Stalled Comment Count

Ace November 24th, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

21 plays. 60 yards. Zero points.

That was Michigan's second-half offensive output, after Denard Robinson averaged over 20 yards per carry and Devin Gardner a hair under ten yards per pass in the first half. The Wolverine defense held Ohio State to two field goals in that same span despite three drives starting in their own territory, but it was for naught in a 26-21 heartbreaker.

It's too easy to pin a game on a coach, but after this game it's tough to figure out who else is to blame—Al Borges's second-half playcalling is the story today. Michigan's running backs, ineffective the entire year even with a healthy Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint, were stymied on three third down attempts in the final 30 minutes. In the end, Vincent Smith mustered just 12 yards on five carries, Thomas Rawls a mere two on his five. That enabled Ohio State to load up against Robinson, still apparently unable to throw the ball, when he entered the game as a quarterback.

There were other problems, of course. Fumbles by Robinson and Gardner prematurely ended drives in the final half; Michigan's last drive finished with a Gardner interception. While the defense put forth a heroic effort late, they were repeatedly burned early by Braxton Miller—who finished with 189 yards on 14-of-18 passing—and had trouble stopping Carlos Hyde (146 yards on 26 carries) up the middle.

This despite prospects looking good early. A 75-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree answered a Hyde score on the opening Buckeye drive. The Wolverines took a 14-10 lead on a goal-line plunge by Gardner. And Michigan's 21-20 halftime edge came courtesy of a spectacular 67-yard scamper by Robinson, who shed simultaneous tackling attempts by Christian Bryant and Travis Howard and broke free from the pack for a vintage Denard touchdown.


But the tides turned on Michigan's opening drive of the third quarter, when Brady Hoke took a timeout after initially sending out the punt team following a zero-yard Rawls run on third-and-three. It was Robinson who took the field at quarterback for fourth down; the blocking broke down inside, leaving him no crease to reach the sticks as Ryan Shazier brought him down for a two-yard loss.

From that point forward, turnovers and questionable playcalls doomed the offense. Two Drew Basil field goals represented the entire scoring output of the second half; that was all the Buckeyes needed to secure their sixth straight home victory against Michigan and an undefeated season, one which ended today thanks to a postseason bad.

Michigan will play on, but it won't be in a BCS bowl. The question before this season was whether Al Borges was the right offensive coordinator for Denard Robinson. After this game, the question might expand, to whether or not he's the right offensive coordinator for this program moving forward.



November 24th, 2012 at 5:36 PM ^

Compare this with OSU's coaching situation a year ago. They got a little known up and coming offensive coordinator from Iowa State, and look where they are now. Consistent improvement on offense, not to mention a beautifully called game against us. They started the game with their base option offense, adjusted to a more inside run heavy game when they saw that it was working, and mixed up enough constraint plays to keep it going. Is that too much to ask for? This is Michigan, we can pluck up pretty much any offensive coordinator and make him our own, especially with Dave Brandon's new big hire policy. I'm sure there are tons of good OCs out there...

Borges can draw up some nice plays, but our offense is completely incohesive. Against bad defenses it doesn't matter; Borges can just pick a random play and it will work because we have talent. Against competent defenses our offense completely shuts down. Coincedence? Of course not, this is what happens when you have an incohesive offense and a bad OC.

snarling wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

I wouldn't say they had a "beautifully called game."  I actually thought their OC had a pretty bad day.  Michigan turned the ball over five times (including the 4th down), most in Michigan territory, and Ohio consistently failed to capitalize.  They went deep to J.T. Floyd's man on their opening drive and never tried it again.  They controlled the line of scrimmage and completed 75% of their passes, yet couldn't score TDs.  The story of this game very nearly was Ohio's awful redzone production.   They ended up being bailed out by the fact that we were even more inept offensively.



November 24th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

Their offense stalling was a result of well timed botched snaps and a great game by Mattison & co (which, lets be honest, is massively better than OSU's equivalent). What I saw out of OSU's OC was a cohesive gameplan that threatened to score a lot more than it did due to a great opposing defense.

What I saw out of our offense was an incohesive mess that really should have only scored 7 points or so. OSU put together many coherent drives. Our offense scored
A) on a big passing play that was only a TD due to OSU's safety taking a terrible angle
B) a big Denard run when we were trying to run out the clock where 2 OSU tackles nullified each other due to some funny physics, and
C) a drive that started in OSU territory after a muffed punt, and still needed OSU penalties to stay alive

If anything our offense looked better than it actually was, and theirs looked worse. 


Their OC was able to identify what worked and didn't, and adjust accordingly. How on earth can a professional offensive coordinator lack this skill? How long have we waited for Borges to develop this skill? Is it really too much to ask?

snarling wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 7:32 PM ^

I'm not defending Borges (at least, not in the second half; his first-half playcalling was OK).  But coaching isn't a zero-sum game.  That he had a bad game doesn't mean that the Ohio OC was awesome.  To start all those drives in our territory and score zero TDs in the second half is not very impressive.  And I was dumbfounded that they never went after Floyd deep after that first drive.

I would bet that when the Mathlete breaks this game down, he'll find that Ohio scored far less than its expected point total, given its incredibly good field position much of the game.




November 24th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

I don't know.  I don't think their OC made any remarkable adjustments.  They scored a total of six points after halftime, on drives that totalled about 30 yards.  I was not a fan of Borges's playcalling in the second half at all, but if he'd been given the kind of field position his OSU counterpart was, I think he could have matched that total.  

Really, on either side, it wasn't an exemplary display of offensive playcalling today.  OSU's only 3rd-down conversion of the second half was on an iso on 3rd and 7 - a call Kirk Ferentz would have loved.  




November 24th, 2012 at 5:59 PM ^

guy in the chain of command should shoulder some blame.  What Borges did in the 2nd half was horrible but Brady Hoke allowed it to happen again, and again, and again.  As the Head Coach that is his responsibility.

The real irony is that everyone was concerned that Borges and Hoke had needlessly showcased some top notch plays against Iowa.  People need not have been concerned at all as they never had any intention of using any of those plays. 

James Burrill Angell

November 24th, 2012 at 6:42 PM ^

To me it's hard to blame Borges when he's calling plays with one hand tied behind his back. We have literally NO running game. The offensive line did absolutely nothing on the run game and really hasn't all year. We've had M teams in the past with average running backs (the 97 National Champs immediately come to mind) and still had productive running attacks, I truly pin this on them. Conversely, those guys were recruited as zone block type linemen for a different system so essentially, they aren't road grader type run blocking Michigan linemen as we know them.

If you want to pin anything to the coaching staff, I'd complain about their inability in two years to recruit an impact running back. I'm not sure it would help with our line being what it is, but having no serviceable running back didn't help either. Reality number two of our running game is other than Fitz, everyone is too small or too big/slow/unshifty.

I'll give you one other point that a local UofM radio guy brought up before last week's game. You have to wonder whether next year's offensive line will be addition by subtraction. Assuming that Lewan leaves, next year we'd return only Schofield from this year's line. That pretty much means Kalis and Magnuson will start at guard and tackle respectively and Jack Miller likely starts at center. The other guard is probably a shoot out between Blake Bars/Chris Bryant and the walkon who backed up the guards this year. Kalis, Wright, Magnuson and Bars were all significant recruits likely with significant talent recruited for this system. Are they an upgrade after they get a little experience, very possibly.

SC Wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^

Everything you said is true.  Yet it is still grotesque that we did not score a point in the second half against a vulnerable tsio defense.  It's not as if we don't have any weapons, after all. We are the only team this year who did not score on them in the second half.  Add this to the 0 touchdowns against Notre Dame, MSU, and Nebraska, and Borges' head should roll.

Here are the second half scoring results from every other team to play tsio this year.  I doubt that they all had dominate o-lines and running backs:

Miami (NTM) 7


Cal  21


MSU  13

NU  14

IN 36

PU 9

PSU 16

ILL 16

WI 7

UM 0

For crying out loud, UAB scored three points on tsio in the second half.  Illinois scored 16.  And Borges can't get 7?


November 24th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

No running game?  Bullshit.  How many yards did Denard run for this year  and in the first half?  The reason Borges is a complete joke of a coach was his inability to leverage the QB run threat, from both Denard AND Devin, the exact way Meyer leverages Miller. 

Where were the designed QB roll outs with options A. Tight end in flat, B. RB in flat, C. QB run scramble 5 yards for first down?  Nowhere.  How on EARTH does he not have ONE damn designed run for Devin on those short yardage situations? 

The fucking universe knew Denard would run when with the ball, but with Devin, Ohio HAD to respect his accurate arm so why not leverage his 5 star dual QB running ability?  NOT ONCE.

After the torture that was the offensive plan in the second half of both Nebraska and Ohio , Borges isn't going anywhere this year.  Not until he gets "his guys" and then produces the same steaming pile of shit.  But UM's offensive line coach at minimum, should be shit canned immediately.  That was the worst offensive line play all year I have seen out of UM in my lifetime.

Bill the Butcher

November 24th, 2012 at 10:20 PM ^

I'm not defending Borges because I thought the second half was pathetic, but Denard gains all his yards in spite of the Oline and because we have a numbers advantage when we run him.  

The reason the running backs never got going is not because Fitz magically regressed this year, its because they change in the Oline.  Mealer, Barnum and Omameh have been terrible all year.  If you watch our successful running plays with Denard 90% of them are with an extra blocker, including his TD run at the end of the first half.  



November 24th, 2012 at 9:35 PM ^

you know Coach Borges did. Armed with this knowledge, in an important point in the game, THE GAME, THE BIGGEST RIVALRY GAME IN ALL OF SPORTS he runs the ball up the gut knowing he has a questionable offensive line. Also knowing OSU's defensive line is arguably the strength of the team. Does he at least spread the field? No, he brings everyone into the center of the field which allows their linebackers and secondary to concentrate in the middle of the field as well. If Coach Borges felt he HAD to run it up the gut he should have spread the field with Denard at wide receiver, THAT would of gave our team the best opportunity to win. What Coach Borges called gave OSU the best opportunity to stop us.

Then, when that fails, what is called on fourth down? Basically the same thing with a different setup. Then the very next series, with us still in the game, at a similarly important junction in the game, it's done again.

How can you not blame the OC?


November 24th, 2012 at 10:04 PM ^

Borges called a terriable second half. I dont care if Drob and Gardner played together this season, but taking one out really gave away our game plan. I thought that with the Iowa game we would see Drob as the rb and that would keep Ohio honest on d. But Borges decided that running up the middle when we owned the outside all game was the adjustment that needed to be made. He not only made the mistake once, but three times as you have stated. Insane! Then with over % minutes to go in the game he doesnt even use DROB at all and throws the ball. Very poor play calling in the second half and it really has happened all year against the big four that we played.


November 25th, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

I agree.  I could see Borges trying to attack up the middle (thinking we were gashing them outside, so this would counter their adjustment) but once it didnt work, we needed to abondon the concept.  Instead, we repeated and lost.  I for the life of me cannot figure out why we would burn out time outs in the second half.  I give credit for trying to be aggresive and go for it on 4th and 2, but using a time out to decide that call made the defense ready.  The other wasted time out was just after a 1st Down.  WHY IN THE WORLD would we waste a 2nd half time out there???  In a close game???


November 25th, 2012 at 6:40 PM ^

If you know you have no running attack why in the name of all that is good an holy, WOULD YOU EVER RUN THE BALL BETWEEN THE TACKLES ON TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYIS IN THE GAME?!?!?! INCOMPETENCE!!!! TOTAL INCOMPETENCE!!!

And the fact that Hoke wasnt on the head set after the first craptastic run chewing out Gorges, makes me want to hurl. Poor coaching, argue it all you want. If a coaches job id to put their players in the best position to succeed, we need to find a coach or coaches that understand that and can execute. 


November 25th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

When you say that the O Line runs a zone blocking scheme due to being assembled for a different system. Carr installed the zone scheme back
In 2004 and we have the best LT in the country. Also, our guards were pulling all game long, but an ineffective Center consistently allowed pressure deep into the backfield which stymied our run game. Bro blame this on a previous coaching regime is embarrassing to the point of being offensive. It's been two years and we can't run the ball... That's a coaching issue.


November 26th, 2012 at 12:04 AM ^

I think Borges is as good an offensive mind as you can get. He's just never been 'in the game' from his 1000 foot perch. He should've been on the field this year, with the other coaches, with the players. Id bet on him playing chess to the extent his pieces move like they should. But when they don't, and Borges isn't in synch with the guys on the field, it's a disaster. He wasn't in synch with the team in the second half on Saturday, it cost us the game.


November 26th, 2012 at 10:51 AM ^

Yeah, I predict a rough start and an exciting end to the season.  They will still be pretty raw and it will show, but they have the talent and will finally be mature enough we should see an exciting line by the time the get it together.  On the other hand, if they remain hopelessly confused about blocking all season and rarely get any push, we have much bigger issues.

Willis Ward

November 24th, 2012 at 11:12 PM ^

I'm not saying fire Borges. I think there is a strong argument for giving him a shot with his players and his offense. BUT, I worked with Loefler when he was a GA and he is the truth. Best football mind I've ever been around. He had a tough year in a tire fire. I'll admit that I am biased, but he is going to be a great coordinator and probably a great head coach.


November 25th, 2012 at 2:32 AM ^

Loeffler is an awesome qb coach. I think he would help Shane Morris a lot. Therefore, if he can make Shane Morris a 1st rd NFL qb then you have to hire him as the o-cord. I actually do not know why Rich Rod let him walk. First bad decision he made except he also let mallet transfer. I think with the defense that we have it wouldnt take much of an offense to win games. In two years we are going to have one of the top 3 defenses in all of collage football. Loeffler will get UofM back to being able to pass the ball and score points. The running will improve as the o-line and rb's improve.


November 25th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

It oozes ignorance. I loved Loeffler, really, I did. He was a great QB coach for us, when we had a pro style QB. You say you don't understand why RR let him go? I don't even know where to begin with that one. You know that RR needed a system QB, right? A pro style QB coach would have helped RR about as much as Borges has helped Denard develop.

Also your logic of if he can make Shane Morris a 1st rd NFL qb then you have to hire him as the o-cord is just dumb. The job of any coordinator is to manage their entire side of the ball, not just develop a qb.

I don't feel like I should have had to type any of this. You owe me a milkshake.


November 25th, 2012 at 5:59 PM ^

You know at I think it was Toledo, he ran a passing spread right. The fact that Rich Rod chased away both a good qb coach and a very good qb just says all you need to know about his leadership skills. Everyone is knocking Borges (rightfully so) about not being able to adapt to the players skills and the other teams defense. I think Loeffler could have helped make Drob a better passer.

Collage football on the offensive side of the ball is all about the QB. Look at the top teams in the country, they all have qb's developed. However, Bama is the only one with an o-line that is good enough to overcome a bad qb. You want a good offense, you better get a qb and develop him. Look, if Shane Morris develops into a 1st rd pick, then loeffler has developed not just a qb, but the entire offense to fit the skills of Morris. Without a qb, Michigan will be a team like MSU this year, lots of loses in close games because we cannot score.


November 26th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

...'let Mallet transfer' thing. I think it has been well established that he was transferring no matter what....Carr loathed him and had already encouraged him to leave and RR had tried calling him when he came on to at least get the story and Mallet never called him back.  He was 100% out the try to have your facts down before you spout. 

Buck Killer

November 25th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

Did you watch the game? uhm Petrino, a high school kid, a drug dealer that bets on football, etc, anyone would know to put DRob and Gardner out like we did against Iowa. Meyer said that was his top concern coming into the game and Borges isolated that for him. WTF?

First game Navy 1981

November 25th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

There is no one to blame. This is a result of how the program was run under the last few years of Lloyd, the bail out of talent and the need to rebuild. Which ever poster said they overachieved the last two years is right. Two years from now you will see the fruit of all the hard work put in under Hoke and Company. Until then, stay patient.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

OSU has one of the best D-Lines in the nation.  John Simon (ok, he didn't play), Nathan Williams, & Jonathan Hawkins are all NFL bound.  Noah Spence was a 5 star DLine recruit, and Washington was a 4-star recruit.  They also have future NFL cornerbacks.

Michigan does not have a future NFL O-line, nor does it have a future NFL bruising RB.  Taking Denard and Gardner in an unconventional fast paced offence (ie, the first half) was the key to victory.  Going "Conventional" (ie, the second half) ain't gonna work.  If you're gonna lose the rivalrly game lose because you have the weaker team, not weaker coaches.

It took Urban a year to get the team back on track from the Fickell Disaster, and 12-0 ain't too shabby.
Now get this, with no bowl game all-star recruiter, Urban Meyer, has nothing but recruiting on his plate between now and May.  Look at the stats at his former jobs (BG, Utah, UF), his 'turnarounds' happened in year #2.  Seriously, was this just a warm-up year?  All I can say is, Michigan and the rest of the B1G better pony up the dough for elite (not good, not great, but elite) coaches or "get used to it."


November 24th, 2012 at 4:22 PM ^

Agree ... sensible analysis.

The story of the second half was not good calls poorly played.  The story of the second half was questionable calls that predictably failed.

Ohio State's defensive coordinator must be scratching his head and counting his blessings right now.  He got off easy.  It should have been a much tougher assignment.