Mailbag: Computer Predictions, Legends Patches, OSU Game Plan

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Norfleet?

NORFLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTT!!!!!!!!!!

-Andrew

I agree.

Season prediction by computers

I'm sure you've seen Brian Fremeau's FEI projections already. If I remember correctly, they had us at 8 wins last year...

This year it's 7 wins.  :(  To tell you the truth, there have been so many positive comments about Gardner, I was starting to get confirmation bias.  Your thoughts?

-Mike

Statistical preseason rankings are often lagging indicators since in an effort to be at all reflective of reality they have to not only take data from the previous year but the previous few. This means they predict what has happened before will happen again. Fremeau's Program FEI rankings look at the last five years. For Michigan that includes the entire Rodriguez era.

They are therefore useless in this case except insofar as the 2010 recruiting class is still with us. Or not with us, as the case may be. I don't put a ton of stock into computer projections, and in Michigan's specific case it's barely any.

Reading the Braden/Bryant tea leaves

What do you/MGoBlog staff think about Braden being shifted to back-up OT?

1. Braden couldn't pull or otherwise do the things they want from their their guards?

2. Bryant has proven himself as a potential starter/legit back-up?

3. Some of both,

4. Completely unclear

-Rod

I lean towards 1 with a bit of 3. It's clear they wanted Braden to be the guy, clear that Braden is a physical monster who demands you try to start him as soon as he's off a redshirt, and also clear that he's not really a guard. Or at least it became clear. Otherwise he would still be competing there, and Glasgow would be competing at center, and the possibility that Bryant's radiator goes out midseason would be covered by the prospect of playing Braden.

HOWEVA, I do think Bryant has legitimately emerged as an option. For one, chatter. For two, they moved Braden back outside, seemingly permanently.

Legends patches. Merph.

Devin-Funchess-Michigan-Wolverines-570x379[1]

19 coulda been a contendah

Brian-

As three more players get their numbers exchanged for Legends jerseys this year, I shake my head and pine for what #19 could have meant for Michigan fans in three years. My buddy's #10 jersey is now Just Another Brady. Are the jerseys taking away from the chance for new players to carve out their own place in Michigan history?

One man's solution: Assign Legends jerseys (and maybe even some retired numbers?) on one game a year. Homecoming is an obvious choice- the alumni presence will appreciate the old numbers more. Let the players assert, through the first half of the season, who deserves to wear a Legends number, and since it's only one game a year, they don't have to give up their own. Thoughts?

~Garbs

Yes, they are taking away the ability for players to carve out their own number legacy. I was looking forward to seeing #19 on the field and thinking about Funchess, having tight ends want the #19, having a Funchess patch on #19, etc. Now that's not happening. Funchess can annihilate TE receiving records and go zeroth in the NFL draft and no patch. Ditto Gallon: guy was #10, and now he's just the latest guy to wear #21 for one year. (I actually mind the Avery move less, since he's not likely to be a guy you remember forever and sigh about. Rewarding a senior captain who isn't an out-and-out star with the fancy patch is a good thing.)

While your suggestion is an upgrade on the current situation, they should just issue legends jerseys like normal numbers to incoming freshmen. Maybe hold them out and hand them out to promising sophomores—Jake Ryan getting 47 early in his sophomore year is much different than switching a guy burned into your head as some other number. But just hand them out to kids who want them when they show up.

Getting overly precious about numbers is blowing them up, as can be seen with the effectively-retired #1. Players should get numbers and never change those numbers, and I miss handlebar mustaches and gangrene.

Ohio State: what to do?

Hey Brian,

Now that you've looked at some of the OSU game (and I assume managed to stomach some of the run plays again as well), what are your impressions of Borges's second half game plan.

My feelings have been, after watching it a couple times, that the game plan wasn't nearly as much an issue as execution. While some of the play calls didn't lend when to Michigan's abilities, basic execution (such as the interior OL managing to make an effective double at the point of attack so Michigan could pick up a single yard) far out-weighed the possibly poor play calling aspects of the game. Even Lewan struggled to execute regularly in this game IMO.

Again, while I freely admit the game plan and play calling was far from perfect, as with most cases, I think 9 out of 10 times it's execution that is the issue more so than what most fans see as an OC screwing it up with play calling. IMO, if there is any issue, it was the offensive coaches not getting the players up to a point where they could execute fairly simple tasks regularly. What's your take on the situation.

Thanks,

Space Coyote

While execution was a major issue, Michigan had to know that was going to be a problem. The OL had been flailing since at least the Nebraska game. OSU had a front seven laden with players who were always going to overwhelm Michigan's interior line. So I was on-board with the three first-half running back carries. More than doubling that in the second half was foolish.

Also foolish: expecting that Ohio State would not cotton on to the fact that Denard could not throw. The third-down speed option was doomed since the free safety was plunging down at the slot. Meanwhile, Borges called a ton of pointless rollouts (remember that John Simon was out) that ended up as inaccurate passes as Gardner couldn't set his feet.

The argument about execution always gets my dander up, because you as a coordinator are responsible for putting your players in a position to succeed. Their ability to execute opens up some possibilities and closes off others, but—for instance—asking Denard Robinson to execute on naked bootlegs on which a player will always be in his face the instant he turns around is on you, the coordinator. You have to execute as well.

I think Borges's options were limited, but three things stand out:

  1. Refusing to run Gardner. He had three attempts. Michigan could have used the extra blocker on short yardage badly.
  2. Telegraphing second-half run plays with Robinson. You had to know that 19 of the 20 minutes at halftime were spent saying "DENARD CANNOT THROW".
  3. Incessant rollouts.

(And he got super lucky on Michigan's final drive of the first half, as he'd managed to turn a two minute drill into a 30 second drill in two plays… and then Denard stayed up.)

I've detailed why I think Borges's gameplans in three games in particular were atrocious (2011 Iowa, 2011 Michigan State, and 2012 Notre Dame) because they asked players to do things they weren't good, over and over again.

Borges's philosophy is about as opposed to Rodriguez's as can be, and that's fine. He has track records of very efficient offenses in his past. He will have them in the future. But his desire to do Borges things with players ill-suited to do them cost Michigan a couple games over the past couple years. The Ohio State game is probably not in that category… but it's debatable.

Comments

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

But I also think there were plenty of opportunities for players like Gardner to hit open passes, regardless of play call. I just think the idea has gotten too simplified that the OSU game is completely on Borges's playcalling.

Basically, I'm agreeing with the three games that really had really bad game plans. But I think those gameplans weren't in a mistake of "how do I counter this situation", they were a problem of balancing where Borges wanted to go and where Michigan's offense was ideally made for.

While there was still some of that in the OSU game, it was less so. The game plan or play calling wasn't perfect, but it wasn't awful either. It was pretty bad. Execution when put in a position to succeed would have made it seem pretty alright and given Michigan a good chance at winning.

Thanks for answering the question.

gbdub

August 29th, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

Your contention seems to be "the players failed to do a good job at things they could be expected to do well at". Brian's contention seems to be "Borges asked the players to do things he should have known they were bad at (or the other team was very good at stopping) far too often".

I'm not sure these things are mutually exclusive - there can be good plays executed poorly, and there can be bad plays that are going to fail regardless of execution.

But perfect execution never happens, particularly in a rivalry game on the road against a good team. So you need to call a game plan that allows for some poor execution. Borges didn't do that - telegraphed runs, unneeded rollouts, etc. wasted a lot of plays that could have otherwise been more attempts at things not doomed to fail. The game was close - more attempts with reasonably likely to work plays may have made the difference, even with the same rate of successful execution.

InterM

August 29th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

This exactly captures my concern with Borges.  It's college football, man -- big plays seem to happen much more because the right guy (e.g. Denard) has the ball in his hands than because all (or most) of the players properly executed the OC's excellent play design.  Given that just the week before (against Iowa), the game plan seemed to be designed to get the ball in Denard's hands in a bunch of different ways, it was disappointing that Borges seemed to go back into "over-planning" mode against OSU and call plays that relied on near-perfect execution by players who had a season-long track record of less than that.

bronxblue

August 29th, 2013 at 3:37 PM ^

I was going to say the same thing.  I don't think anyone can blame Borges completely for that loss, but he has had a bad tendency of running an offense he was most comfortable with regardless of the talent on the field or the game situation.  And before anyone says that RR did the same thing, let's all remember that the talent he had offensively that first year is light-years worse than what Borges started his UM career with.

dcmaizeandblue

August 29th, 2013 at 1:07 PM ^

I'm still not buying that argument about the Legends jerseys. If Funchess does all of those things (a great percentage in the #87 at this point) how will that number prevent him from creating a legacy? When Braylon won the Biletnikoff did we say "well sure but Anthony Carter already wore that number so whatever?" Why does another great player wearing that number any number of years ago take away from what he does on the field? This is the same as Doctor Who (forgive the sci-fi reference), everyone has THEIR doctor that is perfect in their eyes. I see the Legends jerseys as the same thing. Who is YOUR number 87?

It's a great honor to the kids and it keeps the legacy of those bygone players alive.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 29th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

but I think the point is that currently they are going to players who have a legitimate shot at making their own number a "legends patch".

If they had given DF the number last year (or any other freshman) that's fine, but taking a guy who has shwn he could reach elite status and changing his number midway through his career just seems silly to me. Not that we couldn't get used to them being that number and saying "Hey, DF was a pretty good number 87 too" but that some think it would be better to say "Hey, I think #19 should get a legends patch after the career DF had".

Personally I wish they would utilize two courses of action with the legends jerseys:

Either they give them to a freshman that wants it and let them carry it throughout their career or they give it to a senior who won't really garner any special attention for their on-field exploits, but was a high character kids who did his best throughout his career at UM. 

If it happens that one of the freshman who take on a legends jersey becomes a legend themselves, they can have their name added to the patch. This way players will either have their numbers consistently through their careers or will be players that a number switch won't really throw people for too much of a loop. 

I find the whole thing a really good idea in theory, but the practice leaves a little to be desired IMHE and I can't really think of an optimal way of carrying it out.

dcmaizeandblue

August 29th, 2013 at 1:57 PM ^

I see your point but I think Funchess having a Legend's worth career doesn't have any bearing on what number he is wearing right? The criteria shouldn't be different to get #19 a patch than to get him honored as #87. I guess I also expect the criteria for a Legend's jersey to be extremely strict (Heisman, multi-year All-American, Presidency) so until that situation comes up I guess I'm not going to worry about it too much. 

Giving it to just freshman takes away rewarding hard working seniors (Avery, Moore, etc.) who it is a very cool honor to give them one of these numbers. I don't have a problem giving it to freshman but I like how the staff has shown a willingness to give it to a wide range of players already so far.

Profwoot

August 29th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

It's commonplace for coaches to blame every offensive wo on execution, and it's baffling to me. When else is it acceptable to just throw your players under the bus, accepting none of the responsibility?

As Brian notes, the job of the OC is to call plays that his players can best execute. I would add that given perfect execution, an OC could hypothetically call the same play every single time and do fine. If the players couldn't execute in such a scenario, who's to blame? Borges really has put his players in some bad situations at times; blaming the seemingly inevitable failure on execution seems quite brazen to me.

But here's to a new season.

gbdub

August 29th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

Execution might be a reasonable excuse if NOTHING is working. "We just got outplayed / out-talented".

The problem with the Borges gameplan was that some things WERE working, but we spent a lot of plays doing things that clearly weren't working. Even that would be excusable if the not-working things made the working things easier. But telegraphing a run by bringing in Denard did nothing to make the next Gardner pass any easier (or vice versa).

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

And this is a reply to your previous post as well: he was calling plays that put his guys in position to execute quite often, and they didn't. Michigan failed in that game to to even hold up when doubling at the point of attack. Lewan missed simple blocking assignments. What do you call regularly when that happens? For the most part, you go back to the simple things, because that's what your players do best. But when Borges did that the execution was still bad.

Again, blame still falls on the coaches to a large degree, but it's not as much about game plan as it's being made out to be. You expect your best player to be able to execute the simplist block. You expect your offensive line to not get pushed into the backfield twice in a row when they are doubling at the point of attack. You expect your QB to hit open receivers when he isn't pressured. I would have liked to see some misdirection away from Denard too, but you can only do it once or twice because he was useless after that. He couldn't catch the ball on routes because of his elbow, he couldn't throw the ball, and he couldn't block. Michigan had already ran boot plays in the game, OSU wasn't falling for it. So what is Borges supposed to do? There are other reasons to roll out a QB other than to escape pressure, pressure that was getting home still when they dropped straight back. Gardner wasn't making his reads quick enough, so what do you do as an OC, you shrink the field so he only needs to look at a smaller target window.

So yes, while there are still things that I would have liked Borges to do a bit differently, a few things I would have liked him to try, by and large he was doing the correct things to put his players in a position to execute. Failure to execute is just as much if not more on the coaches than the gameplan, as much as it wants to be seen as "throwing players under the bus."

I'm also interested in these plays that allow for poorer execution and can still be successful. What plays are these that Borges didn't run? Borges ran Iso, Power, Inside Zone, basic pass concepts. So what plays allow for less perfect execution: taking a knee, spiking the ball? There isn't a play where you can have blockers not execute at the point of attack and still have the play be successful.

Also, OSU made some adjustments to stop some of the things Michigan did well in the first half, particularly against the run. Borges didn't just stop running successful plays because he was bored. You have to understand that this is a lot more complicated than that.

gbdub

August 29th, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

I actually agree with most of that - I'd call Borges' blame here "partial" (as you and Brian seem to agree on). The offense didn't have a great day.

Re: your second to last paragraph. I'm not saying there are plays that go consistently well if poorly executed, I'm saying there are game plans that are better able to withstand a few plays being poorly executed. If your usually successful plays are hitting at a low rate because you're executing only 50% the time, it's still better to maximize your opportunities to execute that 50% play rather than run plays that only work if you execute perfectly AND the defense screws up, because your personnel have perfectly telegraphed the play to the D.

Re: your last paragraph, that's kind of the point. OSU was easily able to adjust, and Borges had no answer to the adjustments. It was obvious that OSU was keying on us, and we failed to punish them for that. That at least implies we were out coached. Maybe misdirection would only work once or twice, but in a close game you only need once or twice. This was seemingly the agonizing flaw of the 2010 offense: plan A was great, but good teams could sell out to stop plan A, and there was no plan B to exploit that.

Anyway I think Borges gets something of a pass for OSU because, as you mention elsewhere, Denard wasn't really a functional RB (or WR) yet and thus couldn't be deployed all that creatively. That plus inconsistent execution may well doom us even if Borges calls the game of his life. It's certainly much harder to blame him for OSU than for either of the 2011 losses.

Given that you have far more expertise than I do or probably ever will, I'm curious what your thoughts are on Borges v. OSU compared to Borges v. South Carolina. Why is it that we seemed to move the ball much more consistently against SC  (though we didn't score that many more points)? At least according to Brian's charting, Gardner was still inconsistent, Lewan still had some struggles due to the level of competition, and the non-Denard run game and interior blocking were still atrocious. So what was the key?

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 3:06 PM ^

The point I am trying to make (and getting a little too offensive) is that, while I agree there were things Borges could have done better against OSU, it's not as simplified as people have been making it out to be. It's not just that Borges sucked. Borges was below average in the game, but he wasn't god awful.

As far as the South Carolina game, I think he had more time to implement some things. They worked with Denard at RB so he was at least a little able to take hand offs and execute power (though not perfectly). They were able to start focusing more on Borges's offense for the first time, so they did things like unbalanced lines and utlitized more trick plays than they had previously because they were able to rep the plays that were part of Borges's system (not the trick plays that were installed for when he was calling plays during the regular season). I think because of all the extra practice time, Michigan was able to execute a little better up front in the run game, do more things that fit Gardner and Borges together, and had at least somewhat of a function for Denard.

FreddieMercuryHayes

August 29th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

Regarding legends patches, in all this arguing, does anybody actually care what the players think? Besides that first year when introducing a number and needing a player to wear it, maybe the players are asking for it? Maybe Funchess doesn't care about number 19 all that much. It's kind of ridiculous to be angry a about that just because you want a TE to be 19. Maybe Gallon wanted 21. And who cares of he switches? Gallon could put up a Braylon year and #10 still wouldn't be a hallowed number.

MI Expat NY

August 29th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^

That's an argument that cuts both ways.  How often do players actually want to change numbers?  As has been covered in other threads, I'm not sure wearing a legends jersey is something you can say no to, so I think the opposite argument is equally valid:  It's kind of ridiculous to force a kid to wear a jersey to honor some, generally, long past hero. 

Elmer

August 29th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

The staff likes to say they morphed the offense around the player's talents, but that has only partially been true.  I fully agree that Borges probably cost us a couple wins due to a suspect game plan.

kyeblue

August 29th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

if Braden is so gifted but not a guard, and schofield is good at pulling, why can't start Braden opposite of lewan and move Schofield back to guard.

mgobaran

August 29th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

I'm all for giving the legend jerseys out to anyone. For the first time they unveil one, sure give it to a senior, or someone deserving. Then it should be treated like any ole jersey number.

If you (Dave Brandon) are worried about disrespecting the legends by someone under-performing in their jersey, then they shouldn't have unretired them.

gbdub

August 29th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

My though has always been that players who distinguish themselves while wearing a legend patch should be added to some sort of wall of fame. Truly outstanding players could be added to the patch (or at least the locker) - e.g. the "Howard/Gallon" #21.

But I agree legend numbers should be assigned early. I'd argue for seniors voting for open number assignments to the "rookies of the year" (freshmen / redshirt freshmen)

AriGold

August 29th, 2013 at 1:36 PM ^

for calling out Borges and his horrible play calling during the O$U game!...Borges fucked up, plain and simple, asking kids to execute plays they could not execute is bad coaching/play-calling...blaming it on the execution is not owning up to your mistakes as the playcallers and makes you look arrogant...I hope Borges corrects this in the future, because our o-line is a bit in question this year

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 1:55 PM ^

He said the OSU game probably wasn't in that category, but it was debatable. I tend to agree with this, and there are things (some of which Brian listed) that were questionable, but this wasn't necessarily a lost game on Borges's shoulder people like you seem to want to make it.

Also, really? O$U. Your opinion immediately became invalid at that point.

AriGold

August 29th, 2013 at 2:25 PM ^

were O$U players not getting money for memorbilla and tatoos or am I missing something??? 

You can make all the excuses and empathize with Borges all you want, but in my business I do not set my employees up for failure if I know well ahead of time what they can and cannot do and expect them to do it anyway...granted Michigan played bad in the 2nd half, but run after run between the tackles that WAS NEVER GOING TO WORK is on Borges...him not owning it and blaming it on the players lack of execution is a cop-out, and bad one at that

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

One is the fact that after the first series in the second half, Michigan ran the ball 6 times the rest of the half.

Who was going to run outside the tackles for Michigan? It's 2nd and 2 and then 3rd and 1, if you're not picking up a first down that's on execution, not on putting players in the wrong spot. And yes, that's still on him and on Funk, that play needs to be executed, the teaching needs to be there to execute those plays. But the play call isn't bad. You should trust your players to execute one of the simplest plays to execute.

I've said multiple times that it wasn't perfect, but it was far from putting them in positions to fail. He didn't ask them to be Texas Tech and he didn't ask them to be Air Force. He asked them to do the things they executed all season.

Jeff09

August 29th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

You can't give the defense something so simple to read by your personnel decisions. Ie when it became painfully clear Denard couldn't throw, and clear that OSU was absolutely keying off that, Borges should have stopped putting him in at QB then and there.

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 1:50 PM ^

Addressing this Denard thing. If he doesn't put Denard in the game fans here get upset. If he puts Denard in the game at WR he can't catch passes or run routes. If he puts Denard in the backfield as a RB he struggles taking handoffs, can't block, and certainly can't sell a fake. So your options are: a) don't put Denard in the game; b) fake a screen to Denard; c) let Denard run the ball.

I would have liked to see b once or twice. But other than that what else was Borges supposed to do? Who else was going to run the football? I agree it became to simplified in reading personnel, but it's also extremely difficult to cover up Denard when he couldn't do anything else. 

KBLOW

August 29th, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

Option B, even just once or twice, could've made a difference in a game that close.  Now, better execution of the more basic things you pointed out (even just once or twice) also could've made a difference in a game that close.  However, as far as taking handoffs, Denard did just fine with that the week before.

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 2:07 PM ^

But they were never clean. This didn't effect things too much as far as putting Denard at RB, but where it does become problematic is when faking to him. Notice that only once did they do play action to Denard all season (against South Carolina I believe, but someone below noted it was in this game) and I believe that play ended in a sack. All other fake action was out of a jet sweep or once on a fake flare screen.

I agree with what your saying about using option B once or twice, but there really was no reason to put Denard at RB in the OSU game when the only thing he could do from that position was catch a flare screen or run the ball with one less blocker, because basically if you didn't use him you were playing 10 v 11 with him in that position.

MBloGlue

August 30th, 2013 at 2:07 AM ^

Not sure I agree with your 10 vs 11 numeric disadvantage point if you don't "use" him. If you lined him up at tailback or put him in motion, it is not an exaggeration to say much of the defense would be keying off him regardless of whether he actually gets the ball. That is worth at least one defender and often their best one in space. The impact of using Denard as a decoy would more than offset any potential for a numeric disadvantage from not giving him the ball.

MBloGlue

August 30th, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

Can you say more about why they could not use play action more? The fact that they never used it (or used it only once against SC) only demonstrates that they did not create enough opportunity for it to succeed, not that it didn't work. Seems like an excellent way to use the threat of Denard's running ability to set up the pass.

Erik_in_Dayton

August 29th, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

This is something I didn't fully think about until Denard started making his transition to being a pro player.  He is limited in what he can do as a running back now, and he was very limited in what he could do against OSU.  In that game, he could do one of the running back's jobs spectacularly well - run the ball - but he couldn't give much else, as you say. 

Jeff09

August 29th, 2013 at 8:14 PM ^

Run Denard at tailback.  He can't block pass plays?  Use a two back set with V Smith next to Devin to block and send Denard out into the flat.  Then a defender still has to account for Denard.  How can you be sure he couldn't catch?  Line him up at slot and throw him some passes.  You absolutely cannot telegraph your intent in a football play, that's just pissing away downs.

InterM

August 30th, 2013 at 10:57 AM ^

We have pretty good reason to think Denard could catch passes, since he caught two of them the week before against Iowa.  And I believe they faked at least one or two other passes his way, if I recall.  Brian's UFR for Iowa called for more of Devin and Denard on the field together for the OSU game, but that's not what we got -- particularly for the last couple of drives, when Denard stayed on the sidelines and Devin chucked it up play after play, despite plenty of time on the clock.

Erik_in_Dayton

August 29th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

Keep the patches, but don't have the players change numbers.  Gallon, for example, could be rewarded with a patch that says "Desmond Howard" (and that has a tiny Heisman?) but that doesn't have a 21 on it.  This way you can still have the honor of earning the patch without all the confusion and redundancy with numbers. 

Erik_in_Dayton

August 29th, 2013 at 2:42 PM ^

I don't think you have to do anything with No. 1, since that number has an existence separate from any one player, so to speak.  I'm not sure about No. 2.  I suppose I'd retire it and go with a Woodson patch...As far as running out of numbers, I would be very conservative in going the retired number/patch route with future players.  You can justify it with Woodson and Howard because they won the Heisman, but I'd be very slow to do it again. 

funkywolve

August 29th, 2013 at 1:58 PM ^

Denard was easily UM's best weapon last year.  How was Borges supposed to get the ball in his hands against OSU?

Denard couldn't throw so lining him up at QB pretty much signaled run.  I'm pretty sure they ran a play or two with Denard at running back and one of them was a pass play where Denard got crushed in pass protection.  So you've pretty much ruled out throwing the ball if Denard is a running back. 

Do you line Denard up at slot or wr and hope that he picks up what he's supposed to do on those plays after one week of practice? 

If Borges didn't put the ball in Denard's hands a good amount against OSU everyone would be b*tching about why he didn't use Denard.

Borges play calling against OSU definitely leaves a sour taste in the mouth but I feel like he almost had one had tied behind his back.  His starting tailback was out and no other running back during the year had shown much.  His best weapon. Denard, was one dimensional and was probably only familiar with plays where he's the QB.

dragonchild

August 29th, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

"Denard was easily UM's best weapon last year."

No question.  But if you said. . .

"Denard was easily UM's best weapon during the Ohio State game last year."

Dubious.  He could only run, and hadn't taken many snaps at RB, so you could only reliably line him up at QB and run him.  This was a very, very easy thing for OSU's defense to key on, and when an FBS defense knows exactly what a player is going to do, any amount of talent is irrelevant -- the play's DOA.

"If Borges didn't put the ball in Denard's hands a good amount against OSU everyone would be b*tching about why he didn't use Denard."

No, we'd be thinking Denard was injured, which he was, because he'd be on the sideline, because Denard on the field is useless unless he has the ball.  What's he going to do, pick up a blitzer?

Borges sure had a rough day what with 80% of his offense hampered by a bad arm.  He opted to try to use Denard as much as possible, which is one way to go about it.  But I think in doing so he made the offense too predictable, which more than neutralized any advantage he got by marching Denard out there.  At least with Denard on the bench you can give Gardner an underdog's fighting chance and really, it's not like Gardner's a slouch -- he was recruited by RichRod to be Denard's backup & successor FFS!

Space Coyote

August 29th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

Denard was not used much in the second half because OSU was keying on him. He was used 3 times in the 3rd quarter and once in the 4th (on a 2nd and 2 play) when it became obvious. The fact that Michigan ran two run plays on 2nd and third down and net negative 1 yards kind of makes the point about execution.

Also, two of his runs in the second half were on the first series, so the series after OSU made the adjustment. The next was on the second series of the half and Denard fumbled. So he was only used once on an "and short situation" after it became obvious that OSU was keying him.

And I've heard people complain he didnt' touch the ball enough as well.

BILG

August 29th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

This is a weak excuse. Needed to get him 10-12 creative touches, not recreate the offense. If a coordinator can't come up with that - bubble screens, option runs with Gardner, draw plays out of a pistol, reverse or fake reverse, etc, then the coordinator is not thinking hard enough.

You have a fast/dynamic player, you find ways to get him the ball.

AriGold

August 29th, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

im not sure why space coyote is going to bat for Borges when he messed up so much with the playcalling in this game...If you are willing to call out the interior o-line to blame, you better damn well blame the coaches/Borges when blame is certainly due in his direction

funkywolve

August 29th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

If they've never run some of those plays all year, and are now going to try and run them with Denard how much time do they have to take up during practice to get Denard and the other players comfortable with those plays?

Maybe they messed around with those plays in practice and the coaches didn't like what they saw?