Picture Pages: Various Plays Of No Interest

Submitted by Brian on November 13th, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Every time I post a play analysis these days there are a half-dozen people in the comments who mention that if player X did hard thing Y they are not prepared to do then the play would work. This has gotten to the point where I can explicitly prepare for such criticism and find them ignored, as in the most recent one, and find a diary on this site asserting that if player X did hard thing Y something would have worked.

This is extremely frustrating to me, because these are good-faith attempts to paint broader pictures of what I'm seeing down to down, game after game, year after year, as I try to figure out what Michigan football is doing. Various critics, most prominently Space Coyote, make a few small concessions and then go about explaining why play X was a good call and why it would have worked. They implicitly assert things like "Joe Kerridge in a ton of space should deviate from expecting Nebraska to use their slot LB as a force and ably block that guy when that LB believes the inverted veer is coming, has no need to respect the slot receiver because he is covered, and runs directly into Fitzgerald Toussaint."

I disagree with that. I have watched a lot of people play a lot of football and I think that's hard. I'm trying not to have a stance here; I am evaluating whether I think a thing is easy to do or hard and assigning a number to that feel. Coaches tend to think everything is an execution issue. Players should be able to do arbitrarily hard things.  Some arrows on a diagram say this should work. Meanwhile I think there's a 10% chance for Kerridge to abort the plan and do anything with hell-for-leather blitzer and judge accordingly. Various guys dying on Borges Hill disagree.

I don't know what might be sufficient other than 175 yards against Nebraska to convince these guys that a poor offensive game plan can even exist, but here are various things that are normally too dull to post in a Picture Pages in which unblocked guys on blitzes obliterate Michigan runners for no or little gain.

These are representative of a larger slice of the game and a general feel that confirmed the Nebraska players' postgame assertions that they were expecting most of what Michigan threw at them. Tomorrow's Picture Pages will cover every play of the game, because this isn't going to work either.

One

Here is an iso. The slot LB is an eighth guy in the box and crashes down unblocked to tackle.

unblocked-dude-1unblocked-dude-4unblocked-dude-6

As this goes for three yards it qualifies as one of Michigan's best plays on the day on the ground. Three yards is not good on first and ten, and there was nothing Michigan could do about it.

Two

Here is a zone play. Nebraska loads up and sends a blitz through a gap that Michigan doesn't pick up as Bosch ends up doubling with Lewan.

However, because of the blitz the only thing Bosch making a very good play to recognize and pick up the charging LB does is send Green to one of the two unblocked guys, either the backside guy ripping down the LOS without thought of checking the QB or a linebacker sitting two yards deep without anyone trying to get him, because Nebraska's blitz has prevented anyone from moving to the second level.

un-1un-5un-6

Three

Here is a power play. Nebraska loads up with eight in the box and one deep safety and blitzes.

blitz-1

blitz-2

A Nebraska linebacker ends up shooting the gap behind the Bosch pull and meets Green in the backfield.

blitz-4

Michigan loses two yards and has third and eleven.

Four

Oh for pants' sake.

The offensive line is not in fact overwhelmed here; they are not actually involved because Nebraska's blitz is perfect to destroy the inverted veer.

Items Of Interest

All of this is an execution issue, sure. For a given definition of execution, this is an execution issue. Michigan's hyper-raw OL should be able to block this. They should be able to deal with Nebraska switching gaps and blazing LBs to the point of attack. They should be able to block Nebraska's maniacal run-oriented loaded box. They would do this, if only they could execute.

Except the last one. And the first one. And probably the second and third.

Either you believe that players can be put in positions they can succeed or players are expected to succeed in the positions they are put in. I am in the former camp. The last few Borges defenders are in the latter camp. This entire season Space Coyote has been gamely explaining what should have happened on failed play after failed play without any thought to how difficult what should have happened is.

Players do not exist in a vacuum. Joe Kerridge is trying to block a guy in acres of space and that guy has the jump on him because he knows Funchess is covered, and he knows what Michigan's running. I look at that and I think "Jesus, I do not want to be Joe Kerridge there."

I am admittedly working from a hand-waving feel on this, but it's no worse a feel than whatever Space Coyote has gotten from doing whatever he does with whatever team at a totally different level of competition. I say Michigan puts their players in a spot to work miracles or die, and that this is on both the overall structure of the offense and the predictability of playcalls based on formations and down and distance. Space Coyote makes certain concessions to not seem totally insane and then goes back to hammering the fact that it's all execution.

Kerridge was put in a spot to fail, and did. I'm looking at the play and saying I believe there is a small chance that Kerridge can make a tough play in space; the guys in the comments think that because Kerridge could hypothetically have made a play none of this goes back to the folks in charge.

These plays. The above plays are no-chancers for the offense, because Michigan is running into the teeth of a defense stacked to stop the run and blitzing. In UFR lingo they acquired sizeable rock-paper-scissors minuses. In compensation Michigan got two screens which both got large RPS plus numbers, but the number of downs thrown away in this game running at a Nebraska defense that seemed to be in Michigan's head was alarming. When I add it up, I am guessing things will come out highly negative, and then people will cluck at me about that.

I won't deny that things are more likely to get put in the negative bin there when you have fewer options because you're not good, but in my opinion running plays you suck at into stacked boxes is a bad idea. So is the continued deployment of Toussaint as a pass blocker on plays that take forever to develop. That, too, is an execution issue, but it is nuts to expect him to block guys now, and the offense would be better served if he was used in a pattern or replaced by a fullback or something. Instead… he is not.

But yeah yeah, the expectation is for the position.

Comments

EnoughAlready

November 13th, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

Complaining so much because Space Coyote is, in fact, trying to diagnose and trying to understand and explain a play?  No need to get defensive because someone has a different understanding of the game than you.  

You watch football, and try to guess what's "hard" for a player to do -- then quantify it.  SC coaches football.  Whether anyone likes him or not, Borges and Hoke have coached football for as long as their players have been alive.  Dollars to dougnuts the coaches know better than you what's reasonable to expect of their players.

Space Coyote (and a handful of others whose usernames are less easy to remember) have been a lifesaver to this place.  The negativity and petty sarcasm and cliches came close to turning this place rancid.  

I reread what you wrote, Petty Brian.  Ban me from the site if you want, but my god you are a juvenile ass sometimes.  People like you seem to be proud of this, but your narcissism is boundless.  You should take meds.

CooperLily21

November 13th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

I can appreciate the professional disagreement but don't bad-mouth someone that is interested in your site and actually contributes very educational material, albeit from a different standpoint:

I am admittedly working from a hand-waving feel on this, but it's no worse a feel than whatever Space Coyote has gotten from doing whatever he does with whatever team at a totally different level of competition.

That's a douchy way of demeaning someone, and on the front page nonetheless.  SC has never once questioned your credentials and there is no reason you should do the same of him.  Disagree with his final analysis/opinion - that's fine - but don't try to undermine his material by getting personal.  You're better than that, Brian.

That said, I do agree with your final determination . . . FIRE BORGES!

Owl

November 13th, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

One way of interpreting your post is as a continuance of the dialogue that SC initiated with his diary. I might be mistaken, but I think that's sort of what you had in mind.

Another way to interpret it is you getting really defensive and throwing a fit because you got challenged by someone on your blog. I suspect a lot of people will end up seeing it this way because you mention the guy by name throughout, and especially because of your writing style. 

When this post gets a really negative reaction, it will be because people interpreted your tone differently from what I suspect you intended. 

FreddieMercuryHayes

November 13th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

Come on.  That would have been equally douchy and passive aggresive.  SC has posted many many times about Brian's diagnosis of plays.  It's great.  I think that's why we all read this blog.  If Brian posted this without refering to SC, everybody would know exactly who he was talking about anyway.  Refering to SC in his post doesn't have to be an douche move.  It's just stating up front that "I disagree with this person's reasoning and here's why."

glewe

November 13th, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

I agree that he should be open about disagreeing with SC specifically, but I don't agree with the way that he did it. I furthermore think that this almost didn't even merit a response. Like, what does Brian need? Everyone to be on his side? Say your piece, let SC say his, be done with it. If SC wants to disagree when Brian is clearly right, let him.

I just think this is a weird move in general. I appreciate the dialogue, too, but that's what comments are for. SC, obviously, does not have front page capabilities so his capacity for "dialogue" is pretty dramatically limited.

Really, this isn't dialogue at all. There is a dominant narrative; it is Brian's.

wolverine1987

November 13th, 2013 at 2:35 PM ^

I agree with his analysis, but not the method of this post. The other area that was sounding defensive was where he said SC made certain concessions to not seem "completely insane." Brian admitted that he was "frustrated," so we knew where he was coming from, but IMO he should have held off another hour before posting.

glewe

November 13th, 2013 at 11:27 PM ^

that line bothered me, too. He's dealing with a person who has coached football (and one who seems to be fairly good with x's and o's) for who knows how many years. I don't think he's in a position to talk to SC that way on the basis of, "Well, I'm telling you: To me, it looks hard. Therefore, it is."

cozy200

November 13th, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

I don't think its calling anyone out.  If you listen to the podcast, or WTKA or where ever Brian speaks, that's how his tone is.  Easy to be taken the wrong way, as much as any text message.  I can understand the reaction though.  

 

Primary point here, It's about the X's and the O's... AS WELL as the Jimmys and the Joe's.  We have certainly not been adaptive enough and its killing us on the field.  

bronxblue

November 13th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

It is no more a shot at someone than SC pointing out he takes issue with something you wrote.

People around here are getting way too territorial about comments.  People call me an idiot; I'm fine with it.  This is a constructive argument between two people with spirited opinions; I'm happy to see it because it gives me a better sense of the game overall.

Stay Strong Brian and Space Coyote!  The other guy is a jerk whose mother was a hamster and whose father smelt of elderberries.

bronxblue

November 13th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

Because SC is totally helpless and censored in his ability to post a diary that disagrees with Brian's assessment?  And if SC really cared, he'd just start his own blog and run whatever content he wants.  I remain amazed that people treat this as anything more than two professionals disagreeing.

Deep Under Cover

November 13th, 2013 at 3:37 PM ^

Brian is supposed to be the professional, he owns this blog.  Space Coyote is a customer.  He comes here, gives Brian clicks, and finds it intellectually stimulating to challenge what Brian says.  He is contributing the success of Brian's site and receiving nothing in return.

This is clearly an attack on SC, I don't understand how anyone could see otherwise.  Granted, this stems from Brian's frustration with Borges, but no need to call out SC that way.

All this does is stifle discussion and give ammunition to the side that blindly support Brian.  This will turn into a "Borges apologist" witchhunt.

If Brian doesn't want dissent, he should disable comments, disable user contributed content, and/or ban the users that disagree with him.  Calling them "insane" is lame.

For the record, I agree with Brian, but this was just the wrong way of going about making his argument.  He depends on us for his living, this isn't going to help bring new people in.

Pibby Scott

November 13th, 2013 at 5:50 PM ^

and yes i realize saying that is "lame" but whatever rationale you used to derive from brian's post that he "Doesn't Want Dissent" is a fractured one.

 

 

Plus the man's a writer and when he says something isn't a shot, maybe you ought to try taking him at his word instead of "interpreting" a clear cut definitive statement.

 

you know, basically, the agreement between writer and audience.  

 

 

 

Deep Under Cover

November 13th, 2013 at 8:32 PM ^

Right, because there's no way someone can write one thing, then later claim they meant something else.  Horse manure.  

Go back to SC's post.  How often does he even mention Brian?  Once, by my ctrl-F, and its to quote Brian to set up a play.  Brian repeatedly assaults Space Coyote, not just his postion.  Implying he is "crazy" and attacking his credentials isn't a shot?

You say Brian is a writer.  Fine.  What kind?  I think that is part of the issue around here these days.  Brian is a fan, and as such is influenced by his fandom in his writing, and lately his frustration (as he clearly states).

So, I ask what kind of writer is he, because that point is important to how people take what he writes.  A journalist?  Does a journalist call out someone who posts on their site to attack them? He treats this like his personal, free-time blog, but it is his job. Attacking people who frequent the site is BS and unprofessional.  He sends Heiko to all the pressers, I assume they are not just open to the public.  Should that right be evoked?  Sometimes he is a scientist publishing a peer-reviewed article, other times he is a fan-fiction writer.

He has a fun writing style, and typically responds to comments with snark or just additional information.  It invites people to participate.  Calling people out like this only discourages that.

If you can honestly read that and not see the clear shots taken at SC, then you are a minion and arguing with you is pointless.

SituationSoap

November 13th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

This didn't feel either demeaning or douchey. SC is a very vocal presence on the board, and he's been posting lots of great stuff, but Brian disagrees with him. I'd guess that SC's diary which disagrees with Brian will probably get front paged.

 

It's a discussion. That means sometimes people are disagreeing with each other. That's not a bad thing.

BradP

November 13th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

There is a lot of obvious frustration in what is pretty much an explicit response to SC.

However, none of that quote is particularly untrue, and it seems pretty strange to say that "my feel is no worse than his", unless you come from a default position where we should just accept that SC does have a better feel.

Do you think that SC necessarily has a better feel for what Borges and this Michigan offense is doing?

I give SC a lot of credit for knowing what he is talking about, but I can think of at least one disagreement between the two where hindsight has proven Brian correct and SC very, very wrong.

CooperLily21

November 13th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

SC doesn't need my "protection" and maybe I'm overly sensitive but I think calling someone out by name on the front page is an inappropriate use of Brian's "power" over his readers.  It automatically slants opinions on SC's contributions.  Disagreement is fine - someone might be right and someone else wrong or even very wrong.  I can accept that and encourage that kind of discourse because I always learn something from it.  But don't go around demeaning the person on the other side of the argument by questioning their credentials in a passive-aggressive and very public way.  I have a big problem with that, especially when its done by someone who should really know better and against someone who isn't on the same stage.  That is my definition of "douchy."

Also, this is not front page worthy.  This is a comment to SC's Diary and that's where is should have been published.  But this is Brian's blog, etc. etc.

MI Expat NY

November 13th, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

It's not like SC doesn't have his own blog and write regularly at a second popular michigan blog.  He's not some anonymous commenter that Brian decided to "attack."  He's nearly as public in the ole Michigan blogosphere as Brian is.  Directly responding to him on the front page does not seem out of the ordinary.  

JilesDauz

November 13th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

So it is front page worthy.

Brian didn't go beneath the belt or anything. I really dislike this culture of "treat everyone with kid gloves or someone might cry" attitude. SC will be fine. I greatly enjoyed both Brian's and SC's arguments and contributions.

What I think is more troubling is how SC misrepresents Brian's (and similarly minded people's) arguments. He defends his own arguments with a myriad of sliding-ground tactics jumping around making "reasonable" points but not directly showing how they connect to support his argument. However, since SC does this in a "nice" way as to not offend the sensitives that's fine. But Brian going straight to the point making his argument in DIRECT response is just ghastly!

 

Sure Brian could not have mentioned SC. But we all know who is one of the major opponents to Brian's argument. So not mentioning that would have been some school girl passive-aggressive bs tactics and I don't come here for that.

Goblue89

November 13th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

The thing that really got me was his reasoning for covering Funchess...to allow him to block a safety 10 yards away in a 2 high look.  I honestly don't know how covering your most dangerous weapon is defensable especially if your reasoning is so he can block a guy 10 yards away that probably has deep half responsibilities and isn't going to be screaming towards the play anyways. 

Huma

November 13th, 2013 at 3:16 PM ^

If you read it again that is not what SC said.  He said covering Funchess could have been a strategic move to invite that defender to blitz right into Kerridge's block.  Had Kerridge executed on the block the play may have been successful.  Obviously we have no idea if that was actually Borges' plan, though.

reshp1

November 13th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

What I think is more troubling is how SC misrepresents Brian's (and similarly minded people's) arguments.
 

There's a fair amount of that on both sides. As probably one of the guys "on Borges Hill" that he brought up, I think Brian thinks everyone that's pointing out execution stuff is doing so defending the coaches. I don't think that's the case for myself, SC, or most of the other guys. We've all explicitly said there's something wrong with the way these guys are being taught. We blame the coaches too, how could you not? It's just that we blame them for failing to prepare the team, less so about the specific plays called or their design. Right or wrong, I don't see how that's a position that should cause Brian and others to flip their lid as much as it does.

As far as nit-picking individual plays, I mean most of the picture pages is dedicated to breaking down a specific play. If we have disagreements about the way the play is interpreted, how is that not a valid thing to post in the comments? It doesn't mean we're willfully ignoring your larger point.

Either you believe that players can be put in positions they can succeed or players are expected to succeed in the positions they are put in.

Again, as you (Brian) are eluding to, there are two, IMO valid ways of looking at this. Brian thinks Borges asked Kerridge to do something hard based on his perspective. SC and I think that's a play a FB should make based on ours. From the vantage point of the stands/TV, IMO those are equally defensible positions. I don't see why having a discussion should be "extremely frustrating."

 

FreddieMercuryHayes

November 13th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

As per your last point, is there a time when you eventually watch someone fail to do something enough times that you finally say "ok, this kid cannot do what I'm asking"?  If I remember SC's point earlier, Butt and Kerrige mess up the blocking. So that's two freshman who have messed up blocking many times before, and then asking them to keep trying to do it.  I think that's Brian's point.  That he sees UM's offense keep doing the same things that fail over and over again, without seeing any adjustments that imply that Borges now understands his players cannot do what he wants.  Of course, perhaps Borges does know this, and is just ignoring it in an effort to just keep repping the offense he wants for possible pay-off in the future.

reshp1

November 13th, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

Has Kerridge messed this up over and over? I don't get that feeling, he's messed up before but it's not consistently. In fact, earlier in the season Brian specifically singled out Kerridge as doing a good job (in the context that Fitz was wasting Kerridge's good plays). It goes beyond that, we only get to see the couple dozen plays a week. The coaches are seeing a order of magnitude more plays in practice. If a guy seems to be getting it in practice and it's just not translating to the field, when do you pull the plug vs hoping he gets it the next time, especially when the mistakes are once here and there (back to my first point).

There's also the flip side. If you take things to the extreme and don't ask anyone to do tough things you get to an extremely simple and predictable offense, exactly the thing some people are complaining about. What's more likely is that you end up having to put someone else in a tougher position trying to take responsibility off of someone, much like how the slide protection scheme ended up screwing Fitz over.

I understand it's frustrating to see failure over and over, and certainly Borges isn't doing the best job mitigating that, but at some point we have to accept that a lot of weaknesses don't have quick fixes and we will continue to struggle no matter who's running the offense this year. Even if we hired the best OC in the country tomorrow, he isn't going to come in, tweak a couple alignments and get us 5YPC. It's important for people to accept that and have realistic expectations about the power an OC has in the current situation.

Pibby Scott

November 13th, 2013 at 6:08 PM ^

Has Kerridge messed this up over and over?

yes

 

 when do you pull the plug vs hoping he gets it the next time,

circa Akron or UConn

 

mistakes are once here and there (back to my first point)

which is what? kerridge is inconsistent? yet we're consistently calling the same plays yielding ? i think you've argued yourself into a circle here (back to my second point--the descrepancy should have already been noted and dealt with!)

 

If you take things to the extreme and don't ask anyone to do tough things

what if you gloss tough with seemingly impossible? 

 

you get to an extremely simple and predictable offense,

another cirlce! if we execute the tough to do borges offense it will be less predictable. who cares if we've been trying to run these "predictably tough plays" for the last two years!

 

don't have quick fixes and we will continue to struggle no matter who's running the offense this year.

we're basically admitting defeat. these coaches have fielded a product that they cannot improve upon, which is the very nature of their jobs! therefore, they should not have those said jobs because they cannot literally do them! if there are no fixes, if these coaches cannot fix anything, WHY ARE THEY HERE? how do you not see how ridiculously stand pat and silly what you're saying is? 

i'm guessing this is what brian finds frustrating in the Borges analysis. because what you're ending up with is ----There's nothing that we can do! Really? That's your point? 

 

Here I want to make an analogy, to a CEO, maybe of something like a pizza company, and he goes to the board, and says, Yes, I know we're losing money, I know the pizza we make is lousy. But the reason it's lousy and we're losing money is we have terrible ingredients for what we want to make. I know we could change the recipe or something, but I think we should keep the recipe until we have the proper ingredients. And really--who knows when this will be...because as it stands...well.....they're just not here. But be patient. I swear. Those ingredients will come. They will. Manbawlllwl Arhgggg Bo I woudla woalked aherer shirtless with my nipples frozen stiff!!!hfShkfshffsnk

 

 

-sincerely i've lost my mind.

reshp1

November 13th, 2013 at 9:50 PM ^

I don't know why you feel the need to scream and shout and get all bent out of shape just because, *gasp*, someone on the internet has a different opinion than you. It doesn't help make your point and it's just contributing to what's become a pretty hostile atmosphere here.

Has Kerridge messed this up over and over?

yes

Kerridge came in at +6.5/-3.5 this game, which is pretty par for the course for this season; he's been consistently positive in UFRs at a 2:1 rate. That's the picture of a guy that does lots of good things and screws up here and there, exactly how I represented him.

 when do you pull the plug vs hoping he gets it the next time,

circa Akron or UConn

If you stop doing everything someone's messed up here and there, we would be running HS style ISO every play.

mistakes are once here and there (back to my first point)

which is what? kerridge is inconsistent? yet we're consistently calling the same plays yielding ? i think you've argued yourself into a circle here (back to my second point--the descrepancy should have already been noted and dealt with!)

I've honestly tried, but I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

If you take things to the extreme and don't ask anyone to do tough things

what if you gloss tough with seemingly impossible? 

I'm sorry, but asking a guy to take a good angle pick up a scoop block in space isn't impossible. It's not easy, but it's a routine play at this level. Same goes for a lot of the stuff people are screwing up. Are the plays all perfect? Are people put in tough spots? Sure, but most of the screw-ups are fairly routine, IMO.

you get to an extremely simple and predictable offense,

another cirlce! if we execute the tough to do borges offense it will be less predictable. who cares if we've been trying to run these "predictably tough plays" for the last two years!

We haven't been running anything like what this staff wants to ultimately do the last two years, certainly not before Devin took over. There were plays here and there, but that's in no way the final product. How is the idea that dumbing down plays makes them more predictable a circular idea?

don't have quick fixes and we will continue to struggle no matter who's running the offense this year.

we're basically admitting defeat. these coaches have fielded a product that they cannot improve upon, which is the very nature of their jobs! therefore, they should not have those said jobs because they cannot literally do them! if there are no fixes, if these coaches cannot fix anything, WHY ARE THEY HERE? how do you not see how ridiculously stand pat and silly what you're saying is? 

i'm guessing this is what brian finds frustrating in the Borges analysis. because what you're ending up with is ----There's nothing that we can do! Really? That's your point? 

Wish in one hand and shit in the other my friend. We have three games left which is 60 hours worth of practice, including this week. Not sure what you expect here (in fact why don't you tell me.)

 

Here I want to make an analogy, to a CEO, maybe of something like a pizza company, and he goes to the board, and says, Yes, I know we're losing money, I know the pizza we make is lousy. But the reason it's lousy and we're losing money is we have terrible ingredients for what we want to make. I know we could change the recipe or something, but I think we should keep the recipe until we have the proper ingredients. And really--who knows when this will be...because as it stands...well.....they're just not here. But be patient. I swear. Those ingredients will come. They will. Manbawlllwl Arhgggg Bo I woudla woalked aherer shirtless with my nipples frozen stiff!!!hfShkfshffsnk

Where you analogy falls flat is that pizza ingredients aren't sentient beings that improve through repetition. Our player's aren't "lousy," they're inexperienced. And why would we change the recipe if the "ingredients" we've been recruiting the last 3 years are best suited to the current recipe. They just aren't ripe yet, to use your analogy. It takes time. I don't know why people are so completely allergic to the idea of delayed gratification and short term pain for long term gain.

 

Shop Smart Sho…

November 13th, 2013 at 10:18 PM ^

"we've been recruiting the last 3 years are best suited to the current recipe."

Maybe the coaches should take advantage of the older, more experience players?  Because when they do call plays that take advantage of them, good things seem to happen.  That would mean spreading the field with multiple WRs, and forcing defenses to take guys out of the box so our younger linemen aren't facing more blitzers than they can possibly deal with at this point.

I find it impossible to believe that they don't know that putting Gallon, Funchess, Chesson, Dileo, and Norfleet in some combination of three or more of them at once on the field actually allows them to move the ball.  Hell, they can still run POWER while spreading the field, so they don't need to change their run blocking, but they can still use their WRs as decoys to open up space for their running game.  And if they really feel the need for it, they can put three of those guys in pass patterns, and still keep their precious TE on the line by using Butt, who is an actual threat to the defense.

It seems pretty simple to me that having three WR actually on the field, and not bunched close to the line is going to move at least 4, if not 5 defenders away from the line.  Because any defense that tries to single cover all of those guys with no safety help is asking to get destroyed by a quick passing game.  A quick passing game that Gardner has shown he is capable of executing.  I have a hunch that if they did that, we might see the end of negative rushing totals as well.

Sadly, this staff seems so damn stubborn that they refuse to do anything that moves them away from the most basic form of Power running.  And we're talking about something simple here.  Just move the WRs far enough away from the tackles that the DBs can't be as effective in run support.  The field is wide, use all of it.

CompleteLunacy

November 13th, 2013 at 11:29 PM ^

Funchess is split out wide now, for the very reason you ask (to actually utilize his strengths even tho he SUUUUCKS as a blocking TE right now). As it is, Funchess is only in year 2 anyway (not experienced and older, as you say)

Gallon has bene utilized quite prominently this year. The only reason it isn't more is because he was the only threat down the field, and defenses keyed on him. He's opened up since Funchess was put out wide, but Devin-Gallon mindmeld only works if Gallon actually gets time to get open. 

Devin has been used as best as he can. He is clearly banged up...we haven't seen him use his legs in a couple of games, and I suspect it's something injury-related. Maybe he would work better in a read-option offense, but his skillset works just fine in the Borges offense.

Chesson is extremely raw. He's not experience in any way shape or form.

Norfleet is the only one I may agree. I have no idea why isn't on the field more often. Maybe he doesn't run routes that well. Or the coaches don't trust him based on his practices. Maybe he's just not ready. But shit, man, the guy is fast as hell...surely there is SOME way to utilize him (besides super obvious jet sweep). Having said all that...he also does not really fit your "experienced" argument.

My point is, Borges is using these guys, quite prominently and as much as the blocking will allow. Thing is, the blocking as of the last two games hasn't allowed for much of anything. I agree that Borges is trying to run too much. But still. These guys are being used. What way do you suggest they be used that is different than what he's done? Keep in mind, you have an OL that literally cannot block HS-level concepts.

 

Shop Smart Sho…

November 14th, 2013 at 12:14 AM ^

Funchess being used at any point as anything aside from a WR is pure insanity.  Funchess was being used as a TE in the last two games.  

Chesson being raw doesn't mean anything to the defense when it comes to defending him.  They still have to put a DB on him.  

When those two guys are on the field, Gallon doesn't need to be the deep threat, which means you get to use your most experienced receiver for more than just going deep.  

But the bigger issue to me is where they put these guys in relation to the line when they actually have them out there.  They are very rarely spread wide.  The plays, for the most part, seemed designed to allow the defense to keep guys as close to the Center as possible.

Again, the field is wide.  Use it all.

 

Also, I have no idea why you brought up the read option.  Even if Gardner can run it, Borges sure as shit can't coach it.

reshp1

November 14th, 2013 at 10:20 AM ^

I sorta agree with spreading the field, but at the same time, it leaves the OL even more vulnerable to blitzes. Yes that'll leave guys singled up in coverage, but the defenders don't need to hold their coverage very long if the defense can rush 5 and get sacks consistently because they're now 1v1 on our OL, especially if you throw in some stunts to confuse them. Granted, we're giving up a lot of sacks and pressure even in max protect but I think a lot of that is on Fitz (the UFR backs me up on this) and having to dumb down OL protection schemes so that he's constantly having to block guys much bigger than him.

Maybe the coaches should take advantage of the older, more experience players?  Because when they do call plays that take advantage of them, good things seem to happen.

Who's left on offense that wasn't recruited for pro style? Gallon, Lewan, Schofield, Fitz and Gardner. I would argue Lewan and Schofield are doing just fine in the new style, Gallon would be if not for lack of other threats. Gardner and Fitz maybe better in a spread offense, but Gardner at least has the physical traits to run either.

At some point you have to make the switch. Otherwise the new guys get screwed later by having to switch mid-career. All the interior line are power type guys. We didn't even have TEs before so they're definitely more suited to the new style. Ditto for FBs. Green certainly isn't a spread back. These things take time and the results on the field aren't pretty most of the time. Some losses aren't harbingers of doom, nor a reason to panic and abandon the long term plan... they're expected costs to a transition.

bronxblue

November 13th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

My issue with the preparation argument is that it implies that if X or Y just "clicked" these plays would work.  At some point, you can't have literally dozens of highly negative plays per game and say that it was a lack of preparation by the coaches and players.  No matter how much I prepare and practice, I'm never going to be able to dunk on Dwight Howard.  So my goal should be adapting and attack in some other way, and that's my issue with the offensive coaches.  There are virtually no major structural changes between games and during them, save for some quick-fix switches that maybe get you a first down or two before the team figures them out.  The defense has physical and talent limitations, yet it holds up most weeks because the coaches keep tinkering.  Al Borges and the rest of the offensive staff seem unable to do that, and that bothers me more than anything.

reshp1

November 13th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

There are virtually no major structural changes between games and during them, save for some quick-fix switches that maybe get you a first down or two before the team figures them out.

 

See, what's really frustrating to me is that on one hand Brian and others are arguing that we've gone to a grab bag offense with so many changes and random plays that we don't get to rep them enough while others like yourself are complaining about how there have been no changes. That's pretty much an impossible task betweent the two. Borges has to make the exact right adjustments and teach them in a comprehensible way so everyone can react on the fly to any situation live in-game, all in 20 hours of practice time a week.

I don't defend Borges because I think he's doing a good job, I do it because some of the things people are bashing him for not doing aren't things that can't be realistically accomplished in the middle of a season.

 

InterM

November 13th, 2013 at 2:37 PM ^

There is no correlation whatsoever between the non-uniformity of criticisms one might read on this blog (e.g., too much change/too little change) and the fact that whatever changes Borges is making from game to game, be they "too much" or "too little," they don't work beyond the first series or two.  That is poor coaching, pure and simple, and if the results on the field don't convince you, I don't know what will.

To "defend" Borges by pointing out that posters on this site can't settle on the one thing they most dislike about him is absurd.  If Brian or someone else here is wrong in identifying flaws in Borges' job performance, that's cold comfort to previously competent players (Toussaint, Gardner) who are getting regularly blown up as Borges moves to his preferred scheme.  You sound like Borges at his pressers -- if I can find something to make fun of in a reporter's question (?!BUBBLE SCREENS!?  HURR DURR!!), I can divert attention from my own incompetence.

reshp1

November 13th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

I don't know how many more ways I can say this. I blame the coaches, just not in the ways Brian does. I'm not defending Borges as much as calling out things I see that are non-sensicle. It's not about arguing about what we hate most about him, it's that those things are often diametrically opposed.

aplatypus

November 13th, 2013 at 6:09 PM ^

you're making a damn strawman to tear down. Reshp, SC,  Ron Utah and literally every other poster I've seen on this board "defend" Borges has said explicitly that they blame the coaches and that they think the coaches are failing in some way. They just don't blame the coaches for the players failing what are often very, very simple tasks on the field.

InterM

November 13th, 2013 at 7:52 PM ^

he said "we" were giving Borges an "impossible task" because whether he tried to simplify the playbook or add to it, someone here would criticize him for it if it didn't work.  That, as I pointed out, is a strawman (if even that), because it defends Borges (is there another word for it?) based on the quality and the consistency of the criticism of Borges by random posters on this site.  If the discussion and debate here was focused on what exactly Borges is to blame for, that would be progress over posts like the one I was responding to, which seem designed to prove an obvious point -- that folks on here are occasionally inconsistent in their criticism of the coaches, and will blame the coaches for whatever goes wrong even if they try something that some of us have advocated and it fails.  Well, guess what -- anonymous internet posters are sometimes guilty of hypocrisy, and coaches get blamed if the results on the field are not satisfactory.

Poor Al Borges -- he's getting criticized on the internet because of the piss-poor performance of Michigan's offense.  And yet, even after Nebraska, we get lengthy posts explaining that a play that failed was nonetheless a "perfect" play call, and other posts exhorting us to all reach a consensus about what's wrong with Borges, as though that would somehow affect Borges' performance going forward in any way.  Pardon me if I want to return the focus to what's actually wrong with Borges' performance -- yes, I'm convinced something is wrong, glad to hear you and others are grudgingly agreeing that the coaches are "failing in some way" -- and what the prospects are for improvement in the future.

TheDarkPope

November 13th, 2013 at 10:13 PM ^

we're not watching the same game every week because I see a TON of tinkering and structural changes on offense. Tackle over. New starters at LG, C, and RG. Slide protections. Roll-outs, QB counters. More max-protect. These are all structural and/or tinkering done by Borges and staff. Have they worked? No. And some of the blame falls on the coaches teaching techniques here because some of these concepts are quite simple. But to say the offensive staff is "unable" to adjust is just ignorant. 

TIMMMAAY

November 13th, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

Space Coyote makes certain concessions to not seem totally insane and then goes back to hammering the fact that it's all execution.

I don't see how anyone can read that and the quoted lines above and see it as a "dialogue". I fall somewhere between their two takes, honetly probably leaning a bit to Brian's point of view, but that's neither here nor there. 

jabberwock

November 13th, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

to me that's just Brian's style, he writes the way he talks.  It wouldn't go so far as to call it hyperbolic, but he exagerates and exasperates a lot.  I don't know if you listen to the podcasts, but it's clearer there.  
That being said, due to recent recruiting coverage incidents, I no longer give him as much benefit of the doubt for good judgement as I used to.