In The End, A Parlor Trick

Submitted by Brian on November 26th, 2012 at 11:53 AM

11/24/2012 – Michigan 21, Ohio State 26 – 8-4, 6-2 Big Ten


Bryan Fuller

In 1997, Michigan had a multidimensional weapon they'd take out of the garage for a couple dozen plays a game. His name was Charles Woodson, and I distinctly remember the disappointment that would wash over me 70% of the time he came in for an offense snap. This disappointment was because Woodson didn't get the ball. He ran a route, and something else happened.

Despite the disappointment, I got it. You can't just give the ball to the dynamic guy every time he comes in the game because if you do putting him in the game is tantamount to holding up a huge sign that says THIS IS THE PLAY WE ARE RUNNING. You can't flip up your hole cards before you bet.

Al Borges disagrees. If you've poked around the flaming wreckage of the Michigan internet in the aftermath of Saturday, you have undoubtedly heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth because of that. But the thing is so stark it has to be marveled at again: when Denard Robinson entered the game against Ohio State, every play but one was Denard Robinson doing something. Once it was fail to chip Ryan Shazier and try to get out for a screen; all other times it was run the ball, sometimes with a pitch included. The fakeout was a six-yard completion to Mike Kwiatkowski in the first quarter, and there ended any attempt at deception.

Devin Gardner was at quarterback for three of these plays. Michigan held up a sign that said RUN or PASS, and didn't even try the token fakeout where Robinson goes over the top when the safeties suck up. Gardner ran three times. Denard passed zero. Ohio State figured it out. Surprise!

Denard got a dozen snaps and watched from the sideline as Gardner tried to drive Michigan 70 yards for the win. There were six minutes left, and Michigan was reduced to throwing every down as a guy who might break the all-time rushing record for a quarterback watched.

What can you say? It's indefensible. It's a failure without any possible explanation. It caused legions of neutral observers to laugh or fume or sit slack-jawed as they watched it unfold. Sean McDonough was dumbfounded. Orson, in the stands, marveled. Twitter burst at the seams with furious mockery from people who don't care about Michigan but do hate to see Denard Robinson end his final Ohio State game on the bench, having averaged 11 yards a carry on ten attempts.


Here is a list of things Denard Robinson could have productively done on Saturday that did not necessarily involve him getting the ball.

  • Be a running back on the inverted veer.
  • Stand in a two-back set, then motion out a la Vincent Smith on a pre-emptive flare route.
  • Run a flare from the backfield
  • Line up in the slot and get a fake jet handoff, then run a wheel.
  • Line up in the slot, run a bubble.
  • Run a route you ignore but the defense cannot.
  • Fake a screen to him and screen to the other side.

There were ways to work around the fact that Denard can't block, primarily running your best play with your best two players. What can possibly be so hard about telling Denard "now you're the other guy on the play we run all the time"? Even if it's play action, it draws everyone. If he's on the field, one to three people are concerned with him, and if that's at the edge of the field that's as good as a block. It's a fantastic block. It is a much better block than most of the folk on Michigan's offensive line were capable of.

And nothing. Nothing. Here is a sign that says whether we are running or passing.

“They were a little bit predictable in the first half,” said Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. “You know, they put 16 (Robinson) back there, he was gonna run it. And they put 12 (Gardner) back there, they were gonna throw it. And after a while that became something that we keyed on.”


On the other side of the ball, things made sense. Ohio State's offense is a coherent whole that ruthlessly exploits every edge it can. Michigan spent the first couple drives unable to substitute as Ohio State went up-tempo. Afterwards they started running on right after the play; Michigan struggled to get set at times. When OSU slowed it down, they made a playcall after seeing how the defense lined up. They took every advantage the game gives them.

Once JT Floyd got turned around by Devin Smith on OSU's first drive, Michigan was faced with the prospect of repeating last year's festival of deep bombs or giving Floyd help. They chose the latter, and chose to contain Braxton Miller at all costs. To do this they had to give up two things: the underneath flats and the guy in the box that can be a free hitter.

The results: Miller was 14 of 18. Avery blew a deep corner route on a third and long early and there was the bomb. There ended downfield passing. Miller's other 12 completions averaged 9.8 yards a pop on a series of screens and quick throws in the soft outside section of the field. Carlos Hyde surged up the middle over and over again, picking up 146 yards on 26 carries with no Michigan player available to hit. Stat of the game: Will Campbell had ten assisted tackles.

The dispiriting thing is watching that and not being frustrated with anyone in particular when the other team moves the ball. There was no screaming some guy's name, no rolling your eyes and saying "come on make a tackle." When Michigan stopped them, it was a good play by someone. When they did not, it was because you can't play the wide receivers one on one so everyone's got a blocker.

Michigan was lucky not to give up 30 or 40 points. Ohio State is rickety. Botched snaps, penalties, and some heroic individual plays—Ryan checking Miller in space, Jibreel Black and Frank Clark combining to get Miller down on third and goal when Michigan had put four guys against three to the field—prevented that, but it was there. It will be there next year, and the year after, and the year after that. They will not be as rough as this outfit in its first year.

Michigan can only beat it by winning one-on-one matchups, lots of them. That's tough to do. Possible—see Stanford—but tough, and sometimes even if you're Stanford the Oregons of the world blitz you for 40.


Most of the time, actually.



One mistake is all it takes.


The Hoke hire was alarming to me (for about two weeks) because it seemed like waving a white flag and going back to the Carr era philosophy that had seen Michigan slip definitively behind Ohio State over the last six or seven years of Carr's career. In a lot of ways, those concerns have proved unfounded. Carr was a puntosaur; Hoke is amongst the most aggressive coaches in the country. Mattison is as modern as defensive coordinators come. Whatever his flaws, Borges is a far cry from DeBord. He wants to score, for one.

There are two ways in which those concerns have been true, one tiny, one large. The tiny one is the spread punt. You've seen the coverage, seen what everyone else is doing, heard me complain about it, etc. I asked Heiko to bring it up a couple times over the past few years, and we did get an answer of a sort as to why Michigan doesn't run it:

MGoFollowup: Were you aware that they could run a fake out of the spread punt formation?

“Sure. Yeah. They had done it before, right up the middle.”

MGoFollowup: What’s your opinion of the spread punt formation vs. the traditional punt formation?

“Uh, we don’t use it.”

MGoFollowup: Is there a rationale for that?

“I think, you know … I’m more comfortable with what we use. That’s the rationale.”

That is a dull, unthinking answer. Heiko shot it to me as soon as he transcribed it and it depressed both of us.

Here is where the comparison to Beilein goes. Beilein, who has discovered the alley-oop and ditched the 1-3-1 except when it wins a game against Pitt, and wiped out his coaching staff to start anew. Beilein took his comfort level and chucked it out the window. We all stand to benefit. In the wake of this loss, I hope the football staff takes a similarly stark look at itself.

I wonder what possible use a huddle is now. I've had this Smart Football post lying around for months, as I was going to make a post about it:

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that huddling is an archaism destined for the dustbin. I say it’s a slight exaggeration because there is a value to huddling, primarily when you have a great leader at quarterback as a huddle is an opportunity for him to show his leadership skills. But otherwise, it’s inherently inferior to going no-huddle. It’s slower, which is a problem both in games but also in practice where your offense gets fewer reps, and, maybe most importantly, the safety net of a huddle leads coaches to transform plays that can be communicated in just one or two words into multi-syllabic monstrosities.

The Patriots don't use it, Ohio State doesn't use it, Oregon lol huddle, etc. And I see Michigan get out of one with 15 seconds on the playclock having determined what they're going to do without getting information from the defense and with little time to change what they're doing. And I think about comfort, and how dangerous it is to slip into old habits just because they are old.

It feels like Michigan is on the wrong side of history here. After Rodriguez the spread offense is anathema. It's the one thing that keeps Nick Saban enraged at night, and it feels like Michigan's going to ignore it because Rich Rodriguez's defense couldn't stop a six-year-old child, instead of for any defensible rationale. I'm not sure that's going to cut it against Urban Meyer.


OSU guy did this one but it's got all the important stuff:

A shorter but HQ reel from mgovideo:

Also pressers from Hoke and players.



Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Well… this is close but since Jake Ryan saw something like 60 snaps instead of a dozen, his nine tackles two TFLs, sack, and impressive non-tackle of Braxton Miller get him the nod. One on one, he won his matchup. Now we just need five to six more of that guy.

Honorable Mention. Denard(obvious), Roy Roundtree (touchdown), Jeremy Gallon (six catches), possibly Will Campbell (ten assists!).

Epic Double Point Standings.

4: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois, OSU)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota), Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota, Northwestern)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska), Devin Gardner(Iowa)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Obvious.

Honorable mention: Roy Roundtree uses one man-Dileo convoy to score 75-yard touchdown, Frank Clark levels Braxton Miller a couple times, Denard turns not much into 30 yards on Michigan's first snap.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

11/10/2012: Mattison baits Fitz, Kenny Demens decleats Northwestern, game over.
11/17/2012: Denard WOOPS Tanner Miller in Big House finale.
11/24/2012: Denard uses PHYSICS to score a touchdown


Rawls lacks YAC, so what's the point? Michigan ended up in fourth and three on their first drive of the third quarter after a one-yard Rawls carry, a six yard Denard carry, and a zero-yard Rawls carry. The third down attempt was pretty much stuffed but Rawls could not manufacture even one yard after contact, something that has been a pattern after he got everyone's hopes up by running over some Purdue safeties.

But the real killer was the first down play, when Michigan successfully blocked everyone and got Rawls the edge. One on one in space with cornerback Bradley Roby, Rawls ran straight into him and went down. One yard.

Rawls's five carries netted two yards. Since he started picking up non-garbage-time carries against Minnesota this brings him to 68 yards on 32 carries, 2.1 per carry. Yeah, the line has something to do with that and Rawls is getting goal-line carries, but since he's getting so many goal line carries because he's bouncing outside the tackles or going down on first contact I don't think that's much to hang your hat on.

Yeah, he'll probably get better as he ages but at this point it would be a shock if he ever ends up anything but a short-yardage back. Chalk another one up to the Fred Jackson Hyperbole Curse.

This is a reason I'm skeptical about Drake Johnson making an impact. Guys Jackson personally campaigns for have a poor track record.

Bad time to get beat for the first(?) time this year. Michigan's first drive ended with a blindside sack and fumble yielded by Taylor Lewan, which was like… that can happen? I think Alabama got a blindside sack in the first game; since then nothing. Bad time for a bad play.

This of course means that he will slide down draft boards and return. That's the ticket.

Devin flaws exposed. It was coming, and it came: against a more talented defense than Gardner had seen so far he was hesitant. His throws were off, mostly deep, and throw after throw was a second late. Against Iowa and Northwestern and Minnesota it didn't matter, but Ohio State's defense is a really good unit that implodes to yield long touchdowns twice a game; when they were not doing that they're pretty good about closing down space.

All that's understandable. Hopefully we see a more polished version in the bowl game and go into 2013 with some confidence under center.

The stuff they got. Ohio State is a defense that is good, and then explodes spectacularly, and that's what they did on the Roundtree touchdown, which was just CJ Barnett making a terrible play. Good for Gardner to recognize that coverage; not a huge credit to the play itself. And then Denard used science(!) to burst through two tacklers on the 67-yarder.

That play was a credit to Borges as it was pretty much exactly what OSU ran some last week, a fake veer that turns into an outside play with a convoy of blockers. Michigan ran it to good effect in the first half, and then died in the second half because OSU adjusted.


"boy I hope this guy spends most of the second half on the bench" –nobody (Fuller)

Speaking of that play… find me the Michigan fan who was not in full FFFFFFUUUUUUUU mode the instant before after Michigan got the ball back with 1:30, ran for eight yards on first down, and then spent 30 seconds lining up. You can't even put it on Denard this time since there was the option to go to Gardner. Denard bailed them out of another hack job of a two-minute drill.

Rodriguez comparison point. That game was reminiscent of early Rodriguez offensive forays that worked fairly well for a half—think introducing MINOR RAGE against Penn State en route to 17-14 halftime lead—and then evaporated when the opponent took the fancy new stuff away and Michigan had no other way to move the ball. They came in with a couple things that worked, and then Ohio State said "we are not letting Denard run" and that was that.



Speaking of that concept… on the fourth and three to open the second half Michigan ran that same play again. The above picture is from the touchdown; on the stop, Barnum's guy shot outside and upfield, forcing a cutback, and Lewan didn't have an angle to get on an equally hard-charging Shazier. It's almost like they spent halftime preparing to stop it.

“My comment was, after I saw Denard Robinson sneak outta there for a long run, stop the quarterback run,” Meyer said. “That’s the input I had. Probably the same — I think 107,000 people said that as well.”

The most baffling thing… hmm. Not running your extremely fast guy who can actually throw the ball makes the top 20 of baffling decisions Saturday. What are you saving him for?

2013 peek ahead. I'm drafting a "22 Tickets for Team 134" feature that'll tackle this in more detail, but for now Michigan loses the following folks after the bowl:

  • Denard
  • WR Roy Roundtree
  • TE Mike Kwiatkowski
  • OL Taylor Lewan (probably), Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Patrick Omameh

The likely replacements:

  • Devin
  • WR Amarah Darboh(?)
  • TE AJ Williams
  • OL Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Jack Miller, and Chris Bryant

Bryant is admittedly speculative; Fitzgerald Toussaint may not make it back. How do we feel about this? On the one hand, four new starters on the offensive line. On the other, the interior guys are probably going to be better even if they're young. Possibly a lot better. While Schofield isn't Lewan he was a solid pass protector this year and should be able to cope.

The most important thing is getting those tight ends in shape. Funchess was a crappy blocker this year; more alarmingly, AJ Williams was hardly better. I don't know much about OL technique but Williams has stood out as so spectacularly unrefined that even a layman like myself can look at him and think "that doesn't look right."


Story of the season. Defense hangs in against good offense as offense curls up and dies, putting them in bad spots time and again, eventually cracks a little, and fades late as exhaustion sets in. Ohio State neared 400 yards and put up 26 points but I'm not even a little mad at what happened. It was all so obvious.


this was an actual tackle (Fuller)

Most impressive non-tackle of the season. Jake Ryan in space against Braxton Miller was a little different than Jake Ryan in space against most people, but he did hold Miller up long enough for the cavalry to rally. On the day, nine tackles, a TFL, and a number of "oh thank God you are large and fast" moments. All Big Ten, surely.

I am going to hit you very hard now. Frank Clark was the main beneficiary of multiple all-out blitzes Mattison sent on third down.



A couple of these threatened to send Miller out of the game or dislodge the ball; most other times Michigan didn't even bother to rush him.

2013 peek ahead. I'm drafting a "22 Tickets for Team 134" feature that'll tackle this in more detail, but Michigan loses the following folks after the bowl:

  • SDE Craig Roh
  • 3TECH Will Campbell
  • MLB Kenny Demens
  • CB JT Floyd
  • S Jordan Kovacs

Likely replacements:

  • SDE: Jibreel Black/Tom Strobel
  • 3TECH: Matt Godin/Chris Wormley
  • MLB: Effectively James Ross since the bet here is Morgan slides over.
  • CB: Blake Countess
  • S: Jarrod Wilson

That's a lot of youth, with Black the only upperclassman mentioned. It is at least highly-touted youth. Wormley was going to see the field as a freshman, Countess had a breakout freshman year before the injury that cost him 2012, James Ross is a summer in the weight room away from being awesome, and… well, Wilson is not going to be Kovacs.

2013 will probably be just as good as this year, if not a little better, and then look out in 2014: the only projected starters to graduate after next year are Thomas Gordon and Quinton Washington. (Nickelback Courtney Avery also departs.) Washington will be replaced by a fully groomed Ondre Pipkins; Michigan has a few options to replace Gordon.


Fourth and three from the forty-eight. My thought at the time was that was a coinflip decision, statistically, and yup:

Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.57 - 0.00
WP Success 0.61 0.56 0.67
WP Fail: 0.47 - 0.46
WP Total: 0.55 0.56 0.46
Break-Even: 0.64  

Those are NFL numbers, of course, and can't be taken as gospel. Whatever adjustment there is to the college game it's not going to push it into slam dunk territory either way. That decision is all about feel.

From my perspective that feel includes information like "interior line cannot block these guys" and I was more nervous than happy when Hoke went for it, but it's right on that line. OSU blew up the playcall, which was a fine playcall since it involved Denard having the ball, and Michigan gave it up. Oh well.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Since it's hard for people to get away from their base urges I prefer the guy who will be aggressive, even excessively so, since the vast majority of decisions to be aggressive will be correct, and even ones that seem weird like Saturday's are a push.

Yup. If you were wondering if the shirtsleeves would come off, nope:


MANBALL (Fuller)

If it's sleeting I think the guy should put a jacket on just because it's hard to think when you get cold to your bones.

Just the right amount of shoving. Football games are at their best when there is harmless shoving on a half-dozen plays a game, and M-OSU delivers on this count.



This was immediately after Mike Jones became "that guy who got the dumb personal foul in the 2012 game" to Michigan fans, and never threatened to escalate past this business. They've done this for years now, and I approve.

Weekly Devin Gardner lookalike photo. Recycled from last week because Bryan didn't get a shot of it, but Devin definitely went Mr Burns after the long touchdown to Roundtree.



I enjoy this being a thing.


Inside The Box Score:

* The leading tackler was WLB Desmond Morgan with 11. Last week's leading tackler was also the WLB, James Ross III. I guess they are not kidding when they say there is an expectation for the position.
* Will Campbell had one of the craziest defensive stat lines I've ever seen: 0 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles.
* Jake Ryan was back making plays all over the field, 9 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. On Thomas Gordon's sack, Ryan jumped on Gordon's back and tried to sack Gordon and the QB. It's been said of others, but I don't think it applies to anyone better than Jake Ryan, he plays like his hair's on fire.

Best And Worst:

Best:  MGoMeltdowns are awesome

So as is the custom around these parts, the traffic to the site after a loss follows the same trajectory as general internet traffic does whenever illicit pictures of some starlet are “leaked” to the the web totally-unexpectedly-but-right-before-my-new-movie-Crushed Blue Velvet Girlfriend 2-is-released.  For a graphical representation, here is a screenshot of the site about 4 minutes after the game ended


Click for full size

It will never approach RCMB or anything in the SEC not related to Vandy, but TWO redundant posts sarcastically “thanking” the coaches for losing the game, one out-and-out “Fire Borges” thread and one claiming he merely “sucked”, one thread already set for deletion, and about 1,100 posts in a game thread, 50% of them berating Al Borges and the team for a poor second half, is nothing to sneeze at.  Subsequent posts included petitions to fire Al Borges, a couple crying out for sanity, and one inferring a discussion about iCarly and Larry Hagman that felt appropriate for an 8th-grader’s “MySpace” profile.  Then Ace showed up with his usual quality summary and solid reasoning, which is like, Booo this man!

LSAClassOf2000 puts yardage for and against in a table.


Figure you don't want to read crowing so right on to the other stuff…

Blog stuff. Hoover Street Rag:

In the end, I'm never going to understand this, I'm never going to understand them, I'm never going to understand that feeling.  Jim Tressel is honored during the first quarter break of the Michigan/Ohio State game for his 2002 National Championship season, and he is carried off the field by his players to a standing ovation at the Horseshoe.  Ohio proceeds to get its act together and win 26-21 to complete a perfect 12-0 season.  A season in which they are ineligible for a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions related to Jim Tressel's failure to report what he knew about illegal benefits being given to his players to his superiors.  A season in which they are ineligible for the B1G championship game next weekend because of the post-season sanctions.  But it doesn't matter, a standing ovation for what Tressel did, not how Tressel got caught.

Borges complaint section follows. Maize and Brew:



While Hoke never really talks about injuries, it’s not like there’s some gamesmanship required here—the bowl game is five weeks away.   And let’s say he was dinged up and couldn’t run the ball for some reason–toss him in the backfield as a decoy, no?  

Other than the lack of Denard down the stretch, the other frustration was how he was used in short yardage.   He showed no indication that he was ever going to pass it and really didn’t throw in warm-ups.    So if you aren’t going to have him throw it–at any point–then on short yardage put him in the backfield with Gardner and hand it or toss it to Denard, or fake it to #16 and have Gardner run it, or toss it to Gallon or ARGH.

After the 2001 Michigan State Spartan Bob game Lloyd Carr summed up how he felt about his team, when he said, “They deserve better.”  

MNB recap. M&GB recap. Sap's Decals. Maize and Blue Nation:

In the moments after the game, when I snapped this photo, the air was rich with the smell of marijuana, wafting down from the student section were people, from seemingly every direction flooded the field in a frenzy of drunken euphoria.

Between the Buckeye fans posing for photos in front of the team leaving the field with their heads hanging, and the idiots stupid enough to try and mix it up with Michigan players, it was all I could do to keep my composure and just walk away. I had to remember that I'm a credentialed media member and it's not my place to get involved. Just walk away. Props to the Michigan players for doing the same.

What a mess.

Papery stuff. Chantel Jennings scours instagram for Game photos. This one is from Channing Stribling:

Rothstein game story:

A week ago, the Wolverines appeared to have a devastating offense with two quarterbacks, including Denard Robinson, moving one of the most electrifying players in football all over the field. Not only did Michigan short-circuit on Saturday, the devastation was all their own unraveling.

"Yeah, we kind of knew what was coming when Denard was in and knew what was coming when [Gardner] was in," Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington said.

If Robinson was in the game, Michigan was going to run the ball without question. If Devin Gardner was in, there was a little bit more of a surprise, but more than likely the junior was going to throw the ball or try to.

Nowhere did this show up more than in the second half, when Ohio State adjusted to put nine players in the box when Robinson was in, essentially daring him to throw. Whether he couldn't or wouldn't, Robinson didn't. And that decision cost the Wolverines.

"Coach called the plays and we went with it," Robinson said.

I'll have to look at the fourth down to be sure but Robinson put it on himself after:

"I've got to come a little tighter and get outside a little more (there)," Robinson said after Michigan's 26-21 loss to Ohio State. "I made a bad read on the run, that's my fault."

Hoke as well:

"(Robinson) maybe should have been in a gap wider," Hoke said. "And, he had broken three (long plays) from that same run."

My initial take was that to do that he'd have to bounce into the backfield and the result may have been the same; I'll picture-page it.

Meinke on the end. Wojo gets in his WTF:

The play-calling went from scintillating to stubborn to baffling, and against a good defense, the quarterback combo of Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson was snapped in half. Gimmicky rotations are effective for a while, but in a game like this, in Urban Meyer's rivalry debut, lessons get delivered harshly.

"You know me, we want to run the football and we want to do a good job stopping the run," Brady Hoke said. "We didn't do either."

Nesbitt. Meinke column.



November 26th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

Agree - the sky is not falling.

But I also agree with all the head scratching about first half plays vs running undersized backs and QB up the middle and trying to throw bombs from the pocket as they blitz.

They needed to do rollout play action with Denard as a pitch option. Even Spielman was saying this. My neighbor, an Ohio fan, thought Denard must have been hurt for them to go away from him.


November 26th, 2012 at 7:21 PM ^

One thing that struck after the game is the lack of quick passes that UM seems to have in the playbook.  Yeah, throw quickly throw to an outside wr at the line of scrimmage some but I'm talking more like a quick slant or crossing pattern over the middle.  Like you said it was frustrating watching Gardner get pressured and hit on the blitzes because it looked on TV like there weren't any short routes for him to dump the ball off.


November 26th, 2012 at 10:20 PM ^

I'm not really going to begrudge people going apeshit over that tire fire of a 2nd half, but the idea that Ohio State was some well oiled machine that we were just lucky to stop is ridiculous.

11:54 3 03:42 OSU 48 7 35 Field Goal Good
07:26 3 03:14 OSU 37 7 15 Field Goal Missed
02:06 3 03:15 OSU 9 7 55 Fumble
11:55 4 02:37 OSU 25 5 26 Punt
08:19 4 01:53 OSU 10 4 2 Field Goal Good
04:50 4 04:50 OSU 48 8 18 End of Half

The only thing masking their offensive implosion in the 2nd half was our worse one. We put up one TD in the 2nd half (say Gallon gets the TD instead of being tripped by his shoelaces before Shoelaces fumbles), and the story is how that "strategic genius" couldn't score anything in the 2nd half, and they had great field position they were pissing away.

They weren't good. We were just worse.


November 26th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

For what it's worth, Brady Hoke provided a much more detailed reason why they don't spread punt after the Northwestern game.  I can't find the quote, but it involved greater chance of mis-hitting a punt while a punter is on the move.  As we remember in that game, it was NW's line drive spread punt returned by Gallon that set up the heave to Roundtree. 



November 26th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

I have two questions about QB injuries-

1.  Did Denard re-injure something during the game that limited him in the 2nd half?  That would explain a lot.

2.  Did anybody else think that Miller was concussed?  At one point, he was sacked, then Ohio had to take a timeout to get the playcall right, and then he was sacked again, fumbled, and didn't seem to make an effort to recover the ball.  It was a strange sequence, to say the least.


November 26th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

has been concussed since he went down vs (?) and had to leave in an ambulance.

The play that showed him cramping, his helmet hit the ground hard in front and I'd say, based on the live blog reaction, others thought it, too.

I read one quote "Bauserman Time!" and I chuckled.


November 26th, 2012 at 1:33 PM ^

The 4th down run was not the same run as the 2 plays to end our "2 minute drill".    Pretty sure we never ran Denard's touchdown play again.   I'm not livid we didn't run that play again, but to not run a counter to that play does.  


November 26th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

From the aftermath of the 2007 Rose Bowl:
"Brian Cushing praised the Wolverines afterward because that is what players are taught to do and there is no percentage in not doing so. But he also admitted that he had been well-enough prepared to know what was coming with just about every Michigan trip to the line of scrimmage.
"Yup, pretty much so... I understand what they were trying to do," Cushing said."
From the aftermath of the 2012 Michigan-Ohio State game:
“They were a little bit predictable in the first half,” said Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. “You know, they put 16 (Robinson) back there, he was gonna run it. And they put 12 (Gardner) back there, they were gonna throw it. And after a while that became something that we keyed on.”

matty blue

November 26th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

i've thought about the 2007 rose bowl and its aftermath a lot over the last couple of days.

the way i remember that game - and i haven't looked it up - is that a tight game at the half was a death march to the end:  USC realized it couldn't run on us, and stopped running.  but we just kept doing the same thing, because by god, that's what brung us.

after the game, i remember starting to write a blog post saying it was okay, beause hoo-boy, look at all we have coming back next year!  henne, and hart, and long, and arrington, and...and...then i realized that we would have the same hidebound coaching staff that would INEVITABLY coach us into a loss that we shouldn't have.  because by god, that's what brung us. 

and our next game was appalachian state, right?

it happened on saturday, it's going to happen again.  and again, and again, and again, for the rest of my miserable life.


November 26th, 2012 at 7:24 PM ^

Stick with the game plan until you're a couple TD's down and then scrap the game plan and open up the playbook.  Sometimes they were able to come back.  Sometimes they weren't.  Even if the offensive gameplan wasn't working you almost never saw UM change the offensively philosophy as long as the game was tied or they were only down single digits.


November 26th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

some time. I certainly have nothing concrete to base it upon, but given the lack of production of our running game, it stands out.

Guys Jackson personally campaigns for have a poor track record.

If that is the case, and I would be hard pressed to argue that it isn't, what does it say about his abilities. Can one be a really good coach and be a poor judge of players?


November 26th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

There are three all out go for broke games on Michigan's schedule. ND. Sparty. OSU. With all that talent on offense, they scored 6, 12 and 21. That's just not good enough.


November 26th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

largley on the outcome of those 3 three games.  With the priority going to Ohio, Sparty and then the irish. With that said it's hard for me to look at this season as a success, unless we beat the bajesus out of whoever we play from the SEC in our bowl game.  When was the last time we won all three of those games in the same season? 1997?  


November 26th, 2012 at 2:12 PM ^

Sorry, I love our players, but who on our offense is extemely talented? We have 2 Definite NFL talents on offense. Denard (not at his NFL position, and, oh yeah, injured) and Lewan.

Who else that started for us this year is a SURE NFL player? No one. We have a couple "ask again later" guys, but you're acting like this is the 2006 offensive line up out there. Our offense was NOT stocked with talent this year.


November 26th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

Don't care about NFL prospects. That's for Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. I look at the Michigan offense and see lots of talent. Fitz is very good RB. Gallon and Roundtree have been very good the last month. Funchess. Denard. Devin. Lewan. Omameh. All quality players. Even Dileo is a capable possession reciever. 

The 11 guys Michigan puts on the field is better than 6 points at ND and 12 versus Sparty. 


November 26th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

Not saying Funchess wont become one, and Omameh may get a look too, same with Devin, but we didn't have a very talented offense.

When you look at OSU's defense, we definitely didn't have a distinct talent advantage position vs. position across all 11 spots. Same with MSU's.

Fitz didn't play in the one game. Denard's been hurt. Omameh has been OK-to-good. Dileo is a good player, but it's not like he's the most talented guy in the world. And that's OK. A great play by him beat MSU. But there's a reason our backup QB who had never played receiver in his life was moved to WR. and our running backs averaged like 3 ypc. This team did not have top 25 talent on offense.

I'd also say we didn't lose to a team with less talent than us on the year.

Bill the Butcher

November 26th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

"All that talent on offense"

By offense do you mean LT and QB, cause otherwise I'm not sure where "all that talent" is.

Our WRs are undersized, slow and have trouble creating seperation.

Schofield is okay but the rest of the OLine is a hot mess.  

Freshman TEs are young and inexperienced.  Kwiatkowski was servicable though.

Fitz is an above average tailback but can't do anything when there is no where to go.  

I don't look at that offense and  see alot of talent.  I see alot of holes.


November 26th, 2012 at 5:50 PM ^

So the OSU game was never in doubt? Given Michigan's deficit in talent, we should be pleased with the outcome? Happy to keep it close?

Sorry. Don't see it that way. I saw a very winnable game. On the road. Against an undefeated opponent. The offensive collapse is in the 2nd half was stunning. And it seems to be a reoccuring thing here.

coastal blue

November 26th, 2012 at 6:42 PM ^

Its not that we have a gap in talent on offense, its that our offense was largely recruited to play a style that our OC doesn't have a full grasp of. 

Of all the guys seeing any time on offense, really only Funchess and Rawls weren't recruited by Rodriguez specifically for his offense. Other than Steve Slaton, did any of Rodriguez's WVU guys have remotely significant NFL careers? How many of them had gaudy star ratings as HS players? Noel Devine? Can you even name a receiver from that time? Yet, would you ever say they weren't talented?

The majority of the offensive problems are due to the transition. Simple as that. 


November 26th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

my head almost exploded.  It's very hard to ready all of the reaction and commentary form across the spectrum when my heart has been smashed into a million pieces. I'd like to thank you and your staff for all the work you do; there is no better example of the Michigan Difference than MGoBlog! 


November 26th, 2012 at 1:49 PM ^

Just the way it is. You would probably have every program in the nation interested in Mattison when he was at the Ravens and I am not sure who would be luring Borges away from SDSU after putting up decent offensive numbers on WAC teams, which is like saying water is wet. Great coaches adapt to what they have, e.g. Mattison, who immediately improved the defense. Borges has seen his offense slide further down the rankings in each year. Hey man, results based charting. 


November 26th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

When Hoke picked him up while at SDSU Borges wasn't working at all. He was fired from Auburn and sitting at home for a year or two. Maybe he shold move on because I can see us having Championship level defense in the near future, I can't imagine relying on our offense to win us tough games on the road in the future, since it, you know, doesn't. Championship quality offense isn't anywhere near the discussion at this point.

Ed Shuttlesworth

November 26th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

There's nothing wrong with Al Borges that an offensive line that can block won't fix.  When you line up in I-formation, 2 TEs, you should be able to gain a yard on a handoff to the tailback.  If you can't, that isn't the OC's fault.


Swayze Howell Sheen

November 26th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

Doesn't being the COACH OF THE OFFENSE mean he has something to do with how well the offensive line blocks? Or is he not accountable for that?

The contrast, for him, is the defense, which has obviously IMPROVED during the year. Regardless of what you say about talent level, can you seriously argue that the offensive line has done anything other than regressed during the season?



November 26th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

I could be wrong, but my impression is that the OC is responsible for schematics - drawing plays, calling plays, developing a game-plan - and the position coaches are generally responsible for teaching technique, and physical and mental development.

I don't think the OL has regressed during the season, no. I think it sucked from the jump and sucked at the end.

Look, in the past, we've had other options on our bench (Rodriguez pulled Huyge for Dorrestein, he pulled...somebody...for Omameh, Hoke pulled Barnum, essentially, for Schofield last year). I can't think of a single non-redshirted guy we had as a feasible option, can you? Jack Miller I guess? But we looked at him later in the season and he STILL didn't play. I think we had no depth - no alternatives. We had 5 guys that could play, so we played them.

Swayze Howell Sheen

November 26th, 2012 at 5:57 PM ^

OK, let's assume you are right (it's not the OC, it's the position coaches, and that the OLine sucked at the beginning and sucked at the end). If so, then at least we agree that the position coaches on offense (and the OLine in particular) have not done a great job. 

However, I think you are wrong about responsibilities. Mattison, for example, is constantly talking about technique. He can scheme defenses all he wants, but if the technique is poor, his defense is poor. He knows this, and clearly preaches it to players, and we've seen some great results. Same goes for offense. An O-Coordinator who just thinks about drawing up plays/gameplan/playcalling and doesn't care about technique will only be mediocre, because in the end execution matters a great deal. Hoping your position coaches solve all execution problem seems shortsighted. If it's true in our case, it clearly is a recipe for failure.





Ed Shuttlesworth

November 26th, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

By far the biggest screw-up by the coaching staff over the past two years is the Bellomy/Gardner decision.  Gardner and Denard should have been in the games together, both in threat positions, every game the last two years.   Denard should have been playing some RB even before the injuries; he's nowhere near as good a passer as Gardner.  And Bellomy playing real minutes on the road at Nebraska, instead of Gardner, was insane.


November 26th, 2012 at 1:54 PM ^

The simplest way to describe the failure of Al Borges is by asking the following question:

What would Urban Meyer have done with Denard Robinson on OSU's team? Do you think that Braxton Miller would've been pulled in order to insert Denard for QB keepers? Hell. To. The. No. The list that Brian mentions in this post about plays involving Denard would just be the beginning. If Denard was on Meyer's team OSU would've torched UM yesterday. It wouldn't even have been close. Urban Meyer would recognize that Denard on the field in any capacity makes all of his teammates better.

"Everybody" wanted Denard in as a RB. "He's not a QB." "Line him up in the backfield or in the slot" was shouted for the last 4 years. A throwing arm injury drops this possibility in Michigan's lap 3 weeks ago. It's perfect. A chance to keep Denard's legs involved without having to worry about his arm limitations. Not to mention the simulatneous and surprising emergence of a very talented athlete and QB in Devin Gardner. And Borges blows it. Total fail.

Brian is exactly right here: 

"It's indefensible. It's a failure without any possible explanation."


November 26th, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

I simply cannot believe that, after all this time, Denards arm wasn't healthy enough to attempt ONE PASS Saturday.

We turned the hostile Horseshoe into our damn playground in the first half. Hey, long touchdowns are fun! Let's score another! LOL. And then when Meyer is having a freakout in the offices and melting down at halftime, we start making Garnder RUN and Robinson THROW just as they key in on Gardner passing and Robinson running. The most effective playaction strategy possible. Dicking with Ohio State like that....

It would've worked man...

It would've been so ironic, so poetic, if we could've bitchslapped Meyer with the 2 QB system that HE HIMSELF revolutionized college football with (Leak and Tebow, 2006). Trolling Ohio State? Golden. But Borges turned into a turtle.

I realized that I would've been fine with Debord in this game around the 3rd quarter. It was a shocking thought. But I'm serious. That man always threw the fucking kitchen sink at Ohio State.


November 26th, 2012 at 7:10 PM ^

It's the nerve that affects his sense of touch and therefore ability to grip and release the ball effectively.  He has the arm strength.  Imagine throwing a football while wearing mittens or after plunging your hand into an icebath for 30 seconds. The liklihood of a good outcome would be pretty low. Denard was not going to pass the ball. When he was in at QB, it was a guaranteed run, and it didn't take long for OSU to figure this out.



November 26th, 2012 at 2:15 PM ^

You just had to go and turn the knife, didn't you.  Damn you, Jonross, damn you.

It hurt to see him on the sideline, his last OSU game ever.  He's been such a great player to watch in the maize and blue and, I for one, will miss seeing him possible more than even Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson.  His smile is infectuous and reminds you about all that is great about college football.  Not to mention he is faster than the dickens!