Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian October 6th, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Substitution notes: Obviously there was Gardner. Hopkins played quite a bit of fullback and got a couple carries. Shaw got a little run today after missing SDSU entirely. Watson appears to have locked down the second TE spot. Unless he shows up against Purdue, Mike Cox has probably seen his career end without even the random 50-yard run against a terrible opponent.

On the line, Barnum missed the game and was replaced by Schofield. When Michigan put in its second team line it read Schofield-Burzynski-Khoury-Omameh-Mealer from left to right. Burzynski is a redshirt freshman walk-on who the official site notes has been liked four times on Facebook.

Formation notes: Fritz has been discussed plenty already, but here's Fritz anyway:


Denard is the left wingback, Smith the right, Toussaint deep. It seemed like they were flipping Denard when they were on the other hash.

The usual other than that with even less under center. When they went to it they usually passed, which is a really weird thing to realize. "Oh, it's the I. They must be passing." /head explodes

Show? Show.


Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Gallon 9
Easy pitch and catch against soft coverage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M29 2 1 Fritz 3 1 1 Base 4-3 Run Speed option Toussaint -4
For a formation that's never been run before Minnesota sure is all over this. They shift two DBs to the TE side of the formation and those guys allow the Gophers to maintain the edge pretty easily here. This looks like a blitz specifically designed to contain a speed option handoff from an old school T formation. Go figure. (Gardner is totally uncovered, FWIW... if this was a called waggle he would be on the edge without a guy within 10 yards of him.) Koger really has no chance to seal the DB outside of him and then there's another guy further outside; Smith(-1) runs right by him to block a safety and when Robinson pitches that guy zips out on Toussaint for a TFL. RPS -2. Playside OL had done a pretty good job of dealing with this, FWIW.
RUN+: Huyge(0.5) RUN-: Smith
M25 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB Draw Robinson 13
Safety walks down for an extra guy. It matters not. The key here is Robinson's patience. Live I was watching Gallon(+1), who plants that safety in the box, and then is looking at Robinson thinking “why don't you run?” This delay gets the Gopher OL way upfield and causes the LBs to start pass-dropping just as Denard takes off. Schofield(+1) kicks a DT out to provide a lane; Smith gets out of the backfield and uses his agility to redirect himself into the MLB. Robinson(+1) reads his lanes and jukes past one guy Koger(+0.5) kind of blocked, hitting the secondary.
RUN+: Gallon, Robinson, Smith, Koger(+0.5), Schofield RUN-:
M38 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Zone read iso Toussaint 35
Hopkins the second TB. This is basically an old-school iso from a shotgun formation with the zone read fake holding a guy outside, which means it plays out like an inside zone with a lead blocker. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) crush the NT to his knees, sealing him. Molk pops out to seal someone on the second level, but there's no one to block. Omameh(+1) kicks out the other NT. Hopkins(+2) shoots down into the hole and thumps the MLB out of it, getting another LB caught up in the carnage. Toussaint(+1) hits the hole hard, bursting into the secondary and running through an attempted ankle tackle; he is one step from a touchdown but the tackle attempt made him break stride and that gives the last Gopher defender the foot he needs to drag him down from behind. Picture-paged.
RUN+: Molk, Schofield, Toussaint, Omameh, Hopkins(2) RUN-:
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Smith 6
Toussaint motions out to WR. I think Denard should pull this since the end on that side is getting blocked and Gallon can come down to crack the safety; test the edge here. As it is Schofield(+1) sees his man dive playside and pushes him past the play; Lewan(-1) does not seal the DE and loses him to the interior. Smith has a big hole but it's one filled by an unblocked LB. Smith(+1) cuts past him near the LOS and while the guy does grab him he's getting dragged forward. Molk(+1) maintains a second level block a long time, which gives Smith an extra couple yards when he steps through the first LB's tackle.
RUN+: Smith, Molk, Schofield RUN-: Lewan
O21 2 4 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB iso Robinson 18
Minnesota shifts late and I imagine Molk(-1) must have busted this because he's got a guy shaded over him and just runs past, leaving Omameh(+1) a super tough job as he tries to do anything with a guy flying upfield a yard inside of him. He manages to shove the dude, who ends up falling. This forces Denard playside, where Schofield(-1) got beat by another shifted DL. Smith(+2) manages to squeeze through the hole, which gets a bump on the guy to prevent him from hitting Denard immediately. Denard(+2) slows up, cuts back upfield of the two guys on the left side of the line, and then pops back outside as Smith earns his second plus by plugging the nearest linebacker. Denard breaks contain and is into the secondary, where he jukes a safety(+1) before getting tripped near the goal line.
RUN+: Omameh, Smith(2), Robinson(3) RUN-: Schofield, Molk
O3 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Zone read dive Smith 3
Lewan(+2 blows up the playside DE, who moves inside, as does the LB, giving up the corner. Smith(+1) reads it and takes the easy TD.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Pass PA RB Go Hopkins 28
Zone read PA off the iso action sees Hopkins fly at the defense like he did on the 35-yard Toussaint run… only to run right by them. With no deep help Robinson can loft a soft touch pass over the defense right into Hopkins, who makes the catch. Excellent playcall that fits with the earlier one and excellent execution. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2). Picture-paged.
O47 1 10 Fritz 3 1 1 4-3 under Run Counter pitch Toussaint 15
Another interlocking play as the speed option action is met with Toussaint heading the opposite way and the quick pitch. Minnesota suckered. Five different players go with the fake and the only guy anywhere near it is a DT dropping out. Roundtree(-1) whiffs his downfield block, allowing the CB to set up about eight yards deep; Toussaint jukes him and is about to jet past when that guy grabs his jersey and ropes him to the ground. Juke still picked up eight or so. RPS +2. Got a little picture-page attention itself.
RUN+: Toussaint RUN-: Roundtree
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Deep Hitch Hemingway 16
PA dive fake with Schofield pulling backside to block EMLOS. Line gives Robinson forever; he pumps once and then hits Hemingway on a deep hitch about 15 yards downfield. Good throw, a tiny bit behind him—high but don't mind that since it's Hemingway. Do think Denard is late here; better Ds might make a play on this ball as they read the routes. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Also on replay it looks like Robinson missed an easy touchdown to Roundtree.
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Sprint counter Shaw 8
Not a draw; Lewan(!) pulls all the way from left tackle to the backside of the play. Huyge is expecting to kick the DE out only to see him dive inside, which cuts off Lewan at the same time it opens the corner up wide. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the nose, sealed him, and created a linebacker wall that they didn't need because of the counter action but it's nice to have anyway. Gallon(+1) blows up a safety coming down on the edge, and Shaw is open on the corner. Blue Seoul knocked him for not reading the crackback and then dancing further on the outside. I bet this is why the coaches are going with Toussaint and Smith, but I won't minus. RPS +1. BWS picture-paged.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Gallon, Schofield RUN-:
O8 2 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 4-4 Run Power off tackle Shaw -1
Insert liberation society rant. Enjoy continued Bornsteining of I-form power. Etc. Playside LB spills this; getting inside of Watson(-2) blows the play up as one Minnesota defender takes out three blockers. Shaw dances in the backfield a bit but it's understandable since he's got nowhere to go; he's tackled by a cast of thousands in the backfield. RUN-: Watson(2), Shaw, Koger
O9 3 3 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB power Robinson 9
Robinson checks to this, a power at the gap in the Minnesota line. Minnesota overloads the outside to the playside and slants the other way, making three DL irrelevant. Smith(+1) kicks out the interior LB playside; the outside guy starts peeling back. Huyge(+0.5) gets an easy downfield block on a free release; Schofield(+0.5) almost but does not quite whiff on the other LB, eventually getting enough of a push to get Denard through the line. Peeling LB peels; Denard runs through his tackle. Since the three WRs to that side are DOMINATING the DBs Denard can walk in.
RUN+: Dileo, Hemingway, Roundtree, Huyge(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Smith, Denard RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Pass Throwback screen Gallon 11
Not tunnel screen; farther outside. Gophers bite hard on the play action, with literally nine guys in the box going after the handoff fake. Gallon wide open, pitch and catch, playside corner does a great job to fend off Lewan so this doesn't turn into a touchdown. Gallon still picks up the first easily. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 under Pass Hitch Gallon 9
CB way, way off, easy pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M35 2 1 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Run Zone read dive Smith 10
Molk and Omameh(+1 each) club the NT out of the hole; he slides outside so Molk pops off onto the MLB, or at least he would if the MLB wasn't flowing into a backside hole no one is in. Minnesota is not good. Schofield does well enough with the other DT that the clubbing provides a crease; LB over the slot receiver comes down too fast for Hemingway to block him without drawing a flag—why not have Dileo, lined up inside, plug this guy? Anyway, Smith hits it up fast and almost runs through the tackle attempt but not quite.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Schofield, Smith RUN-:
M45 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under Run QB power Robinson 3
Denard checks, flipping Toussaint to the other side; Minnesota checks in response. Michigan is trying to run power to the wide side of the field; Minnesota slants their line away from it and flows LBs over the top. Schofield is pulling; he gets bumped a bit by the dude slanting under Omameh(-1). Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE and Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out the EMLOS; Schofield does get to the hole to block the LB filling it but because of the delay he's closer to the LOS than you'd like. LB sets up to the inside and manages to make a diving ankle tackle before Robinson can burst into the secondary.
RUN+: Koger, Toussaint(+0.5) RUN-: Omameh
M48 2 7 Fritz 3 1 1 4-3 under Pass Scramble Gardner 2
Speed option action sees Denard pull up and throw it back to Gardner for a double pass; Lewan(-1) is late getting out there and a corner's flowing up to pressure Gardner; he avoids the guy and takes off. (PR, N/A, 0/1, Lewan) Roundtree was bursting past the one guy in deep coverage and got blatantly held. Refs -1.
50 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 12
Easy candy throws as Minnesota sends the world's saddest six-man rush. It gets nowhere near Denard; corner is nowhere near the little hitch that easily picks up the first down. Minnesota is not good. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Hemingway's inexplicable YAC knack gets a half-dozen more.
O38 1 10 Fritz 3 1 1 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Gardner 15
Speed option action with no handoff and a rollout into an intended throw. Minnesota is throwing some sort of blitz at this; backside DT twists outside, then starts running after the fake; backside DE drops off into a short zone. Gardner sees he has the corner and just takes off. (SCR, N/A, NA)
O23 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Hemingway 6
QB iso action sees Dileo get wide open but Denard is looking further outside since DBs are again playing in the parking lot. Simple hitch to Hemingway goes for five yards plus YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O17 2 4 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass RB pass Dileo 17
This is Michigan's pitch formation—at least it was the only time they've done it thus far this year—and they run the pitch. Smith does a great job of selling the run long enough for Minnesota to suck up; Dileo runs right by everyone and is wide open. Smith hits him for six. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Sprint counter Toussaint 24
Minnesota dives under the backside tackle again with their DE, which forces Huyge(+1) to kick that guy out instead of getting downfield as Lewan(-1) blocks no one. Normally this would mean there's no hole but Molk(+3) singlehandedly escorts the NT outside the frickin' tackle box, so there's a gap. There are no linebackers in the gap because they sucked way playside—again there is a very lonely Michigan OL having a tea party for one on the second level. Toussaint hits the gap and runs a long way. Toussaint(+2) jukes a safety along with his nice cut and picks up some bonus yards. RPS +2
RUN+: Huyge, Molk(3), Toussaint(2) RUN-: Lewan
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 8
THIS IS SO EASY GUYS (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O37 2 2 Shotgun 2back twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Hopkins 2 (Pen +5)
Triple option yo, though this could just be a dive with some option action to it that is not a read. Minnesota has loaded the backside. With a guy coming right at Denard he hands it on the dive, but he should pitch. Schofield(+1) escorts the backside DT well down the line; Lewan releases and has three guys to block. He chooses the outside guy. That seems to be a poor choice for the dive but if the option goes outside that might be preferable. One of the two unblocked guys comes up to hit Hopkins near the LOS; he does get the first. No RPS-1 since it got the short yardage it required. Minnesota jumped offsides anyway. Picture-paged by BWS.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-: Robinson
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Power off tackle Toussaint 4
Off the left side, going outside of Lewan and Koger as they block down. Koger(+1) clears the corner. Omameh and Hopkins are your lead guys; Hopkins(-1) is bounced off of and falls to the ground and Omameh(-0.5) does get a block but gets stood up by the Gopher MLB. Toussaint doesn't have a crease; he runs up backs.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Hopkins, Omameh(0.5)
O28 2 6 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Throwback screen Smith 28
Waggle gets Denard the corner as Hopkins gets a good block on the edge contain guy, putting him on his knees. Not relevant to the play but good job. If this was an actual waggle Denard would have plenty of time and room to make something happen, but it's a throwback screen. Minnesota blitzed and is dead, with eight players at or near the LOS focused on the waggle. One of them manages to peel off and pursue; Huyge(+1) chops him to the ground. Molk and Omameh have to run 20 yards downfield to find anyone to block; Omameh(+1) chops the FS and Molk watches as Gallon(+1) buries the corner. Smith runs straight upfield for six. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3.)
RUN+: Omameh, Gallon, Huyge RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-0, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Toussaint 37 (Pen -10)
Molk(-1) releases immediately instead of executing a combo on the NT. He does give a token shove but he needs more there. That NT gets into Omameh(-2) to the playside. Omameh holds him. This gives Toussaint a gap that he hits like whoah, accelerating away from an unblocked linebacker and zipping into the endzone. Excellent work by Schofield to open the gap up; Toussaint might have gone right by the DT if Omameh does not hold.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Schofield RUN-: Molk, Omameh(3)
O47 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA Deep Out Hemingway Inc (Pen +15)
PA with a pulling G to provide some pass blocking help on the edge. Omameh(-1) gets out there but instead of blocking the edge guy he sets up to take on the backside DE, who was unblocked and is pursuing the RB. As a result he blocks neither guy. Both start rushing at Denard, who chucks it off his back foot in the general direction of Hemingway. The ball is way uncatchable but the Minnesota DB still picks up a horsecrap PI call. Refs +2. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Omameh)
O32 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Shaw 18
Virtually identical to the first play on this drive with a major exception: Molk(+1) gets a good shoulder into the NT and Omameh(+2) uses that extra help to get around him and seal him out of the play. MLB sucks himself out of position on the zone read fake, allowing Huyge to block him easily, and Molk gets downfield to push a linebacker to the outside. Shaw busts upfield, angling away from a safety until another defender comes in and forces him back into the tackle.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh(2), Shaw, Schofield RUN-:
O14 1 10 I-form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Down G Shaw 5
Not actually G; Lewan pulls around the two TEs. Molk also pulls from the inside. Watson(+1) and Koger(+1) seal their playside guys away. Molk(+1) does the same with the LB flowing from the inside. Lewan's guy has to maintain leverage so he is essentially running himself out of the play. Omameh can't get his LB on the backside but he's always the toughest to block. Hopkins(-1) gets a weak-ish shove on another LB flowing and that guy plus the backside guy combine to tackle.
RUN+: Watson, Koger, Molk RUN-: Hopkins
O9 2 5 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass Waggle TE flat Koger 0
Minnesota shooting a guy right into the waggle; Robinson has to throw immediately to his guy in the flat; Minnesota has a zone defender there to tackle immediately. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O9 3 5 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Speed option Robinson 2
BOO REF BOO. Molk owns the NT, getting his hand in the middle of his chest and literally throwing him to the ground. This gets a holding call. Boo! Princes Bride dream style boo! Watson(-1) and Huyge(-1) do a very weak job on the playside DE, who just kind of flows down the line without being harassed. Pitch guy is taken. Robinson has a cutback lane thanks to the Molk hold-type-substance but misses it and just runs up the backs of his blockers for not much yardage.
RUN-: Robinson, Watson, Huyge, Molk (boo!)
Drive Notes: FG(25), 31-0, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M44 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Zone read iso Toussaint 8
Minnesota now scraping this as the DE is hauling after Toussaint. Hopkins(-0.5) runs right through the back of Schofield's block, stumbling. He keeps his feet and does get out to a linebacker but the delay probably allows the LB to get outside instead of being sealed inside. Roundtree(-1) just whiffs on a safety. Meanwhile, I think Robinson tries to pull this, which Toussaint is all like “no” about; he is momentarily off balance. Good work by the interior OL gives him a crease and he bounces outside the charging safety near the LOS, turning it up into a corner for a good chunk.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5) RUN-: Roundtree, Hopkins(0.5)
O48 2 2 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Hopkins 6
Lewan(+1.5) and Schofield(+0.5), but mostly Lewan, donkey the DE to the backside, blowing him downfield. Molk(+1) seals the playside DE; Koger(+0.5) kicks out the LB. Big hole that Hopkins heads straight into, getting tackled by a linebacker after a bit.
RUN+: Lewan(1.5), Schofield(0.5), Koger(0.5), Molk RUN-:
O42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Pass PA rollout something Koger? Inc
This time it's Schofield(-1) who's trying to pull to provide pass protection and he, too, slows up to maybe block the playside DE instead of hauling after the edge LB and ends up blocking no one. Robinson has to stop his roll, allowing the DE to get into him. He chucks it off his back foot, apparently to Koger, but misses badly. I'm torn between PR and IN. Let's be mean! (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Schofield)
O42 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Sprint counter Smith 8
Um... what? I don't think I've ever seen this before: Huyge makes the now-standard pull to the frontside of the play... and so does Lewan. So you've got two OTs crossing as they pull. Very weird. My assumption is that Lewan(-2) busted the playcall. If this was a crazy key-breaking call it would be a G pulling to simulate the pass blocking. So Lewan leaves this guy unblocked and the natural reaction of this DE is to get straight upfield to contain a zone read even though it's not even close to the play call. This gives Smith a window. He cuts up past the guy, then cuts behind Koger(-1), who totally lost his battle with the backside DE. Schofield(+1) got a good one on one kickout on one DT; Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a good combo block to seal the other guy away and deal with a linebacker. Yes, this time Molk actually has someone to block. Smith(+2) cuts back outside, accelerating through the hole before getting chopped down by the safety near the sticks.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Omameh, Smith(2) RUN-: Koger, Lewan(2)
O34 3 2 Goal line 2 3 0 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 3
Watson motions to an H-back spot, which tips the MLB that this is an iso right over him. He attacks at the snap; Watson(+1) does a good job to kick him out. Lewan(+2) annihilates the playside DE, pancaking him. NT slants himself out of the play. Schofield(+1) and Hopkins(+1) get excellent second level blocks; Toussaint is about to jet for an easy TD when a blitzer comes around from the outside and chops him down.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Hopkins, Schofield, Watson RUN-:
O31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Drag Dileo 6
Robinson wants a fly route; covered, he checks down. He's a little late on the check down and his throw is a little low, taking Dileo off his feet and removing the possibility of YAC. (MA, 3, protection 2/2)
O25 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB Draw Robinson 7
Molk gives one DT a shove to help Schofield(-2) but Schofield doesn't get anywhere near a proper seal despite the help. This puts that DT right in the running lane. Omameh also lost his but he lost his upfield, which is fine. Robinson has to dance between the two. He does so, then dances past a guy Koger did kind of a bad job on. He gets past another guy thanks to a good sustained block from Smith(+1) and picks up the first.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Smith RUN-: Schofield(2)
O18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass TE Out Koger Inc
Not a very good read since this is covered. LB makes a play on the ball but does not get a PBU because the pass is perfectly thrown. He does incidentally trip Koger, making this reception even tougher than it already would be. Great accuracy here but still a bad read—the payoff is not worth the risk. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)
O18 2 10 Shotgun 2back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Quick out Dileo Inc
Minnesota sends the house, blitzing 8(!). Michigan's got an open quick out that Robinson takes. His throw is tough but catchable; Dileo bobbles it and brings it in but not before he goes OOB. (CA, 2, protection N/A)
O18 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie Pass TE Seam Koger 18
Seven rushers this time; Michigan has something on for it. Koger jukes the chuck of the LB on him in man and that's all she wrote as Denard hits him with a nice touch pass for six. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-0, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 2
Blocked well; backside DL is slanting outside and is gone; Koger(+1) and Huyge(+1) kill playside DE; Koger pops out. Hopkins kicks out playside LB. Schofield finds a block, but it's the ninth guy in the box, a safety, who flows down over the top to tackle Toussaint. Would RPS minus this if the game wasn't long over. Think Toussaint has more yards here if he follows Schofield instead of getting outside and exposing himself.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint
M28 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Screen Toussaint -2
Smith motions out. Minnesota DL reads this as Molk(-1) just runs by him without selling the pass block, peels off, and tackles. (CA, 3, screen)
M26 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Deep out Hemingway Inc
Another rollout gets multiple linemen blocking no one and exposes Denard to pressure. Smith bumps a blitzer on the rollout side and lets him outside; Denard has to pull up. Unblocked guy from the backside and contain guy converge; Denard throws it off his back foot and sails one in the direction of Hemingway. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Smith)
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 11 min 3rd Q. OUTRAGE
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Shaw 5
Robinson(-1) misses a read as the DE is tearing after the RB. OTOH, four defenders are hanging out backside in case this is a keep so maybe not. Given the way the play develops I stand by the minus. Omameh(+1) kicks out the playside DT; Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) batter the NT back. A linebacker inexplicably takes off after Robinson and Shaw is about to burst for a ton of yards when the crashing DE grabs him by his jersey. We need some slicker jerseys, man.
RUN+: Molk, Schofield, Omameh RUN-: Robinson
O49 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Shaw 14
NT slants way out of the hole, so there's a big gap. Molk is doubling the other DT with Schofield, though, and there are seven defenders in the box against Michigan's five blockers, so that gap is filled with two defenders. Shaw could hammer it up for a few but decides to bounce. He always decides to bounce. This time it works out as Hemingway(+2) comes down to shove a safety past Shaw and picks off a linebacker as he does so. Corner achievement achieved.
RUN+: Shaw, Hemingway(2) RUN-:
O35 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA TE flat Koger 18 + 9 pen
I-form is our passing formation. Weird. Play action fake, Koger blocks a guy and releases, finding himself open. Denard tosses it to him; Koger is met by a DB who he stiffarms to the ground as he picks up the first. Who is your daddy. (CA, 3, protection 2/2.) Minnesota picks up a roughing the passer afterwards.
O9 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Sprint counter Shaw 8
More of this and Minnesota still has no idea what's going on. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) double the NT, blowing him a couple yards off the ball; Molk peels off to take an attacking LB. Attacking his way out of the play, sure, but whatever. Huyge(+1) sort of walls off the DE, who's happy to just hug Huyge for support. No effort to get off the block at all. Lewan pulls and that takes a linebacker out with him; Shaw(+1) hits the gap and gets down to the one. RPS+1.
RUN+: Shaw, Molk, Omameh, Huyge. RUN-:
O1 2 G Ace 1 2 2 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 1
Borges loves this.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 45-0, 8 min 3rd Q. Gardner comes in on the next drive; I'll cover it but we're officially in half-ass mode. Mostly looking for Gardner's performance and offense things, ceasing serious OL grading since we've established they murder this team.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Gallon Inc
Gardner stares it down and throws a soft toss out to the hitch, allowing the Gopher CB to make a play on the ball. Need to gun this in. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M47 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Shaw 3
Lewan(-2) loses his guy entirely, allowing him and a blitzer to come up the middle of this play unmolested; Shaw(+2) has to bounce this time and does successfully, getting the corner and turning a loss into a small gain.
RUN+: Shaw(2) RUN-: Lewan(2)
50 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Rollout bad idea Hemingway 14
Another rollout that ends up with the QB getting pressure on him thanks to a guy dedicated to getting the edge. Gardner has to pull up and tosses a soft floater across his body that screams INT but somehow finds its way to Hemingway for the first down. Results based charting, but this is asking for it against teams that have players on the field. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O36 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Roundtree Inc
Complete at the sticks except not complete because Roundtree drops it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O36 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 16
Omameh watches his guy slant out of the play; Molk(+1), Hopkins(+1), and Gallon(+1) all get second level blocks; Toussaint(+1) makes a good cut behind the Hopkins block for a big chunk.
RUN+: Molk, Hopkins, Gallon, Toussaint RUN-:
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read dive Toussaint 4
Huyge(-1) doesn't provide the requisite push to get the playisde DT sealed and Omameh(-1) loses control of him; Tousssaint(+1) manages to hop outside that guy's tackle attempt. His bounce takes him upfield into the kicked-out DE, who comes back to tackle. Dileo helped out by getting a safety.
RUN+: Dileo, Toussaint RUN-: Omameh, Huyge
O16 2 6 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Waggle scramble Gardner 4
Insert usual waggle/rollout rant here; there is a dude in Gardner's face immediately, trying to sack; Gardner goes all crazy legs, scrambling all the way back to the other sideline. He looks like he'll get taken down at the line, then powers through a tackle to pick something up. RPS has ceased but I want to minus this so hard. Picture-paged by BWS.
RUN+: Gardner RUN-:
O12 3 2 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Penalty Delay -- -5
O17 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Scramble Gardner 2
Minnesota sends a couple blitzers; Michigan does a good job of picking them up. Gardner, perhaps used to being behind the sacktastic walkons of the second team, bugs out when he's got a pocket and some time to find the open guy, scrambling for minimal yardage. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(32), 48-0, 2 min 3rd Q. OL backups start coming in on the next drive. I'm not including those numbers in the run table.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB power Gardner 11
Molk out for Khoury, Huyge out for Mealer. Playside LB runs himself way out of the play. Moore(+1) rides the playside DE out; big hole. Schofield gets out in the hole but doesn't actually block the guy; Gardner has room because Mealer(+1) and Watson(+1) sealed LBs.
RUN+: Moore, Watson, Huyge RUN-:
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Sprint counter Rawls 25
Minnesota line basically seals themselves but Mealer(+1) does get a good block on the DE diving inside and this allows Lewan to pull around outside. Roundtree(+1) blows up a safety coming down and Lewan(+1) manages to peel back, shoving the last LB with a shot at Rawls upfield. Rawls(+1) is into the secondary, where he runs through a weak ankle tackle attempt and keeps his balance for a nice chunk.
O39 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Draw Rawls 1
Minnesota slants, which screws up intended lanes here; Hopkins(-1) does not read the play and take a blitzer off the corner. Rawls has to burrow behind him and because of the lack of space ends up tripping over Lewan's feet as the Gophers converge. Usual rant about I-form running.
O38 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Hitch Gallon 12
Easy pitch and catch that may be a little late but is accurate; Gallon can turn upfield because the Gopher DB is very bad. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Inside zone Rawls 5
H-back headed backside. No cutback as Khoury(-1) gets blown back; Rawls does step around the block and get to the LB level; Omameh got a good block on the second level. I'm done with OL +/- at this point, I think, as walk-ons are in.
O21 2 5 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Rawls 7
Moore(+1) kicks playside DE down the line; Rawls(+1) does a good job of setting up his lead block from the pulling G, who is a walk-on with a complicated last name.
O14 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Rawls 0
Minnesota scraping the backside DE down the line and having a LB come over the top; no one blocks him as Moore-2) takes an outside contain guy and no gain.
O14 2 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Smith 0
Omameh(-1) and Khoury, but mostly Omameh, get beaten by the Gopher NT, who ends up in the hole outside that Smith wants after the scrape. This is bad; Omameh is playside of the guy on the snap.
O14 3 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Sack -- -7
Mealer(-2) gets Gardner sacked.
Drive Notes: FG(38!), 51-0, 9 min 4th Q. Charting ceases.



That was fun!

Yes, our quarterback threw it at people!

Except when there was a rollout!

And our linemen often found themselves on the second level wondering if anyone was going to validate their existence!

Except when they went under center!

Which, to be fair, they did about twice!

So… same question that we asked about the D applies here: anything of meaning to be found?

Yes, probably moreso than the defense because certain things on offense are defense-independent, or at least sort of defense independent. The best way to show this is with a—


—chart. One you don't even cower in fear at.

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]

2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%

Happy pony forever!

Now the caveats: Minnesota, for one. For two, virtually all of that was short stuff, with the Hopkins go route and another pass to Hemingway the only moderately long passes thrown. It is progress. It may not be meaningful against teams with a secondary.

Now the anti-caveats: The MA was a not-too-difficult completion that gained six and could have been a shaky CA, and I don't really blame Denard for any of those INs.

Who do you blame?

Not to tempt the wrath of Gordon Borges, but Borges. (Michigan was +12 RPS, FWIW, so regard this as the nit it is, Mr. Borges sir.) Rollouts are killing me, man. Maize Pages has been charting the Denard throws in some detail and reports back on the rollout situation from the last game:

There are so few incomplete passes that it's easy laying all 5 of them (4 + 1 PI call) out again:

  • 1+20 | shot | PA, rolls left, sets feet, pumps, bad feet, P3, throws up jump ball, PI called (incomplete)
  • 1+10 | shot | PA, rolls right, moving feet, P2, overthrows Hemingway (incomplete)
  • 1+10 | shot | takes 1 step back, sets feet, P0, throws to a tightly covered Koger out route (incomplete)
  • 2+10 | shot | rolls right, doesn't set feet, P1, throws to Dileo who bobbles could have been caught (incomplete)
  • 3+10 | shot | rolls right, sets feet, P2, overthrows Hemingway (incomplete)

Notice a trend? 4 of his 5 incomplete passes were on roll-outs. On my count, Denard rolled 6 times all game, giving us a completion rate of 2/6 out of the pocket. While it's become clear that Denard is more comfortable from the gun, rolling the pocket seems to be the bad within the good, unnecessarily complicating his footwork and taking him out of his comfort zone.

Borges referenced some of these incompletions in his presser and blamed footwork and protection, both of which are right. Denard's footwork was poor as he pulled up to throw off his back foot; on two of those the pulling G who's supposed to provide Denard some protection pulled up when two guys burst upfield and he couldn't decide who to block. If the guards shoot into the outside guy without hesitation…

Well, they probably still end up letting him onto the edge because he is coming hard, and then Denard has to deal with the guy on the inside, and you still have issues. You have fewer issues than you did in the last game but it's still not an ideal situation.

I'd rather keep Denard in the pocket, where people rush him gingerly, if at all, and have him zip it into receivers without having to set his feet. That's right: Denard is a pocket guy.

Meanwhile, BWS picture-paged Gardner's crazylegs scramble that started when he turned around on a waggle only to find a Gopher in his face:


The moral of the story is that when you put a Michigan quarterback on the edge you are exposing him to rushers that are unblocked or almost unblocked because the first priority of any opposing defense is to prevent #16 (or #7) from getting the edge. The only time a quarterback could get the edge was when the defense was freaking out about the other quarterback getting the other edge.

Okay, there was also this time:

When they didn't need it, Robinson had the corner wiiiide open.

And the waggle… guh, man, guh. That is the Atari 2600 version of the spread 'n' shred. You are turning your back to the defense and hoping that when you turn around you don't find an angry 250 pound man in your face. Since This Is Michigan (2011 edition) that always happens because power gains two yards and the quarterback leaves neutrinos in the dust. Priorities one through five for the defense are containing the QB.

This is why all that throwback stuff is working so brilliantly. How can we keep that—which everybody likes—and ditch the incompletions? I don't know, but apparently doing max-protect rollouts fools everyone all the time even without an actual threat of gaining yards on the frontside so lets keep doing that.

ANYWAY, you crab.

I'm not a crab. Let me prove this with more charts.

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway 2 - - 5/5 4 - 4/5 6/7
Roundtree - - - 0/1 1 1/3 1/2 4/4
Odoms - - - - 1 - - -
Grady - - - - 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon 1


- 4/4 1 - - 12/12
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - 0/1 2/2 - 0/1 1/2 2/2
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Koger - 0/1 - 3/3 2 1/2 1/2 6/7
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
Toussaint - - - 1/1 - - - 1/2
Shaw - - - - - - - -
Smith - - - 1/1 1 - - 5/6
Hopkins - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

Hey, look: numbers. At this point in the season we can say that the top two receivers seem to be Hemingway and Gallon, with Roundtree evaporating but still third and Dileo seemingly fourth. Odoms and Grady appear to be down the depth chart as seniors, which is surprising. Odoms does have the hand injury.

Offensive line, keeping in mind that only 35-ish carries were charted after around 50 last week.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 5.5 6 -0.5 Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.
Barnum - - - DNP
Molk 14.5 4 10.5 Was always going to happen. Did miss some first level blocks, I thought.
Omameh 10.5 4.5 6 Stayed in late.
Huyge 5 2 3 Did not have a big role.
Schofield 12 4 8 Basically a sixth starter.
Mealer - - - Did pick up minuses but after I said no mas.
Watson 2 3 -1 Eh.
Koger 5 2 3 Better than last week.
TOTAL 54.5 25.5 29 +/- ratio holds steady at 2:1
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 7 3 4 Missed a couple reads, still got a lot of positives in six carries.
Gardner 2 - 2 Not Denard but effective.
Toussaint 10.5 1 9.5 Made many miss.
Shaw 5 1 4 bounce bounce bounce bounce
Smith 10 1 9 Good bit of this blocking.
Hopkins 4 2.5 1.5 Blocking erratic.
Rawls - - - DNP before charting seriously ceased.
McColgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 38.5 8.5 30 Excellent day by all runners.
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway 3 - 3  
Odoms - - -  
Gallon 4 - 4 --
Roundtree 1 2 -1  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo 2 - - --
TOTAL 10 2 8 record setting. srsly.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 27 4 87% Lewan 1, Omameh 1, Schofield 1, Smith 1
RPS 15 3 12 Borges hates lakes/Prince/etc.

The offensive line did about as well as it did last week, which may qualify as something of a disappointment or may just reflect how hard it is to get five to seven guys all doing the right thing on every play. The backs and receivers had excellent outings—that's how you get to 7.9 YPC from the 7.3 posted against SDSU.

So this Omameh business?

I can't help but wonder if he is struggling for reasons other than awkward change to a new system. When Michigan threw the second team OL out there they left him on the field. Michigan doesn't have much depth on the OL but they've got someone who can go out there leading Minnesota by 50 in the fourth. The other guard was a walk-on.

The lack of depth on the line is an argument to get Omameh out in my mind, since you really don't want one of your 7-ish plausible OL going down in garbage time. Leaving him on the field makes me think they're not happy with his play and are trying to get him more reps because they don't have other options.

And the shotgun/center run dichotomy?

There's nothing to talk about this week, as the only under center runs I have charted are two short yardage plays (a one yard Fitz TD and a three-yard Fitz iso on third and two) and a single second and two power from the eight that lost a yard. I think there were one or two more after charting stopped that also did poorly.

So we can't do it. Fine. Borges is adapting, which is great, and seems to be getting his MANBALL from other sources, like shotgun isos at spread out teams and a hell of a lot of sprint counter.

Sprint counter.

Yessssss. It's not quite TGDCD but it is ver' nice, especially when Molk gets his Lewan on. Minnesota was clueless the whole day and since it looks virtually identical to the QB going off tackle it is going to kill guys. They might have to break a key or two to keep it working later in the year since that tackle pull is a dead giveaway, but you know me, I love those interlocking plays.

You are still a crab.

So here's this, bolded alter-ego: I am going to go all sports talk radio on you, in gushing fashion. Maybe it was the proximity of this game to the flaming garbage dump that was MSU-OSU, but these players look exceedingly well coached. There were a couple plays where having that extra beat of patience paid off. One was the first third down of the game:

That extra beat he waits gets Minnesota's linebackers to drop into coverage and gets him the room he needs for the conversion. He moved so late that Gallon (who had a day blocking people, yo) has already buried the rolled-up safety by the time he reveals his intent.

And then there was Vincent Smith thespian school:

You know how you're watching a football game and it's just bleeding obvious that the RB/WR is going to throw? You ever get that feeling? I do all the time. I was shocked when Smith pulled up to throw, and so was Minnesota. I bet 95% of teams would have gotten suckered there.

Weekly tailback opinion?

I'm still in Toussaint's corner but the current breakdown between Smith and Fitz will find no complaints here. I think he's got better burst than Smith:

Smith brings a bunch of other things to the table and deserves about half the carries; I think Toussaint will end up the leading non-Denard rusher.


Pretty much everyone. Special commendation to the tailbacks and Borges.


Lewan did not perform up to his usual standard on the ground.

What does it mean for Northwestern and beyond?

The primary takeaway is that when in the correct situations Denard can be an effective passer. While his limitations are obvious by now, having him throw in better situations and giving him quick rhythm passes results in a 73% DSR. Borges is right that they have to open it up deep. There's a pretty good way to do that without jump-balling it: oh noes.

I hope what we saw against Minnesota is a precursor and Borges is going to continue installing and using innovative packages based on Denard's legs. There is a little bit of lingering fear that this was just a dog and pony show that they'll put away the rest of the year now that they've gotten everyone to prepare for it, a strategy that seems far worse than using those plays against a plausible opponent, but Borges says that's not the case and he seems pretty rad so far so I believe him.

The I-Form seems dead. They're not even bringing it out in garbage time against Minnesota to practice it against real opponents and they're using a two-back TE look from the shotgun that seems like a direct attempt to replace it. I'm okay with that since the shotgun still gives you that advantage by forcing the D to account for Denard's legs.

Other item: Shaw just confirmed the Smith/Toussaint 1-2 punch in the backfield.



October 6th, 2011 at 3:53 PM ^

Instead of scrapping rollouts, shouldn't Denard simply get better at them?

And I have to say, our new OC seems significantly more innovative and flexible than the last two regimes'.


October 6th, 2011 at 4:37 PM ^

Yeah, BWS makes the same point Brian does here, the naked rollouts -- the waggles -- are not going to work if the backside DE doesn't bite on the run fake. And they are largely not going to because they view our QBs as the most dangerous element in the backfield. 

They worked with Henne/Griese/Navarre, etc because defenses were keying on the running back. Now they're keying on the QB.


October 6th, 2011 at 4:11 PM ^

...I'm not sure lack of offensive innovation is one of them.  We did a pretty good job of that the last two years when we started to get the right players in the system.

But I'll give you the flexibility part of it based on the 2008 train wreck.


October 6th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

I'm not usually a sappy kind of guy, but I really, really like what Borges is doing.  He has quickly realized that the I-Form is not going to work and has installed a bunch of exciting formations and plays into the offense.  I really like Rodriguez's offenses, but they weren't nearly as diverse as Borges has going.  We have several different spread formations now, and I hardly ever know what is going to be run out of them.  I'm really excited about the offense this year - hopefully they can sustain it in the B1G season!


El Jeffe

October 6th, 2011 at 4:43 PM ^

I kind of agree, but two caveats which are the same caveat:

  1. We don't know what Borges would have been able to do with the same players (as in, level of experience) over the last three years;
  2. We don't know what RR would have been able to do with the same players this year.

As to the second point, I recall from watching some highlight packages of the latter-day Pat White years that RR/Magee did more than just zone read/bubble screen/zone read.

I still think we're going to reap the benefits of having a smart OC who knows he has a cheetah strapped to a jet engine dropped out of an airplane for this year and next. It will be interesting to see what he does with Gardner in his two (didyouseewhatididthere) years as a starter.

Blue in Seattle

October 6th, 2011 at 6:30 PM ^

Rodriguez chose to place players recruited for a different strategy into his system, while recruiting players that matched his system.

If you want to rewrite history and have Borges be OC in 2008, then I don't think Denard ends up at Michigan, and probably would not have ended up as a QB where-ever he went.  Instead Borges recruits an equivalent to Shane Morris, or possibly hangs on to Mallet.

What makes the scenarios even more difficult, is that I think the recruiting across the board was weak for the 2008 team.  So no matter what scheme/strategy was selected, the performance was going to drop off.  Maybe not as badly as the completely gutted change Rodriguez did, but in my opinion, Carr gave up in his last year of recruiting, if not really his last 2-3 years recruiting.  Sure Michigan is Michigan, and Brandon Graham is in there, Mike Martin, etc.  But it wasn't at the level of the 2000-2005 classes.

Anyway, one thing you can't deny.  Al Borges is flexible and creative.  We have lucked out with the win over ND, and Mattison has been able to improve the Defense enough, that Borges has had quite a bit of time to learn how to call the Rodriguez system, and then start to come up with wrinkles of his own.  Give all the credit to Rodriguez on the offensive recruiting.  But you have to give credit, and maybe by the end of the season equaly, or even MORE credit to Borges for stretching himself out of his comfort zone to achieve success.  I.e. WIN  football games.

There is no way, and really no reason, to compare Rodriguez and Staff to Hoke and Staff.  We are where we are, and wishing we were somewhere else is just a waste of time.  And I think that's the point of Brian's post about "those who stayed".  Or at least it's Brian realizing that this year is already going to be special for those seniors who stayed.  Hopefully they will also reap the benefits of quite a few wins on top of it and have a strong conference showing this year.



October 6th, 2011 at 5:31 PM ^

Profitgoblue brought up an excellent point.  In the past (Bo, Mo and Lloyd), I could often guess what general type of play would be run.  With McGee as the OC, it seemed more diverse at first, but I soon was able to start guessing again with some success.  With Borges, I have no clue right now what's coming next, except for 3rd & short, and 3rd & 5 where a QB carry seems like a sure 1st down. 



October 6th, 2011 at 7:32 PM ^

That was part of the problem.  RR's system was brand-new in 2005.  By 2010 elements of it had been borrowed by many other schools.  ND had Dayne Crist keep it on read options against us.  Our offense still could move the ball against most teams, but OSU and MSU (as well as Miss St in the bowl) had it scouted down pat.  We needed a counterpunch and didn't have one.


October 7th, 2011 at 12:44 AM ^

in 2005.  He's been developing it since the early 90s.  And he has had better passers in the past who he has adjusted his playcalling to fit.  Shawn King threw about 50% of the time, whereas Denard threw about 30% of the time. 


We probably saw about 2/3 of RR"s playbook while he was here at Michigan.


And I seem to recall us moving the ball pretty well against MSU.  "Down pat" isn't how I'd describe their defensive scouting.


October 6th, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

is that whenever Denard can't do something, it's Borges's fault.  In fact, whenever Michigan's offense can't execute, it's because Borges is asking them to do something they weren't recruited for, and thus ultimately Borges's fault.  Don't ask players to adapt to a new system.  (yes, I'm being sarcastic because this UFL, too, is part of the same drumbeat.)

Darth Wolverine

October 6th, 2011 at 3:53 PM ^

While that was an offensive onslaught and fun to watch, I was most encouraged about field goals. Normally that would be a d-baggery comment to say, but based on last year's FG performance, I'm ecstatic that our kicker(s?) have made them this season. Granted we haven't had to make many attempts, which of course is a great thing, but hey, FGs have been made this year and I'm happy about that. Kicking is extremely important.


October 6th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

I like Joey Burzinski.  Having an OG on the team who is worthy of seeing the field, even in garbage time, is a big deal.  We'll have very little OG depth the next couple years, and having a walk-on step up is a big deal.  He's a guy who could be a solid back-up with another year under his belt. 


October 6th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

An interesting question to ponder, for me anyway. Here's a guy that while very flexible, has an established preference for  the West Coast system. Both he and his Head Coach like the I-Form and prefer to run it, with all that entails for the blocking scheme, as well as the passing system, with WR's making reads etc.

So he comes to M, knows what he has with Denard, and pledges to adapt his offense to the talent he has at hand. But he does it purely to adapt to a wonderful player that has limited skills at things that QB's in his preferred WC system need. All things being equal, he is "forced" do so by that talent. 

But as time goes by, we see less and less I-Form. And that obviously is because Borges has eyes, and detemines than we are better out of shotgun than we are in I-Form. But, instead of continuing to work on I-Form, like most coaches, he largely has scrapped it.

Is there a chance, that seeing on a daily basis some of the advantages of having a running QB that, in the spread, defenses must account for, Borges is finding his offensive philosophy changing?


October 6th, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

Borges is going to run whatever offense he feels gives Michigan the best chance at winning with the personnel he has at that time.  Right now, that's clearly more shotgun.  If they recruit Tom Brady Jr., we'll probably see more i-form.  He's not stubborn and isn't going to do things just because it's his preference.  Rich Rodriguez would be smart to pay attention, he'll be a better coach at his next job if he doesn't install a system without any regard for the players he has. 

El Jeffe

October 6th, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

Please tell me you are not suggesting either that Rodriguez would have done well to install a pro-style offense with Threetsheridan at the helm or that his stubborn insistence on running a spread offense did not pay dividends. You do realize that Borges is working his magic by running a lot of what RR ran, and with all RR recruits but Molk and Koger, right?

If you're referring to RR's stubborn insistence to install the 3-3-5, then hoo boy I'm right there with you.


October 6th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

Please tell me that you are not suggesting that if RR would have run  i-form in 2008 (not install, as it had been the system of choice pre '08) and only used Threet/Sheridan as a game manager, we would have gone 3-9 and been the poster children for a program in distress.  Forget about the QB and receivers, we didn't use our o-line and backs to their greatest potential.  We could have run i-form dives on every single play against Toledo and won, the only reason we lost that game was because the kids had no idea what they were doing. 

And yes, the 3-3-5 was the defensive side of RR's stubborn coin. 


October 6th, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

You can't honestly believe we would have had a 3-9 record or worse had we maintained significant elements of the previous regime's offensive scheme, can you?  I think Threet (not Sheridan) would have been more than capable of making a big throw every now and again off of play action if defenses were focused on a successful running attack - he was no transcendant talent but he was adequate at Arizona State in a more traditional system. 

Everybody loves that Wisconsin win.  Let's be honest, it was an awful game that Michigan was able to win because A) Wisconsin turned out to be terrible that year and B) Wisconsin's players assumed (as many might), that Michigan wasn't capable of scoring after losing to teams like Toldedo in weeks prior. 

coastal blue

October 6th, 2011 at 5:14 PM ^

Hoke/Borges received the Big Ten player of the year and 9 starters. It was an offense that had improved every year in the Rodriguez era. It makes sense to adapt to that personnel. 

Rodriguez/Magee received one returning starter and a walk-on/transfer QB situation. Threet threw 18 TDs and 16 Ints as a senior. That's not game manager stuff. All the guys Rodriugez received were going to have 2-3 more years in his system, so why not get them started learning it that year? 

Both regimes handled their situations correctly on the offensive side of the ball. 



October 6th, 2011 at 5:26 PM ^

Rodriguez/Magee received football players (regardless of how young or raw) that should have outclassed opponents like Toledo, Miami, and Purdue and Illinois.  Instead, they lost 3 of those 4 games in humiliating fashion.  I don't see it as unrealistic at all that, had a gentler transition to the spread occured, the 2008 team could have won upwards of 6 games.  


October 6th, 2011 at 5:39 PM ^

Who exactly showed that they had talent to outclass Toledo? Not Sheridan. Not really Threet. Mathews? Minor? We had crap offensive talent at skill and o-line positions. Your case isn't made. It's the old "Michigan always recruits and has top talent" meme, which Mispogon proved wrong. Add to that the fact that we now know, thanks to Bacon's book and other sources, that many upperclassmen didn't buy into the new coaches and half-assed it all year. And that the defensive coaches feuded. So there you have your recipe for 3-8, which would have occurred despite the offensive system. 


October 6th, 2011 at 5:50 PM ^

So Brandon Minor is "crap offensive talent" now?  In a pro-style system, he had all the tools to be a dominating tailback.  Mike Massey and Carson Butler had shown flashes under Carr and could have been better utilized.  The line was thrust into a style of play, both in terms of tempo and play design, that they weren't familiar with.  Granted, Threet was no all-conference talent, but he was as capable as the quarterbacks Wisconsin has trotted out for decades, minus Bollinger (who had some talent) and now Wilson. 


October 6th, 2011 at 6:12 PM ^

Loved Minor, but he barely played due to 1- injury and 2- his apparent non-buy in to the coaching staff. Mike Massey? Butler? Seriously? You are aware I'm sure that John Ferrara was moved from D-line to O-line, having never played O-line, and after 2 weeks of practice became an O-line starter? And that the O-line blocking scheme for RR's spread (zone) is not dis-similar to the zone scheme we ran under the last 2 years of Carr/Debord? The offensive line was awful. The QB's were either horrendous (Sheridan) or very very poor (Threet). In fact Threet made Denard's first few games look like Tom Brady in terms of accuracy and throws to Tacopants. That's a recipe for 3-8.

blue in dc

October 6th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

I think it's a two way street. On defense, RR couldn't get his own staff together, it's alot harder to have players be loyal to a system when the staff isn't. On offense, it was pretty clear that RR was sacrificing 2008 for future years - in many ways it makes sense, but it isn't neccessarily the best way tonget players with one year left to buy in.
<br>In terms of proving that the players wouldn't have done better in a different system? You say it wasn't possible because we didn't have the players and give Threet as an example. Maybe the different coordinators and systems he went through had something to do with that.
<br>It's conjecture on my part that others could have managed the transition better, but it seems equally conjecture to say they couldn't.


October 7th, 2011 at 9:35 AM ^

We lost to Toledo because Threet threw a pick six and we got a field goal blocked. It had nothing to do with the system. We very likely would have gone 3-9 or worse if we had kept a pro system with the talent we had that year on offense.

Sorry, this was supposed to be a response to Butterfield

03 Blue 07

October 6th, 2011 at 7:56 PM ^

This is a decent point, except there doesn't seem to be data to support it (that TOP hurts defenses when measured on a per-play basis, which accounts for the higher number of plays that naturally occur in a game when a fast-paced offense is run). However, it does seem logical; no-huddle 3-and-outs, logically, seem like they lead to increased pressure on the defense. I hate it when my gut and logic conflict with data. (seriously).


October 6th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

Remember that our o-line that year had a collective one year of starting experience, and that from a redshirt sophomore (that actually being the only year of starting experience on the entire offense). That team was always going to struggle badly on offense. It was defense that was the greatest disappointment on that team (and foreshadowed the issues that would characterize the entire trainwreck that was the defensive coaching under RR).

And the Toledo loss was the evil flip side of the Wisconsin win.


October 6th, 2011 at 5:05 PM ^

I think you've been sitting next to open paint cans if you think this team would have won a substantial number more games running the pro-style offense. That offensive line was in shambles at best. It was certainly not the strength of the team or anyting you could have relied on heavily. The non-underclassmen on that line were: David Moosman, Tim McAvoy, Mark Ortmann and Corey Zirbel. I'd post the sophmores, too but I think I've made my point. Exactly one player who wasn't a freshman on that line made an impact at Michigan and/or beyond and that was Steve Schilling. I don't care what offense you ran. They were inexperienced and they were not good. You were going to struggle on offense regardless. 


October 6th, 2011 at 5:12 PM ^

How can you say that Moosman, McAvoy, Ortmann, and Zirbel wouldn't have performed significantly better in the system they were recruited to play in?  Changing to the run option attack was no more fair to those lineman than it would be fair to Dennard if Hoke/Borges strictly ran i-form.  Such a double standard around here it's ridiculous, but amusing at the same time.  The notion that MANBALL would lessen the value of existing talent is widely accepted, yet the same people can't accept that the 2008 starters were thrown under the bus by RR's stubbornness.