Five Questions and Five Answers 2014: Offense

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Podcast 6.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle. Linebacker. Cornerback. Safety. Special Teams.

1. It can't get any worse, can it?

It can always, always get worse.

1A. But it's not likely to, right?

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good night sweet prince [Heiko Yang]

No, it's not. Yes, even though Michigan lost both starting tackles to the NFL. It takes a special kind of panicked incompetence to end up with results like last year's Michigan. Al Borges's final D-I offense ran outside zone, then it ran power, and then it ran inside zone. It heaped all of the possible base plays you can run on an offensive line that had zero upperclassmen on the interior. It wasted essentially a month of practice time on the "tackle over" gimmick that was ruthlessly exposed by the first opponent that knew it was coming.

Michigan had 13 plays on which a tackle lined up next to another tackle. These plays were 11 runs that gained 8 yards (more than all of them on Toussaint's long run of the day, a 12-yarder), a seven-yard sack given up by Williams, and a scramble that gained eight yards. That is the product of three weeks of practice time and the futility there was only stopped by Lewan's injury.

Many of these plays could not be blocked by anybody, because Penn State was so aggressively overplaying run that they were in the gaps before Michigan could do anything about it.

Three guys for two blockers with the WLB meeting Bryant a yard in the backfield. If Kalis tries to pursue #40, the MLB, he blocks no one instead of an irrelevant guy. On second and one, a great PA down that a lot of DCs will just give you.

They got to the line of scrimmage with under ten seconds on the clock most of the time.

GET OUT OF THE HUDDLE.

Yes. In addition to all the things previously discussed, Michigan's offensive line is looking at Gardner with two  seconds on the playclock. Michigan snaps it with zero already showing—probably not actually a penalty because there is a natural delay before the ump looks at the ball to see if it's still there—and slides their line against a four man rush with no tailback to pick up the DE:

That turnover is a tangible cost of Michigan's inability to get to the line with 20 seconds on the clock consistently.

It moved linemen around almost literally every game after the first four. It was dumb.

How did this happen to a guy who was rather successful at San Diego State? Panic strangled reason in multiple ways. Michigan is stuck on this picture of itself as its 1990s self, and Al Borges was openly contemptuous of the spread both in press conferences and off the record (not to me, but to multiple people who covered the program over the last few years).

So they played a tight end who couldn't block. I'm not talking about Devin Funchess, who was eventually thrust outside. I'm talking about AJ Williams, who had one catch for two yards a year ago and was no better at blocking than Funchess. They had to know this. It jumped off the screen to me, an amateur. But instead of doing something about it they just kept plugging along with him on the field, to the point where people trying to evaluate Taylor Lewan got frustrated:

…why in the HELL did Michigan keep a tight end to Lewan's side so damn much? He obviously didn't need the help. The quarterback was right-handed anyway (with bootlegs you like for the tight end to be lined up to the side of the quarterback's throwing hand), and they could have potentially had a wide receiver there instead of a tight end. It would've increased the chances of success on passing downs as well as run downs if you get the opposing defenses to spread themselves out. But is that what Michigan did?

HEEEEEELLLLLL NOOOOOOOO

Here is the scenario I saw time and time again. So you have a tight end helping before he goes out into his route. Lewan, who doesn't need the help any damn way, blocks the hell out of the edge rusher. But the rest of Lewan's buddies on the Michigan O-line aren't quite as, well, good as he is, so the quarterback is under pressure and ends up sacked.

I mean. This is a guy who said he "didn't want to get in a chess match" last year. They're playing chess anyway, man. If you want to try to win with checkers, you're gonna have a bad time. Yes, even if you've got 75 different colors. The full results were detailed after Borges's firing. It just did not work.

[After THE JUMP: Nussmeier the savior(?), offensive line the achilles heel, Gardner the legend(?), stupid predictions.]

Under the tutelage of Doug Nussmeier, a man who's shown both pro-style chops and spread flexibility, things will improve greatly. Let me deflect a criticism about how I want both 1) a base play and 2) complain about Michigan's predictability under Carr. I want a system. I want that system to look at what the defense is doing and tweak itself to take advantage of the way the opponent is playing my base play. Ace's recent post on combining fly sweeps with inside zone is a great example.

Borges never established a thing you have to cheat to and was so inflexible he kept putting Denard Robinson in positions only an idiot would. Michigan couldn't block inverted veer play action in year one so they never tried it again. DeBord installed a system and then that was pretty much it; counters were limited to waggles for the most part; the run game was always the same. I have high hopes that Nussmeier is going to be a guy who is flexible within a coherent system, as he showed that ability at Alabama: an inside zone team that worked a lot more from the pistol and shotgun when he was around, and could put the pedal to the metal when needed.

2. Does the stuff that helped strangle the offense last year have relevance going forward?

Maybe? I wonder if This Is Michigan is a problem.

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Stan Parrish gonna ball state out yo

Brady Hoke is a weird dude, stylistically. His successful Ball State outfit was a MAC-standard passing spread coordinated by Stan Parrish (of all people!) that didn't use a fullback, like, ever. Borges's offense at SDSU was a West Coast one-back passing-focused offense. Meanwhile Rocky Long's Aztec D was the same 3-3-5 so reviled at Michigan. Hoke seemed very much like a "whatever works" kind of guy.

Then he landed in Ann Arbor and decided that now he could play football exactly like Michigan did during its 1990s White Artillery Piece QB era. He told anyone who would listen that Michigan was going to run POWER with POWER. People who went to Michigan's first coaching clinic under the new regime reported that there was a near-maniacal focus on the idea of not only running power, but running "A-gap power." IE: the manliest of manball. Hoke's ideal was the famous drive against Ohio State on which Michigan choked the game out by running the same play over and over again. It was sometime in the 80s. I was approximately six, but I've heard enough people rhapsodize about it to know it happened.

I think of that drive whenever I think about the tight end blocking last year and despise it. Sometimes there are reasons to put up with bad tight end blocking: good tight end catching, poor tackle pass protection, etc. Michigan had NFL tackles and their terrible tight end blocking came with zero receiving upside. While we're all happy to execute Al Borges and move on, I wonder just how much Hoke's ideals interfered with a reality as diametrically opposed to them as possible.

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Not walking through that door

On the one hand, you think not particularly much, because the guy doesn't wear a headset—something I regard as an asset; the best thing to know is know what you do not know. Also he has the aforementioned stylistic versatility. Guy had to defend the 3-3-5 in his first press conference. He said there were a "lot of misconceptions" about it, and boy howdy was that accurate.

On the other, Al Borges was not ejected into space in 2011 after setting the Iowa game on fire by deciding to put DENARD F---ING ROBINSON in a pro-style I-form system. Nor was he ejected into space after deciding to put DENARD F---ING ROBINSON in one million waggles at Notre Dame the year after.

So. This team looks like it's not going to be able to run the ball much. It may be able to pass protect, and it's got so many receiving options that 3-4 of them figure to be quality options… if not more. You've got a senior QB. How much are you putting on him? Are you ready to resign yourself to the fact that a three-wide shotgun system seems to make the most sense for your personnel when your tight ends are iffy and your quarterback can outrun most of your wide receivers?

I don't know. I think it's a hard sell for Hoke. I'm not sure why it's so hard for big chunks of the Michigan fanbase to accept running from the shotgun as good idea when it has been the main cause of most humiliations suffered by Michigan during the Carr era and was a clear indicator of doom last year; hell, even the kick-ass 2006 defense finally crumbled when OSU and USC (in the second half) decided that this running stuff was for rubes and went Texas Tech on M.

But it is what it is. I just want Michigan to do the things that make sense right now, and worry about being rough and tough when they have more than one upperclass OL. Nussmeier talks a good game in this department:

“Our goal is to put our best playmakers in position to make plays… whatever that may be,” said Nussmeier.  “So if that means that we have to line up in empty formation and throw the football, we’ll do it.  If that means we have to line up in three tight ends and two backs to run the football, that’s what we’re going to do.  So we’re going to do whatever we need to do to put our players in the best possible situation to have success... because at the end of the day it’s about giving them the opportunity to do what they need to do.  It’s about them.”

I hope that's true.

3. How big of a problem is the line, really?

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whoops [Fuller]

Last year I tried to play down problems by noting that some people were a little unhinged:

The offensive line section's comments featured a dude ranting at me for being excessively optimistic after giving the interior guys a two and saying that "mediocrity would be a win" at the center position. People are punchy about the offensive line.

I apologize, guy who ranted at me. You are like the one guy screaming about the financial crisis in 2007. Start a mutual fund; I'm in.

The line is a problem. I think it may actually be less of one than people fear it will be for two reasons: 1) tight end blocking and 2) running back blocking. Both of those were at the bottom of the barrel last year, especially #2, and Michigan has set about fixing that bit:

"Guys are more consistent now with their reads, going from point A to point B with protections," Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said last week on WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor. "By not having a ton of protections and a ton of different runs, it allows the guys to be more consistent in what they're doing."

/waves tiny flag

Last year there were up to ten things a back had to check presnap, and even when Fitzgerald Toussaint got in the right position more often than not the rusher blew through him like he was not there. Regression to the mean should help Michigan immensely, and increased tight end options—including not playing as many—will either play better or take guys out of the box, making blitz reads easier.

Additionally, they are an inside zone line now, running inside zone drills constantly. They suck right now, make no mistake, but as the year goes along they will get better and better at the many nuances of the zone game. Fred Jackson:

“You would think because you’re running the same things over and over and over (that it won’t be successful), but it is going to be better for your kids... simpler for your  kids. … you can formation enough to make it complicated enough where the defense can’t just look at it say, ‘here comes this play… here comes that play.’  We’re going to know how to run zone. That’s going to make us a better football team.”

It is going to be an uphill battle at the start, and medocrity is the distant chalice on the mountaintop. But it won't be as bad as last year, and hopefully opposite the defense they can be not bad enough to win some games.

There is a danger. THE DANGER: right guard. Joey Burzynski should not be in serious competition with Bosch and Kalis; he is. That spot could be a problem all year. Jack Miller could suddenly be the most important player on the O.

4. Can Gardner be the really good Gardner all year?

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[Fuller]

I'm saying there's a chance. It is so hard to do the things he did while under constant assault, and the guy from the beginning of the year was kind of amazing. While the accuracy issues seem baked-in at this point they're at a level that is acceptable. Additional maturity plus pass protection from the interior of his line should cut down on the bad decisions… hopefully severely.

Gardner has been given a bunch of extra responsibilities and knows this is his last chance to put his mark on the new #98; he went through last year's leadership cataclysm and should not make whatever mistakes he may have then.

He's got a monster target to go up and get it, and a tiny guy who can pick up easy yards. He's going to be good. The upside is still enormous.

5. Well?

The line issues are going to put a ceiling on what is otherwise an offense that has a ton of potential. It's not often you go into a season with a senior QB, a first round pick at WR, and several other weapons besides for Gardner. I think they're a great passing team, and they cope on the ground, and things feel a lot better.

The exception: Michigan State. MSU has had Michigan's number for the past six years, whether it's jumping the snap count or engulfing the throwback screen. They are likely to overwhelm this OL en route to another grim day. Ohio State also looms what with their DL of doom. Games against the rest of the league look tractable if Michigan is doing what works instead of what they want to work.

The end result should be something approximating GERG to Mattison: Michigan is suddenly better but some distance from great.

BETTER

  • Senior Gardner > junior Gardner
  • Sophomore Magnuson in one spot >>> never ending rotation of guards
  • Junior Glasgow > sophomore Glasgow
  • Kyle Kalis > freshman Kalis
  • Sophomore Jake Butt, Williams, Heitzman >> freshman Jake Butt and Williams
  • Chesson/Canteen > Chesson/Reynolds
  • Dennis Norfleet > ignoring Dennis Norfleet
  • Any pass protection >>>> Fitz Toussaint last year
  • Not doing what you did last year >>>> doing what you did last year

PUSH

  • Devin Funchess == Jeremy Gallon
  • Johnson/Green/Smith == Toussaint/Green/Smith

WORSE

  • Cole/Braden <<<< Lewan/Schofield
  • Amara Darboh < Devin Funchess

Last Year's Stupid Predictions

Gallon and Gardner chemistry is a real thing that propels both of them way up statistical charts. Gallon challenges Braylon's single-season receiving record.

Gallon in fact broke it, thanks in no small part to Indiana. But hooray full points.

Gardner is not quite as statistically amazing as he was last year but is clearly the best throwing quarterback in the Big Ten. His legs are a side asset.

Gardner led the league in YPA at 8.6. Braxton Miller was more efficient according to the NCAA's passer rating, but so much of that is because Braxton Miller gets to throw at safeties freaking out about Braxton Miller. Points.

If healthy a month into the season, Bryant moves into the starting lineup. Glasgow displaces Miller at center. The interior line struggles early before rounding into an acceptable unit.

Correct! Correct! So, so incorrect.

Toussaint goes over a thousand yards at over 5.0 YPC. He gets the lions share of the carries. De'Veon Smith emerges into the #2 back by midseason.

I don't want to talk about it.

Funchess blows up thanks to Gardner and the Darboh injury. He's the #2 receiver on the team.

Correct.

I complain about Dileo being underutilized at some point.

Correct, but this was gimme. Spiritually, very correct since a third WR made a lot more sense than a lot of what Michigan was doing.

Michigan splits its snaps about equally between shotgun, pistol, and under center.

    Pistol was an infrequent sidelight and, if audibled to, almost literally always a speed option. Michigan eventually came around to the gun late—big chunks of the OSU game were from the gun; before that they were a decidedly under-center team. I should have been right. I wasn't

    The offense rebounds from the ugly numbers a year ago, in part because Alabama isn't on the schedule and Michigan doesn't spend half of the Nebraska game with the backup QB (knock on wood). Passing offense skyrockets from 94th to top 20.

    Michigan was 23rd in YPA. The rebound from the ugly numbers… not so much.

    Rushing remains basically static (41st, 4.8 YPC) as an improved line and Toussaint can only do so much to keep pace with Denard's missing 7.2 YPC. YPC will actually drop a few tenths.

    "A few tenths" was more like "a yard and a half." In my defense, the next one is worse.

    Borges seems like a much better coordinator when he's not trying to work with pieces he'd never have recruited.

    The wrongest thing ever put on the internet, and I've seen the picture of a woman's breast combined with a hornet nest. (DO NOT GOOGLE THIS, YOU WILL DIE.)

This Year's Stupid Predictions

  • Devin Funchess challenges but does not reach Jeremy Gallon's single season receiving record, and then gets drafted in the first round.
  • Devin Gardner is a slam dunk first team All Big Ten performer; he still makes too many bad decisions to be truly great.
  • Michigan's OL is Cole/Mags/Glasgow/Kalis/Braden for virtually the entire season unless Kalis's back flares up. If there is a change it is Glasgow shifting to RG with Miller entering at C.
  • The running game improves significantly, starting out depressing and ugly but improving throughout the season until Michigan reclaims mediocrity at around 4.2 YPC. There is little separation between Smith and Green.
  • I complain about Norfleet being underutilized last year.
  • Sacks plummet to the surprise of all. Cole is overmatched by elite rushers but handles the rank and file just fine; Braden is a bit of an issue that Michigan covers with tight ends. Tailback pass blocking gets so much better that it makes up for losing the tackles and then some.
  • Michigan has a great passing offense, scraping the top ten in YPA.

Comments

biakabutuka ex…

August 29th, 2014 at 1:43 PM ^

The worst thing about Borges, especially with the tackle over stuff, was when his logic would be so transparent that there would be no question why he was doing something. It was only then that you could under no uncertain terms tell that his decision making did not go more than one level deep.

"What if we put our least effective linemen on one side of the field and run to the other so that they can't hurt the play?"

"What if we draw a big arrow on the field like John Madden, indicating exactly where the play is going?"

Even in tic tac toe, there is the concept of a counter move, but not in Al Borges' version.

reshp1

August 29th, 2014 at 2:49 PM ^

This is correct, I was going to post this myself, but figured I'd let the poor horse rest in peace.

Here's the quote:

http://mgoblog.com/content/tuesday-presser-transcript-10-23-12-al-borges

 

MGoQuestion: It looked like Michigan State anticipated the conservative playcalling and was sending a lot of run blitzes at you. Were there times when Denard audibled into a better play?

“No. No. We were pretty much going to stick with the plan. There was not going to be a lot of audibling in this game. There was a couple instances where that could have happened, but to say on a consistent basis -- we had designed the plan to block up to handle most of what they did, so we did not want to turn this into a chess game on the line of scrimmage. Because then we’re going to start throwing more passes maybe than we want to throw or put ourselves into more second and ten situations and all that stuff. The plan just wasn’t set up that way. Other plans are. Other plans are different, but not this game. When we’ve lost to this team in the past, and we only have one game, but I think it probably goes beyond our game a year ago, but it was getting sacked, throwing incomplete passes, tackles for loss, you know. So we set our plan up although not as flashy as everybody wants, so that that simply didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen. That’s one of the reasons, one of many reasons -- not the least of which our defense played great -- that we won the game. Now it may not be as pretty as everybody wants, but we are going to do what it takes to win football games here. And if it’s not as pretty as everybody likes, well so be it. That’s how we’re going to coach football. Some games are going to be better than others.”

stephenrjking

August 29th, 2014 at 3:22 PM ^

So what he was saying was, if they "played chess" at the LOS they would wind up passing way too much, hurting the team overall. Not that he "never played chess."

I consider that particular clause of the quote a nothingburger. But people want to feel good about themselves, so they'll take it out of context so that they can think they're a better coach than Al Borges.

Ironically, there's a ton of other rippable stuff in that blockquote.

reshp1

August 29th, 2014 at 3:55 PM ^

Reading between the lines, I think what he's trying to say is he doesn't want to give the QB too much freedom because then the opposing DC can bait him away from the game plan and get him to do something that's to the defense's advantage.

On one hand, that's a legitimate concern, but on the other, when the other guys are taking your game plan and smashing you in the face with it, a little flexibility is in order.

nowayman

August 29th, 2014 at 2:29 PM ^

It's much harder to not only predict what the play will be, but do what is needed to be done when you're about to ralph and needed a sub about five plays ago.  

That's probably the strongest attribute of the high tempo offenses.  It takes the decision making out of the DC's hand and places it in the players'.  

stephenrjking

August 29th, 2014 at 2:34 PM ^

Yep. Consider, for example, Ole Miss's third TD last week, where Wallace ran the exact same pass to Treadwell three times in a row and Boise could neither stop it straight up (Treadwell was running 12 yards, halting, and leaping for it as the CB was still recovering 3 yards away--I don't feel as bad about this now that our receivers look good) or adjust coverage because Ole Miss was snapping too quickly.

animalfarm84

August 29th, 2014 at 2:27 PM ^

Seriously.  Any DC with an ounce of pattern-recognition skills could shut Borges down (which is an odd statement given Borges' kitchen sink playbook).  But, for example, Narduzzi always was a step ahead of Al.  Gimmicks like the throwback screen, tackle-over run, pistol-audible speed option run resulted in about -5 billion yards (give or take a few billion yards).  

More to the point, Brian, the other mgobloggers, and others caught on to these things early, yet Borges kept going to the same well(s).  Sure, Brian et al are not college coaches, but that doesn't mean they weren't consistently correct about Borges' offense.

MGlobules

August 29th, 2014 at 2:51 PM ^

of Brian's changing assessments of Borges over the years. And this is my point--the sheeple have now decreed that Borges was an idiot and they knew it all the time (they, the internet experts, could see right through his one-dimensional schemes!)

The evidence is now pretty clearly in that Borges asked too much of his young line, and--in panicky fashion--changed his schemes like he was changing his clothes as the season wore on. The rest, however, is garbage. Al Borges f'd up, and his boss f'd up in countenancing the f up. But that f up was highly situational, a response to the deteriorating efforts of the o line. SIMPLY stupid or one-dimensional it was not. And anyone who says so is an idiot. :)

At least a few people will get this.  

dnak438

August 29th, 2014 at 4:09 PM ^

But one thing:

"Sheeple"? Come on. It's one thing to disagree. It's another thing to say that "I think that you're wrong and that you have no original thoughts." I think it crosses a line. Not by much, but it's unnecessary. (I didn't neg you, but I imagine that the person who did objected to your tone rather than to the content of your post).

reshp1

August 29th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

I still maintain the tackle over could have worked if we just had a credible counter ( I think there was maybe two plays where we faked the run to the two tackle side and ran or screened to the other). Long term, is it a base play? Probably not, but it would have been useful in more than just one game if even a little effort was given to dress it up in a package of plays.

animalfarm84

August 29th, 2014 at 2:38 PM ^

Sounds right to me.  The Eagles run tackle over successfully, but as a couple articles have recently pointed out, the success isn't inherent to the tackle over formation, but to the counters and/or the tempo that they run it at.  Take away the counters, and give the defense the full play clock to adjust, and you've got nothing.

MGlobules

August 29th, 2014 at 1:48 PM ^

in some measure responsible if the demands on the players are insane. 

Thanks for pointing out one painfully obvious fact: the fans may have embraced manball, and may have equated Brady with it. But Brady has embraced. . . well, a lot of things. 

Michigan Arrogance

August 29th, 2014 at 1:51 PM ^

I agree re: Borges. It was baffling how transparently bad it was- much like GERG a few years ago.

As a result, I also have to question Hoke's ability to get people under him who are truely great coordinators/coaches. We all know Hoke is a CEO-delegator type coach. the polar opposite of the Saban-like micro manager. Clearly, his best qualitites are his dedication to his players, staff and Michigan and his ability to gain support from the program alums, boosters, etc (something that is completely overlooked in all HC hiring decisions, IMO). But if he's gonna be the delegator-type, he better damned well hire great coordinators and position coaches and KNOW when they are fucking up. He's so far 1 for 2 in the coord. dept, and seems to be doing well getting good position coaches (the DL guy who went off to OU, the whole defensive staff apparently, but who knows about Funk, Jackson at this point in his career, and the other staff now working under an OC they likely don't know from Adam).

I think it's a big year for the program partly b/c the schedule isn't that difficult- it's just polarized with little toss ups. The 3 road games make the schedule seem brutal, but the other 9 and very very winnable. 9-3 should be the floor, unless DG98 gets injured. Maybe they go 0-3 in the big road games, maybe 1-2 but lose a home game to PSU or Maryland.

 

stephenrjking

August 29th, 2014 at 2:20 PM ^

Totally agree with your schedule analysis, and I've kicked around those ideas elsewhere. If someone has serious hopes of a playoff berth, this is a rough schedule--road games against all 3 rivals, two of which are peaking? Not good.

But most people will accept 9-3 this year, and it's a great schedule for that. Michigan SHOULD be better than all 9 of those teams. They have more talent, thanks to Hoke's recruiting (his one area of demonstrated strength). There are no toss up games against Iowa or Nebraska that have real loss potential. This is where Michigan shows growth by beating all of the teams they ought to beat.

MichiganTeacher

August 29th, 2014 at 8:54 PM ^

I would be satisfied with a 9-3 season. Hopefully it comes with a win over 1 of our 3 rivals and a loss somewhere else (personally I think the away game at the state university of New Jersey is looking tougher than most people give it credit for). But if we beat everyone on our schedule except our 3 rivals in away games while 2 of them are ranked in the top ten, I can live with that coming off last year.

Unfortunately, I think 8-4 is more likely, and that I will not be happy with, mainly because of the schedule. If we lose all three rivals games plus another one, that will not sit well with me. Not that DB cares what I think, of course, but I'm planning on being upset after an 8-4 season. Hope I'm wrong. If I am, I think it will be because of Nuss, and Hoke's delegating strategy paying off through him.

SaddestTailgateEver

August 29th, 2014 at 1:54 PM ^

I know, I know "past performance is not a guarantee of future success" but given an overall pretty reasonable prediction track-record (aside from the OL implosion which, to be fair, I don't think anyone foresaw) this year's predictions are really helping to change the "for the love of all that is holy, if it's that bad again, I don't even know" into "I know it's going to just be so much better, we have these options at so many positions and things are going to be so much better".

 

Great? Probably not. But *oh* so much better. Great read

SaddestTailgateEver

August 29th, 2014 at 1:54 PM ^

I know, I know "past performance is not a guarantee of future success" but given an overall pretty reasonable prediction track-record (aside from the OL implosion which, to be fair, I don't think anyone foresaw) this year's predictions are really helping to change the "for the love of all that is holy, if it's that bad again, I don't even know" into "I know it's going to just be so much better, we have these options at so many positions and things are going to be so much better".

 

Great? Probably not. But *oh* so much better. Great read

BayWolves

August 29th, 2014 at 2:02 PM ^

Man am I glad Borges is gone. Jury is still out on Funk, though. I told a friend that our o line coach was playing at CSU the same time she was attending. She laughed and said that was when CSU had one of the worst teams in their history. A nice footnote to the Funky one though I hope he is a better coach than this anecdote implies.

Ali G Bomaye

August 29th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

Reading these previews has gotten me so freakin' excited for this season.  If we can have an average rushing offense combined with an elite passing offense, as you suggest, then with our defense we should be in the mix for the B1G championship.

UofM Marine

August 29th, 2014 at 2:05 PM ^

Sounds like there was a significant amount of "paralysis in the analysis" for all the players trying to learn the blocking schemes. You can only ask young men to do/learn so much and then eventually you have diminshing returns. Simplifying the schemes sounds like a good thing to me.

M_Born M_Believer

August 29th, 2014 at 2:12 PM ^

I grew up listening to Bill Cosby comedic routines on my Dad's vinyl records (he still has them!).  And one of the funniest "skits" that Bill talks about is......."WORSE!"

For those of you old enough to remember, you will understand the humor and line that is about to follow......

You never challenge WORSE.  You never say...

"THINGS CAN NEVER GET........WORSE!!"

 

stephenrjking

August 29th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

Hoke came to Michigan preaching MANBALL. It was one of his calling cards.

The fact that he has utterly failed to produce even a mediocre running offense is all the more gallon because of that. And, if Michigan has a poor year, this understanding should be a factor in his evaluation. If you can't execute what you set out to execute, there's a problem.

reshp1

August 29th, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

In his defense, he said what he had to say as Rich Rod's successor. The fan base just was not going to take a coach equivocating between spread and manball very well after the RR experiment.

In practice, we've actually ran very little POWER. 2011 was mostly shotgun spread, 2012 was fuision cuisine where we tried to mix it in, but push came to shove we'd revert to shotgun spread (except in a couple of frustrating cases, argh). 2013 was the first year we really dedicated to under center, two back style running, but even then we tried so many different things, it's hard to say what our identity was.