Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian November 7th, 2013 at 3:32 PM

ACCIDENTALLY APROPOS ERROR NOTES: Since the NCAA decided to replace their stat pages with much worse stat pages I've been using ESPN's items—still worse than the thing the NCAA just replaced but better. Their drive pages have been consistently erroneous all year, but my irritation just evaporated thanks to this magically accurate error in re: Michigan's drive immediately following Taylor's interception:


CORRECT, intern or robot or whoever. Correct. Except that drive started at the MSU 41, but we forgive all transgressions for spiritual correctness. The best kind of correctness.

FORMATION NOTES: So I just called MSU's stuff 4-3 over but I should point out that everyone is within ten yards of the LOS on damn near every snap. This is M's opener.


This was completely typical. For the most part, MSU did not try to match corners, they just ran their D. They would occasionally move guys down and whatnot, but mostly this was like watching magic. MSU has acquired a variety of guys big time programs didn't want and plays them more aggressively than the most athletic defense in the country, whoever that might be, and apparently no one can do anything about it. It is boggling.

MSU did on occasion flip to man press on the corners; this is designated with "press."


While it was the same personnel, when MSU shaded a guy outside the hash I called this a nickel. As always, with opponent formations I'm not trying to describe personnel.


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Gardner until last three plays, Toussaint almost the whole way save one, maybe two snaps on which Derrick Green didn't seem any better at pass blocking.

Line was Lewan/Bosch/Glasgow/Magnuson/Schofield with some limited exceptions featuing Kalis entering as a sixth OL. Paskorz got some snaps at TE; Butt got most of the inline snaps. When Funchess was inline it is noted below; he was inline for every play on Michigan's final drive but mostly split out. No Dileo; WRs were Gallon, Chesson, and a little bit of Jackson.

[After THE JUMP: otters, so many otters]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Ace twins stack 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA Fly Gallon 35
Butt motions to short side of field, which also has the WRs. Play action, but Michigan sends the TEs out, so no max pro. Linebackers come, looking run first and then transitioning to blitz second. MSU is actually in deep trouble here as one safety also comes up on the run action and M has two guys running deep against one defender. Gardner is late and picks the wrong guyFunchess is gone. I'm not going to BR a long completion but this was a missed opportunity already. (MA, 1, protection 2/2). Bosch nearly lost his guy; Toussaint did a good job to help on him and also come off on Bullough. Refs ignore obvious targeting on Gallon. Refs -2. RPS +1; more of a bust by MSU than anything magic.
O48 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Throwback WR screen Gallon 11
MSU backing out a bit on the snap. Chesson(+0.5) gets just enough of a block on the corner; Allen blitzed so playside LB is gone. Lot of room; Bullough makes it up really fast to help hold the play down. Magnuson(-1) whiffed on a safety badly; Schofield(+1) got his. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
O37 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over press Run Down G IV counter Toussaint 4
MSU matches up on the corners, leaving the safeties in the box. M runs a play that looks like veer in the backfield but is probably just a straight up run as M pulls the playside G and uses him to block the end, who's widening out in case there is a keep. Gardner hands off and then runs to the outside, but M isn't optioning anyone here. Lewan(+1) blows in the playside T. Glasgow goes right to the LB level, so the NT can flow down the line, no chance for Mags. Toussaint has to take it outside as a result, albeit inside of the DE Bosch; seems like that might be the plan here as M bets that T can't make the play while Bullough certainly can. Butt(-1) gets stood up, no motion. Funchess(-1) comes in from the slot and hits that guy, too, and while he does do something useful I imagine he's supposed to get the safety, who's overhanging at eight yards. DE Bosch is kicking comes off that block, reaches out, grabs a shoulder pad, spins Toussaint, delayed, buried, okay gain. RPS push; hole offset by MSU LBs in the wrong spot to be blocked. Picture paged.
O33 2 6 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over slide Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Double A blitz. This protection looks very strange with M basically doubling one DE with Butt and Lewan; Lewan ends up blocking no one the whole play. Bosch(-3) thinks he's handing off the DE as he dives inside and then just follows him upfield; Glasgow has to take one LB and Fitz the other, pressure right up the gut, Gardner spins out and throws it away. (PR, N/A, protection -3)
O33 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide stack 1 1 3 Okie two Pass Hitch Gallon 11
Seven guys at LOS, soft umbrella behind. MSU backs Bullough out presnap into a deep centerfield zone. M throws a hitch on the soft corner; easy. Underneath guy is trying to get over to duplicate the PSU INT but has to run around Chesson and cannot. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Bosch's block is a little dodgy here, but does get the job done.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 3 4-3 over Run Power O Toussaint 0
Lewan super LT, Mags LT, Kalis RG. Bullough almost in the backfield on the handoff and ends up cutting Kalis two yards in the backfield. Mags(-1) couldn't do much with his DT; Lewan(+1) kicked out the DE authoritatively; Funchess(+1) blew up the star LB; do think Kalis(-0.5) was a bit slow getting to the hole here. Toussaint dodges that mess in the backfield, which gives a S time to get to the LOS and meet him. RPS -2; MSU responds to obvious run tip by blowing up play.
O22 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 6-1 over Pass Sack N/A -10
Absolutely nobody blocked. MSU stunts both ends and sends both LBs they've flared out. Toussaint(-2) gets run over. Mags(-2) never reads the stunt and lets one DE fly by him untouched. Glasgow(-1) at least makes contact but also gets run over. Lewan again ends up doubling a DE when he should be singled up against someone so that the rest of the line can help. Butt beaten around the edge. (PR, N/A, protection 0/5, RPS -2). MSU blitzed looking for PA like this all the way.
O32 3 20 Shotgun trips inner stack 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Scramble Gardner 0
Five man shell behind six guys aligned oddly in the box. Gardner has a fine pocket since the two tackles end up singled and the rest of the line is concentrating on the other two guys, but can't find anyone and gets happy feet, scooting up in the pocket and getting himself in trouble by blowing up blocking angles. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(49), 3-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Ace twin TE twins 1 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA corner Funchess 25
Schofield LT, Kalis RG, Mags RT, Lewan super RT. Max pro, passive LBs, plenty of time and a nice pocket, Lewis on Funchess and that works out for M. Gardner's throw is a little short and high but I think that's not a bad idea given Funchess's existence. (CA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inverted veer Gardner -2
Funchess inline. This is not actually an RPS play; it's Bosch(-3) running by a blitzer on his pull and blocking air. Funchess(+1) actually adjusted to the blitz and bashed Bullough to the ground. Schofield(+1) had a nice second level block. RPS push; could have worked.
O42 2 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Wheel Toussaint 2
Funchess still inline. M looking wheel/hitch, probably because Gardner screwed up presnap read. Three guys in narrow space against two. Michigan again blows a stunt pickup; Lewan(-1) and Bosch(-1) combine to let a guy through free. Gardner takes the checkdown despite it not being open. (CA, 3, protection 0/2, RPS -1). Nothing open at all here.
O40 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Okie two Pass Sack Gardner -11
This is the throwback screen that the entire MSU defense has dead to rights. I would normally file a pass like this TA because it's not immediate pressure but really Gardner has zero options. (PR, N/A, RPS -3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Scramble Gardner 3
I'll call this nickel with one of the LBs on the opposite hash and seven ish in the box. Green(-2) is in and has an airball as he attempts to pick up a blitzing Bullough; Bullough falls. Gardner has an opportunity to get a pass off but can't find Funchess wide, wide open on a circle route for the first down and instead takes off. To be fair there's just one dude in a ton of space. He gets cut down from behind as Magnuson's guy comes free. (TA, N/A, protection 1/3, Green -2)
M35 2 7 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Out Gallon Inc
MSU shows more aggressive and then backs into their usual. Bosch(-2) tackles his guy, drawing a holding flag. MSU has all these routes blanketed as there is zero reaction to the PA. Gardner throws wide of a very covered Gallon. Not sure if that's a throwaway or just a miss. With the guy on Gallon's back I think there is a window for him. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Bosch –2)
M25 2 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -1
IT'S A TRAP. MSU has seven in the box, apparently ignoring the slot. M checks. MSU checks, dropping their star LB into Funchess and blowing him up. Gardner's looking there, doesn't like it. Toussaint(-1) gets a cut that delays the DE but then he falls past him and can't do anything more. That guy pressures, MSU is in their lanes, sack. Gardner had a throw to Gallon for a couple yards as he adjusted to doom. (TA, N/A, protection 2/3, Toussaint -1)
M24 3 18 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 2 Okie two Pass Sack N/A -6
Six OL lineup. MSU again shoots Bullough into a deep zone just moments presnap. Kalis(-2) blows his pickup, blocking a DE headed inside and letting a linebacker zip past. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Down G IV counter Toussaint 2
Slot LB ripping down, no chance for Funchess to block him. He fills, forcing a bounce from Toussaint(+1), which pops outside the end Bosch is blocking and prevents a TFL; safety fills for a minimal gain. Butt(-1) whiffed on Bullough on the interior. RPS -2.
M11 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 1 1 3 5-3 over Pass PA Post Funchess Inc
Funchess inline. MSU loads up but a safety backs out late to eight yards and drops into a zone. M running flood to the short side; Funchess is bracketed deep, Butt covered short. Gallon is the read, and he's still relatively covered. Bullough is one on one with Fitz(-1), who blocks him sort of. Garner steps up and chucks one at Funchess, which is way short, so short that it seems he must have been hit or something. (BR, 0, protection 1/2  Toussaint –1)
M11 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide stack 1 0 4 Okie two Pass Post Funchess Inc
Funchess runs a great route that gets separation; Michigan protects it; Gardner chucks it wide. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, EO1Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 9
The successful run. M goes zone read-ish, blocking the end. MSU sends two LBs inside of the gap between their end and the NT, M runs away from it. Bosch(+1) escorts a DT upfield out of the play. Glasgow(-1) sees that the LBs have exited the play and stays with the NT; he and Mags double there and they still lose the dude playside. Cumong. That's Toussaint's stutter. Chesson(+1) gets a good block on his press corner; Lewan(+0.5) got out on Allen. RPS +1.
M34 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power IV counter Gardner 6
This works exactly as intended and still requires Gardner to break tackles to get some yards, because MSU S is at eight yards presnap. The inverted veer fake takes in the playside LB enough for Schofield(+1) get around and seal him inside. Lewan(+1) blows up the end; should be there. Butt(-1)'s block on the corner is ineffectual; S filling hard hard hard makes Gardner hesitate; he breaks a tackle(+1) to pick up a decent gain. Brutal.
M40 1 10 Ace twins stack 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA comeback Gallon 11
Near max pro; Paskorz does go out in a route. MSU sends five and Allen ducks inside so there's a pretty obvious outside lane for Gardner to step up in; he does so comfortably; Gallon hitches up and is open by yards, executed. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O49 1 10 Pistol twins FB 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Yakety snap N/A -20
Man on the WRs with only one S over the run side of the formation, and then the guy on the corner also blitzes. Holy pants. Snap way over Gardner's head, doom. Glasgow –4.
M31 2 30 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB power IV counter Gardner 1
Again this looks like it's about to work when it does not. End tries to rip inside Schofield(+1), who constricts and controls him; Lewan pops outside. He's leading; S comes up and cuts him, getting into Gardner's legs and flipping him over. Great play; Gardner(-1) still should have been able to bounce outside here.
M32 3 29 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Okie two Pass Sack N/A -4 - 15 Pen
Gardner steps up like he wants to throw and hesitates and then he's in the middle of everyone and dies. Not the OL's fault this time, as they had contained MSU, but Gardner's lack of pocket awareness bites and his refusal to throw also does. Lewan(-3) picks up a PF afterwards. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-6, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 I-Form twins 2 0 2 4-3 over press Run Iso Toussaint -2
Six OL, man press from MSU. Bosch and Glasgow(+1) blow the NT way off the ball; Kerridge does an eh job on Bullough, who sort of comes through him at the LOS. Kalis(-1) has been shoved into the backfield and makes Toussaint(-1) hesitant to follow the play design, so he ends up cutting back unwisely, directly into Allen, who went nuts for the LOS on the snap because he had no TE threat. RPS –1.
M20 2 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Post Chesson 58
MSU seems to indicate blitz and backs out. They stunt on the right side of the line; Magnuson(-1) gets banged by the guy coming inside Schofield and actually turns around 360 degrees. Toussaint finds that guy late and does impede him a bit. Guy goes up the middle of the pocket, Gardner steps into it and throws. He's chucking it a bracketed Chesson; Lewis never gets around because the throw doesn't really let him, Chesson jumps over him and makes a nice downfield grab. (DO, 1, protection 1/2, Mags -1)
O22 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA Post Funchess Inc
Funchess inline. He gets matched up in man against Lewis and gets no separation. Lewis is coming under Funchess as the pass gets there and gets a PBU. Gardner probably could have put it higher up to give Funchess a chance. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
O22 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Bubble screen Funchess 8
MSU shows a blitz off the corner and actually sends the other guy. MSU's actually got three guys to the playside but they're looking in the backfield. They're not bugging out for a bubble since M has never shown this this year. (CA, 3, screen)
O14 3 2 Shotgun 2back 2TE 2 1 1 5-3 even Run False IV QB stretch Gardner -8
6 OL, Lewan and Schofield paired to the field. M runs a stretch with a false veer a la Denard last year; MSU annihilates this. Playside LB shoots the gab, Kerridge goes outside. DE is setting up out there as well. Gallon(-1) ends up going upfield into the hole as he tries to crack down. Toussaint might be able to cut that LB and then Kerridge might be able to get a block if Gardner(-1) can get around the DE; instead he tries to reverse field and gets buried. RPS -3.
Drive Notes: FG(39), 6-6, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass PA pop seam Funchess 13
Funchess inline. Run fake, LBs fire, small pocket between Funchess and the aggressive safety layer. Ball flutters out of Gardner's hands, forcing Funchess to spin around and pluck it out of the air; accurate enough. Also, a little more forgiving today because of the weather. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Full on RR with Funchess on a bubble route. DE stays outside, give. Bosch(-0.5) and Glasgow(-0.5) can't get much motion or control on the playside DT. Mags(-0.5) and Schofield don't get the backside guy either. No serious penetration; Toussaint cuts all the way back, where the DE comes down from contain to tackle.
M34 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Run PA pop slant Gallon Inc
MSU showing blitz, check. MSU also checks. They go from soft on the corners to press, M tries to throw a PA pop slant at Gallon that gets disrupted. It is wide, results-based. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
M34 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Gallon Inc
Near replay of the PSU INT where the slot guy is abandoned by the underneath player and he undercuts Gallon's route. That was a hitch, this is an out, DB can only get it off his fingertips. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 8 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 1
Double A blitz. Glasgow(-1) does immediately abort a double to attempt to address it but whiffs; not like it mattered as there were two guys for one blocker. M blocked an end instead of holding him with a zone fake and ended up having Bosch and Lewan double another guy. RPS -3.
M8 2 9 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA pop seam Funchess Inc
Funchess inline, this is a tip, Butt was the TE on the last play, cumong man. Bullough drops into the route and while the ball does get there this is really dangerous. Funchess drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1), RPS -1.
M8 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Rollout comeback Funchess Inc
Rollout time. Bullough ends up shooting a gap to get late pressure but it's enough for Gardner to get the ball off. Ball is late, giving the DB an opportunity to come back and impact Funchess the moment after he catches the ball awkwardly against his facemask. You want him to catch this but this is a two. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide? 1 1 3 4-3 over? Penalty Offsides N/A 5
MSU manages to jump offsides while we're looking at the sidelines.
M15 1 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA post Gallon Inc
Plenty of time this time as MSU sends four and M picks it up. Gardner does have to move around a little, but he's got a nice pocket. He looks deep to Gallon, who's got a guy with him but also has a an opportunity to be open if thrown open; Gardner misses. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M15 2 5 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Hitch Gallon -2
Quick PA hitch against press. DB all up in Gallon's business, he catches it momentarily and then loses it, refs rule it complete somehow and Michigan loses two yards. /waves punt flag. (CA, 1, protection 1/1) I am filing this as incomplete for receiverchart.
M13 3 7 Shotgun trips stack TE 1 1 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Slide protection gets everyone doubled except Calhoun on Toussaint(-1) who does a crappy job; Gardner(-1) then compounds matters by trying to flee and blowing up Fitz's blocking angle. (TA, N/A, protection 0/2, Toussaint -1, Gardner -1, RPS -1) Gardner is barely out of the tackle box and throws it as he goes down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Pistol 2TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read belly Gardner -5
Funchess inline. Double A blitz, again Michigan can't handle it with Magnuson(-2) getting blown by by a DT; Glasgow(-2) catches air, again 2 on 1. MSU is containing Gardner(-1); he pulls anyway. This was actually Belly, a play that should work great against this blitz since it hits backside quick and doesn't use those gaps but Michigan screws up the blocking so badly that Toussaint will get eaten. Gardner should just try to outrun the DE to the sideline but reverses field and turns a no gain play into a large loss. Why the hell is Michigan blocking this play like this when they get the double A they want and still let dudes tear through? Horrible. RPS -1? Yeah.
O46 2 15 Ace twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -9
Gardner turns back to LOS, Fitz goes for handoff fake, Fitz has to try to block rampant Bullough on another double A gap. This does not go well. (PR, 0, protection 0/5, Toussaint -1, Glasgow -2, Bosch -2, RPS -3). Compounding matters, Bosch and Glasgow lose their guys.
M45 3 24 Shotgun trips stack TE 1 1 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack N/A -6
Bullough bailing out deep; five man shell with six sent. Toussaint(-2) gets smoked by Allen on his blitz. Bosch(-2) gets smoked on a stunt. Magnuson(-2) also gets smoked. Three guys meet at Gardner. (PR, 0, protection 0/6).
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Hitch Funchess 4
Funchess inline. MSU sends a double A blitz and M actually picks it up. Funchess runs a short hitch that MSU still picks up and the gain is meh. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
M31 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Fade Gallon Inc
Funchess inlnie again. Try a fade at Gallon, he's blanketed, throw is long anyway. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M31 3 6 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Scramble Gardner 5
Funch inline. Another blitz; picked up. Gardner looks like he wants to throw at Funchess again but Funchess isn't turning around; he pulls it down and moves out, breaking into the open. He has the first down easy but I don't know if he's just beaten down by life or screws up where the thinks the sticks are and ends up just short of the line. (SCR, N/A, protection 3/3, Gardner -1 run)
M36 4 1 Ace 3-wide 1 0 4 5-3 over tight Run QB sneak Gardner 1 (Pen +5)
They get it. MSU had 12 guys on the field anyway.
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Gardner 4
Have fun storming the castle. S at nine yards cuts it down as Gardner tries to get outside. Gardner(-1) should have gone more vertically, as that was where the block allowed him to go and popping outside is easy for the S.
M45 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel over Pass Rollout hitch Chesson 11
Magnuson(-1) driven back into Gardner's flight path, he has to pull up. He finds Chesson open in between a few guys in the zone, hits him, nice conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Mags -1)
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Scramble Gardner 3
Good protection; Gardner doesn't like what he's presented with and pulls it down to pick up a few yards. This leans to TA and since M is down 2.75 scores just throw it man. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O41 2 7 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass PA pop hitch Jackson Inc
This is a misread by Gardner on a great opportunity; it's a PA pop pass on which Funchess's short hitch gets undercut by Lewis, causing Gardner to go off it. Funchess then runs into wide open spaces a million years wide open with nothing between him and the goal line but grass. Gardner comes off of him to try a hitch to Jackson that's kind of covered sort of open and definitely overthrown. (BR, 0, protection 0/1, team -1) M unprepared to take advantage of opportunity.
O41 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Chesson 13
Six sent, MSU playing off, out is open, hit. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O28 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass PA pop hitch Funchess 9
M ignores the NT, because of a blitz threat or something. I guess? Toussaint does come off to block that guy as Gardner gets a very quick hitch off to Funchess. That keeps him away from the S and gets a small chunk of yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O19 2 1 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel over Run Inside zone Toussaint 4
Handoff actually made this time. DE held outside by Gardner. Schofield(+2) splats playside end. LBs hanging back because of all the pop passes. Bosch(-1) and Magnuson(-1) both whiff on second level blocks so Toussaint gets bashed just as he runs up Schofield's back. Glasgow(+1) got a good seal on the NT.
O15 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Yakety snap N/A -5
Gardner drops the ball as Toussaint runs by him to pick up a LB and knocks it out. Too many times to the well; Gardner was going to get buried either way. (PR, N/A, protection 0/1, Toussaint -1, RPS -1)
O20 2 15 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel over Pass Fade Gallon INT
Okay back shoulder fade I guess is the thing that gets called but this isn't getting completed either way as Dennard is all over it. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2).
Drive Notes: Interception, 6-22, 6 min 4th Q. Game is over when M gets ball back.

I should probably say something about how this feels like be flayed alive by acid or something.

I was expecting something along those lines.

I don't know, man, I just kind of put the second half on mute and didn't pay much attention. I didn't even get particularly excited when Taylor picked that ball off. I was just waiting for the end.

Progress. You are becoming an adult.

I don't feel like an adult. I feel nothing. I feel like I am wasting my time but am still chained to this miserable wreck, and that while none of this is my fault if I was a different person I would be happier.

That's adulthood.


Yeah, but you can vote?

I don't understand how it is possible to have your safeties playing as bonus linebackers for 60 minutes and not get dunked on from time to time.

It takes some cooperation from the opponent in the form of blown blitz pickups and missed reads. Michigan's first snap was a long completion; it should have been a blitheringly wide open touchdown.

Drummond bites hard and Funchess is alone, alone, alone.

Funchess was also blitheringly wide open for a touchdown on Michigan's final real drive, when the pop pass got jumped by a safety and Gardner came off Funchess instead of lofting it over the top for six points.

By that point, Gardner was probably trying to both play quarterback and prevent the pink weasels from eating the rest of his skin. There were also other instances in which Michigan was having a guy break open just as a Michigan State player was depositing his helmet in Gardner's chest, or ones on which Gardner did not see the guy for a fatal second or two.

So there were some opportunities. Whether Michigan had prepped Gardner to take advantage of all of them is questionable, especially on the pop pass.

Another part of it is that Michigan has zero play action out of their most dangerous running option: Gardner from the shotgun. Michigan got a second and one conversion in this game the hard way:

And that's a play that works. Michigan seals the edge. Then a safety ends up in Gardner's face at the LOS. That is no way to live. Whenever I bring this stuff up people say that they love the idea of getting a running back against a safety four yards downfield, but how about one? Is one a problem for you? Do I hear zero? If everything works out just right which it hardly ever does because football is hard and I find a safety in my grill before I break into the secondary, I am super not enthused by that. It's not 1970.

I appear to have started on yet another rant about 1970s football. I apologize. The point is: There has been no inverted veer, guy pulls play action all year. Michigan's play action does not actually simulate plays they run, so when they go PA and an MSU safety isn't hopped up on goofballs because it's the first play of the game, they just drop back into coverage, as they did on Chesson's double-covered long completion. The second potential Funchess TD is not a reaction to run action, it's a reaction to the previous pop passes they've run, and Michigan isn't even prepared to take advantage of that for reasons that may be Gardner but are also related to the fact that they don't run this pop pass enough to think about potential reactions to it and how to exploit them. Because they don't run anything enough to do anything, except "let's lose three yards on a run play."

YES this is another complaint about Michigan's offense not being coherent. Yes, I think it makes it easy for the opponent to look smart against it. It is what it is.

I've heard that Michigan just didn't execute.

They did not. This gets into a philosophical discussion about what the nature of a coach is: is it a person who sits around and says "well, you should execute and if you do not execute this is not my problem"? Is it reasonable that the players were not able to execute in this game, what level of responsibility do the coaches bear for that lack of execution, and can we just burn someone for heresy already? (You know. That sort of thing.)

Obviously, it is pretty hard to pick up stunts and blitzes from Bullough and Allen when you are a true freshman, a walk-on who switched positions midseason, and a redshirt freshman. I don't think we were expecting much different there. The fact that Michigan doesn't have one tailback who can pick up a blitz is damning, however, and at some point Michigan's quarterbacks looking confused consistently goes back to the QB coach.

And even though they're young, some of the OL issues still stick in my craw. Michigan still can't pick up a double A gap blitz to save their life, and when you're just running by guys, that's a problem. Maybe half of the Toussaint bitching after this game is excessive since Michigan was reduced to primitive slide protections that featured Toussaint blocking Calhoun and Taylor Lewan blocking nobody. Michigan ran that because they couldn't pick up seemingly any stunt MSU ran.

At some point, Michigan's insistence on running six OL out there reaches the level of farce. They don't have four OL. What the crap are you doing putting six out there? I mean, there are a lot of problems but you're just making them worse by flipping your 285 pound freshman RG to LT, except he's got Lewan outside of him, and then asking him to take on a DT. Magnuson can't move anyone, let alone a DT, Bullough is shooting the gap like a maniac because he knows for a fact that Lewan can't go downfield, and you have set you team up for failure:

It still doesn't work. And when you pass from it you aren't picking up anyone, possibly because the right guard is temporarily the left tackle and you just put a guy in cold off the bench. Precisely why Michigan was unable to pick up anything until the last drive (naturally) is unknown, but the constant realignment of the OL not only from week to week but from down to down is not helping.

The exception to this was the max-protect PA stuff, which did work for a little while despite the goofy lines. Probably would have worked just fine either way, though, and MSU's fix for that issue was making the linebackers more aggressive, not less—Michigan was not really working those linebackers but trying to get better pass blocking. I think, anyway. And Michigan got hammered by blitzes on those plays quite a bit.

The RPS number below is very bad, as are the other numbers. I think that is accurate. Michigan did not get anything easy save for one bust on the first play, and on many plays MSU had them dead before anyone on Michigan could screw up; they screwed up anyway. I mean, Youngstown State acquired more yards than Michigan did against MSU. WMU did. Purdue did. Failure this comprehensive indicts everyone.

But they weren't tough enough.

If you can define toughness into something that shows up on the field in ways other than flexing after plays made for reasons you don't understand, I'm listening. (I am not listening, because you're calling into Huge.) By the end of the game, Gardner had been worn down by the MSU defense, but how much of that was "toughness," whatever that might mean, and how much of it was bad technique and missed assignments from the OL?

Did Bosch not show requisite meanness on that play when he ran directly by a blitzer who then splatted Gardner? If he had shoved a sixth-grader in walk-through on Friday would he have not let a defensive tackle control his chest and then burst through the line like… all the time?

The sad thing is that Michigan was far away from making toughness a factor in this game. You can be the rootinest tootinest son of a gun west of the Pecos and it doesn't matter if you're watching MSU beat air to annihilate Gardner. Four about the fifth straight year Michigan State seemed like it was out-thinking Michigan.

All of this adds up to not a physical but a mental mismatch between the Michigan offense and the MSU defense. Part of this is youth, but part of it is Michigan trying to be all things and run all things with that young line.

And part of it is…?

Narduzzi generally eating Borges's lunch. On the two plays immediately following the Bosch airball above, Michigan threw a two-yard swing pass to Toussaint on the same wheel/hitch combo Michigan's run all year—MSU is all over it—and followed it with the most doomed throwback screen in the history of throwback screens:

At times it seemed like Narduzzi was calling Michigan's plays for them.

While the general structure of the gameplan was about all Michigan could do, it was disappointing that even after a bye week they had nothing that really caught MSU off guard. Even that new down G play discussed in picture pages was nerfed because Michigan was unprepared to run it against man coverage and then Narduzzi went T1000 on it. The six-man OL consistently saw MSU's LBs make the right read, whether it was to hold back on play action or bomb into the backfield on the run. That was part of the issue on the disastrous third and two: M goes tackle over, LB to that side of line bombs straight into the backfield.

Gallon's supposed to crack back on him and ends up chasing him all the way to Gardner. The consistency with which this happened makes it part of MSU's gameplan.

At some point someone is going to figure out that a big goddamn sign saying "we have no pass threat at this spot" is allowing teams to absolutely tee off on Michigan's run plays from this spot. That day is three weeks ago, and that someone is Penn State. The instant Michigan put that on film it became a disaster and they're still doing it.

Meanwhile, Michigan couldn't block the double A blitz to save its life until a couple of pass pro pickups on Michigan's final drive. Most of the time they left Glasgow alone against both LBs and saw Magnuson beat by a defensive tackle shooting outside of him. On this particular play they run a zone read without actually reading the end, eat a double A gap blitz, and are fortunate to cross the LOS:

[See footnote for aside]*

The one time they ran a play hoping to get a double A blitz and got it, Michigan still screwed it up, as Bullough's into the backfield so fast he'll TFL Toussaint on a handoff. And Lewis is filling behind anyway.

The number of plays M gets stuck in where they have no chance is alarming.

*[ASIDE: Oh man, the worst part of this is that MSU shows a corner blitz, backs out, Michigan runs the bubble, and the slot LB bugs out for it, removing himself from the box and giving Michigan an advantage if they just option a guy off on the read. Instead they block the backside end while running the constraint that should prevent that CB blitz that would allow the end to tear down the line at an inside zone. It's like watching a guy jamming a puzzle together no matter whether the pieces fit or not. "GODDAMMIT THIS IS PART OF CINDERELLA'S CASTLE I DON'T CARE IF IT HAS AN AUTOBOT ON IT."]

Did Michigan even try to get out of those?

Sometimes. Gardner saw this and checked into a quick throw to Funchess:


But MSU also checked and the end result was this:


Gardner took off for a minimal gain. There was another check on which Gardner saw MSU playing off Gallon and tried to check into a quick PA slant; MSU checked into press and knocked Gallon off his route.

Well, that's why Borges says he doesn't want to get into a chess match.

I wish Michigan was the team I thought would win a chess match. It sucks going into this game annually and expecting MSU to adapt while Michigan sticks its finger in its lip and goes brr-brr-brr. It took one newfangled run play for MSU to blitz it into oblivion, and it took one successful PA pop pass for MSU to almost tip the second one and threaten to intercept the third even if it leaves Funchess open for a TD, because Michigan doesn't understand what their potential responses to MSU's are. For years, MSU has been thinking three steps ahead of Michigan.

Sometimes this is hard and sometimes it's running a blitz up the middle when Michigan goes play action on second and fifteen with negative rushing yards on the day. When Michigan is consistently losing the mental battle that eventually goes back to the coaches.

I don't know, maybe it'll turn around next year. Maybe it really just is Denard not being fast enough mentally and Gardner not being fast enough mentally and having an offensive line that couldn't ID the MLB last year and can't do… anything this year and next year it'll seem a lot better. I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that is going to be the case.


Right, charts.

Devin Gardner 2012

Minnesota 3 7(1) 4 2(1) 2* 2 - 3 4 72%
Northwestern 4 16(2) 2 1 3* 2(1) 2(1) 2 5 79%
Iowa 3 16(4) - 2(1) 2 1 - 1 4 83%
Ohio State 3 11(1) 2 5* 2 1 - 3 2 65%
South Carolina 4 16(2) 2 8 3 4 - 2 2 57%

Devin Gardner 2013

Central Michigan 2 10(1)+ 1 1 2* - - 1 3 82%
Notre Dame 7+ 16(1)++ 4(1) 2 3* - 1 4 4 82%
Akron 3 14(2) - 5 3** 2 1 3 1 59%
UConn 2 13(1) 1 5*+ - 1 - 5 5 76%
Minnesota 4+ 7(1) 4 1 - - - 1 2 92%
Penn State 7+ 12(2) - 5+ 2** 3 1 4 4 66%
Indiana 5 18(3) 1 1 3 3 - - 5 78%
Michigan State 1 15(2) 1 5 4* 6 - 4 1 50%

Shane Morris

Central Michigan - 4 - 1 1* 1 - - - N/A

Gardner under siege, and his battered DSR reflects it. Gallon lock-on syndrome cost Michigan even though Funchess did get a ton of targets. One third-down PBU was a near-replica of one of PSU's interceptions:

And the final throw was pretty bad. Really hard to blame the guy because…

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 3.5 3 0.5 minus for PF. When relevant, blocked.
Bosch 1 4.5 -3.5 Lewan's fault.
Glasgow 2 8.5 -6.5 Minus four for snap. Also Lewan's fault.
Magnuson - 5.5 -5.5 My god Taylor Lewan is a terrible interior line.
Schofield 6 - 6 HOORAY BEER
Williams - - - DNP
Paskorz - - - DNC
Butt - 3 -3 Well what did you expect.
Kalis - 1.5 -1.5 Sigh.
Burzynski - - - DNP
TOTAL 12.5 26 32% Better than PSU.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 1 5 -4 field reversals a bad idea.
Morris - - - DNP
Toussaint 1 1 0 Only eight carries
Green - - - DNC
Smith - - - DNP
Hayes - - - DNP
Rawls - - - DNP
Houma - - 2 DNC
Kerridge - - - DNC
TOTAL 2 6 -4 Made plays.
Player + - T Notes
Gallon - 1 -1  
Jackson - - -  
Chesson 1.5 - 1.5  
Reynolds - - - DNP
Dileo - - - DNP
Norfleet - - - DNP
Funchess 2 - 1 Much better as huge WR.
TOTAL 3.5 1 2,5 Indiana.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 46 35 57% Bosch –10, Toussaint –9, Magnuson-6, Glasgow –3, Green –2, Kalis –2, Gardner –1, Lewan –1, Team –1.
RPS 6 25 -19 Bye week wooooo

I should point out that even that miserable protection number doesn't quite encompass the horror of the day for Gardner. On MSU's last drive Michigan picked up three minuses to 12 pluses. Before that they were barely above 50/50 on getting their QB killed. Note that a few plays featured nearly unprecedented 0/5, 0/6 rankings as multiple players got swarmed, leaving Gardner snowed under even after he escaped the first guy, once the first two guys.

So. That's all obviously real bad. Michigan was bad at doing many things and the playcall matchups were often putting Michigan in terrible places from the start, like say running play action on second and fifteen with negative rushing yards on the day. That is what the RPS number tries to reflect: on how many plays did the two playcalls make M's job easier and on how many did it make it tougher? In this game that battle went to MSU in a landslide, and while that's because Michigan was selecting from a limited set of plays and they missed a couple opportunities, anyone disputing that Pat Narduzzi owns Al Borges has an incredibly difficult argument to make.

With fail this holistic the only thing to do is move on, quickly.


[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Gallon 4 1/2   3/3   24 3/4 9/11 38/41
Jackson 1         3 0/1   5/5
Reynolds           2 0/1 1/1 2/2
Chesson   1/1   2/2   3 1/3 1/3 8/9
Dileo           3 1/2 1/1 6/6
Norfleet           1     3/3
Funchess 2 0/1 2/3 3/4   9 1/3 5/7 22/24
Butt           1 0/2 0/1 6/6
Williams           1      
Toussaint           1     5/5
Hayes       1/1         1/1
Houma                 1/1

Gallon is Gallon but had a lot fewer opportunities to do things; Funchess was good but dropped a couple items.


He performed okay, displaying that combination of size and route-running that makes him so appealing. The size:

The route-running:

But he failed to separate on a few plays that ended up as PBUs and dropped some balls he could have had. He was under considerable duress on a couple of them. It was not the pantheon performance we were hoping for.


Yes. Well.


A salute to Michael Schofield is in order. You, sir, came out without a pass protection or run blocking minus in the midst of that. Also… Gallon. And Gardner, if only for not dying on us.

Not so heroic?

Everyone not name Schofield was overrun, except Lewan, and Lewan had a bad personal foul and something else besides he was lucky not to get ejected for. Borges should stop telling Narduzzi what he's going to run every play.

What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?

Duck. OL problems are here to stay. May not matter against Nebraska, at least not so much.

Chesson's developing a bit. Also Funchess keeps moving towards really good huge WR.

Drinking. Be prepared for the OSU game.



November 7th, 2013 at 7:34 PM ^

I'd just add that people complain when it doesn't work. People are not capable of thinking through the reasoning that goes into a call and judge it on that, which I think is the only way a play call should be judged. The play caller has done his job when he sends the play in. Everything after that is players executing and position coaches getting them ready to execute. The idea should be judged, and I think Borges has been, by and large, pretty good.


November 7th, 2013 at 9:47 PM ^

Failure is what is breeding malcontents and second guessing.  If the offense did only power I left and Power I right, naked bootlegs to the TE, and a couple of fly patterns BUT the offense was putting points on the board and the team was winning, there would be very little grousing.

Swayze Howell Sheen

November 8th, 2013 at 6:11 AM ^

you may be right, but when you say this:

"People are not capable of thinking through the reasoning that goes into a call..."

you start to sound like an a**. It's ok to be frustrated by some of the discussion here, but I'm pretty sure you don't know what people are capable/not of thinking, just like they don't know what Borges is thinking when he makes a play call.

One other point: I hate that people, including (perhaps) your comment here, seem to talk as if judging an o-coordinator is equivalent to judging play calling. Play calling is a piece, sure; but the real work of shaping an offense is done week after week, practice after practice, teaching players the skills and thinking behind what they are doing. Whatever is happening on the field is not going to be solved by good or bad playcalling, in my estimation; a deeper fix seems to be required, and I think a lot of people are unsure as to whether Borges is the guy to initiate it.



Space Coyote

November 8th, 2013 at 8:31 AM ^

That playcalling isn't going to fix anything. I think Reader agrees with that as well. But that's not what people are complaining about and not what the RPS is supposed to show. RPS is supposed to show playcalling advantage. People are complaining about predictable play calls and no innovation and that sort of jazz. 

Now, I will say you are overstating how much the OC does into other position groups. The OC's job is to take the work of the position coaches, take the info that they pass on to them, and formulate a game plan. The scheme is shaped by the OC, true, but the actual players are molded much more by their position coach (and I understand Borges is the QB position coach). And that's where the simplification bothers some, including me. It gets back to a FIRE BORGES mentality, when, as you're saying, there are deeper fixes that are required (namely the OL issues, but just saying it like that is oversimplifying the actual issues and fixes).

Now, again, to be fair to Reader, I don't think most people know what goes into making a play call, why you make a play call (what have you seen, what are the defenses tendencies, what's actually in your playbook, etc). Not that that's their fault, most of them have never had an opportunity to even think about being in that position outside of their x-box, and that's dumbing it down to a massive extent. I'm sure some around here have, most haven't. Maybe it could have been worded more politely by him, but I think he's getting frustrated by some of the negativity from those that don't appear to understand. And it's not those that are trying to think it through and have a feeling maybe something would work, it's those that are extremely adamant about their stance but don't appear to have much of a foundation to stand on.

Swayze Howell Sheen

November 8th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

Thanks for the thoughts.

I do find myself wondering about that one thing you said, though: that the players are molded by position coaches more than the OC. I absolutely know nothing about this at any level of the game approaching college football, so what I say here is just speculation.

What I suspect is that different offensive coordinators have different levels of involvement and thus different levels of control over the details of what is going on upon the field. I bet that some care a lot about technique and details; I keep thinking back to that "Rip Dark 26" video of Bo himself, and how much he seemed to be into every little thing with the blocking schemes and on-field product. I bet other OCs are more high-level game planners, assuming position coaches do all the molding of which you speak.

I think part of the frustration might come from the fact that Al seems a bit removed from what is happening on the field; while he can say "hey, that's the position coaches' job to get them to do this or that", in the end, he is responsible for the final offensive (pun sadly not intended) product. Perhaps that is not his thing, but, at least in some cases, it seems not to be working very well. 

I have read a number of your posts, and I think you are level-headed; for that, thanks.And  I also find myself wanting to see if time will help. But the frustration remains, because frankly, I have no clue if any of the position coaches, or Al himself, is just good at his job, or great. Perhaps they all are some level of good (hard to imagine that not being the case); however, I think a lot of people expect Michigan to be great, and for that to turn out to be true will require some kind of miraculous turnaround, it seems.

Space Coyote

November 8th, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

I do think Al is more hands off in his approach to his position coaches. That's not something I know for sure, but because he himself is a position coach for QBs, I don't think he has much time to tell others how to do their jobs. Now, that said, in meetings and things like that, they'll go over the ways they want to teach things. They may argue "no, at this point I want blocker X to chip release rather than fold block" and they'll debate it back and forth. As I believe Reader said elsewhere, typically the position coach will end up winning this argument because he's closer to the situation and knows more what his players are capable of, but the OC might dictate maybe where some of the time gets spent to get closer to his overall vision of the offense. How they get to that vision, will be more on the position coach, with input from the rest of the O staff.

I do also understand the frustration, I really, really do. I'm in no way happy with the on-field product. But I think the coaches, including Borges, would say the same thing. There has been a common trend during the Borges interviews people saying Borges always passes the buck. I don't believe that. I don't believe Borges thinks every thing is A-OK and they just need a little more time and we'll be swimming through cloud 9. He knows that's on him and on his coaching staff, but it's also on the players. At the end of the day, after all, it is them that has to improve, because the coaching staff can't play anymore. 

Now, we'll see. I am actually quite optimistic about this offense once/if the OL can come around. I highly, highly doubt it will be this year. I think they'll be more consistent next year but not great. But you saw against Indiana what a difference pass pro and run blocking can do for this offense. You saw how they can attack you short, intermediate, and deep. Now, Indiana is Indiana and their DBs suck almost as much as their front (which is why Michigan could get some push), but even mediocre results from that group will show huge, huge dividends in my opinion. I see the flashes, and potential, and the direction this thing is going. The problem is, they can see where they want to get, at some points they can maybe even reach out and touch it a little bit, but there is still this huge barrier called awful offensive line and how do we fix it (is it just youth, is it just mental, is it technique too, probably, is there an issue of the coaching not getting across to them that is a coaching issue, and look at how much further they have to go to even get to mediocre). I really don't think we are as far away as it seems, but this is a very fine line that can where the switch can turn on an Michigan becomes a very difficult offense to stop (as we've seen even this year) and looking, well, like they did against MSU.


November 8th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

Let's be honest - not many people here or watching the games at home are capable of thinking through what defenses will be run from what personnel, what strengths and weaknesses you have on offense, the game situation, etc. I've called offensive plays before (and made my share of gaffes), and I've been subjected to some terrible play calling at times when I haven't called the offensive plays. It's not an easy task, and I think we can all agree that 95% of the people watching these games aren't qualified to make judgments on what play should be called from down to down.


November 7th, 2013 at 6:41 PM ^

I am far from educated at all things RPS, but I was confused at the paragraph talking about how we didn't have a PA for when Devin is in the shotgun....and then there's a clip of a token (somewhat crappy) PA from the shotgun.  It is obvious that our offense lacks an obvious "plan" or "this is what we do well" .  I also hate watching MSU exploit most of our plays and play their safeties 8 yards deep like a one-armed Denard is at QB.  So clearly there are problems.  But when your OL gets destroyed, that has to be the #1 issue (both for coaches and players).  At this point the RPS completely confuses me - I know we stink, but the RPS doesn't align with my understanding of the metric.


November 7th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

right now.

As bad as Michigan is playing right now along the OL and in turnovers, the Wolverines are the second best offensive and defensive team the Huskers have faced all season.

The best was UCLA, which pantsed NU by 20 pts in Memorial Stadium.


Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 4:50 PM ^

But Michigan ran a lot of passes with 6 OL. But they don't have 4 OL. Yeah, but they don't have 2 TEs. But they don't have 3 WRs. But they don't have 1 RB that is good in pass pro. So complain about them not being coached up, fine. I see the criticism. But who are they supposed to put on the field.

They still couldn't pass protect well, but they did worse with a TE. They only have 3 TEs (one with a broken hand) and they have essentially 4 WRs (one a converted TE, one a FR, the other Jackson), so they can't really spread it out. So they move TEs out and bring in a blocker when the defense knows that guy is blocking anyway, whether it's a TE or OL in an obvious pass down.

Michigan gets a first down on a 2nd and 1 that's execuded. But it's the hard way. What's the easy way here. I didn't see any of the people covering the WRs bite on the run, even when it was run. Why would they bite on run action?

Now, do I think Narduzzi had a better game than Borges? Yes. I also think Narduzzi had the advantage of not having the most important aspect of his defense be absolutely awful. I think the RPS number is inflated far negative, the complaints about the game plan are exaggerated. Michigan didn't have much of a chance here, because the match-ups dictated that MSU's strength was Michigan's weakness. Michigan didn't have time to use their strength because of their weakness. Blame it on coaching, that's fine. These players aren't getting up to speed like they should. But I just don't know what else you do?


November 7th, 2013 at 5:20 PM ^

"They only have 3 TEs (one with a broken hand) and they have essentially 4 WRs (one a converted TE, one a FR, the other Jackson), so they can't really spread it out."


...and they definitely couldn't do anything when they didn't spread it out - so we're left with:


1) They PROBABLY couldn't have spread it out, because of personnel.

2) They DEFINITELY couldn't do anything offensively not spreading it out.


While #1 may be a false ray of hope,  #2 is a known failure.


It's kind of like asking a girl out - the answer might be no if you ask, but it's always no if you don't ask.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:47 PM ^

It's not that I want to sit here and call out Jackson all night, but waiting for Jackson to get into a route while you only have 5 OL trying to block 6 blitzers because you wanted to spread it out sounds like a bigger recipe for disaster than what we saw.

I mean, maybe it works, you could be right. Maybe they should have tried it. But just trying to think of it conceptually it just sounds like a worse idea to me, especially when it's not something Michigan is probably practicing a whole lot because it's not their base scheme.


November 7th, 2013 at 10:40 PM ^

i get that this o-line is young.  our TEs and RBs are weak blockers and i am an advocate of using more 6 o-linemen as unconventional as that sounds, especially on passing downs against a team like msu.  that said, you appear to be very optimistic about this O coaching staff (and o-line coach).  personally, i would let funk go, since i see no evidence the past two years of him improving the his guys much.  now, he does have a couple more months to change this. but if hoke decides to keep these coaches in tact, and the o-line is just as bad next year, do the youth excuses stop? or should funk be let go then? just curious.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 11:09 PM ^

But I honestly don't know about it. I mean, youth really could be a very legit excuse, more legit than we're making out. Or it could just be another reason. I was skeptical of Funk after the first year, but I just really don't know how much weight you can put on him this year. That said, if there is any coach that I think could go, it's Funk, but I doubt he does. No one else on this staff should go in my opinion.

Now, as far as next year, the OL will still be young, and I don't think they'll be great, but they better be able to at least target the right guys. They better be able to get the right communication at the line. They better be able to at least get into their pass pro a bit. I can accept a few technique issues/busts at that age, but the mental aspect needs to start getting cleaned up. If it's anything like this year then no doubt he must go.

But, and here's the thing, I've seen flashes from guys on this OL, all the young guys. When they get on the bodies and they get into technique, I see the potential and see a group that can and should be better than the '12 group. If they can get to the level mentally of the '12 group (I've said elsewhere that the '12 OL missed very few assignments, they just didn't do a whole lot more than that when they got there) then this will be a very good group eventually. But they need to improve and they need to improve by next year.

I will also add that the vast majority of improvement will happen over the off-season. It will happen in spring ball (when they're working on nothing but self-improvement), a bit in bowl practice, and a bit in Fall camp as well. You typically only see small improvements in season because so much of your time is spent prepping for your opponent and things of that nature, only a small amount of hours can really be dedicated (outside of the bye weeks) to a lot of self-improvement.

Also, obviously (and I think you'll agree here) I'd prefer a TE that can both block and run some routes. But that's just not really a thing that is on the roster right now. I don't really have an issue with 6 OL, either. Most of my commentary has been on other people complaining about it.

Lastly, and I want to make this perfectly clear, not necessary to you but for others. I have absolutely no doubt that Funk knows his stuff. He knows all the blocks, he knows all the protections, he knows all the techniques. Funk knows everything and more there is to know about OL. That should not be the question. Not now, not ever. The question is why/how is he struggling to get that knowledge and skill transfered to his players?

MI Expat NY

November 7th, 2013 at 5:30 PM ^

On WRs/TEs v. OLine, we seem to be rushing linemen into the mix when they're not ready, why couldn't we doing the same at WR, a position where players are far, far more likely to contribute early?  You say we only have 4 WRs but what about making better use out of Norfleet?  What about some of the other youngins like Dukes, York and Jones?   What abut two back sets where the second guy is a different type of running back?  I think it's fair to say that there may not be a particularly good option to mask our interior line problems, but it seems odd that the only approach we seem to be sticking with is adding bad linemen on top of bad linemen.  


November 7th, 2013 at 6:45 PM ^

You can't run a play with fewer than 5 linemen. So, we have to play some that aren't ready.

You can run a play with 0-5 WR. Playing some that aren't ready is not necessary. Same for TE. Same for RB. You just need some combination of 5 players out of those 3 position groups.

Want to run out of a base package of Gallon/Funchess/Dileo with Butt and Fitz? Sounds good to me. Argue that. That seems like a way to get our best players on the field. That is grounded in reality.

Advocating for more Norfleet is just wishing. Norfleet has done nothing except make Brian's pants tent. Advocating for 2 back sets where the second guy is a different kind of back is just wishing. In that case, you couldn't even name a potential "other guy".

Bring something to the discussion. Something real. This isn't all about you, LandonC, its just that so many people just keep asking for something different, without any suggestions. At least Brian throws some ideas out there.


November 7th, 2013 at 6:52 PM ^

Seven men have to line up on the line of scrimmage, but what if they were all defensive backs and wide receivers?  And what if two of those "men" were kangaroos?  And what if the QB was an elephant, who could either run over the defense or fling the ball with its trunk to the WRs? Throw in having the DBs cover the WRs - causing mass confusion - and I think we're onto something.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:25 PM ^

But what about the complaints about 6 OL?

Borges likes Butt and Fitz blocking better than Mags. Others (I admit I haven't seen you) complain when Michigan runs plays with 6 OL. The critics want it both ways, because the other way doesn't work. How nice.

And if we used a FB people would complain that he isn't a real threat out of the backfield. Or maybe they'd complain because the defense was still getting push into the backfield. I dunno what the complaint would be, those are just two guesses, but I'm sure people would find a reason to complain.


November 7th, 2013 at 7:52 PM ^

This is purely vs msu given 2 wks to prepare. I love multiple sets in general. And new looks. Make it harder on the D. That said I apprec the optomism you and SC have for these O coaches.


November 7th, 2013 at 7:59 PM ^

Its not even about these coaches. I will defend any coach against stupid criticisms, particularly if I can understand that coach's train of thought and find it reasonable.
Borges. I will defend the next guy when people inevitably call his offense predictable. It doesn't seem to matter to the people who do the criticizing that they don't know the difference between an ISO and an inside zone, but it matters to me because they are advocating for the firing of a person from his job despite having no good reason to do so


November 7th, 2013 at 8:09 PM ^

Against MSU...


4-5 wide.

Bunch formations. Butt /Funchess/Chesson/Gallon + fastest freshman wr who can run a fly.

Outs, quick outs, screens, flats targeted. Use bunch driving defenders deep with high-low read.

5 step drops or less. Preferably 1 & 3 step.


Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:54 PM ^

And I want to start by saying I really appreciate that. I can have these back and forths, and agree on something and disagree on others and maybe neither of us change our mind, but at least we talked it out. So I do appreciate it.

I do agree that we are likely rushing OL on the field. To some extent it is needed (we do need 5 OL). WR is a position you usually can get away with it, but you can get away with it by minimizing what you're asking them to do (as in, you give them a couple route concepts or plays and have them get good at those things). Pretty soon you're running out of stuff, and if they make a mistake or misread the defense, or have a wrong communication, DG still possibly gets sacked as he's saying "WTF" or he threw the football where the WR was supposed to be and is saying "WTF!" after it gets picked. 

Norfleet I don't think is ready. He's struggling making reads in the KR game. I know he has some potential and some excitement to him, but this is his first season (including spring ball) at WR. I just really don't think he's ready to do the things asked of him from his position, which heavily relies on reading the underneath coverage (he won't take the top off defenses and probably can't run routes well enough to help him anyway). Some of the same can be said for the other FR probably.

You can run 2 backs, but the OL is struggling enough keeping the pocket, I'm not sure the RBs will help in that regard. You're allowing the blitzers further into the pocket. You are reducing your ability to get into routes meaning they are likely coming even harder and faster (if that's possible). So maybe they could have done a little more of it, but seeing as we struggled to run the ball, much more of it may have also had limited upside and the same downside (I say may because it also could have worked, I'm just discussing what the coaches reasoning may be if they gave honest answers).

I do agree with the sentiment that there probably just aren't many good options. I'm sure they've tried things in practice and this was the best they had.


November 7th, 2013 at 10:53 PM ^

it's just that we are in a situation now that i have never seen in 30+ yrs of watching this team.  we have an interior line, TEs and RBs who are not very good at blocking.  knowing this, borges has to scheme around these problems.  i don't envy that task, but i'm not convinced he can think on his feet when things aren't working to plan.  that said, my bigger concern is the o-line coach.


November 7th, 2013 at 6:10 PM ^

That's the main argument.  Narduzzi is developing guys who weren't as highly ranked (yes, the ranking system isn't perfect) way better than the offensive coaches are with their players.  If the coaches want to constantly harp about execution, why have they not developed anybody who can execute their system.

The lack of execution is either:

1) The recruits they are getting are way overrated.

2) They aren't developing players as well as they should.

3) They aren't developing a scheme that fits the players.

Likely it is some of all of the above.  The best coaches get more out of their lemons than this staff has done.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:30 PM ^

They complained because he's not a pass threat (and can't be because of his number and he plays OG on other downs). FB makes the offense even more predictable, which people already complain about even though they are overstating it. Add something. Except people are already complaining about there being too much of something, we need to do fewer things and do it well. Find an identity. But change what you're doing because you had 2 weeks.

See how this is people reaching for a bunch of straws and coming up with nothing? I get people are unhappy with the performance, so am I. I find it funny though that this game exposed the glaringly obvious problem with this team (they can't block anyone) and people still complain that it's on something else so FIRE BORGES HE'S BAD!


November 7th, 2013 at 11:00 PM ^

i don't envy his situation.  i've said before i liked his overall game plan against msu.  it just seems so absurd to me that we try to max protect (the right thing imo) but we have no TEs or HBs that can block.  I don't think I've ever seen such a helpless group at pass blocking and i felt DG's pain at the game.  it's all just very frustrating.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 11:06 PM ^

I don't think Fitz would have looked so bad, FWIW, if the OL helped him out and didn't force him into tough circumstances, but he struggled with leverage, no doubt. It is very frustrating, but like you said, I just don't know what the answer is. What I appreciate about what you've said or asked and we've discussed is that you have a theory, you realitze it's not perfect because there is no such thing as perfect with these flaws, but you're just wondering if it would be better. And hey, it just might be, it's hard to say. I have my opinions, others have theres, but I think at least you and I agree that it's difficult to say one way or the other.


November 7th, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

We are a last second drive away from having lost 6 straight to MSU. And next year doesn't look like a great shot either, considering we will be on the road again. And if we don't beat Ohio State this year, we are looking at losing 10 out of the last 11 games considering the team has to play in Columbus next year.

Don't even know what to say to that...Something has to give eventually I guess, but until then, its been a rough few years to be a Michigan Football fan.


November 7th, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

To get through. However, after seeing some of the pre-snap stills I am curious as to why there were not more check-offs to WRs if DB's were playing at a great depth off in coverage, or more quick slants or WR slip screens to get the ball out of the QB's hand as quickly as possible to help him not be demolished by the mass of humanity bowling over his linemen/blocking back and coming right for him.


One common theme: Whether it is playcalling, offensive identity, or QB development, that all points towards Borges. I really think Hoke has to consider maybe moving Borges elsewhere as a position coach and hire a REAL full-time QB coach, if he plans on selling developing QB's into pro prospects. Cause right now I don't see it.


Also, I may get blasted for this, but how about widening the linemen's splits and work on the linemen washing/logging in/kicking out defenders instead of trying to wrestle them like a bear? Maybe just work on linemen "sealing off' running lanes and having RBs read the linemen's butts and look for green...don't know what else they could do to get some openings along the LOS.

EQ RC Blue

November 7th, 2013 at 5:40 PM ^

A way to beat that type of defense is with big passing plays.  These plays were there for the taking.  That first pass on the first drive should have been a touchdown.   On the third drive we get this: DG "can't find Funchess wide, wide open on a circle route for the first down and instead takes off."  On the fourth drive we get this: "Funchess runs a great route that gets separation; Michigan protects it; Gardner chucks it wide."

I'm not blaming DG and excusing the coaches.  It's the coaches job to get the QB ready to execute the gameplan.  And to have linemen and RBs who can pass protect.  But the "scheme" actually had pretty wide open TDs or close to it on a whole bunch of drives, including the first few.  That's not a bad scheme.   

Richrod had 28 yards total rushing his second year @MSU, but people go crazy for his scheme.