Containment Field Down! Run For Your Lives!

Submitted by Brian on October 29th, 2012 at 12:27 PM

10/27/2012 – Michigan 9, Nebraska 23 – 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten

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Eric Upchurch

Well, it finally happened.

Pundits and opponent fans have been predicting the demise of Denard Robinson ever since he picked up that snap against Western Michigan, but the series of bumps and bruises that frightened Michigan fans every third game had never really cost Michigan anything. In 2010, Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead Michigan to a frenetic victory over Illinois and nearly did the same against Iowa. Last year, Devin Gardner shepherded Michigan through the second half of the Illinois game. When Denard's boo-boos knocked him out for halves instead of plays, Michigan got through just fine.

They were always tempting fate, though, and upped their bet that the football gods' vast malevolence was laser-focused on the Iowa running back situation by moving Devin Gardner to wide receiver in the fall. That seemed like a risk worth taking.

Unfortunately, the containment field is down.

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yes, it's true. this man has no elbow.

First it leaked from the Iowa running backs to their offensive line, which suffered two season-ending injuries minutes apart last week. This week, the Big Ten set to murdering football in the morning and afternoon, then this happened to Marcus Lattimore's knee:

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artist's conception

By the time Friday night rolled around the ambient malevolence levels in college football were so high that Notre Dame won a marquee matchup to enter the national championship shortlist.

So of course Denard would be knocked out of a potentially fun, definitely important game by falling harmlessly to the turf, thus turning the rest of it into a death-march trudge. AIRBHG is no longer contained. The forces of wheeeee that (mostly) preserved Denard through three years of running at top speed into Manti Te'o have been overrun by the forces of grinding doom football. Now we're all boned. Hail Saban.

And so it came to pass that words never before spoken—words so impossible CFL teams who don't even think it's weird they're all named "Roughriders" cock an eyebrow at their assemblage—came to pass.

Tate Forcier isn't walking through that door.

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I don't know, man. I felt ill for most of the second half but it's not like anyone is at fault other than everyone. I mean, if RR doesn't implode or Forcier is a normal person who goes to classes or Michigan doesn't hire Hoke three weeks before signing day, maybe the guy backing up Robinson has a prayer of moving the ball forward. Maybe the wide receiving corps is not so awful that it must include Devin Gardner.

In the aftermath you've got the columns declaring Gardner's move to WR a stupid idea, but I haven't seen anyone reference the column questioning it they wrote before last weekend. It's easy to be a backseat driver after whatever that was. Meanwhile, Gardner is this crappy receiving corps' #2 WR, #1 if you discount Jeremy Gallon's 150-some yards on screens.

Gardner's not good. The alternative is throwing more than four balls in the first half to Jeremy Jackson. They've needed their crappy, crappy receiver who is also a quarterback even if he is dropping a 50-yard pass in most games. Whether Gardner is worth an extra three scores against Nebraska is… debatable. His performances to date suggest he is not.

Michigan was always rolling the dice on Denard's health, and that was the move to make. Didn't work. That's life as a rickety program that's endured two coaching transitions in three years—when you have to go to the bench you get tumbleweeds.

We're now entering the period of time when most program shortcomings can be blamed on Rich Rodriguez's recruiting, which is only a slight transition from the period of time when most program shortcomings could be blamed on Lloyd Carr's recruiting fade and represents very little improvement when the one completely awesome guy at the most important position is removed from the equation. It turns out that Michigan 2012 minus Denard Robinson is pretty much Michigan 2008, and that the only thing saving us from the abyss was Denard staring down a decision to stay or go and not pulling the Mallett.

He stayed, but in the game that probably decided if he would be a champion or not he watched from the sideline because his elbow hit the turf the wrong way. Malevolence is out of control these days.

Media

Eric just posted the photos. You can enjoy them. You will not enjoy One Frame At A Time.  BTN highlights:

Also SD highlights from Michigan's official site and a Nebraska-oriented highlight reel; actual highlights start 3:20 in.

DOOOOOOOOOOOOM BULLETS

Injury item. So the thing is this:

Boo Boo[1]

Hoover Street Rag

It's the same thing that knocked him out briefly against Illinois. 

"He's got that nerve (injury), he hits it the wrong way (or) gets hit (and it's hard)," Hoke said. "The difference (today) was he didn't come back in. But, he gets better as the game goes on." …

Asked whether or not he was concerned Robinson wouldn't be available next week, Hoke replied "No." He also said the normal rehabilitation process for this type of injury is mainly rest and time.

He'll probably be fine by Tuesday and start against Gophers. Every time his elbow brushes up against the softest kitten in Minnesota the collective intake of breath will be audible. Sounds fun, and by "fun" I mean "paralyzing."

Frank Clark is also expected to be back next week, which is good because Mario Ojemudia limped off the field Saturday and was spotted in a boot today. He's probably sprained his ankle and won't be available. 

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumbBrady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Craig Roh. Beastmode sack, generally unblockable, got a number of those stat things for himself instead of everyone else, as he usually does.

Honorable mention. Quinton Washington, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Demens.

Epic Double Point standings.

3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Drew Dileo (Michigan State), Craig Roh(Nebraska).

We won time of possession! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Time of possession is a garbage stat.

That said, there is a clear narrative of decline in the defensive performance. Nebraska's first eight drives gained a total of 148 yards. Their last four gained 178. It's not easy going out there after a blizzard of three-and-outs. This would be better measured by plays instead of TOP.

 

 

BLAME BLAME BLAME BLAME. Why are we here at QB? LET'S BLAME PEOPLE WOO

  • Rodriguez's horrible recruiting at the skill positions: 40%. If Michigan has a decent deep threat at WR, Gardner is playing QB and Michigan may salvage that game. Instead, RR recruited receivers are… 2011: nobody. 2010: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson. 2009: Je'Ron Stokes. The only one of those guys to see the field is Jackson, and he's essentially a skinny tight end. That 2011 class may not be RR's fault, because there were…
  • Unavoidable transition costs: 10%. RR's WR recruiting would look slightly better if Sammy Watkins was included in that group, but once he got fired Watkins was gone.
  • Darryl Stonum's inability to just do what the court tells him to: 10%. Relevant to previous two bullets: we're desperate for a guy who has three catches for Baylor. Baylor's offense is pretty good, but he can't even get on the field.
  • The Process: 20%. Maybe Michigan gets a guy more ready to play if they're not scrambling with three weeks left. Maybe Michigan recruits one dang WR in 2011.
  • Hoke not taking a quarterback last year: 10%. Always take one every year. If Michigan has another freshman around maybe he's better than Bellomy.
  • Hoke inexplicably passing on Devin Lucien: 10%. Lucien has 10 catches as a sophomore for 6-2 UCLA and their #12 offense. He still wanted to commit to Michigan after the transition, and Michigan said no by saying they wanted him to play DB.

There. It has been blamed. Seriously, though, the Lucien thing drives me nuts.

Borges take. It's official, we have the first FIRE BORGES blog post, one made through blood-soaked tears in the third quarter of that game by The Big House Blog. The Daily is also getting testy.

I'm not there. As soon as Denard went out and it became clear that Bellomy was light years away from readiness I was pretty much like whatever. There's not much you can do when you already can't run without your QB and the guy you put in is overwhelmed and throwing moonballs.

Before that happened, Michigan was moving the ball decently and poised to score to go up 10-7. That's okay I guess—but we're also talking about a team that is 90th in the country in run defense, so…

I saw this: after Nebraska got torn up by Hundley and Miller it seemed clear they went back to the drawing board and were going to play it safe. When Michigan put 4 WRs on the field, Nebraska responded with two high safeties and 5.5 guys in the box. Michigan ran the ball and got five, six, seven yards virtually every time. That's stealing.

I mean, when I was learning about the spread some years back I watched the videos Rodriguez put out about his offense. When he talked about making a run/pass decision based on the safeties, his general rule was one deep safety was a run, cover zero was pass. The idea that someone would maintain two high safeties against his offense never even crossed his mind. Nebraska was doing it, and Michigan didn't force Nebraska out of it. I don't get it, man.

The truly crappy thing is it's going to be four or five years before we have any real read on whether Borges is any good. At this point, year three is going to be Michigan rolling with a true freshman QB—probably, anyway—and four new OL starters—probably, anyway—with what's likely to be a horrible WR corps. Anything other than an awful offense next year is a point in Borges's favor. Hurrah transition.

But Auburn? No. 2004 Auburn had the following guys on that team: QB Jason Campbell (first round pick), RB Ronnie Brown (first round pick), RB Cadillac Williams (first round pick), OL Ben Grubbs (first round pick), OL Marcus McNeill (second round pick), Ben Obomanu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 37 catches in 2011), Devin Aromashodu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 26 catches in 2011), and Courtney Taylor (sixth round pick, now in CFL after 2008 multiple sclerosis(!) diagnosis). When you can call anything and have future NFL players on both ends of the exchange that doesn't say much either. 

First Nebraska touchdown: where is that? Nebraska's first touchdown was a route that exploited Michigan's man coverage. An inside receiver ran a little hitch designed to pick the outside guy, the outside guy ran a post to eliminate the safety over the top, and the inside-inside guy used the pick to get open by yards. It didn't really matter if the receiver who ended up targeted was able to get separation naturally; the play got it for him.

Where is that from Michigan? I can't recall a wide open downfield guy that got open strictly by the play design. Gardner's been open some when DBs fall over or suck up on a double move or something; not so much the play bits.

This wasn't actually a problem last year, when Michigan quarterbacks made sport of ignoring the the wide open guys Borges was machining downfield. Is it just Junior Hemingway's absence?

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Upchurch

 

I think they watched film. Congratulations, Nebraska: you are apparently the only Big Ten team to ever watch tape of the Michigan offense and leap on the throwback screen. It's not exactly hard to find, since the first time Michigan goes under center in any game is virtually guaranteed to be the throwback. It's pretty bad when everyone in the room I was watching said "throwback screen" as soon as Michigan lined up in ace.

Q: why is that play consistently run from under center? There doesn't seem to be anything about it that would require it to be.

I'M GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEBellomy. Well… that wasn't very good. The most disturbing thing was probably one of Bellomy's few completions—a ten yard wheel-ish route run by Kerridge that picked up a first down and took just decades to get where it was going. Accuracy issues and a tendency to scream in horror during plays themselves (@ right by Upchurch) can be fixed with time. The arm strength deficiency probably can't.

That particular throw made me wonder why Michigan recruited the guy at all since it seems like the #1 thing on Borges's radar screen is the ability to laser it in just inside the sideline. Hurrah Process/unavoidable transition costs. Boy, is next year's offense going to be a wow experience or what I tell ya.

Offensive line. I'm not entirely sure how they did since once Bellomy came in it was open season and Michigan settled into a routine that exposed them to the same "eight of them, five of us" problems that Michigan experienced against MSU. Hoke was not impressed.

Ryan got edged. When Michigan gave up some yards it was often on the edge when various Nebraska players broke contain. The most spectacular incident was when Abdullah broke Cam Gordon's ankles…

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Upchurch

…but it happened to Ryan a few times. When Nebraska was not bouncing it outside they were getting very little; excellent day from the interior DL and the LBs.

Roh beastmode. Also Roh, who took the opportunity presented by Abudullah being assigned to block him to destroy Martinez in a hilarious beastmode sack. If you've ever wondered why tailbacks always cut block guys on pass protection, that's why.

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Upchurch

Where is Rawls? I don't know what happened to Toussaint but at this point I'm not even irritated at Vincent Smith carries because it's not like Toussaint is consistently making yards past what the blocking gets him. Meanwhile, Rawls ends up watching, even when Michigan deep into Bellomy panic time and trying to run from under center.

I'm sure there's a reason they don't trust him yet; whatever it is it must be pretty bad. If you're down to running power from the I-form—and Michigan was—you might as well find out if your backup guy can break some tackles.

Defense: stepping towards elite. Nebraska entered the game averaging 512 yards and 42 points a game, leading the league in rushing yardage, pass efficiency, total yardage, and points per game. Michigan held the Cornhuskers to 326 yards and 23 points. Six of those points were field goal drives of two and five yards in length. Without turnovers, that's 17 points.

Relative to the quality of opponent, that's their best performance of the year by far and a major step away from criticisms that Michigan's defense hasn't actually stopped anyone. If the offense doesn't implode with Denard out those numbers are undoubtedly better, probably under 300 yards for the game for the Huskers.

Not relevant but worth it. This happened after Northwestern's win over Iowa:

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Bo Cisek, walk-on DT and new internet legend

It speaks for itself except for the fact that guy's wearing #1.

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Upchurch

Michigan + Nebraska == refereeing atrocity. The Roundtree catch that was overturned was one of those plays where it's not clear either way because of the goofy fuzzy catch rule and should be left to stand, and then you've got that terrible terrible late hit call and some terrible terrible pass interference calls both ways. This combination of teams is not good for ref sanity.

Cats! So hey like if you follow me on twitter I'm sort of sorry for retweeting like 30 cats into your timeline except not really. People started sending them to me, so clearly there was a need. Here is another cat if you are not satiated.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

* As bad as we played, the first downs were close, 20-18 in favor of Nebraska. Of course, 6 of our first downs came from Nebraska penalties.
* Nebraska's 20 1st downs translated to 326 total yards, we managed 188 total yards. At least we were efficient with our first downs. Why get 20 or 30 yards when you only need 10?
* We won the TOP, 31:36  to 28:24. Yippee. We did control the clock early, and I was expecting that to pay off in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to grind down their defense, but then, you know, Denard got hurt.

Also:

Edit: I forgot the main silver lining, BELLOMY CAN AUDIBLE!

Yeah, what was with that?

Yeoman scans Massey, comes back with Michigan having a 30% shot at winning the division now. Let's go Spartans.

Elsewhere

Blog stuff. Sap's decals hand out nothing to the offense. Nebraska fans are far too enthusiastic about snuffing Bellomy out. TTB. Maize and Go Blue. The M Block considers what happens next year at QB.

Hoover Street Rag:

Duct tape.  It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice.  And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?"  But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson.  That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.

MVictors:

You watched the second half perhaps with some hope that Spring Game Bellomy would emerge but save for a few late first downs it wasn’t really even close.  I swear I caught Jeremy Gallon staring off into space after the RS freshman was calling a pass play early in the second half and remember thinking, “Gallon knows this ain’t happening…”

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That play was the horribly underthrown toss (yes, headed for Gallon!) which was easily picked off by Nebraska. 

Also, Denard's jacket was old school split M style now verboten.

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Probably got it off Jon Falk's back.

Regular stuff. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. AGGRESSIVE DECISION TO FALL ON HIS ELBOW GENTLY COSTS DENARD ROBINSON. RUSSELL BELLOMY MAY NOT HAVE DONE TOO WELL. ROBINSON'S EXIT REVEALS THAT MICHIGAN IS NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING AND SHOULD PROBABLY JUST DIERUSSELL BELLOMY WAS NEVER GETTING PULLED.

Stupid malevolence. Stupid offense.

Wait they're still saying this?

Three Bellomy interceptions rushed the defense back onto the field and into quick-change situations. Nebraska started drives in Michigan territory, including one on the four-yard line. There’s a good excuse.

“No,” Kovacs said. “We take pride in that. Our motto is: ‘Spot the ball.’ It doesn’t matter where the ball’s at, just put the ball on the field and we’re going to go play defense and not let them get any yards.”

That's a Rodriguez-era phrase that remains as mysterious today as it was when it was introduced and probably should have gone in the bonfire with GERG's playbooks and stuffed beavers and hair. I guess that's appropriate for the reappearance of the 2008 offense. If someone says "hold the rope" any time soon I'm going to hide under the bed.

wat

Michigan-Nebraska: The Sick Man of Europe

By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a

The red balloons floated upward, little harbingers of doom dotting the night sky. I didn't know what to make of it, but it could not have been anything else but that. Or, maybe they were just balloons.

By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a

HoldTheRope

HoldTheRope

/hides under bed

Comments

bronxblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:16 PM ^

I don't disagree, but people around here RAILED on RR for not getting his offense running as soon as he landed on campus, and even at the end of year 2 there were complaints that UM didn't have time for RR to get his guys in and that he needed to start winning.  Borges has the advantage of Mattison and Hoke fielding an elite defense, but I've never been impressed by the guy at any of his stops.  Auburn, as pointed out, was a great situation he didn't mess up, and San Diego State looked good on paper but it was in a conference where defense doesn't really exist. 

He'll be around because Hoke likes him and he inherited a tough situation.  But if he was a good OC he'd find a way to make the sub-optimal parts he has into something competent.  I mean, Mattison did it in a year.  Borges has shown little innovation beyond letting Denard make silly plays and some WC passing routes. 

AAB

October 29th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

but the people railing against Rich Rod for offensive stuff were dumb, and Michigan's offense was somewhere between "good" and "totally awesome" his last two years.  I'm on board with people questioning whether Borges is the guy, but I don't think it's an indictment of him if the offense is bad next year (which it almost certainly will be).

bronxblue

October 29th, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

Again, I agree that equating the offense with Borges 100% is unfair, but at some point a guy needs to show that his offense works with the talent available and that he can make some gold from lead.  Otherwise, just hire some random GA off the street, give him the Madden playbook, and don't even have an OC.  The reason guys like Borges get paid like offensive coordinators is because they are expeced to produce competent offenses almost in spite of poor talent.  Nobody is expecting a top-25 offense next year, but we've had two years of Borges not really innovating when the defense takes away what he likes to do, and his struggles integrating Denard into his WCO have been well-chronicled. 

Greg Mattison is paid well because he can take Will F'ing Campbell, Jibreel Black, J.T. Floyd, and a bunch of underclassmen and pump out a top-10 defense.  Al Borges entered the year with a senior, former AA QB, a sure-fire 1st-round offensive tackle plus 1-2 more guys who will at least get a chance in the NFL, ,a guy who ran for 1,000 yards last year, and some young but talented players at TE and WR and hasn't scored more than 14 points against anyone with a pulse and hasn't scored a TD in 2 games.  That's the difference between the coordinators.

saveferris

October 29th, 2012 at 2:23 PM ^

I'm not sure we can make a fair comparison between Borges and Mattison.  If you think about it, Borges has the tougher job.  All Mattison had to do was come in and teach these guys to play defense his way and it has worked.  He didn't have the square peg / round hole problem with skill position players that Borges does.  In a couple of years, with a QB under center who can make all the throws a pro-set QB is asked to make, we still show an inability to exploit holes in our opponents defense, then criticism is warranted.

All we've learned so far is that Denard isn't that guy, but makes up for it with his feet.  Bellomy doesn't appear to be that guy and if we're forced to start him, we can expect a lot of pain.  Gardner doesn't appear to be that guy because if he was, he'd be starting over Denard.  Morris is believed to be that guy, but we probably won't know for certain for a few years.  We have to do the thing as a fanbase that we've proven to be pretty bad at over the past few seasons...be patient.

bronxblue

October 29th, 2012 at 2:35 PM ^

The thing is, I don't think you can dismiss this distinction as merely being Mattison teaching his system with less resistance.  He turned J.T. Floyd from the guy who ran 10 yards the wrong direction on a pass to a guy who could be a fringe All-Big 10 2nd teamer.  The defensive line lost its two best linemen and has been at least competent all year.  I get that he had fewer round holes and pegs, but he also had very little to work with.  Borges inherited a far better offense, one that could do some of things he liked to do at other stops. 

And even if Denard isn't his optimal QB, he should be able to do more than he has.  I mean, RR had freaking Sheridan and Threet his first year and no real running game and produced an offense that scored 20 points a game.  With the second year of this unit, Borges's offense produces 28 points a game, and that's largely because of the 63 he dropped on UMass.  I'm sure the scoring will be up because Minny, NW, etc. are coming up, but Nebraska was a poor defense coming and they really did stifle Michigan even with Denard in there. 

I hope that Borges can turn it around and with his QB he'll be successful.  But he's been in coaching long enough that if he can't make it work without the perfect combination of talent, he shouldn't be coaching in college.

ca_prophet

October 29th, 2012 at 4:52 PM ^

... because we're judging them based on the prior results.  There is no way Borges ever looks good that way.

I mean, you're talking about Mattison improving on GERG - remember, the guy we completely lambasted for wasting Mike Martin, starting Obi Ezeh, and failing to get any progress with Mouton?  Is it really that suprising that a guy with his track record could produce a protonic-reversal off someone the blog felt was the worst DC, with the worst staff, who ever coached a D in the history of everything?

This is by no means a knock on Mattison - I was not sanguine about our D-line coming into the year, and he has by-golly coached-'em-up - merely a note that his substantial skills were given a huge boost by their lack thereof in the previous staff.

And on the other side, we have Offensive Sooper-Genius RR, grabbing players tailored to a system which he built and knows better than anyone, running the show with the fastest player in college football.  In comes Al Borges running a different system to which these guys aren't suited, and we tread water, occassionally breaking the surface with awesome game plans like OSU.  [And btw, where's the hate for Mattison on that one?  His robber-D game-plan there came within an inch of Posey's fingertips of costing us that victory (to which he practically admitted in the post-game pressers, and he did adjust late).]

I am frustrated with the lack of hammering people by alignment and would love to see an offense where Borges' unmatched knowledge of the route trees you can't cover with even personnel get matched with the notion of making the least-talented 18-22 year old on the other side make Hobson's choice again and again, but I don't see that happening.

If we actually recruit well, though, that deliberate foregoing of an advantage will be less important, because I do believe that Borges can get his players running his scheme to near or even with RR and his players/scheme.

matty blue

October 29th, 2012 at 5:00 PM ^

that obi ezeh would have been a functional player under mattison.  and that jonas mouton would have been a wrecking crew.  there's no doubt in my mind.

that said - you're right that comparisons to the previous coordinators make both current coordinators look far, far different than they would in a vacuum.  to a point, anyway - it's hard for me to say that mattison is doing anything other than a spectacular job.

TyrannousLex

October 29th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

It's not that defense isn't difficult to play or difficult to coach, but the little things go a long, long way. The big difference with Mattison's Michigan defenses so far is that technique is sound, and the players are conditioned to go to the ball. Defense is essentially reactive and that is an easier thing to teach young players than the proactive decision making on the offensive side of the ball.

Mattison has taught the players proper technique and how to put themselves in position to make plays, and since it's the defense, those plays come to the player when proper technique is executed and positioning is correct. I certainly don't mean to denegrate what Mattison has done, it's phenomenal, but you're right that it's a very different thing than what Borges is tasked with doing.

Yeoman

October 29th, 2012 at 2:43 PM ^

"San Diego State looked good on paper but it was in a conference where defense doesn't really exist."

San Diego State's conference was won by TCU, which led the nation in scoring defense, passing defense and total defense. Coming into the SDSU game TCU had given up just 22 points in their previous six games and were coming off a 47-7 shellacking of then 8-0 and #5 Utah. SDSU scored 35 on them.

MosherJordan

October 29th, 2012 at 8:52 PM ^

Yeah, but RR wholesale committed to the running the spread from day one. Borges has tried to incorporate spread elements even though he basically hates it. Borges went 11-2, while RR went 3-8. You have a right to be skeptical of Borges, but he's earned a chance to get his players on campus in my book.

umchicago

October 29th, 2012 at 10:39 PM ^

tell me how many more games RR wins in 2008 if he ran pro style?  maybe 1.  would threet have been that much more successful running a traditional offense?  i doubt it.  not with that o-line.

i could easily argue that borges lost the iowa and msu games last year by forcing his offensive style on denard instead of better using his abilities.  we were lucky to escape against ND.

MI Expat NY

October 29th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

I disagree, slightly.  I think what it tells us is that this coaching staff has done a very poor job of recruiting offensive skill players.  Positions like WR and RB are where freshman can come in and make immediate impacts.  Unless, we land Treadwell or Green, this staff won't have recruited anyone in three years that appears to be an impact player at those skill positions.  Throw in the fact that our one superstar recruit at an offensive skill possession plays a position where even the best sometimes need a year or two to adjust, and things aren't promising.  

The staff has done a great job at recruiting according to rankings, and had to plug some obvious holes like O-Line and defensive recruiting (though it should be noted that Mattison has produced two excellent defenses almost entirely with guys recruited by Rich Rodriguez), but we've left gaping skill position holes that if don't get filled with remaining scholarships will seriously undermine any transition to a pro-style system.  Hard to imagine how that is possible.

MosherJordan

October 29th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

It always tells me a lot about whether to take a Borges critic seriously or not in how they talk about Auburn and about his ability to run the offense with his current players. Discounting Borges skill becasue he had players who could execute, and then criticising his skill when he has players who can't execute, is a straw man. You can't have it both ways, and to his credit, Brian seems to get this. If you want to discount Auburn because he had great players, fine, but you then have to throw out things like this year where he doesn't have the personel. If you're the type of person that discounts every good year Borges has had, and don't let him off the hook for any of the bad ones, you've clearly got an axe to grind and are too biased to take seriously.

Given the level of offensive recruits coming in so far, the reality is that the plan at Michigan going forward is to return to a pro style offense that's executed by NFL level talent, and to use that personel advantage to beat your opponent. In that case, all you need is an OC who's capable of not screwing that recipe up. Borges has shown he can do that. Take a look at USC and Texas if you want some evidence that having that having an OC who can get a team full of NFL talent to go undefeated isn't a lot harder than it sounds. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if an underperforming USC doesn't make him an offer to take their NFL laden squad and guide it to an undefeated season like he did at Auburn.

 

bronxblue

October 29th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

I'm not discrediting that Borges will be fine with elite NFL talent.  Yippee - he's like virtually every other competent OC who can turn gold into slightly shinier gold.  But I want my OC to be able to win without great talent, who can show some creativity and flexibility to still score with his left hand when the opposition has taken away his right.  Because no matter how well UM recruits, so will Alabama, Oregon, Texas, USC, Florida, etc.  So if the goal is to "out-talent" teams on offense, look forward to a decade of 9-10 win teams with the predictable losses to other elite programs. 

borninAnnArbor

October 29th, 2012 at 5:10 PM ^

I know i was one of the people freaking out on the live blog comments. however after watching some of the game again. bellemy had some good throws and they were dropped. michigan catches those, makes a few first down and nebraska backs off a bit. i think he will be a fine quarterback once the game slows down a bit and he gets more experience. give hime some plays this week and i bet he
can do very well and Borges starts calling plays he is familiar with. michigan will be fine. (please dear God i hope)

plemonte0207

October 29th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

Did you really just blame RichRod, Stonum and Forcier? The blame goes on Hoke and Borges. After the first 3 possessions for Bellomy it was obvious to everyone watching that this kid was not going to get it done. Gardner should have been in at that point. Dont give me that he is now a WR and hasnt been taking snaps as a QB. He was the backup QB up until 10 weeks ago. What did he forget everything in those 10 weeks? How can anyone think that Bellomy was a better option than Gardner. The Nebraska defense is terrible. Gardner could have ran on every possesion and that would have given Michigan a better chance to win than Bellomy. And why has no one mentioned Denards attitude in the second half. He just stood there not talking to anyone. Why is he not standing right next to Hoke? Why is he not talking to Bellomy every time he comes off the field. He did nothing in that second half to help Michigan win that game. Do you think for a second that Les Miles or Nick Saban would have kept Bellomy in that game when you have Gardner. Not a chance. Do you think for a second that AJ McCarron or Matt Barkely would have acted like Denard did in the second half? Not a chance. The Michigan sideline in the second half was embarrsssing. And dont blame the defense for anything. They did everything they could do to help Michigan win that game. Its the rest of the team and coaching staff that quit on them.

bronxblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

So you post for the first time in about 2 years and THIS is what you have to say? 

This has always driven me crazy.  People sit on their sofas and watch the game, catch 3 seconds of a sideline shot and feel they can diagnose the mood of an entire team.  The team was losing and the QB looked rattled.  It happens to every team.  Watch that LSU-Alabama game and the mood on the Tigers sideline when they realize there is nothing they can do against the Tide's defense and you'll see dejection.  With Bellomy out there trying his best but clearly failing to move the ball, that's what the team looked like -  a bunch of kids ready for a loss and a flight back to Michigan for next week's game. 

(btw, see all the crap I just made up looking on the sidelines?  That's why I think it is silly to make such proclamations.)

profitgoblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

Wow, that was a long single-paragraphed rant!  I hope you can catch your breath and read what Seth wrote above in reference to bashing Denard's attitude.  If so, I trust you'll couch that argument ASAP.  If not, and if you continue to play that tune, the banhammer will fall swiftly.  Consider yourself warned.

 

93Grad

October 29th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

for obviously being mistaken about Bellomy's ability to be th #2 over Gardner, but Gardner was moved because of the failure of RR and Hoke to recurit and retain competent WR's, plus Stonum's inability to follow the law. 

 

If we had just 1 more quality, non-freshman, WR then Gardner likely plays less at WR and more at QB and he is the first guy against Nebraska.

Hannibal.

October 29th, 2012 at 1:12 PM ^

I can't blame this loss on much more than misfortune.  Let's just say, for a minute, that Bellomy is a 4* guy in high school because he has better arm strength.  Does he get us 14 more points?  Probably not. 

I'm more concerned about what this loss means for the future.  Next year's offense is going to look really ugly.  It might be Notre Dame 2007 ugly.  Yeeeouch.  There are some pretty disturbing parallels between what Hoke took over at Michigan and what Weis took over at ND.  Both of them inherited a handful of very talented upperlclassmen leading some really bad underclassman classes.  Fortunately, I think that Hoke is a much better coach than Weis, but still.  Next year -- ugh. 

Hannibal.

October 29th, 2012 at 1:23 PM ^

Defense, I fully agree.  I think that it's going to be top notch next year.

But offense -- yeesh.  Second string offensive line has four walk-ons.  The non walk-on was a low 3* defensive end that we beat out Boston College for.  Quarterback is kitten.jpg material.  Skill players are possibly the worst collection of my lifetime. 

jmblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

The second-string OL is made up of walk-ons because our excellent 2012 OL class is redshirting.  Our 2013 OL class is also going to be very good.  I don't see a long-term problem there.  The depth issue is due to the earlier classes, which Hoke had no control over (aside from one month in 2011).

 

Hannibal.

October 29th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

Those redshirting guys will probably play next year, but they will be redshirt freshmen.  Offensive line is the one position where I universally expect freshman eligibility players to suck.  There will probably be a lot of shuffling around too, as Hoke learns which guys are good under fire, and which aren't.  Brace yourself, my friend.  2013 is going to get ugly.

jmblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

It may well be ugly.  I just don't see the Weis comparison.  I don't think our upperclasses are all that deep or talented.  There are a handful of very good players, but not as many as Michigan will typically have.  I think that's the bigger problem right now.  We've been basically holding our breath as far as injuries go at QB and OL. 

 

Hannibal.

October 29th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

Weis's upperclassmen weren't that deep or talented either.  He had a top notch passing QB and one great wide receiver.  He may have had a few other good parts as well.  He had no depth and when he lost those stars, the offense collapsed into a black hole, because Willingham left him with absolutely nothing to work with other than a handful of stars from the 2002 class.  Willingham in this analogy = Rodriguez. 

bronxblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

I think the point was on offense, which don't look stocked nearly as much as the defense.  I'm sure they will step up and play well next year, but the concerns people have voiced about Hoke's offensive recruiting at the skill positions remain. 

oldhackman

October 29th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

I must be missing something on this; THE biggest play of the game.  I don't understand why the ball wasn't dead as soon as the receiver's elbows hit the ground (before the ball popped up).  But since the announcers never mentioned it and the Michigan coaches (not to mention bloggers here) didn't go nuts over the call, I assume I am just not getting something.

Are they saying he deflected the ball like a volleyball dig before he hit, or is it the case that the ground can't cause a fumble but CAN cause an interception?

Regardless, yes; officiating was just awful and I think Nebraska would agree on that because it was awful both ways.

Yeoman

October 29th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

The play is dead when any part of the ball-carrier's body, other than his hands or feet, touches the ground.

Until he has caught the ball, the receiver is not a ball-carrier. And he hasn't caught the ball unless he exhibits control. (The relevant question here is: if the ball had simply bounced away instead of going into a defender's hands, would it have been ruled a catch? If not, he can't have been down.)

unWavering

October 29th, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

So, what are the chances that 2013 Michigan looks eerily similar to 2012 MSU?  Great defense, disfunctional, at times non-existant offense.  Sure we will have Morris, but he will be a freshman, and he will be prone to freshman mistakes. Gardner may be better than we think, but probably isn't.  Despite a good 2011 from Toussaint, we apparently still don't have a tailback, and none of the currently committed guys look like they can come in and run the ball with ease.  The WR's may be a little better (please god).  Our offensive line will lose Mealer, Barnum, Omameh, and possibly Lewan.  Our current freshman look good, but they probably won't be able to step in without missing a beat.

Someone slap some sense into me and tell me it won't be that bad.

massblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

When Hoke was hired, he did not know that Denard was going to stay.  What if Denard had left? Was he going to rely on Gardner and Bellamy alone? He should have tried to recruit one more QB.  It would not have helped with the game last night (perhaps) but a team needs to have 3 QBs at least (forget the walk ons).  

Also, I have not seen such a drop off when other teams have gone to their backup QB -- see OSU, ND, Perdue, or Indiana.  Why such a drop off? Are we winning because of the pure talen of Denard?  Is he covering for a bad OC? 

 

 

jmblue

October 29th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

I don't think that's fair.  First, I think we should give Hoke some credit for successfully convincing Denard to stay.  Second, he had one month to recruit a QB in the 2011 class and landed Bellomy.  And then he landed Morris, who may or may not have requested that we not recruit a QB in the 2012 class.  (Even if he didn't, I'm skeptical that a true freshman would have been the answer in a very tough road environment.)  The loss of Tate Forcier is the killer here.  That's the difference between Michigan and OSU, ND, Purdue et al. - those schools all have an upperclassman available to come in.  We don't. 

coastal blue

October 29th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

We have Gardner, who, up until at least October 15th according to Hoke, was taking QB reps. 

Who played in many games last season and has spent most of his football career playing quarterback. 

Until someone comes out and says Gardner was physically incapable of playing quarterback, the idea that Hoke/Borges aren't at fault for keeping Bellomy in the game till the finish is ludicrous. 

Brian

October 29th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

I feel that we've crossed some sort of Rubicon when the Reading Comprehension Fail faction in the comments is taking me to task for not blaming Hoke and Borges enough and ripping on Rodriguez. 

CONTAINMENT FIELD DOWN

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES

MosherJordan

October 29th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^

With great power comes great responsibility. When you started the "I just don't know man, Borges deserves the blame." meme, you invariably got a lot of loyal readers riled up and hating on the OC. What's happening now is called blowback. Consult the CIA for examples on how to contain this in the future.

MosherJordan

October 29th, 2012 at 9:56 PM ^

I would've thought that, in a post dedicated to blaming the unintended consequences of past acts, a gibe about how coming out and suggesting that the ND loss was on Denard was, to quote Brian, "Horseshit", and that it was all Borges fault, and now crying foul at the torch bearing mob for doing exactly that, would be seen as a tad ironic, yes.

M-Wolverine

October 29th, 2012 at 5:35 PM ^

I thought this was an impressive post. You bring up problems, but don't go back on anything you said before, like saying the Gardner move was worthwhile at the time. Not that this is something more than I would have expected; just that I wonder how many of the "Gardner should have been in at QB!" people were "Gardner = Calvin Johnson swwweeeeeet" before Saturday night.

Bodogblog

October 29th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

not that down?  The Denard injury was heartbreaking, but after he went down the chances of winning were near zero.  Bellomy is a West Coast QB who's been forced to take back-up reps as a spread QB.  Devin had to move to WR because our current players weren't working out.

If Denard stays in, I like our chances to win.

One thing I'm nearly sure of: if Nebraska came to the Big House, in a night game, and Martinez went out near the end of the first half and they brought in a RS freshman QB who played like Bellomy did, we likely would have won by more than 13 points.  I think they lose to Sparty