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

CoachZ

November 24th, 2012 at 7:46 PM ^

You are correct that the o-line is the biggest problem.  I think people don't understand how it translates to play calling though.  Ohio runs a 4-3 and our interior line cannot single block both of their DT's, this means we need to doulbe atlease one of them. 

That is huge win for them, they have now "changed the math".  Ideally on offense you want to block each defender with one guy, because you are already at a numerical disadvantage due to the fact that your ball carrier cannot block and unless you run the single wing or an option scheme your quarterback does not block (it is considered a block by the quarterback if someone accounts for him on an option play in which he gives or pitches it)  So assuming single blocks in a pro style offense you have nine guys accounting for eleven.  Now you add in a double and it is eight vs eleven (This is why teams often run bootlegs to keep a couple of guys honest so you don't need to block them)  Now if we have to doulbe both of the DT's it becomes a bigger problem.  Add in a missed block and oh boy it gets ugly.

Their lack of respect for our interior run game, combined with their talent on the line means they can play the inside run game with the two DT's and the MLB.  They can now widen out their ends and OLB's to control the outside run game.  Add in the safeties because of the lack of a deep passing created by the pressure or who is playing QB and you have a recipe for a really bad offense.  They now have three guys committed to the outside on each side, plus a MLB who is going to look for the cutbacks.  Now you cannot run the ball at all, but if you just give up on it they will simply pin their ears back.  This also makes the middle look pretty open, which it is, if you have the guys to do it.  We do not have those guys.  I would guess this was part of the adjustment that they made at halftime and the only thing Al could do was attack the middle, which is like hunting a bear with a BB gun. 

NYMICH

November 24th, 2012 at 4:43 PM ^

not turnovers.  Michigan had 4 turnovers, but OSU had two, plus an array of stupid penalties that gifted Michigan numerous first downs. 

Borges should not escape criticism.  He was the primary reason Michigan lost.  Denard was the only good runner we had.  Devin was the only good passer we had.  Why weren't they both on the field at the same time the entire game?  The entire offense should have been Devin under center with Denard somewhere else on the field as a threat to get the ball.  Once OSU figured out Denard couldn't throw, they teed off on the run, which should have ended Denard being at QB for the rest of the game since it was just a wasted down.  Yet, Borges persisted and killed off a bunch of drives with stupid playcalling.  And was he the only one who didn't know that Michigan couldn't open a lane up the middle?  Why all the dives in the A gap?  WTF?

BTW, Devin didn't take off and run nearly as much as he should have.  Does Borges beat it into the heads of his QBs to never run?  Devin could have picked up a bunch of first downs if he just tucked it and ran, yet he didn't.  He did it the last three games, but not today.  Why?

cloudman

November 24th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^

I will say that the Michigan defence kept Michigan in the game during the second half, but the number of turnovers for Michigan kept the defence on the field way too long.  

The offensive line blocking had too many breakdowns, which allowed OSU to pressure the QB during pass attempts, stuff the run or create turnovers.  Whether that is a breakdown of Michigan players or OSU outplaying them, I would leave for Brians review.  We will see if the freshman next year can help correct the situation.

Some people may doubt the criticism of Al Borges, but his play calling seems inconsistent in big games.  Denard Robinson was used sparingly and in situations that seemed to telegraph the play.  There was nothing unexpected about the plays when Denard was on the field, and denard did create a TD by shrugging off simultaneous tackle attempts from either side, displaying sheer guts.  

Devinn Gardner was  the better passer, but he alot to learning about creating opportunities, when he is under pressure or out of the pocket.  The other problem was the lack of an effective running attack other than Robinson.  

Furthermore, the special teams, especially punt return team, allowed OSU to put Michigan in poor field position.  

I feel sorry for this senior members of the team, because they started their careers under Rich Rodriguez for two years with consistently mediocre defense performance.  Under Brady Hoke last year, they help created one of the most memorable seasons in my memory.  This year seem anticlimatic, with performances against Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and OSU that were tragic in outcome.  I hope they can enjoy a victory in their bowl game to reward their persistance.

KC Wolve

November 24th, 2012 at 4:49 PM ^

I'm sorry, but the play calling was just terrible in the second half. No excuses need to be made other than Al did a terrible job and Hoke let it happen.

Serious question and I know I am going to get hammered for asking it, but what is Hoke's strength during gameday? I mean, we all know Mattison calls the D and Al calls the offense. What is his strength during games? He doesn't wear a headset so if Al calls shitty plays, he can't intervene. What is he doing besides clapping and wearing short sleeves in the winter?

enlightenedbum

November 24th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

Game theory is Hoke's strength.  He usually makes the right call.  I'll wait for Brian or the Mathlete to make a call on that 4th down decision, but my instinct was that it was a good one, considering how the first half had gone.  Just the playcall itself that wasn't good (though at least we broke a tendency!).

snarling wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 5:20 PM ^

Hoke's strength on gameday is the calming influence he is on the sidelines.  He doesn't get too high or too low.  He doesn't let one play set him off.  He stays focused and confident, and keeps his players' confidence up.  You can scoff at this, but look at the number of close games he's won in his two years.  His players feed off his attitude.  Even today we were right there, one possession away, the entire second half.  We never hung our heads with all the turnovers in our own territory.

 

 

ole luther

November 26th, 2012 at 11:03 AM ^

how much football have you watched?

I'm sick and tired of hearing about Hoke's sideline coaching.  He's ruined the instinctive athleticism of Denard Robinson, he's now ruining the instinctive athleticism of Devin Gardner, almost ruined Roundtree and in case you haven't noticed, he hasn't beaten ANYONE who we were not supposed to beat.  Add to that the fact that he and his staff haven't soundly beaten anyone who we should be soundly beating..........

.............oh yeah, UMass and Iowa......nice job of coaching the junior high games......and before you bring up the ND game under the lights.........we damn near lost.

Hasn't won on the road yet.............with more talent than most of his opponents.

Devin Gardner has been our quarterback for this style offense all season.  The coaching staff knew it. Couldn't take Denard out from under center and piss off the powers that be.

How many other coaches out there would have this stinking record, with this talent, playing the Big 10 this year????????

HIGH SCHOOL COACHES WOULD HAVE HAD A BETTER RECORD, WOULDN'T HAVE WASTED TIMEOUTS, MANAGED THE CLOCK BETTER, AND MADE BETTER DECISIONS ALL SEASON LONG.

I get it. Our OL is not good.

 

THEN WHY THE HELL DID WE TRY TO RUN AGAINST ONE OF THE BIG 10'S BEST D LINES IN SUCH A CLOSE GAME WHILE LEAVING HALF OUR TALENT ON THE SIDELINES?

Our primary ball handler only had one hand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hoke and Borgess along with Brandon need to go.  Money, money, money......that's all it's about now.

I want Sten Carlsen to tell me why we didn't use any of the things we used against Iowa during the Bama game?

YOU'RE ALL IDIOTS.

GO WILDCATS!

mtzlblk

November 26th, 2012 at 12:00 PM ^

what Meyer did all year to get them through their season undefeated and into the game with effective schemes and to be in a position to win it despite a lot of mistakes, penalties and miscues from a young team. You have to hand it to him, in his first year with a somewhat mass exodus of talent and experience, a young QB and no possibility of a post-season, and somehow he turns in an undefeated season anyway. Not bad. I have to say I am more than a little daunted by what that portends over the next several years as he gets more of his players and system in place.

As for Saturday, I think it was mentioned that there was signal calling, headset, involvement......and charts. So there is all that, right? Not just charts.

 

M-Wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 2:39 PM ^

You don't know that he did anything, other than win the game. So if Gallon doesn't get shoestring tackled and ran for a TD and we luck into winning the game Meyer is an idiot for wearing a headset and standing around holding charts rather than leading his team. So win = good coaching, lose = bad coaching. Glad you were around to clear that up for the rest of us.

KC Wolve

November 25th, 2012 at 7:58 PM ^

No one has really given a good answer to my question though. We know Urban is a good coach so that really isn't the question.

To your Gallon point, I'll just add that if they stopped Troy smith on 3rd down once or twice, they may have won a few of those games too. The fact is, Gallon went down and they lost. You can't fix those things for the most part, but you can fix bad coaching.

M-Wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 10:01 PM ^

You didn't want to listen. You're the one avoiding the question. You acted like you can tell how good a coach is by what he does on the sidelines. I illustrated that you have no idea what a coach is doing on the sidelines; you only know if he did a good job by whether he wins or loses. Which, duh.

ole luther

November 26th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

If, If, If....sounds just like someone who spends entirely too much time on the keyboard.

The man is 12-0 in an uderstandbly weak conference..however, he's 12-0!  He won games that he shouldn't have won.  He beat EVERY opponent that he faced.  He and his staff were prepared and lucky. 

If Gallon isn't shoe string tackled?!?!?!?

WTF?

If your sperm lands on your QWERTY?.?.?.?

We have been outcoached all year...........deal with it.

M-Lemon

November 24th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

Al Borges was saving all season for Ohio!? 

Also, I could not understand why Denard and Devin could not be on the field at the same time in the second half.  It was kinda easy to see Denard = run, Devin = throw.

markusr2007

November 24th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

We're actually LUCKY to have Borges.

Otherwise Hoke would have brought Stan Parrish to OC Michigan football.

Let that thought detonate in your brain for a moment. Stan freaking Parrish.

nyc_wolverines

November 24th, 2012 at 7:19 PM ^

Not a fan anymore.

Not having someone take reps in practice ALL YEAR when your QB is injury prone blew the lid off the top for me. That's just complete insanity.

 

Then, going for it on 4th when you know that getting a few yards will be tough, and turning it over will likely give OSU a great scoring chance and the lead, was dumb, too.

 

I just can't anymore.

 

I am very close to saying that this UM-OSU is no longer a rivalry.

Today should have been a second straight UM win, first time since the 90s!!!

Now, I don't know... I know I am fed up with the excuses.

johnvand

November 24th, 2012 at 4:54 PM ^

Regression to Lizzard brain, and calling plays that haven't worked ALL YEAR when you're in a position to win The Game on the the road is completely inexcusable.

At this point, I think he's just trolling us all.

Did we run a veer all game?

That Diamond formation that worked pretty well in the first half, how many times did we use it in the second half?  One?  Two?

Al seems to out-think himself way too much.  I think that is obvious because his schenanigans don't appear to ever work against quality coaching staffs.  Bama, MSU, OSU, ND, VT....  8 games against those opponents, in only 1 (2011 OSU) did it appear Al had the best of the opponent, and I question even that given it was a team led by Luke Fickel.

MGoRossGrad

November 24th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

This I mostly agree with. 

More than often I sit back and think that instead of going with predictable strengths, Borges is trying to prove himself in weird unnecessary ways. 

It's almost crazy that we had to sit there and think: Is he *really* not going to continue to do everything that we did well in the first half?  Is it because he thinks the Ohio D is going to expect Denard/Devin and automatically shut it down?  It seems as if he already skipped to the "their D is going to overpursue the edges because that's where we were successful and so let's hope running between the tackles will open up."  It's, in a way, sound logic to assume that may happen, but my lord wait for them to actually stop your strength before you try to adjust.  It really does seem like overthinking everything.  Like he's trying to outsmart himself.

I don't think he should be fired by any means.  But it's odd.  And while he's called good games with complex game plans, there are a few frustratingly simple decisions that don't get made.

Yeah, turnovers are about execution.  But that's a different story.  If Devin hadn't thrown the interceptions and we marched down the field, scraping by on one yard dives and 8 yard slants, and scored and won, I would still have these head scratching questions.  Don't blame turnovers on Borges.  Blame the fact that even without committing them, we had no shot with that playcalling.

johnvand

November 24th, 2012 at 10:39 PM ^

Exactly.

He has said before that it's a chess game.  I agree with that to a certain extent.  But if the opponent isn't even going to bother blocking the mate-in-4....  FFS use it, and use it until he proves he's going to block it.  Don't give the opponent too much credit.

"Surely they wont let me do this AGAIN."

He also likes to throw stuff away after it gets blown up once.  A play will work 6 times in the first half.  If they stop it the first time its run in the second half, he throws it away. 

I'm just really baffled by the bi-polar nature of our offensive playcalling.  We pull out all the stops and throttle the baby seals.  Pucker up, Mike Valenti style, when we play good opponents, mostly because we assume they'll stop it.

I just want some consistency.  I can't handle the ups and downs.  Such is sports.  Maybe I'm just getting old.

ole luther

November 26th, 2012 at 11:32 AM ^

I don't care about Kindergarten.  Nor do I care about the word of the day.

I worry about politics.  The politics that has become MICHIGAN football.

Duh.  Maybe Gardner doesn't throw interceptions if he stays in the game and is allowed to get into a rythm.

Maybe Denard aopproaches another record if he's on the field EVERY play.

Maybe the Ohio DC's job is just a liiittttllleee more difficult if these two things happen.

STOOPED-STOOPID-STOOPID

-OR-

UNDERMINED BY POLITICS-UNDERMINED BY POLITICS-UNDERMINED BY POLITICS

Did it ever occur to any on you that maybe Hoke isn't really in charge of this team?

And if Hoke isn't in charge, Borgess isn't really in charge of the offense, now, is he?

Denard with one hand and Gardner possibly with only one ankle? Fine......If they could both keep swapping plays back and forth then why couldn't they just stay out there? 

Vegas needed M to beat IOWA by what?....27 points--------bring out the high powered offense.

Vegas needed Ohio to win by 3.5-----------fuck it all up and try to look respectable doing it.

How'd that work out?????

And how does Brandon sell the #16 Jersey if #16 is on the sidelines?

I love Denard and all that he has done, but, I will be so glad when it's over.

jg2112

November 24th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

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. 

But then

Fumbles by Robinson and Gardner prematurely ended drives in the final half; Michigan's last drive finished with a Gardner interception .

And now it's being reported that Denard screwed up the 4th down run, according to DENARD.

Maybe you should abstain instead of posting 60 minutes after a game when you're still fueled by fandom instead of rationality.

Killer Nut

November 24th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

Ahh what a game. Gotta walk away from that one feeling good. Thank you all for participating and I will see you all same time next year eh. Maybe you guys will stand more of a chance if you keep the food cart off the sidelines, we all know it distracts Mr. hoke

UMMAN83

November 24th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

Hiring Borges. Then feel on himself by running Smith up the gut on 3rd. Then went for it on fourth down with 11 left in the third by running Densrd up the gut. Ohio scored. Loss on on the coaches. That was just a pitiful display of "coaching". Just sad.

Coldwater

November 24th, 2012 at 4:57 PM ^

The piss poor blocking by the oline and Stephen Hopkins were the death knell. They just aren't good enough. 3 or 4 new starters on the oline next year HAVE to be better right?

Al called a terrible game. That's been established-I won't harp on that.

Do you see how easily Ohio ran a simple run up the gut? The reason it was so successful was because their oline can man block and win those matchups. We can't.

CompleteLunacy

November 24th, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

After years of pain, nothing but transition, we're again advocating another change? Today sucked, and Borges deserves most the blame...but are we suddenly going to say "eff it" and make the last two years of transition for naught? Michigan's offense has been transitioning for four five freaking years now! Don't y'all think that consistency is maybe the most important thing right now? It's not like Borges had the best offense in teh world at his disposal...he had two dynamic QBs, speed on the exterior, an average at best WR corps, and a sucky suck interior run game with mediocre RBs.

I'm not a Borges apologist. The guy deserves all the criticism for that loss, because that 3rd quarter playcalling was inexplicable. But unless we're hiring a known offensive genius, I just don't see how canning the guy is at all a good idea right now.

hotdawg

November 24th, 2012 at 5:08 PM ^

Totally agree- Brady needs to grow a pair and overrule Borges once it becomes clear that Borges has no f**king clue what he is doing. It seemed EVERYONE BUT AL knew we should have kept Denard and Devin in on every play rather than put Denard in = run, put Devin in = pass. What a waste. Don't want the transition, but Borges needs to learn some common sense. 

CompleteLunacy

November 24th, 2012 at 5:28 PM ^

I'm just at a loss. Al completely broke tendency from his legitimately-effective 1st half gameplan (which everyone on this here blog seems to be forgetting about). Why? I just don't know what went through his brain. Execution was partly a problem, but in this game I think the poor execution was partly a result of prior poor playcalling (which is different from what I thought of a game or two earlier this year)

ole luther

November 26th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

or Hoke or whoever tried to ruin Roundtree and didn't see Gardner's potential at QB...Why? ....Someone who REALLY knows needs to answer that for me, then we'll discuss the "two dynamic QB's" quote.

Apparently, you're happy with beating whoever we're supposed to beat and no one else.....

What happened to accountability?

Out manned....alright,----------out gunned...ok-------------outcoached with more talent?......................PUT'EM ON THE BUS!!!