide where only the receiver would have a chance or call timeout and call something else, or quit play calling and ive the headset to someone else. Everytime I saw that defensive alignment we ran.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:13 PM ^

So after watching the game, I have a quick question that maybe someone more knowledgable about the game can answer (or I guess someone less knowledgable about the game could answer but I am not sure that would be helpful).  Magnuson had a decent game at tackle.  If we need to run that formation with Lewan and Schofield on the same side, why not put Magnuson on the other side?  Since the bubble is not a possibility because it is well known by some coaches to be the dumbest play ever, at least with mags you could throw a quick slant or something without getting DG destroyed.




October 16th, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

In theory, the advantage to not bringing Magnusen is is to be able to go unbalanced from a normal personnel grouping. If they bring him in, the defense sees him replace a skill position guy and makes a substitution to counter that. As it is, when we run this stuff, we're in base personnel.

Of course, Williams can't block anyone, so you don't gain much, even if the D is "surprised". And I'd also disagree with your assessment of Magnusen's game. I thought he was pretty bad. Its to be expected, but still.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:20 PM ^

Does Borges have a learning curve? Why would any coach keep running these plays? Is there an expectation that the OL will improve this season?

Makes me sad for this season.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:23 PM ^

So I kept seeing Kalis' name up there and felt sad for how poorly he has played compared to expectations.  I thought I would break down OL portion a little more by player.  I also then separated their negatives into two categories:

  1. Strength/Skill - This means they were unable to block someone, but at least tried
  2. Screw-Up - This means that they didn't block the correct person

I went through Brian's text and assigned a point for each time someone's name was brought up and then put it in one of the two categories above.  the format of the list below is as follows:

Name - (# of S/S), (# of S-U)

And now on with the list:

  • Lewan - 0, 0
  • Bryant - 3, 2 (was justified in his benching)
  • Glasglow - 2, 2
  • Kalis - 6, 0 (seems like a strength issue more than screw-ups)
  • Schofield - 2, 2 (you'd like him to be better, but was only experienced guy left)
  • Burzinski - 3, 0 (always going to be undersized)
  • Magnuson - 2, 0 (also undersized)
  • TE/FB - 10, 3 (what?!?!)

Kalis did awful, but it was almost always because he couldn't move guys, not that he couldn't determine which one to move.  It is annoying for this to be the case, but we can blame that on youth (or pine for Mike Barwis to return).  

What stood out to me is that the TE/FB group was so alarmingly horrific.  WOW.  I get that they're young, but if anything illustrates the failure of coaching it is this metric.  These guys are being asked to do too much and clearly aren't capable of doing it.  Get them off the field.  I would rather that they give Magnuson a TE jersey number than trot these guys out there in a blocking role.