Golden Hammer

Submitted by Brian on September 24th, 2012 at 12:38 PM

9/22/2012 – Michigan 6, Notre Dame 13 – 2-2

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Upchurch

Lloyd Carr coached every game like he had a fantastic running game and great defense. He usually had an okay running game and a good defense, so this caught up to him from time to time. When Jim Tressel arrived and showed the men of manball what manball really was, Michigan's downward spiral began. In time, Tresselball would come to signify the exact same thing Lloydball did except without the oh and we lose the most important game of the year every time.

I grew to hate Lloydball.

The moment I threw in the towel is crystal clear in my memory, and by this point probably many longtime readers: punting from the opponent 34 against Ohio State in 2005. It was fourth and four. The clock read 4:18. Michigan had a two point lead. They'd recently had a nine point lead, but OSU ripped off a five-play touchdown drive in under a minute to change that. Michigan's defense had faced four do-or-die drives* already that year and failed on all of them. Faced with third and eleven, Michigan threw a screen to Antonio Bass for seven yards. They punted out of a field goal formation, which was so obvious to Tressel that they put a guy back there to field it. He would have had a shot at a touchdown if the punt hadn't exited the field at the twelve.

Just minutes before—literally in the same quarter—Lloyd had taken his frenzied quarterback's advice and gone for a QB sneak on fourth and one on his own 40. This caused everyone in the stadium to pick a partner with whom to share an incredulous look. This was not the way things went. The fourth down was successful; one bomb to Manningham later Michigan had staked itself to a two-score lead. That only made the knife cut deeper when in the moment of truth Carr reverted to form.

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Michigan punted once Saturday.

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I'm not sure if it's football in general that has shifted or if it's just Brady Hoke, but when Michigan had a fourth and two around the same area on Saturday, eyebrows were only slightly cocked when Michigan went for it. While Michigan was down 10-0, this was still the third quarter.

Lloyd wouldn't have even thought about it if his defense had given up 139 yards to that point. But he wouldn't have been down 10-0 in the first place. He would have squinted at his quarterback, wondered where the six-six artillery piece had gotten to, shrugged, and told his offensive coordinator to thud out a ten-point win based on Michigan's superior ground game. Only he would have had that faith, because he always had that faith.

But it was true. Take out a knee and ND averaged 3.2 yards a carry. Take out three sacks and a bad snap for Michigan and they averaged 5.1. That's a cavernous gap, one that a dinosaur coach would have driven through to a boring, field-goal-heavy victory.

Instead, we got several more entries in our database of what happens when Denard Robinson gets unblocked rushers in his face.

Is it good? No. Does it make any sense at all to run play action from under center on passing downs? No. Is it ever going to stop? No.

Well, maybe. Michigan did not throw a pass before third down on their two grinding second-half drives before the hurry-up was called for. Do that for the next eight games and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not.

When stressed, people making decisions find it very hard to move away from habit. Everyone reverts to their comfort zone unless they are making a concerted effort to get away from it. Even then, you fall back into old patterns. Lloyd punted. Rodriguez installed a 3-3-5 defense. Borges starts calling plays from a long-ago offense helmed by a guy who was a better passer than runner. Denard throws the ball somewhere, anywhere.

Over the bye week, Michigan will refocus on what they're good at. This will get them through some games. They'll get comfortable with this, think they can install more stuff, and we'll get another Iowa, one they might pull out since the defense might be good and the Big Ten is definitely bad. And Denard will soldier through it, taking barbs from people who don't realize he could be in his first of two years at Oregon now, doing what he was born to.

He's not. He's doing this. This is "this": Al Borges has been Michigan's offensive coordinator for 17 games now. Five were against non-BCS opponents. A sixth was against Alabama and will be set aside. Of the remaining eleven, five were out-and-out debacles: both Notre Dame games, MSU, Iowa, and the Sugar Bowl. That Junior Hemingway rescued two of those doesn't change the fact that in about half of Michigan's games against real competition, the combination of Borges and Denard can't put up 200 yards until bombed out of the gameplan by events on the field.

You can blame Denard if you want. Sure, that happened in 2010, when Denard was a true sophomore and the second-leading rusher was Vincent Smith. I'm more concerned about the guy who isn't gone after this year, the offensive coordinator who vows to never work with a quarterbacks coach again and can't stand it when anyone dares to scream "RUN THE GODDAMN BALL" at him over and over and over and over and over, except whatever the press conference version of that is. Asking about bubble screens and stuff.

One day Borges will have a shining golden hammer of a quarterback, six-four, carved from marble, jawline for days. This man will coolly survey the field after faking a handoff to a two-hundred-thirty-pound bowling ball with knives sticking out of it. No one will run up in his face, because they are afraid the bowling ball has it. He will throw it to another six-foot-four man, this one long and graceful, built for escaping packs of hunters. This will be a good day. Nails are so dead.

Until then, here's to running, punting, and humility.

[Wisconsin: 52 yard, 11 play, four minute TD drive to win. Minnesota: eight play, 75-yard FG drive to win. Penn State: 13 play, 81-yard drive to wi—OH MY GOD MANNINGHAM. Iowa: 9 play, 74-yard FG drive to tie; Ferentz played for OT once in FG range, because he is Ferentz.]

Photos

Eric Upchurch

All the INTs:

Bullets Yes More Bullets In The Head Please

Sanity check. I know I may not be entirely reliable on this matter, but stuff coming through my twitter feed from the folks I respect most as college football observers helped me think this was not just a mania. Smart Football:

Nice call Borges. Denard struggling? Let's run some kind naked waggle pass from under center where we let Denard throw vs unblocked DEnd

Orson:

An Al Borges cooking show would be great if you like seeing someone throw everything into a blender even if it makes no sense at all.

Blaming it on "execution" is horseshit, plain and simple. When the offensive coordinator flat-out refuses to take free yards on the outside and has not once used the devastating play action on which Denard is moving towards the line scrimmage before throwing, it is on his shoulders for not using the tools he has in the way they are most effective.

A third of the way through the ND game, Michigan had run Robinson three times. Instead Michigan threw the ball all the time against a rampant DL. The first INT was a running back in the redzone. On the second, Michigan rolled the pocket and told a redshirt freshman fullback to block Prince Shembo. On the third an unblocked Te'o roars straight up the pocket.  On the fourth he ran a waggle on second and seven, which got an unblocked Tuitt in Denard's face after having thrown INTs on back to back passes.

This is a consistent theme. They go into games doing something other than making their running QB a runner, and then are surprised when it goes poorly. They have the guy turn his back to the line of scrimmage and are surprised when 1) opposing defenses prioritize getting a guy out on him and 2) he reacts poorly. The exception was last year's OSU game, during which Denard threw all of 17 times.

Robinson failed, sure, but he was put in a position to do so by a guy who puts three tight ends on the field on second and goal from the twelve yard line and fools no one with the subsequent play action. Coaches have to execute too. Borges's gameplan was a disaster, again.

Come on Denard. Let's ask Peyton Manning to be Pat White stuff aside, at some point you've got to just eat the ball, or not throw it at a guy so covered you're trying to throw it through the chest of not one but two opponents. That first Te'o interception was probably the worst throw of Denard's career; if one of the two guys underneath it didn't get it a safety in coverage on the corner had a shot at a PBU.

I bet a dollar that someone else was open on that play.

The fumble was the real killer, though. Michigan has just taken their first drive of the half 71 yards and Denard has just made it first and ten at the ND 11, boom ball out drive over everyone thinks of 2010 when Michigan put up scads of yards and usually had ten points to show for it. Down two scores and suddenly running all the time, Michigan really needed that drive to pay off.

Blame Gardner? Some people on the twitter and then Ace suggested that the slant INT was on Gardner instead of Robinson. I don't think that's the case. It looked to me like he ran a fine route and was open and Robinson just missed.

Gardner does have to catch that bomb on the last drive.

When to go for high risk trick plays. When there is a payoff commensurate with the risk. The Gardner pass is fine. You've got a play that is potentially 70-some yards  if everything goes well. The Smith pass gives you at most ten and is less likely to get a guy wide open just because there's far less space. Last year's Smith TD pass was 30 yards out, which gives the WR room to break past the safeties and the RB room to throw it long. Doing that in a constricted space is asking for it when Manti Te'o is raging his way into a running back's face.

The only time I can recall Michigan running a trick play like that inside the red zone was during the 2007 Illinois game when both teams were actively conspiring to lose. With Henne shuttling in and out of the game and Mallett insane, trying the Arrington end-around pass after a muffed punt was a defensible decision. At the end of an 11-play, 78-yard drive maybe not so much.

What is this huddling business again? There's a case that you shouldn't be doing it at all; not only is huddling a useless anachronism but going away from it locks defensive personnel on the field and gives you easier looks as the opponent struggles to keep up. See Oregon, of course.

But even if you're intent on huddling the time to do so has passed when you're down two scores with 6:46 left. There's something to be said for the idea that an offense should be using tempo as much as possible so that in situations like that they are naturals at it. It's a lot easier to slow down than speed up.

Anyway, I had bad flashbacks to that Iowa game as Michigan took 3:19 and used a timeout on their last drive.

OTOH, didn't mind the end of the first half playcalling since in that situation you're worried about giving ND a possession they can use and you've just thrown interceptions on three straight plays. Why throw a Hail Mary with 16 seconds left, though? And what was Roundtree even doing there?

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Upchurch

Defense! Woo defense! Also filed under "if you told me before the game…" with "Michigan would punt once": "Notre Dame would have under 200 yards of offense with three minutes to go." Before Floyd stumbled on that third down bomb to Eifert, Michigan had held two ND QBs to 5.6 YPA and two interceptions, with the only completion over twenty yards another tough fade on the sideline.

From way up in the stands I had a great view of the routes developing and nobody was open basically all day. Combine that with Quinton Washington problems like "is not tackling when he bursts into the backfield on three consecutive plays" and you have a soothing balm to apply as you look forward to the rest of the season. I'm actually eager to get to the UFRing just so I can see how the guys on D did. Live I saw Ryan make plays, Campbell make plays, Washington make plays, and that allowed the linebackers to flow freely, with the 3.1 YPC results mentioned above. Kenny Demens looks a lot better when he's not trying to fight off two different blockers on  the same play.

If Washington can translate those plays against UMass and Mattison hype into an impact day on the interior line against a real opponent, Michigan's biggest question that isn't "how will Denard fail to be Peyton Manning this time" is a lot closer to resolution.

Potential caveat: ND's interior OL may not be very good. They got annihilated by Purdue (Riddick: 53 yards on 15 carries, five sacks on Golson, two by Kawann Short) and ND didn't do much against MSU that wasn't deception (counter draw) or Wood getting cutbacks similar to the one he busted for ND's only big run of the day.

Caveat caveat: "only big run of the day." The shot above is Michigan corralling the play I started calling "That Goddamned Counter Draw" after DeAndra Cobb staked MSU to the lead they'd give up during Braylonfest. I call it TGDCD because Michigan has never stopped the thing (except once, I think). They did it up there.

Speaking of…

brady-hoke-epic-double-pointBrady Hoke Epic Double Point of the Week. I have no idea yet, but it's obviously someone on defense. There is a weird lack of stats for such a dominating performance, with no sacks and just two TFLs, one for Kovacs, another split by Morgan and Washington.

For now, Jake Ryan gets the nod for most impactful-seeming impactfulness, but I reserve the right to switch this to Kovacs or Washington pending review.

EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.

2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Jake Ryan(ND)

Freshman linebackers. They're basically co-starters at this point. I'm still nervous about them but if the D continues to perform like that in the Big Ten season, expectations for that crew will be enormous next year with four-ish returning starters, all of whom will still be around in 2014.

Demens did rotate in during the second half. He was in on six tackles, Morgan seven. Ross had one and Bolden did not register. IIRC Demens was the preferred option on passing downs, which makes sense since zone drops are often a struggle with young linebackers.

Norfleet. Please do not jump like that again. The air up there is dangerously low on oxygen and people are trying to kill you. Stay low, where you are under the radar and can execute deep infiltration missions.

ND future. I wouldn't get too worried about a full-on return to glory. If that interior OL is what it seems to be and they're flipping between Rees and Golson against the rest of their schedule, they'll drop some games. They'll still probably get that BCS bid so they can get stomped on by someone a lot better.

Funchess. Didn't really have much impact; I'll pick up the Mandich thing the next time he takes a significant step towards it. Did feature in this picture:

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This is my ball. Do not take my ball.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago.

WHY DID YOU DO IT RANDOM INTERNET POSTER GUY, WHYYYYYY

Also:

When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.

Hoke For Tomorrow:

The results of this game and a record of 2-2 are not indicative of the abilities of this team, and it would do every Michigan fan good to forget about what has happened and to concentrate instead on what can be accomplished in the BIG.  I rest easier after seeing the O and D-lines gel and play very well.  Denard will bounce back.

The rest of the BIG continues to look shaky, to say the least, and Michigan should be licking their chops against the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and I dare say Michigan St at this point.  Ohio has obvious problems as well, letting UAB run wild on them. Michigan should have distinct talent advantages against Northwestern and Purdue.

Also:

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Elsewhere

I'll skip all the articles about how Michigan turned the ball over a lot, since I think you probably know. More photos from Maize and Blue Nation. Sad Panda at MVictors. MVictors on the press box atmosphere:

It’s well known that the media is prohibited from cheering in the press box but it’s not just a collection of writers upstairs at Notre Dame.  After Denard connected with Gardner on a third down conversion in the first half some dude belted out, “DAMN IT!”.    When Denard took off on a run later in the game, I heard, “GET ‘EM!”.   And so on.   I’m actually glad this happened because it created some much needed lighter moments on the glass.

Maybe it was the guy in seat 652:

rudy

Also, that Webb tweet that looked like it was from my account? Not on purpose:

Speaking of tweets, after another turnover (I think Denard’s fumble?) this came from Sam Webb’s feed.   It was retweeted 28 times instantly:

RT

The beauty – it wasn’t a case of Sam grinding the keyboard in frustration.  It was a legit accident as his phone went sideways and spit out Matrix code.  Love it.

…unless the phone is also a Michigan fan.

The Daily has a great article about Denard's family in the stands:

The group sat in the family and friends section of Notre Dame Stadium. Steve wore his best friend’s varsity jacket. The two girls wore “Shoelace” and another Robinson-themed shirt.

This section is different. Here, the hits sound louder. The mistakes sting more.

From here, you can reach out and touch the bass drums in the Michigan band. When a Notre Dame wide receiver was open on the goal line, the parents shouted and pointed, so Thomas Gordon bumped over and covered.

Robinson’s supporters sat in the fifth row, tucked in between friends and family of freshman linebacker James Ross III and the family of fifth-year senior J.T. Floyd.

Robinson’s parents come to games “very rarely, very rarely,” J.T.’s father, James, said. Normally the Robinson clan gathers in Robinson’s grandmother’s house in Deerfield Beach, Fla. around a television.

“Every Saturday,” Durrel said. “Everybody (goes). I can’t even tell you who don’t go.”

Daily's Luke Pasch on the thing. Both the HSR and Maize and Brew Nation are on the "oh, God, Denard had to apologize to everyone" angle. TWIS preview.

Would you like frustrating losses scored? Of course you would.

Comments

dcwolverine1993

September 24th, 2012 at 2:12 PM ^

written by Brian had a different view of how Borges should game plan.

 

 

"and their reliance on man coverage should simplify a lot of Robinson's reads. ND will almost certainly use T'eo to spy Robinson so that they don't give up a ton of easy scramble stuff, which means more man free. Gallon, Gardner, Funchess, and company will have to beat their opponents; Borges will have to exploit the man to man that should be coming, and the line will have to give Michigan time.

Oh, right, and Denard has to keep calm and throw accurately. No big deal.

ND will try to get their front four (or three) to the QB, use Te'o as cleanup, and give their guys simple assignments. Michigan will try to block, read, and rub those guys. Funchess will be huge, as he's going to get those corner and wheel routes against linebackers and rookie former WR safety. But it's really all on Denard. Time to step up."

 

After the game, when Denard did not step up, Brian blames Borges.  Seems a little off to me, and slightly unfair.

NiMRODPi

September 24th, 2012 at 2:25 PM ^

Ding, ding, ding!

I was going to post this exact thing. The preview mentioned that ND had a pretty good front 7 and even with Denard, running could potentially be rough going. That the freshman secondary for ND was its obvious weak point, and that playing man should creat simple reads for Denard. I then copied this:

"But it's really all on Denard. Time to step up."

All of a sudden Borges didn't put him in a position to succeed? I don't get it. We had 300 yards of total offense, 19 first downs, and won the time of posession despite turning the ball over six times. We also converted more than 50% of our third downs.

These INTs were terrible throws on Denard's part. There are only three possiblities:

1. The pressure made it so he can't see where's he throwing.

2. He doesn't see the coverage on the wide receivers in general.

3. He does see the coverage and is trying to force it in there.

Now, in all three of these instances, how is "throw the ball away" not the correct answer? The aforementioned situations happen to every QB that plays. EVERY QB. No coordinator can micromanage the game down to the shape of the pocket on every play, the angles DBs take, slips, no calls, and all the other chaos of a game. If Denard throws half of these away, we probably win, and we aren't even having this conversation. 

ziggolfer

September 24th, 2012 at 4:22 PM ^

The plays that were called don't suit denard. He made the point that we didn't counter ND's aggressive rush with screens and short passes. Passes denard can make. PA passes take time to develop and are plays the defense wants when they are focused on only the qb and don't care about the RB. The RB is no threat and the PA is no threat on obvious passing downs. However, if a defense blitzes and you throw a short screen the defense is out of position to make a play. Te'o in qb spy is focused on robinson not fitz or smith so they can get past him into the 2ndary. Hope that helps your understanding of what went wrong. Since Borges scripted his game plan and never changed it, WE Lost.

I can't believe I'm going to use the following reference but here it goes.

I remember Lou Holtz saying before he lost it: going to south Carolina I couldn't run the ball as I was used to. I didn't have Jerome bettis to hand the ball to. I never adapted my game plan my first yr as coach and we lost every game at South carolina. Next yr, they threw the ball and went 8-4 and ended up with the schools best records against the SEC up to that point the next 2 yrs. If Holtz is able to change, than Borges can change.

Especially with a great player like denard and great offensive players that kept us in games while I stupid 3-3-5 defense was employed.

MosherJordan

September 24th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

I pray Oregon plays Alabama in the MNC game. It will be so entertaining to read the creative excuses that Brian tries to come up with to defend the spread after 'Bama eviscerates the Ducks.

Reading this post, I couldn't help but think of that song about what to do when your girlfriend catches you cheating.

-"She caught you creepin' on the bathroom floor."

-"It wasn't me."

InterM

September 24th, 2012 at 4:42 PM ^

When Alabama beats Oregon for the championship, it'll prove the spread is dead -- just like when Auburn beat Oregon a couple of years ago, amirite?

Forget that tired cliche about defense winning championships -- what really wins championships is playing against a spread offense (unless you're Oregon playing against Auburn's spread offense, of course).

mgoO

September 29th, 2012 at 12:01 AM ^

If Alabama were to play Oregon in the title game and Alabama won, you'd conclude that it was a failure of the Ducks' offensive philosophy?

Is it possible (if that hypothetical comes to fruition) that Alabama would win simply because they were better?

I would bet on Oregon to beat every team in the country this year besides Alabama.  If only they didn't run the spread they MIGHT be able to take out Saban, am I right???

Painfully stupid.

MGoNY

September 24th, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

also made a terrible throw on the play where devin was injured. he didn't even give him a chance to catch the ball. can we blame that on borges too?

crazyjoedavola

September 24th, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

In my opinion Borges got a little too cute with playcalling.  I can understand going to trick plays when you are desperate and the defense is not holding up, but this was not the case in this game.  As far as Denard throwing it up for grabs, I won't blame that on Borges, a senior should have the discipline to throw it away or at worst secure the ball and take a sack.

Jeff09

September 24th, 2012 at 10:20 PM ^

Denard is super irresponsible with the football when rushing, a lot of people gloss over this when they say we should run him more... he's an amazing runner but that Lewan TD could have easily been a touchback, and we got punished for his lackadaisical ball carrying in the ND game.  He fumbles a LOT

abertain

September 24th, 2012 at 2:30 PM ^

The game was bizarre. I had the feeling that Michigan was going to lose at halftime despite being down only 10. It was sad.

On the bright side, as soon as Q. Washington finds the ball carrier after breaking through the line Michigan may actually be fine on the D-Line. I'm a fan of Ross but Morgan played a nice game.

It seems to me that Michigan needs to stop having Robinson turn his back to the defense or roll out. Strangely, he's not good on the move, despite what I read in Borton's article. He's especially not good with pressure. Even nominal pressure off the edge tends to be an issue. Thus, the game plan could have been better.

It's also fair to say that after a performance like Saturday that Denard has to better. He needs to throw the damn ball away. Lord knows I wish he'd scramble more often, but I'm mostly giving up hope that that will ever happen. Notre Dame did a nice job on some delayed blitzes to get pressure on Robinson.

Anyhow, I'm solidly in the middle camp. Denard needs to play better and stop trying to hit home runs in less it's with his feet. They need to scrap the edge stuff. Denard doesn't handle pressure well, so avoid it when possible. The routes seem like they could also be a bit simpler. I'd like to see slants and flares. I realize that Borges excels at the pro passing stuff, but I'm not seeing great throws from Denard. I also liked the misdirection stuff, and I liked it in the Minnesota game last year. Bizarre game to run all that stuff in. I like packaged plays and Oregon as well, but we've got what we've got, making it work better is on both the OC and the QB.

Magnus

September 24th, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

It would be great if Washington could make those plays in the backfield, but if he's just getting penetration, I'm fine with it.  That disrupts plays and gives other players more time to get there.

abertain

September 24th, 2012 at 2:41 PM ^

I'm curious whether a light suddenly went on for Washington or whether it's the fact that the first two games were against a bruising Alabama line and Air Force chop blocks. Either way, I'll take what I'm seeing now. Now for Will Campbell hype.

cjpops

September 24th, 2012 at 2:32 PM ^

"...and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not."

--

Right on, Brian. 

Borges continues to try and square the circle utilizing Denard. You're not the only one who has noticed, but, you may the only one who uses solid data (citing the 17 games of Borges regime) to back up the theory.

 

M-Wolverine

September 24th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

Like the game planning was for 5 straight picks? Isn't the fact that the offense was effective when Denard wasn't handing it back better data?

I mean 5 straight picks has as much to do with the play calling as saying "13-4 in those 17 games", which is ridiculous, but about as valid as the "debacle" idea.  Even the picks Magnus points out mostly came on the type of plays everyone says Denard should run.  We're not running read options on 3rd and 10 effectively, no matter what one wants to imagine the magical spread can do.

Mon-L

September 24th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

Honestly. Seriously. I get this viewpoint, but there is a sense of accountability there. When you senior QB is having a nightmare quarter / half - you need to completely drop into a bunker for a quarter or two. The way the D was playing, they should have completely gone run run run punt and ease Denard back into things.

Also. Where is Option B?I happen to think that when a game goes completely sideways like this you might want to look at your options. 

When I see five straight picks, I think "Hmmm. Maybe this guy is super rattled. Maybe we should stick Option B in there for a series or two and see if he can calm down." OH. WTF. We don't have an Option B because Option B is out there running sloppy routes at WR.

Coaching is more than just the gameplan. More than the dumb play calls. It's considering angles before they happen. What is the contigency plan for the inevitable Denard injury? Why didn't we see that for a series or two?

 

M-Wolverine

September 24th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

But I'm not sure you can throw away possessions. Denard's turnover drives were run run 3rd & 11 Int, 1st play Int, run run run Int, end of half that doesn't really count, then run run run complete pass run run complete pass run run run with a fumble on the end. You wouldn't think Vincent Smith would make Denard throw an Int. and you wouldn't think he would do two in a row. Maybe the one after that they should have slow played, but after 3 runs the defense is probably expecting it. Then after a halftime calming a great drive killed by a fumble, not an Int.

And let's be honest....our contingency plan if Denard goes down is bend over and ask for another. Because our other options are a redshirt freshman and a guy who can't separate himself enough from a redshirt freshman that we move him to receiver. Think of that next time someone wonders why we don't run Denard 40 times a game even if it means we're more likely to win that game. Blame Rich's recruiting, blame Tate for being a screw-up, blame Gardner for not being better, blame Hoke for not getting any QB last year, blame Brandon for not having a coach soon enough to get a higher rated guy the first year, blame Shane for being too young or shake your hand at the fates. But it's the Denard train, all the way, and he can't get derailed.

Mon-L

September 24th, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^

Bend over cannot be the plan. You have to keep Gardner as QB2 and provide a reasonable option. When things go nuts like this, you yank Denard for a series. Let Gardner hand off some. Let Denard calm down and get his bearings.

Not to go all Musburger up in here, but there is huge mental / confidence component to football. I hated that Hail Mary heave because of it. Don't give ND another turnover. Don't do it. Kneel on it and regroup. 

M-Wolverine

September 25th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

I don't necessarily disagree that maybe taking a knee and pulling it together might have been the better halftime action; but can you imagine the RAGE!!! if we hadn't tried to score there and just ran out the clock? Heck, there are posts here that think we didn't go fast enough to try and score.  I will say I didn't think it hurt anything, because even with the INT when we got the ball back after the half we moved down the field, with passes being complete, and then fumbled the ball. Which didn't seem confidence related at all but just careless.

cjpops

September 24th, 2012 at 6:29 PM ^

Off the top of my head recently:
  1. http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-who-are-you-optioning
  2. general complaints about lack of bubble screen and several posts about why it would be effective/has been effective in the past
  3. posts regarding shotgun > under center Denard
  4. Yes. Statement about 5 out of 7 bad games called. 

I think Brian (and others here) bring it in terms of data. 

I don't want to split hairs about how much has to be "wrong" in the <insert game plan here> to be declared a "debacle."  The case for Denard's strengths not being optimized in this offense and by this coordinator is well thought out and argued on this blog. It is not just the spewings of a fly by night color commentator or sports journalist. It's a reasoned and detailed analysis with examples to back up that point of view.

Mon-L

September 24th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

Two games against competent coaching staffs and the gameplan has been the same in both: keep Denard in the pocket and throwing. Expect to see a lot more of this in conference.

I love #16 like we all do, but the kid is never going to be a consistent passer. His mechanics are way too sloppy. You don't suddenly attain perfection halfway through your senior year. These woobly back foot throws are never going away. 

The real issue is the run game. They can't get anything going against these stacked boxes. 

Mon-L

September 24th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

Oh. So 160 on the game is acceptable? Minus out Denard's 90, bro. Four games in. Have you seen a consistent non-Denard rushing attack yet? Fitz has 150 yards on the season.

You can't play Manball without some actually Manball happening.

dcmaizeandblue

September 24th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

I don't really agree with this statement. I think Denard has the ability to be a good passer, we saw it on Saturday for a good number of throws until we got in the redzone. It was the decision making when there was pressure that really hurt him. Take a sack or two or just throw the ball away and I think we win going away because we were moving the ball pretty easily throughout the game.

This game wasn't nearly as frustrating to me as last years MSU or Iowa games where we flat out didn't move the ball.  That goes on the gameplan. 6 straight turnovers goes on execution and decision making.

Mon-L

September 24th, 2012 at 3:06 PM ^

WTF. He's a senior. He is what he is. Sometimes he can throw lazers into tiny windows. Most of the time he has very sloppy mechanics and rushed throws. Combine that with terrible decision making and you get disasters like this.

Bama basically set the blueprint we'll see all season. Keep him in the pocket. Fluster him with disciplined rush lanes. He'll throw it up for grabs. 

Seriously. How many blind tosses did Jr. Hemingway pull down last year? This season? No one's going to bail him out.

coastal blue

September 24th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^

I probably already know the answer to this but:

Is it possible, maybe, that our poor offensive showing could be partially (mostly?) Denard's fault and partly (just a bit?) Borges fault as well?

Or does it have to be one or the other?

His Dudeness

September 24th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

And Denard will soldier through it, taking barbs from people who don't realize he could be in his first of two years at Oregon now, doing what he was born to.  

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I love Denard, but a rather large part of me wishes he would have had the chance to follow RR to AZ ( had he gone there the following year rather than talking headed for a season) or gone to Oregon or something ANYTHING other than being a sophomore first year starter, a QB under a new OC or a QB under a terrible OC.

I hate to say I told you so, but I remember saying how you would end up hating Borges. Borges is just not that good. He just isn't. He has had weapons (3 NFL players on one roster QB, RB, RB) and done nothing with them. I don't think he is gawdawful but I know he is a serious step down from RR.

Hoke is fine.

Mattison is great.

This game made me want to die.

Bodogblog

September 24th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

How is he not being mentioned anywhere?  This kid had a great interception, where he rolled into the flat, saw nothing, and squeezed out on a man he knew was behind him (which I think is exactly what he's supposed to do there).  When he saw the QB winding up he jetted upfield and picked off the pass.  Great play.

If he has the athletcisim and just needs to learn how to play zone defense, and if receivers were covered all day, I'd say we have our second corner. That's exceptional news.