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

zggolfer

November 24th, 2012 at 4:57 PM ^

to go around here.  Turnovers killed drives lost momentum gave up points.  No run blocking.  Dont win at the line of scrimmage you dont win many games.  Defense was out there forever.  Yes there were some unfortunate play calls that havent worked in like forever that Borges and Hoke need to look at, but it goes back to the O line just not physical enough.  WANTED a stud wr to stretch the field, a big stud rb, a stud pass rusher on the d line.  Replace Demens and Kovacs and continue to get more physical.

Grumpy52

November 24th, 2012 at 5:05 PM ^

The question if Borges is the right man for the job is irrelevant. He is not going anywhere. People may not like it, but they need to accept that.

In the same manner as we were stuck with Debord... we are stuck with Borges. We have no say. The only hope we have is that at some point... the talent will overcome the Borges factor.

Mannix

November 24th, 2012 at 5:24 PM ^

OSU has now won 9 of the past 11 games. So, it's not even an epic matchup anymore. Although I know it's great to look fwd to the game, it has become and is terribly lopsided.

Disheartening from that perspective. No wins at the Shoe in over a decade.

nyc_wolverines

November 24th, 2012 at 7:25 PM ^

For those who remember and were in the area in the 90s... Many OSU fans no longer considered it that much of a game before Coop was fired. They knew what each year brought and they were not pleased. So yes, on the OSU side they were pissed.

All of you posting here didn't likely read the Columbus Dispatch in the 90s the Sundays post-UM/OSU. It  was great TWIS, before the ...*pause for respect* The INTERNET.

 

So yes, lopsided streaks hurt both sides.

Cleveland Wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

Borges was certainly disappointing in his insistance on manball (which has not worked all year), but 4 turnovers?? When did we become Nebraska on the road? Can't blame that on him. There is plenty of accountability to be spread around, so let's not heap it all on Al. Time to regroup, prepare and gameplan for a bowl game. Win that for the Seniors.

 

Champ Kind

November 24th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

An 8-4 record.  The best win is......Northwestern?  Looking back, this season was a huge disappointment.  Last year, Hoke said the season was a failure because they didn't win the Big Ten championship, and everyone kind of patted him on the back and said, "no, you did great."  This year, not so many people will be arguing with him.  

This playcalling in the second half of this game was absolutely atrocious.  Borges is pretty bad, but Hoke should step in and give him a reality check from time to time.  Borges was fine in the first half.  Wake him the fuck back up.

Puget Sound Blue

November 24th, 2012 at 6:13 PM ^

Certainly not a failure. I expect Hoke to say that the team will settle for nothing less than a Big Ten championship, but as a fan, this season has gone pretty much along the lines I expected it to. Sure, I'm disappointed about the loss to OSU and I can already hear Buckeyes fans saying that Urban Meyer will rip off ten wins in a row against U-M. But I don't think that will happen. 8-4 isn't a stellar record, but it's a winning record that will put us in a decent bowl against opposition that, at this point, U-M will have a better chance against. When your 4 losses are to teams with a combined 2 losses, and two of those teams have a very real chance at the national championship (and perhaps even a third team if not for sanctions against them), it's not like you can say U-M didn't come to play against teams they should have beaten.

I can't say a whole lot about the playcalling in the second half, at least not anything more than what's already been said. But Borges isn't going anywhere and Hoke is getting his players. This team has been getting better and will continue to get better.

cjpops

November 24th, 2012 at 5:39 PM ^

Quality post.

Pretty disappointing play calling today. I just don't understand how the offense can be more creative against Iowa than against OSU. I don't remember any play calls that used Denard as a decoy at all. So much for Borges "staying up nights this week" thinking about what to do with both Devin and Denard in the game at the same time.

Denard = run (usually, QB run)

Devin  = pass after pointless play action to Rawls

Why not run play action off of something you actually do?

In fact, don't even remember seeing Denard in the 4th quarter at all (I did miss the last 5 minutes, tho). Maybe he was injured?

I hope some Borges gets some questions about this in the post game presser (not that it'll make any difference or that he will answer them). Also, Hoke should get some criticism for the decision to go for it on 4th and 3 after using the timeout. Punt and lean on your stellar defense by giving them some field position. Especially on the road. That seemed like a pretty obvious miscalculation to me.

This gameplan felt like a lot of wasted opportunity and leaves me longing for what could've (probably should've) been.

ca_prophet

November 24th, 2012 at 7:52 PM ^

Play calls don't matter when our OL can't block a run play, our home-run "QB" can't throw, and the guys we needed to be perfect turn the ball over.

The tendency to blame Borges whenever we don't roll up 400 yards is disappointing. If we turn the ball over twice instead of double that we win. That's what most said beforehand and lo and behold - they were right.

Yes, it sucks to lose a game we were one awesome play from winning. Having Chip Kelly wouldn't have changed that if we couldn't have blocked his plays.

Norcal Trublue

November 24th, 2012 at 5:47 PM ^

Between the play calling. The turnovers by the QBs and the inability of the line to open holes for anybody this game was lost when it was right in front of them to be snatched. While the D played there hearts out the O was pathetic in all aspects. The only solace is knowing that a 12-0 Fuckeye team wins nothing but whatever there boosters hand them. To better days for Michigan Football. Go Blue!

Undefeated dre…

November 24th, 2012 at 5:55 PM ^

I'll start by saying I don't understand 3rd down gives to Rawls or Smith. And I wish Robinson played more in the 2nd half; assume he was hurt. But for crying out loud, the guy who got you 21 first half points is forgotten? If Borges is to blame for the 2nd half, then he should be praised for the first. Maybe Hoke's love if MANBALL superseded other Borges calls. Is Borges perfect? No. Is he a thoughtful guy who was is open to trying a lot of stuff? Is he the guy who called a lot of good plays on 1st down? Turnovers and inability to convert 3rd downs killed us. But to say it's mostly Borges's fault is insulting to the whole team. Shame on you.

Undefeated dre…

November 24th, 2012 at 7:02 PM ^

First, there is no evidence that replacing a coordinator systematically leads to better results. Sure, there are exceptions, but the overall rule is that a new coordinator does no better than the guy who got fired. Second, Borges just calls the plays -- most of them, anyway. Are the turnovers Borges's fault? The crappy blocking? The loss of two of our best running backs (assuming Denard got boo-booed in the 2nd half?). Third, we know Borges is pretty smart about football, at least based on his press conferences. And he's adaptable, trying to work with whatever parts he has at hand. Does he have a subconscious lizard brain? Who knows if it's his or Hoke's?

I love SmartFootball and the way he dissects offense. Apparently that's given everybody the ability to call a better game than a coordinator. Fans want their teams to be Legos, and if one part doesn't work, just swap it out for another one. I think teams are more organic than that, and parts aren't so easily swapped. Hoke has built this team and this is the staff HE wants. With Borges you get the good with the bad. If it was all bad, I'd be pissed. But it isn't all bad. He did call the Iowa game, after all. And the first half of the OSU game. Yeah, I know, and the trash tornado and Iowa 2011 and ND this year. So he's not perfect. If fans could armchair analyze defense as easily, they'd find Mattison hasn't been perfect, either. Should he go?

This is a TEAM, with everyone contributing to success or failure. The facile reductionism of pinning the blame on one guy is unwise, immature, and petulant. But go ahead, burn him in effigy. I'm sure the next guy will do better. Or worse.

nyc_wolverines

November 24th, 2012 at 7:29 PM ^

Your quote "First, there is no evidence that replacing a coordinator systematically leads to better results."

 

No, sticking with the current guy cause the unknown is too risky is not a good argument for Borges - at a minimum, it relies NOT on showing Borges' success but rather agreeing that he's not successful but that the other person - unknown - would be worse. So, your argument actually helps point out Borges lack of accomplishments.

Could have been used to stick up for Carr. Wait, Carr got his butt handed to him by OSU on the regular with conservative play calls as his calling card. And he won the 97 MNC with Mo's recruits.

Huntington Wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 8:39 AM ^

Yes, teams are units. But the leaders of teams, i.e. the coaches, bear more responsibility for the successes and failures of teams than the student-athletes themselves - especially when the gameplan seems to be running your weakness against the other team's strength. The OP and many of the commentators on here aren't 'pinning the blame on one guy' - we understand the caveats of having to deal with roster limits and lack of depth. We understand that players have to execute plays. But it's not like the team has been executing these plays all season and just had a letdown. We struggled running the interior against anyone and everyone - Air Force comes to mind and I'm wondering about UMass even in retrospect.

I'm not one of the one's calling for Borges to be fired (or burned in effigy) but mainly because I want him to have the chance to fully install his system with a couple years worth of players recruited for it. He hasn't done much that makes sense to me regarding play-calling and so I assume there must be information he has that I don't to make him call plays the way he does. He hasn't won my trust the way Mattison and Hoke have. Next year will be a key indicator of where this offense is heading and I think the jury is still out on whether Borges is an evil genius with a diabolical laugh or a football geek that ignores fundamentals to focus on his 'decided schematic advantage.'

htownwolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 6:15 PM ^

When you have an inferior OL against a team where the D Line is their best unit and you continuously run into it whomever is calling those plays is at fault.

Not having D&D on the field together in the 2nd half is the fault of the play calling architect.

This game was within our grasp despite the TO's and Borges choked.

OmarDontScare

November 24th, 2012 at 5:59 PM ^

I'd prefer someone with a pulse. And brain. Brain would help. Denard in at QB = Run? Srsly? OSU will never figure that out. They're such fucking inbred assholes.

No they figured it out

TNgoblue

November 24th, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

  

 

 

 

The last time I looked, Borges worked for Hoke. Hoke preaches responsibility and now is the time for him to take responsibility and fix the coaching problems experienced this year. And I do not want to hear that the players were not good enough. It is the job of the coaches to use the players they have and to win. Hoke and his coaches have failed the team and the fans.

I worry that Hoke may be too loyal to a fault, or he just can’t make the tough decisions. Denard is a fine person and a great player, but he should not be used improperly or to the detriment of the team. And if Borges is failing in his play calling, Hoke should command a change to something that works. If the OL has deficiencies than work other magic; why is that so obvious to everybody but Hoke!

All the great recruits in the country will not overcome bad coaching, and bad coaching will drive great recruits away. If Hoke is not careful, today’s outcome could become regular. I hate to say this but Meyer is a good coach. Is Hoke really capable of bringing glory back to Michigan football?

I worry that the upcoming bowl game will bring more of the same unless fixes are made. Instead of sending the current class of seniors off with a victory, more of the same will bring “more of the same.”

Man-up, Hoke.

TNgoblue

November 24th, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

  

 

 

 

The last time I looked, Borges worked for Hoke. Hoke preaches responsibility and now is the time for him to take responsibility and fix the coaching problems experienced this year. And I do not want to hear that the players were not good enough. It is the job of the coaches to use the players they have and to win. Hoke and his coaches have failed the team and the fans.

I worry that Hoke may be too loyal to a fault, or he just can’t make the tough decisions. Denard is a fine person and a great player, but he should not be used improperly or to the detriment of the team. And if Borges is failing in his play calling, Hoke should command a change to something that works. If the OL has deficiencies than work other magic; why is that so obvious to everybody but Hoke!

All the great recruits in the country will not overcome bad coaching, and bad coaching will drive great recruits away. If Hoke is not careful, today’s outcome could become regular. I hate to say this but Meyer is a good coach. Is Hoke really capable of bringing glory back to Michigan football?

I worry that the upcoming bowl game will bring more of the same unless fixes are made. Instead of sending the current class of seniors off with a victory, more of the same will bring “more of the same.”

Man-up, Hoke.

PeteM

November 24th, 2012 at 6:10 PM ^

I agree that Al Borges didn't call a great game, but he was running an offense with one QB who had played wide receiver all season, and another whose injury meant he couldn't pass. His only effective running back was out with a broken leg. The offense line isn't talented outside of Lewan. I too wanted to see Devin and Denard on the field at the same time, but Denard isn't a pass blocker and if Devin had gotten injured it would have been the apocalypse. I also don't know what routes Denard was capable of running as a receiver.

Again, I wish some different plays had been called, but there were limited options and scoring 21 in the 1st half with the limitations he faced was an accomplishment.

Puget Sound Blue

November 24th, 2012 at 6:19 PM ^

I think it's fair to question some of Borges' decisions, but I think that perhaps his options weren't as expansive as we might think. He has to put the right players on the field, but he can't play too fast and loose with them and make them more vulnerable to injuries or to exacerbating the injuries they already have.

MGoRossGrad

November 24th, 2012 at 6:31 PM ^

It doesn't matter that his options weren't as expansive as we think.

Even if he had two options:  Run Smith/Rawls up the gut, or ANYTHING ELSE, he still didn't make the right call.  

It would have been the equivalent of starting Bellomy in the second half.  Would you really say the game fell on the fact that Bellomy didn't execute well?  I don't think so.

I can't believe people are saying "Well our interior OL didn't play well..."  We all already knew that.  That's not the problem.  As an OC, you're job is to know that and not actively facilitate its exploitation.  

 

Putting Denard and Devin on the field together is hardly "playing fast and loose" and "exacerbating injuries".  It's simple, straightforward, smart play calling.  Worked in the first half flawlessly.  

 

Puget Sound Blue

November 24th, 2012 at 6:44 PM ^

I'm just saying it's not all on him.

Regarding injuries, my point is that while it would have been good to have Denard and Devin on the field at the same time more, you can't just plug in Denard anywhere. He's not going to throw, so you know he's going to run. Maybe he doesn't run, but then he needs to block, which puts him at risk.

Puget Sound Blue

November 24th, 2012 at 7:41 PM ^

That's the point I'm trying to make - perhaps I'm not making it very well. When you put Denard in, you know he's looking to run, particularly if he's at QB. Okay, so you put Denard in at RB. Again, the play is a run, unless it's a fake or using Denard as a decoy. If he's not going to run, then that means someone else has to be back there to protect Devin, because Denard's not a blocker and he's already playing with an injury.

Now maybe that's a weak point to make, but I'm not being dense. I know what people are arguing for when they say Denard should have been in more. That's all.

HarBooYa

November 24th, 2012 at 7:35 PM ^

Did oc look at first half and say, "we definitely should not be doing that unpredictable stuff and perhaps we run a converted qb and a sub 200lbs back up the middle multiple times where the other team seems to be paying well." F f f F'ing f. Did we not have more than 16 plays scripted with the two in?

Funchess19

November 24th, 2012 at 6:18 PM ^

Today was awful, as a die hard Wolverine from Columbus I hope every two years we can beat those assholes in their house. Today alas, was the same ol shit. What saddens me more than our flaccid second half was the play of our interior lines both on offense and defense. It's been a year since Molk and Martin left and their places on the team are still a glaring need. On defense I'm assuming we wanted to contain Miller on the edges so we left the middle open and Kovacs deep, but to watch Miller check to Hyde over and over for 150 yards killed me. On offense where the hell was our boys. Other than gaining nothing between the tackles, Gardner was under fire all day. Once he got creamed because no one was in the middle of the line!! It wouldn't have matter if Biakabatuka was back, our interior was horrible. In the ol Big Ten we got our asses handed to us. We couldn't run and couldn't stop the run. All I've read is that Hoke and Co. want to return UM to the glory of a pro style team. Well today was the day, it looked as though that was the plan, to try and out muscle the suckeyes. Other than Frank Clark, who played like a top draft pick, we got pounded.

Funchess19

November 24th, 2012 at 6:18 PM ^

Today was awful, as a die hard Wolverine from Columbus I hope every two years we can beat those assholes in their house. Today alas, was the same ol shit. What saddens me more than our flaccid second half was the play of our interior lines both on offense and defense. It's been a year since Molk and Martin left and their places on the team are still a glaring need. On defense I'm assuming we wanted to contain Miller on the edges so we left the middle open and Kovacs deep, but to watch Miller check to Hyde over and over for 150 yards killed me. On offense where the hell was our boys. Other than gaining nothing between the tackles, Gardner was under fire all day. Once he got creamed because no one was in the middle of the line!! It wouldn't have matter if Biakabatuka was back, our interior was horrible. In the ol Big Ten we got our asses handed to us. We couldn't run and couldn't stop the run. All I've read is that Hoke and Co. want to return UM to the glory of a pro style team. Well today was the day, it looked as though that was the plan, to try and out muscle the suckeyes. Other than Frank Clark, who played like a top draft pick, we got pounded.

Maize and Blue…

November 24th, 2012 at 6:26 PM ^

Brandon should ask for his money back, and fire Borges.

       Did it ever occur to Mr. Borges to try a bubble screen from Devin to Denard, in space, so that Denard could use his natural talents to maximum advantage?

       Did it ever occur to him to up the tempo and attack when he had the opposing defense  dazed and on the run - after the Gallon reception around the 45 in the third qtr.?

       Did it ever occur to him to try a screen pass when the defense was pinning it's ears back and rushing the passer?

       Did it ever occur to him to try a trick play to get a big score in the forth quarter, such as a reverse pass, or passback from Denard to Devin on the other side of the field?

       Did it ever occur to him to try a deep play action pass when he had the ball at midfield and the down and distance was second and one or two?

       Did it ever occur to him to use Funchess in a dink and dunk short passing game to keep the linebackers honest?

       Did it ever occur to him to roll the pocket to one side or another to lessen the pressure on Devin when he had to pass with the threat of a reverse play to the other side with Denard?

   There is a reason why this guy has floated around for so long, and held so many jobs - it is because he is so poor at his job that he cannot hold a job in any one place for very long before he is recognized, and sent packing. My fear is that the poster who said that Hoke will never fire him is correct, and we will be stuck with him, if that is indeed the case, then this is what you can expect - the team will beat the cupcakes, but always lose the big games against the good coaching staffs, many 8-4 seasons, M will = mediocre, and yearly losses to Blohio will ensue, and after three more losses, making Hoke 1-4 against Blohio and 0-4 against Meyer, the alumni and the donors will pull the purse strings and force Brandon to fire Hoke and his whole regime, and we will start over. What a waste of time, money, kid's college careers, the good coaches we have now ect.ect. All because of the refusal to fire one bad coach, who is incompetent, but is hiding behind the friendship he has with the Head Coach, who is too loyal and good-hearted  to fire his friend. Sometimes, no most of the time, you must put well-being of the team over the well-being of the individual. Fire Borges.

markusr 2007 - man your killking me. Whats the difference if you have your head cut off (Borges), or if you are killed in an explosion (Stan Parrish)?Your dead quickly either way

Lastly, macdaddy - If we could raid the Ravens for Mattison, why can't we raid them for Cam Cameron too? Michigan ties, great coordinator, we would have won by two touchdowns if he was running the offense. The bottom line is that you need someone who has an imagination and is willing to try new, unexpected things, and do whatever is needed to win, that IS NOT Borges. There must be dozens of coaches that would be better for this job, look at what happened at Florida, they brought in Boise State's Offensive Coordinator and it turned their whole program around. My chose would be Cameron, but i'll bet there are many others who would be an upgrade. Fire Borges..

babarblue99

November 24th, 2012 at 8:00 PM ^

Couldn't agree with you more...we are at best looking at Lloyd Carr II, 8-4 or 9-3 forever. I had more hope before Urban was hired but we will be outcoached by him, Dantonio, Wisconsin year after year. OSU and ND will get exponentially better by the game and we will be relegated to be an overhyped 3-loss team.

I wish Hoke and Co was our answer, but after 2 full years, we were never an expected/favored team in any game of note and we've never taken control of a game against a team if that caliber.

snarling wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 8:17 PM ^

Hold on.  The main reason we weren't favored in any of these games is that none of them were at home.  We were only a slight underdog in the three road losses.   We were favored against MSU, which we all thought was a huge game going into the season, and definitely would have been favored against ND, Nebraska and probably Ohio at home.

Also, are we already writing off the 45-17 thrashing of Nebraska last season?  I'd call that "taking control." 

 

babarblue99

November 25th, 2012 at 9:43 AM ^

I didn't write about that game because I was tired of typing. Was a great win, but was an anomaly. Which win felt like that one this year?...or will you make the excuse that we only played good teams on the road this year (and thus shouldn't be expected to win)? We are heading into stagnation, bud. Albeit a better place than 2008-2010, but we will have threads like this against every team that matters on the national stage.

Blueto

November 24th, 2012 at 6:31 PM ^

I don't like to carp after a loss and I've generally been supportive of Borges, but I have to say that was some of the worst playing calling I've ever seen in the second half of the game.