Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-4-12: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on September 4th, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Al Borges


MGoQuestion: If you had to play Alabama again, what parts of the game plan would you keep that worked well Saturday? What parts would you want to change?

“Very little would I change. Very little. Almost none. But that’s probably harder to grasp because of the way we executed. The game plan didn’t look very effective, but the whole thing was geared to if they loaded the box up, we were going to throw the ball. If they left the box light, we were going to run it. We ran the ball into a light box 12 times and had plus-four runs three times out of the 12. And we hit two out of 10 shots down the field. So the other alternative is to plus-one run with the quarterback. We did some of that, too, but they weren’t going to let you do that. As much as you wanted to give that a shot, that wasn’t going to happen. No one’s done that to them. Look at the numbers in the past. No one’s done that to them.”

(After the jump, Borges answers questions about Denard, Denard, Devin, Denard, and Air Force but does not answer a question about bubble screens.)

Is there any way counter a defense that doesn’t allow Denard to run?

“Efficiency is a counter. Efficiency is blocking, making plays with you have opportunities to make plays, making the right reads, making the catch when it’s there, and then making a couple of exceptional plays. That’s what they did. They made a couple of exceptional plays. Never in my life have I seen a corner knock a guy out of bounds, run back and intercept a fade. In 37 years of coaching, I’ve never seen that happen. But that one corner was a really good player. Did some nice things. But that being said, there was enough opportunity there to where you could get some first downs, move the ball, and keep the defense off the field. That was our goal. Beating Alabama and the way in the past that I’ve coached against them is you get into a fist fight. You play a close game -- they play great defense, so you have to hold onto the ball, not make mistakes, and hope you can punch it out and have one more point than they do at the end. That’s how you beat that team. Nobody lights the scoreboard up against them. You look at the numbers, that’s just not going to happen. That’s how you go about it. We were not efficient enough to do that. That’s pretty much it.”

Was it a preparation thing or was Alabama just that good?

“I don’t know. I don’t want to believe it’s a preparation thing. Our kids were ready to play the game, and we certainly worked our tails off to get them a plan that we thought was good. But their team, you have to understand, there’s very little margin of error with them. You can’t make mistakes and recover from them. They’re going to take advantage of your mistakes. They feed on your inefficiency. That’ll kill you.”

Was there a point during the game where you felt like you needed to rip the playbook up and just see what would work?

“No. No. Nope. No. Not at all. No. We stuck with the plan the whole game. We kept doing what we were doing. We tried some different things after a while because we weren’t running into the six-man box very well. We tried a few quarterback runs, but that wasn’t very effective. The whole plan was set up that we could exploit a loaded box or run into a soft box. We did neither. Maybe later in the season, if we’re a little more well oiled, we might play a little better, but we just weren’t in this game.”

How much will Devin learn from this game in terms of plays he almost made?

“Oh I think Devin’s going to really be a good player there. He’ll learn a ton. He’s still a work in progress at the position. Particularly in a game like that, where you’re facing a really really good press man team, where you know you need to get off the jam, you have to get down the field, you have to work your way open a lot of time, that’s baptism by fire playing them the first game when you’ve never played wide receiver before. But he’s going to be a really good player out there. I really believe that.”

How does Fitz’s availability change things for you this Saturday?

“We have another back, you know? We’ll see how it goes during the week, but it’s good to have him back. We’ll see how we want to plan that. But he has been working with us. It isn’t like he hasn’t. He’s been on top of the stuff pretty good.”

Do you anticipate him starting?

“We’re not going to make a decision on that yet.”

When did you make the decision to start Elliott Mealer at center?

“... And he plays pretty good. Him and Taylor Lewan played pretty good. Elliott was doing the best job of snapping the ball back. Ricky, who’s really good at -- the profile of center is perfect for Ricky, but we were struggling with some of the snaps, and Elliott was getting them back there, so we figured, what the heck, let’s get the guy that can snap and let’s give Ricky the position he’s played before and is comfortable with -- that part worked out well. One bad snap, which, you know, not good, but that’s why we did it.”

When was that decision made?

“Last week. Yeah. Middle of -- not this past week, but middle of the week before that.”

What did you see out of Rawls against Alabama?

“There wasn’t a lot of room to run a lot of times. He’s still learning the position. Rawls is a lot like Fitz was when we first started coaching Fitz [last] spring. He’s still learning. He runs tough, he runs hard. He’s strong, but he still needs more seasoning at the position, but I think he’s going to be a good back.”

Do you think if you hit one of the big plays early they might have backed off more?

“Yeah. Yeah definitely. You’re not going to hit them all, but if you can hit, you know, half your shots, it makes a big difference in the run game. People just can’t force as fast. You completely change the mindset of the defense when you’re plucking away at them in the passing game. So yeah, I do think that makes a difference. Always has.”

You mentioned that it’s not a given that Toussaint won’t start. Is there an open competition for the job or is this an extension of his punishment?

“No. We’re still going to see how they do. We’re not going to want to put him in and say he’s the starter. I don’t think that’s fair to the other guys. So we’ll go this week and see how everything works out and make a decision -- I’m not sure when, but whenever. ”

Hoke said you had a great practice last night. Do you still sense that there’s confidence going forward?

“Oh yeah. Yeah, I mean, first game, tough opponent -- our kids are resilient. We’ve got some good leaders on this team. It’s a tough way to start for all of us. For the coaches, the players. But, 11 games. If I’m not mistaken, Oregon played LSU last year. Was it the same game?”


“What was the score that game?”

MGoOo!Iknow!: 40-24. (Ed: Actually it was 40-27. My photographic memory got instagrammed on that one.)

“Yeah, it wasn’t even close. How did Oregon do?”

MGoUh…I mean…: Not good?

“How did they do after the game.”


“I think they won 11 games. So it’s not, you know, you don’t chuck it all. You have to be resilient, you have to get back to the basics. I’m never going to say get back to the drawing board, because if you have to get back to the drawing board, you didn’t do a very good job to start with. But get back to what you do best, and onward and upward.”

How do you think Denard will improve from this game?

“Well I think Denard -- the thing about Denard is he has to learn that he doesn’t have to carry the whole thing himself. I think he feels that onus sometimes and as a coach I have to make that clear to him, too. When Denard plays within his game -- run the football well, make good decisions in the passing game, he’s really a great player. Not a good player, but a great player because he has things that other quarterbacks don’t have. But sometimes when you’re losing, and particularly when you’re losing bad -- which hasn’t happened to us too much, we’ve been lucky that way -- you start feeling like you have to get it back in one fell swoop. You know, you put too much pressure on yourself. That’s natural thing for a competitive person. But as long as Denard can understand that he doesn’t have to carry the whole load, I think you’ll see steady improvement.”

Does he need more opportunities to run the ball?

“Well, we’ll play that game by game, but I would not have run Denard Robinson any more than we ran him Saturday. Absolutely not. No. I know a lot of people think that, but no way. That wasn’t going to happen. But in certain games you’re going to run the ball. It’s just like last year. You’ll see certain games he’ll carry it 25 times. You’ll see other games he’ll carry it 10 to 15 times. You can run him 20 times every game, but there’ll be nothing left of him by the end of the season, particularly when you’re playing opponents like that. That’s already been proven.”

Why not run him? Is it the injury factor?

“Well that, and in the Alabama game they weren’t going to let you run him. Look at their numbers, guys. They’re never going to let the quarterback run the football. They play a defense that forces the quarterback to throw the ball. You can run here and there, but if you think you’re going [to run] for 150 yards, it’s not going to happen all the time. But in other games -- in certain games you’ll see him run a lot more.”

How would you assess Denard’s reads? Both he and Hoke were pretty critical about that after the game.

“He did a great job on a couple. We missed a few throws that were really good reads, and we missed two crucial reads that really hurt us. But like anything else, it’s a work in progress. He understands our offense so much better than he did, although I don’t know that it showed as much in this game, but he does. I think you’ll see steady improvement there.”

Was that with the option hand-off to Vincent Smith?

“I don’t think he had a time when he should have pulled the ball when he didn’t … They weren’t going to let him run, period. When we leave the edge free and he’s reading the edge, the guy’s standing there waiting for him every time. So in that regard, I don’t think he missed one of those. ”

When did you notice that Denard was trying to do too much?

“This is more after the fact probably than before. Just in retrospect. You’re trying to troubleshoot some of the problems, you know. I told him the other day, I said, ‘I don’t want you to think you lost the game, although there’ll be people who want to make you believe that.’ We didn’t run the ball. We had a chance to run the ball, and if you want to take the pressure off your quarterback, that’s how you take pressure off your quarterback. In games he’s played real well, we’ve been able to run the ball, but we didn’t. And now it becomes solely based on his ability to throw the ball, and sometimes in not very advantageous positions, like third down and long, which happened several times, too. So we just asked too much of him in terms of how we executed.”

You said you need to get back to the basics of what you do well. What is that?

“Well, running the football. That’s number one. Running the football, being able to play-pass. Being an efficient throwing team. We don’t have to be a great throwing team, but we have to be an efficient throwing team so it’ll complement our run game. That’s when we were good a year ago, and that’s when we’ll be good this year is when we do these things.”

How do you think Roy played?

“Roy didn’t do a bad job, but again, opportunities. We ran 56 plays. So opporutnities for guys to catch a lot of passes when you only run 56 plays, no one’s getting any numbers. I think as you see more and more as the year goes on, you’ll see Roy manifest himself more and more. You’re not going to do it running 56 plays.”

A lot has been made of Denard’s improved mechanics. Did you see that during this game?

“Oh yeah. Other than a couple of -- in terms of getting your feet in the ground. He threw one ball falling back to Jerald Robinson. He did that because the middle of the pocket was pushed so bad that he couldn’t get his feet set. But did you see any balls where he’s throwing the ball up falling backwards? He didn’t really do that in this game. He got his feet set pretty good. His fundamentals are significantly better. Now we just have to shore up every other part of his game.”

When you look at playing an option team from the offensive side of the ball, is it easier to get your team focused because they like to shorten the game in terms of possessions?

“Yeah well what we have to do in a game like this is like we have to do in probably any other game, but more so -- we have to control the ball, try to keep the defense off the field so the clock just doesn’t wind down. I know how option football can be. So we have to be efficient. We need to be more efficient on third down. That was something a year ago that I was -- we dropped off a little at the end, but for the most part we were a good third down team. If you’re a good third down team, you keep the chains moving, you keep the defense off the field, so we have to get better that way. So running the football, converting on third down, those two things are the best thing to beat an option team, because you’ll keep the ball.”

MGoObligatory: So you threw a bubble screen. Two of them.

“I have nothing to say about that.”



September 4th, 2012 at 8:32 PM ^

They're all perfectly right. Gameplan wasn't the biggest reason for 14-41, bad execution (and bad luck) was. Little mistakes turned into big plays, and into touchdowns. Countess doesn't get hurt/Avery doesn't slip and fall and maybe they only manhandle us 14-34, Roy doesn't get pushed out of bounds (or it gets called) and Bama maybe only beats us 14-27, Jake Ryan either hits the TE or finishes blowing up the pass and Bama maybe settles for a field goal and it's 14-24,  the ridiculous PI penalty doesn't get overturned and we could've been close to 17-24 or maybe 21-24. Unfortunately Countess did get hurt, Avery did fall, Ryan ran right by the TE and then left the QB alone, Roy did get shoved out of bounds and the play stood, the PI penalty was overturned, ect. ect. ect.  Little mistakes, big mistakes, and bad luck happened, and Bama jumped all over them and didn't look back. Regardless of us holding them to 10 second half points, the mistakes were already too many.


September 4th, 2012 at 10:43 PM ^

I am just curious what the call you want on the interception is? It is not illegal to push a guy out of bounds - you do have to allow him back in play. I didn't see the full replay, but IIRC he was shoved out before the pass happened, so that would not be grounds for PI. If he was shoved out after the pass happened, then absolutely it should have been called PI.

Edit: After watching a better replay of the play it does appear that the ball was in the air, so PI should have been called.


September 4th, 2012 at 8:33 PM ^

I understand his point, but Al was a little defensive.   Sounds ike he has been reading some message boards.   He sounded a little defeated as well.  I have not heard too many offensive coaches basically give up on the thought of scoring before the game starts.  




September 4th, 2012 at 8:59 PM ^

I don't think he gave up on the idea of scoring before the game started, but it does seem like he gave up on the idea of running before the game started.  I would have thought the he would at least try and see for himself.  Denard is pretty slippery, like his run for a TD inside the 10 against a stacked Alabama box.

Maybe it's just an Alabama thing, he knows them pretty well.  Although, Alabama themselves thought that Denard would run more and were very concerned about it.  

If the mere threat of saying "Boo!" and stacking the box to stop the run keeps us from even trying, then teams on Michigan's schedule are all going to do it and force us away from our strength and into our weakness from the very first play.  


September 4th, 2012 at 8:47 PM ^

Borges better hurry up and get his kind of guys in place, because he's already running his kind of offense.  He's not "adjusting his offense to Denard" as much as we sometimes think.

Here we are in year two, and Borges sounds impatient to run what he wanted to run all along.  It appears he feels that after a year in the system, it's time for Denard to step up and adjust to the system instead of the other way around.  I hope Denard can do it.



September 4th, 2012 at 9:08 PM ^

I completely agree.  People think he's running "his offense" just because we threw it a lot, but  that's not the case.  He threw a lot because that was what the coaches had decided gave them the best chance to win.  It didn't work, but that doesn't make him stubborn.  There were a lot of other games last year where he ran very non-Borges stuff because against that team, that was the best way to win.


September 4th, 2012 at 9:13 PM ^

Yes, I agree.  He had the right game plan.  This is how we beat Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl.

But the problem is he does not have Tom Brady, he has Denard.  Denard struggles to execute that kind of game plan, even though its an effective plan if you can execute it.

I do think that if Borges had two more years to work with Denard, or he was able to work with Denard when Denard was a freshman, he could get him to a level where he could be effective running that type of plan.  But he does not have that kind of time.

Every team with a decent defense is going to now run the Alabama/Michigan State/Iowa defensive scheme against us.  Teams are no longer scared and confused about how to defend Denard (I'm looking at you Notre Dame).

We're kind of stuck.  Borges is not going to run WVU's/Clemson's/Oregon's offense which plays to Denard's strengths.  He's going to keep working Denard until he can execute Borges' game plan, or we run out of time.  It will be interesting to see which comes first. 


September 4th, 2012 at 9:19 PM ^

I don't think we're stuck.  I think our future oppenents will scout this game and think to themselves "If they can connect on a few of those long passes, we're in trouble.  And we don't have Dee Milliner."  

Honestly, if Denard can get in sync with Devin and the other receivers on the longer passes, defenses will have to scheme against both the run and the pass.  That's tough to do.


September 5th, 2012 at 9:07 AM ^

That's a big if.  But yes, if it does happen we will be a nightmare to defend.  Devin's develolpment is a big deal in this because he can clearly put tremendous pressure on single coverage . . . if Denard can get the ball in his neighborhood and he can catch it.  

How fast can Devin Gardner become David Terrell?

It will be an interesting race against time.  We are not starting from a position of strength given our current crop of recievers and Denard's struggles passing.  Can these units improve enough by the MSU game?  If it does not happen by then, it's probably not going to happen. 



September 4th, 2012 at 10:05 PM ^

Exactly, how many teams can afford to leave their corners on a island in an effort to stop the run. The "secret" to stopping Denard and Michigan was out way before this game. It's just that few teams can actually pull it off. Yes, we will struggle against teams that can, but that's the nature of the beast. That's what make them good defenses. Any team that can stack the box and still keep recievers in check is hard to beat for anyone.


September 5th, 2012 at 12:51 AM ^

I don't think denard played as bad as his stats would indicate.  there were a couple of slants early in the game where it looked like Denard had placed the ball pretty well.  the only problem was the Alabama db's made great plays to knock the ball away.  There was also a deep throw to Gardner where Gardner kind of faded inside instead of holding the line or fading outside. 

It's not like Denard would be the talk of town if those were completions but I thought some of his throws that were incompletions were actually pretty good throws. 

Sten Carlson

September 4th, 2012 at 8:55 PM ^

Denard can do it, he just needs help.  There is a lot more to making a catch than simply hands.  As you said, there were a lot of passes that could have/should have been caught.  If they were, the game might have turned out differently.  Michigan will not face a defense as good as Bama's again, so I suspect the task will get a bit easier.  I prefer this statement to, "yeah that was easy cuz we played EMU, now the real test comes..."  we had our test against the best, it was close at times, but we failed.  Now, the other teams we face aren't going to seem so tough.


September 4th, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

A bigger RR mistake was to loosely recruit the state of Michigan and more aggressively recruit Florida. We could've used Detroit kids like NT John Hankins, OLB Chris Norman, CB Dior Mathis, and TE Dion Sims on Saturday, to say nothing of LG DeOn'tae Pannell, WDE CJ. Olaniyan, or DE/OLB Nick Perry. 

Some of the good in state prospects he didn't even offer.


September 4th, 2012 at 8:49 PM ^

Not one bit for this ass kicking.  His game plan was actually pretty good.  I saw NUMEROUS times where we had WRs beat their man, and the ball gets either dropped or poorly thrown.  If we executed well on offense, not saying we would win, but the game would've much much closer.

Sons of Louis Elbel

September 4th, 2012 at 8:52 PM ^

Still frustrated after reading this. (But thanks for the comic relief, Heiko. Bubble screens forever!) We have one transcendent talent on this team: Denard's running. Obviously, Bama was going to gear up to stop it, and they - more than many teams we'll play - have the personnel to do it. But I don't think this means that we make essentially *no* effort to utilize his skills. I still like the odds of him breaking a couple of plays here and there (understanding that he'll get stuffed a lot, too) at least as much as the chances of him hitting a lot of deep passes. Yes, he's risking injury, but that's always going to be true given his game. What are we saving him for? This was as big a game as it gets.

And Michael Scarn already beat me to the Einstein line. Really, Al - when we were down 31-0 it didn't occur to you that maybe we should try something else?


September 4th, 2012 at 8:58 PM ^

Denard isn't Nightcrawler from Xmen, he can't just magically teleport through the entire defense lined up to stop him, particularly if his O-line is getting dominated. Denard can be make silly things happen, but generally he needs to be in space for it to happen. Plowing him into a wall of tacklers doesn't do anyone any good.

Sten Carlson

September 4th, 2012 at 9:04 PM ^

NOBODY runs on Bama's defense, especially not the one guy they geared up to stop all off season.  What you're saying is that you know that he bascially had no chance, but you think that he might have broken a long one, so why not try.  That is not how effective offensive scheming is done dude.  Read what he said, and try not to think you know more than him.  Their only hope of running Denard, which was in the game plan, was to soften Bama's defense of the box.  If they stayed in their base set, it was going to be a futile and possibly suicidal effort.  What are we saving him for?  Are you serious?  How about the 11 other games Michigan has yet to play, or the Big10 season?

I don't understand why people don't see that.  I saw it before the game started.  Michigan was going to have to throw early, often, and limit Denard's running to have success.  If Borges had been used like RR used him, and we got crushed -- which was even more likely -- y'all would be in here crying about how stupid Borges was for doing so.  I don't understand our fanbase at times.  Yes, he's a great runner.  But we've seen what happens when he's run into the teeth of a waiting defense. 


September 4th, 2012 at 11:27 PM ^

It's about time someone else here understands that you don't just use your best player as a sacrificial lamb for the sake of doing anything to mix it up a little. Denard is not superman. We needed passes to be caught and throws to be accurate, not to mention limiting penalties.

Too many people say "but look at what Cam Newton and Auburn did to be effective." Exactly. They softened the box with downfield.passing which enabled Cam to scramble when he wanted. Denard is amazing in his own right but is not as complete in his game as Newton. It just wasn't our day, plain and simple.


September 4th, 2012 at 9:15 PM ^

I think his gameplan was pretty good.  What do you do when you play the best defense in the country who was a whole summer to prepare for you?  Throw something different at them than they were expecting.  Kinda like what Lloyd did against Florida in that last Capital One Bowl.  

Alabama is a tough team to just do what you do, and hope you out-execute them.  Throwing a curveball was a good plan, especially if Denard had been making those throws in practice.  It still didn't work, but that's the risk you take.  At the least, our future opponents have more to practice against.    


September 4th, 2012 at 9:32 PM ^

Ugh, I don't.  Then one of them has to win.  And I watched the game with my USC grad brother-in-law (who went back and forth from my office to watch his game until it got out of hand) who rubbed it in how badly we got beat, and I told him that Alabama would beat SC too, and should be #1.  Unfortunately, I agree with you that SC has the offense to beat Bama. Barkley would have hit those throws, and Milliner can't guard Woods and Lee.  

That said, our D is probably better than USC's, for serious, including our DL, so they'll have to score a lot of points to win.


September 4th, 2012 at 9:28 PM ^

Here's the problem everyone is missing and they dont want to be mean about it. The gameplan in general wasn't horrible in the sense that you need to loosen Bama up to try and run the ball.

1st problem is you dont have the personnel to push it down the field in the first place. As far as WR's running bad routes or slowing up....anyone ever think that just maybe they are getting poorly underthrown balls or ducks in practice on a constant basis? I mean Denard has been a great representative of the university and the football program. However, in terms of pure throwing at a extremely high D1 level....we have a below average passer and that 's just the truth.

So, I completely understand the gameplan and completely agree with the gameplan but on that same note you just dont have the QB to make those throws needed to really challenge a D like Bama or hell even D's like Sparty, Iowa and PSU.

It is what it is and Denard is our best chance to win and my only hope is Borges can find 3 or 4 throws Denard can make consistently and find a way to mix them up for him and hopefully with Fitz it will be enough to make it throw the season before guys like Bellomy, Morris and hopefully Coleman Key can make in the future.


September 4th, 2012 at 9:33 PM ^

“Well that, and in the Alabama game they weren’t going to let you run him. Look at their numbers, guys. They’re never going to let the quarterback run the football. They play a defense that forces the quarterback to throw the ball. You can run here and there, but if you think you’re going [to run] for 150 yards, it’s not going to happen all the time. But in other games -- in certain games you’ll see him run a lot more.”

So, Al says fuck it to the run before the game even started?    Hey let's not give the ball to the most electric player in the country.  Sounds about right.  If every team stacks the box then Borges will have Robinson throw the ball all fricking game?  

Saban probable sent a nice bottle of Scotch to Borges for making it so damn easy for Bama to defend Robinson. 

And if I see that fucking veer play again I will fucking explode.

Sorry, I had jaw surgery today and this help cope with the pain


September 4th, 2012 at 10:35 PM ^

Agree (see my below). Borges just gave every team a gift. Load up the box, and we're not even gonna try. All you have to do to take away our greatest weapon is show the proper alignment for doing so. We won't even force you to execute or run a dozen plays to keep you honest. From snap one, we concede that you're going to stop us.

I think this is a case of Al, tactical genius that he is (and I mean that sincerely, guy's a real scholar of the game), being too smart by half.


September 4th, 2012 at 10:55 PM ^

Comn, that's such a straw man argument. Borges didn't shy from running because of alignment, he shyed away because it's Alabama showing that alignment. The history of what happens to teams running into the teeth of the Alabama defense completely supports his decision.

coastal blue

September 5th, 2012 at 1:36 AM ^

What's the history of Denard running "into the teeth" of the Alabama defense?

I seem to remember a pretty green Denard gashing 12-1 Ohio in 2010, the #3 rush defense in the country that year, for a half. 15 carries, 104 yards, 6.9 yards a carry. 

Oh right, Denard sucks at everything against good teams. My mistake. 


September 5th, 2012 at 7:09 AM ^

And what exactly is the positive history of teams THROWING into the teeth of the Alabama defense? That's the side of the coin everyone seems to be missing here. Yes, Bama's run D is very good. But so is their secondary. Our running game, when using Denard, is as good as anybody's. Our pass offense? Not so much.

Rather than playing strength on strength, Borges made a call to put weakness on weakness almost exclusively. I think it's fair to ask why he didn't adjust when it was obvious that their secondary far outclassed our passer and receivers.

Also, did you guys see the Denard TD run? Everyone knew that was coming and he will made some guys look stupid. Denard is a world class runner. Frankly he's the only world class part of our offense except for Taylor Lewan. When you're going up agains a world class D....


September 5th, 2012 at 9:26 AM ^

Yeah, his TD run had all the Alabama players looking at each other and saying "WTF?!!"

The pass, thrown efficiently, softens up the D for the run.  But is also works the other way around.  A few of those kind of Denard runs would have put Alabama on their heels just a little bit, allowing him to hit some of those missed passes easier.

I would have liked to see Denard run some more and make Alabama prove they can stop him.  He would not have gotten "150 yards" doing it, but he may have been able to loosen the D up a little bit to help his passing struggles.

Yes, the key to a win (or realistically a competitive loss) was efficient passing.  It was the right scheme.  But Denard struggled executing it.  Leveraging Denard's strength in his running might have actually helped him shore up his weakness in passing.



September 5th, 2012 at 10:33 AM ^

I think if you look at the play calls within the context of the game it's not as cut and dry as you make it seem. They went in thinking they'd throw if Alabama stacked the box and since they did stack the box, we threw. That's a perfectly reasonable approach IMO, especially if you take the coaches at their word that Denard had shown a lot of improvement in practice (and even though the final numbers don't reflect it, I thought he did look much better). Our first two drives stalled because of penalties, but we were moving the ball reasonably well with short throws outside. There were at least two slants that should have worked if not for great plays by the corner and the first downfield Devin target I think missed because Devin was turned the wrong way and drifted inside. On the third series, after the non-PI interception or whatever you want to call it, Denard was hurt so you can't really run him until you know he's ok. After that, we did run him and found varying success, but mostly he got bottled up just like Smith and Rawls. I understand people are frustrated we didn't seem to try running Denard much, but on the other hand, you don't necessarily have to try something to know it won't work, if there's enough history and experience to go off of. I think Al saw our O-Line getting crushed play in and play out and figured it was better use of plays to find other alternatives. In the end, I don't think scheme really mattered. The Alabama D simply had it all covered. As Al eluded to, if you're not able to execute on either constraint, the D doesn't have to adjust and you're pretty much hosed.

Sten Carlson

September 4th, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

So, Al says fuck it to the run before the game even started? Hey let's not give the ball to the most electric player in the country.

No Dave, that is not what Al said at all, stop being stupid. What he said was, NOBODY can run on Bama's defense, and there is virtually NO WAY Denard, even as gifted as he is, is going to be able to run effectively when Bama's #1 goal is to stop Denard from running.

Read what the man said Dave. The counter to a stacked box bent upon stopping Denard from running is an efficient short passing game. This plan, if effective, would force Bama to unstack the box. That was EXACTLY what Borges started the game with. Michigan didn't execute, so Bama never unstacked the box.

If every team stacks the box then Borges will have Robinson throw the ball all fricking game?

Yes, until they adjust and soften their defense of the box then Borges will show pass, and then run either with Denard or someone else.

Why is that making people so upset?

Imagine a scenario in which Michigan had a pro-style offense with a beast of a RB who was very dangerous. Opponents would stack the box in an effort stop that RB, and a game plan would be to come out running play action early in an effort to get them out of their run stop defense. Then, if they shift into pass stop, you run your RB. It's a chess match. But, you have to execute. As I said, Michigan didn't execute, so Bama was never forced to back out of their run stop defense.

One of the things that was so frustrating about Debord's offenses under Carr was that he would continue to run despite the fact that teams were loading up to stop Hart. That is what made the 2007 victory over Florida so bitter sweet. They came out with a game plan that totally broke every tendency that Michigan was known for, and they torched the defending National Champs.

Why is this so hard to understand? Why do so many people feel the need to lash out at the OC as if he's some kind of stubborn idiot?

Every team we play is going to do the same thing -- they're going to stack the box. When Denard and the WR's execute, the running game will open up. It's pretty simple.


September 5th, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

... we will never know because he didn't try. But I am also very glad we still have Denard healthy to play the part of the season that really matters. Running him into the best run defense might have been way too risky.


Oh yea Denard, Don't ever try to tackle someone like that ever again. The collective "NOOOO!!"s went up around the room when he did that. 


September 5th, 2012 at 1:43 AM ^

You have some thoughts in there that line up with mine.  Mainly, people just can't seem to grasp certain notions about the game of football.  Execution is so crucial; that game Saturday night is a perfect example of why.  If two, I mean this, two, passes were completed in the first quarter on those first couple drives, it would have literally made a for completely different quarter (with the same overall outcome, a butt beating throughout the course of the game, pretty much the same!); the point remains.

Anyway, back to me agreeing with you that people can't/don't want to accept that the players did not execute a gameplan that could have succeeded more than it did, put together by Borges.  (Same thing with the defense, as Mattison has stated.  Execution, technique being a part of that, was not a strong point, hence them running over our beloved team.)