Stalled

Submitted by Ace on 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.


Fuller

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.

Comments

nickb

November 24th, 2012 at 4:49 PM ^

OSU was and is the better team. But for two broken plays which lead to two Michigan touchdowns the offense did very little. The score of the game was not indicative of the difference in the teams. OSU is better. As they say, you are what your record is.

Before I get flamed, I am an avid Michigan man but also a realistic one. We were lucky to win against NW and only a last second field goal saves us from MSU.

 

SalvatoreQuattro

November 24th, 2012 at 5:15 PM ^

and OSU has no WR's save for Smith. OSU's offense did little in the 2nd half. They also benefitted from 4 TO's which lead to 9 pts. Outside of that OSU's did little in the 2nd half to warrant your opinion.OSU scored 26 pts with 4 turnover's helping their cause. 

It must also be noted that OSU needed heroics to beat Purdue, struggled to defeat UAB, and they too barely beat MSU. 

 

Also, the Denard was not a broken play nor was Roundtree's long TD catch. It was crap defense by a defense that had shown such a propensty all year.  A broken play conjues iamges of luck. That was not the case. It was poor play.

 

Your post is remarkable in how terrible it is. You apparently did not watch OSU all year nor did you watch this game. How else can one explain your apparent ignorance of basic facts?

CoachZ

November 24th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

Their defense as a unit may be mediocre, but there defensive line is legit.  Our offensive line is simple not very good as a unit.  In order to exploit the rest of the defense you need to take care of their front four.  We did not and honestly cannot do that on a regular basis and the examples that you give are the results of the few times we did.  Are they better than us as a whole?  Maybe a little, but the one area that they are really good we are really bad.  There is a reason so much emphasis is being put on the OL in recruting.  To me this game goes back to old saying that games are won in the trenches.  They won the trenches. 

McFate

November 24th, 2012 at 9:24 PM ^

... towards the end of the year.   Compare their performance against Wisconsin last week, to Penn State's (who also has a pretty good defense) against Wisconsin this week.  Maybe because they stopped facing teams that could expose their weakness (pass defense in the middle), maybe because of a couple personnel upgrades at LB.

At the same time as we note OSU's struggles with Purdue and UAB, we should be fair and also note that they beat both Big Ten title game participants.   They're overrated as a top-five team, but it's not unreasonable to consider them the best team in the conference.   The rest of the B1G consists of a one-B1G-loss team that OSU beat by 25 points (Nebraska), two two-B1G-loss teams that they beat (Michgian, Penn State), and everyone else is 5-3 or worse.

CLord

November 24th, 2012 at 7:54 PM ^

Sorry son, OSU did not have more talent, especially with Simon out.  They were NOT the better team.  It was very even in terms of talent.  The difference in this game was simply (a) Borges, and (b) Mattison's inability to counter that one same, damn Carlos Hyde, up-the-gut run play they ran I think 10 times for an average of 12 yards a carry.

If Borges opens up the play book this game like he did vs Iowa, we could easily have been the ones rejoicing a close victory.

inthebluelot

November 25th, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

OSU was not the better team. Our defense is better, our kicking game is better and we have better talent at 9 of the 11 positions on offense (save our center and RB). Our weak link was the OC, just like it has been since Jabba arrived.

markusr2007

November 24th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

You can't win this football game by stalling drives, shifting momentum and giving the opponent the ball.

Blame Borges if you want. He deserves plenty.

But the main reason Michigan lost this game by 5 points was failing to take care of the football.

Michigan played well enough to win. It's a shame Ohio and Meyer got off the hook.

Gameboy

November 24th, 2012 at 4:52 PM ^

No, the reason why we lost was because we decided to emphasize our weakest link - interior offensive line - which conversely is the strongest part of Ohio's defense (interior d line). I just cannot understand why ANYONE would think that is the way to call the plan. WHY bring out all the creative stuff against Iowa when you don't need it and then go conservative against Ohio??? Why do you not put your two best offensive players out at the same time???? WHHHHHYYYYYY???????

BigCat14

November 24th, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

Hold onto the ball (we are used to seeing DR turn the ball over) yes!  Play to your teams stregnths (stretching the field with DG's arm and utilizing DR in the backfield/slot/flank).  Play away from your weaknesses (interior running, especially with safties and corners cheating up to support).  IMO Borges looked at DR's awesome touchdown run and became drunk with love, thinking that was how we were going to beat ohio with DR making super human plays!  What that did was take DG out of game RHYTHYM and stack the box.  Do not underestimate loosing game rhythym, which I feel affected DG's passing rhythym late in the game with DR inexplicably on the sideline!  The Michigan players played well enough to win, the Michigan coaching staff did not coach (2nd half) well enough to win.  So the main reason was shrinking the box, which causes more tackling traffic and the possibilities of the ball coming loose than when they field is stretched!  

 

wayneandgarth

November 24th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

is what the 2nd half play calling was.  Running Denard twice in the 2nd half after exploding in the 1st half; running Smith up the gut; geez Borgus........he may have no future but Brady will be ever loyal to him and we'll have to live with this crap play calling.

Cope

November 24th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

It was the way we ran Denard that was the problem. Rare misdirections with Denard, didn't keep Denard and Devin in at the same time to risk the deep threat and Denard runs. Obvious calls. It felt like Denard his first year. Every time he took a snap everyone including Ohio's defense knew he was running with zero threat of pass.

I will not let go of how ridiculous it was to use all our aces of genuinely brilliant play calls last week against Iowa, not saving them for Ohio, and apparently not prepping to see if they'd work for Ohio, by coming out with duds against Ohio.

Wow.

switch26

November 24th, 2012 at 5:25 PM ^

This exactly.. it was just like his first year..  We have a pretty decent passing QB, then the 2nd half we sub Denard in to take the direct snap when he can't fucking pass.. how pathetic and predictable..  Let's just leave the best player on the field out of the game while we throw PA on 1st and 10 4 straight drives in a row.. GTFO borges

salami

November 24th, 2012 at 4:28 PM ^

So disappointed for Denard, Vince, Roy, Jordan, Kenny and all the other seniors. This game was well within the grasp of winning yet our coach (no need to further name names), completely outsmarts himself and snatches defeat from the claws of victory. One TD in the second could have clinched it.

Way to go OSU on your perfect season, it means nothing because the coach you "honored" at halftime is a fraud.
/sour grapes rant over

PurpleStuff

November 24th, 2012 at 4:29 PM ^

The decision to go for it up 21-20 in our own end on a third and not so short totally changed the game.  For all the people bitching about Borges, if we put together a single drive in the 2nd half OSU fans are the ones screaming for their OC to get fired after missing so many opportunities.

Going for it when we really didn't have to and the odds weren't all that great (especially when the D knows Denard can't throw it) flipped the field and that was the story of the game as much as anything.  Shitty 2nd half offense didn't stop OSU from winning the game.

PurpleStuff

November 24th, 2012 at 4:44 PM ^

The field position battle was tipped from there on out.  When our D made a great play it held them to a field goal or got us the ball deep in our own end.  When their D made a great play it set them up to score.  Not to mention we were playing from behind the rest of the way.

If anything it is an actual legitimate gripe compared to people acting like they would easily have procured a win running their Tecmo Bowl offense.

snarling wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 4:52 PM ^

I agree that field position was a problem, but that one 4th down call alone wasn't the cause.    On our next possession we had a 30-yard completion to near midfield, but then fumbled on the next play.  Then we fumbled again, and then threw the pick.   That was four punt opportunities we missed altogether.  

 

seksdesk

November 25th, 2012 at 1:12 PM ^

Why go for it, up the middle no less, with a lot of time left (8-ish minutes) when you have a great punter? Pin them and ask your defense to stop them in order to shorten our own field!

I couldn't believe this call. It made no sense. NO SENSE! You can say we only ended up allowing 3 points, but that same defensive stand following a punt gets us the ball back at the 50 after they punt.

It was at this time that I really lost faith in our coach's decision making. 

Hoops don't fail me now!

swoosh

November 24th, 2012 at 4:30 PM ^

They got off the hooked because of Borges play calling, and Hokes choice to go for it on fourth.

 

The coaching staff lost this game, Borges is the main problem IMO.

Mannix

November 24th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

- The "drive" to close out the 1st half was two runs, one a TD thanks to 2 OSU guys sandwiching DRob and keeping him on his feet. Questionable play calling and clock management.

- The 4th down run of Denard up the middle...after a time out this was the best they came up with?
- The play before 3rd and 3 dive right with Rawls 
- Early 4th qtr run the option with Denard pitching to Smith. Denard is not an option QB. Go back and look at this play, they ran it about 4 times all year and it did not work. What happened to getting Gardner outside on the bootleg. He scored how many TD's the last 3 games on this play? at least 3. 
- Taking Gardner out tells the OSU defense its a run, no threat of pass - 11 guys to the football. Speilman was all over this! 
- 6mins left 2nd and 2, Denard up the middle - no gain 
- next play 3rd and 1 Vinson Smith up the middle no gain. We have not been able to run up the middle all year out of the I. The QB sneak was there as no one over the center. Borges needs to give Devin the option to look for this. 
- late 4th Q 1st down Smith run up the middle no gain. 
- They took Denard out of the game the last 2 series completely went 4 wide and threw on every down, you lose one whole element the Def needs to be aware of with Denard out. Again Speilman all over this, advantage defense. 
- Borges got conservative and more stupid as the 2nd half unfolded. 
- Brady finally puts a headset on with 2 mins left in game, he needs to be aware of the offensive play calls sooner and halt the absurdity. 
There needs to be accountability here from Hoke/Borge.

Not to mention losing momentum at the end of the half w/ a squib kick and letting Miller loose to put them in position for a FG to cut it to 1.

AllForBlue

November 24th, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

I do agree that Borges cost us a game that was otherwise falling into our laps. If Denard can't throw, he can't play QB. Ohio had no reason to respect the pass when Shoelace was out there. Hoke needs to get more involved with the offense, and shouldn't be affraid to over-rule the OC for some play call and personel decisions.

snarling wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^

This is the big problem I had.  Getting Denard the ball is fine, but why did he need to be in at QB?  Why telegraph to the defense before the snap that it's a run?  

I'm afraid that that late TD before halftime convinced the staff that Denard at QB was a viable option even if he couldn't throw.  That play may have succeeded in part because of the situation (1:00 to go in the first half) - Ohio may not have expected us to run there.

A2Fan

November 24th, 2012 at 4:34 PM ^

* Hoke points to self *

Let's see, you defer to the 2nd half so you can eschew field position by Not punting, wasting a timeout and struggling to reach midfield for the remainder of the game. Sheesh.

Drbogue

November 24th, 2012 at 4:36 PM ^

I think your analysis was spot on. Although I may be consoling myself I have to think that number one we were not playing for the Big Ten championship game. Number two we made of been playing for a possible BCS bowl game but by no way was this an assured thing. The bottom line is yes Borges had a terrible playcalling in the second half. And yes I was screaming for him to get fired at the end of the game in my living room. However on second thought people have bad games it happens. But the offensive line has not been blocking well at all this year. You can really see a difference between David Molk and Mealer this year. There's a reason that Fitz got 1000 yards last year and wrap roughly a third of that this year. It's frustrating but life will go on and we will still be in the decent bowl game because we have a great Fanbase

BlueMan80

November 24th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^

The O- line couldn't block power between the tackles all season and Vincent Smith is not a big back or shifty enough to shoot the gaps. Al got spooked on the Devin plus Denard backfield after the play where Denard demonstrated he can't block and Devin got sacked. The two of them weren't on the field at the same time after that. Over thought things and just didn't stick with what the offense has done well all season. With Denard unable to pass, everyone knew what was coming. Add in 4 turnovers and some OSU drives in the first half and it adds up to a loss.

We need a stud running back. We need some run blocking to give the backs a chance. A fast receiver that can create separation on their own would be good, too. The talent will make the play calling work a lot better. So, Santa, please bring us Green, Treadwell, and early maturity for our redshirt freshman that will be staring on the O-line next year.