This Week's Obsession: Extent of Panic

Submitted by Seth on October 16th, 2013 at 1:04 PM

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Another identity. [Upchurch]

We predicted at the start of the season that Michigan is talented enough to finish with 9 or 10 wins given normal progression and competent coaching—more if they get the breaks to go their way. After flirting with several disasters before finally succumbing to one, it is clear that the progression is way behind schedule and the offensive play-calling in a severe detriment.

The coaching staff:

Brian completely insane.

Seth finally past my patience point.

Ace and 12; let's line up in an unbalanced formation and run into a 9-man front.

Mathe definition of insanity is actually the definition of science, and Michigan's offense is scientific proof that bashing one's head into a wall repeatedly is not a successful strategy, which most people knew without the study.

Coach broken; it's dead Jim.

Heiko you know the bubble screen is open.

Blue in so long dreams of beating Ohio State.

So...

Time to reassess the season. Can Michigan defeat anyone left on their schedule and make a bowl this year? Will the coaches be able to find offensive competence? What's the expected fallout of a bad November? Is this a massive overreaction?

Mathlete: Pros:

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Would we be this upset if Gibbons made one more FG like he does always? Honestly yes but we'd feel less inclined to feel like it's the right time to criticize. [Upchurch]
  • We are a Gibbon's chip shot from being 6-0 right now.
  • Devin Gardner leading this offense can be very dangerous.
  • This defense has been solid and just got's its biggest playmaker back.
  • Michigan should be at least a toss up if not favored against the remaining schedule before The Game, which is at home this year.
  • We're rightfully furious at last weekend's game plan in a game in which we scored 34 points in regulation.

Cons:

  • That game plan was dreadful and it was far from the first.
  • The defense is far from dominant.
  • At this point, there are no gimmes left on the schedule.

Where does that leave us, I have no clue. This is both a seriously flawed team and a team that has played far below its potential and is nearly undefeated. I could see this team going 5-1 and playing for a Big Ten title. They could also go 2-4 and limp to the finish. Will the coaches find offensive competence? If they don't have it now, no reason to indicate its going to change. There will be some lip service and probably some window dressing but I'm not expecting any fundamental changes.

Chances are this is the low point but there will certainly be more pain ahead. I have no clue what Hoke is thinking now. He came in talking MANBALL at first it seemed more lip service to the faithful than true philosophy. Over the last two seasons or so things have been creeping back to a results/personnel/performance independent MANBALL philosophy. Realistically, things will look slightly better over the course of the year but the fundamental problems will hold. My guess is that in a world where things don't really change, there is enough success that Hoke gives Borges another year with some of the new toys a year older before seriously considering a change.

A tire fire conclusion to the season would obviously change that timeline, but I don't see that happening. There are enough pieces in place for this team to finish out with at least eight wins and nine is certainly still on the table. The sky isn't falling as fast as it seems this week but at this point I feel comfortable putting a solid ceiling on the offense. The talent will be there to dominate 8-9 games every year but the remaining games will be end up being various levels of excruciating.

[jump]

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BiSB: When I was dropping my son off at day care the other day, there was a teacher from another classroom in the hallway trying to convince a toddler that he needed to wear pants. After all, they were going outside to play, and it was cold outside. The teacher explained to him his options, saying, "would you like to stay inside, or would you like to put on your pants?" The boy thought about it, and answered, "I want it to not be cold."

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This is probably a hammer.

This team cannot run the ball downhill. Stretch, power, iso, it doesn't seem to matter. They just aren't very good at it. Now, for most teams, that would be a problem because it would eliminate that as a primary offensive option, forcing them to rely on other things. For Michigan, it's a problem because f*** it we're doing it anyway, and in a way that is so obvious that it's actually going to make it HARDER to run the ball.

If the debate going forward was "how do we balance our desire to be a smashmouth team with our need to move the football against anyone with a pulse," I'd be concerned. But the debate seems to be "how can we be a smashmouth team and use that smashmouth-ness to move the ball," which scares the bejeezus out of me. They say when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. In this case, all we have is a hammer, and Al Borges is trying to use it as a salad spinner, even when the problem is a nail.

I actually have a rosier outlook on the rest of the season than do most people. I think they'll probably beat Indiana and Iowa, and nab one or two from Northwestern/MSU/ Nebraska/OSU. My concerns are more about the long-term. In today's game, I don't know what the ceiling is for an offense that refuses to take yards because those yards don't come THE WAY THEY WANT THEM TO COME, but it's not very high. I don't care how good your offensive line is, if you don't make defenses pay for lining up eight defenders over your seven blockers, you will never find long-term success.

I'm not concerned about Michigan finding offensive competence. I'm concerned that they FOUND offensive competence, but discarded it because they'd rather be something else. And that is a much, much bigger problem. Lots of coaches struggle to balance what they want to do with what they need to do to win games. But some refuse to acknowledge the tension at all, instead rationalizing that all they have to do is change some underlying axiomatic truths and things will start clicking. When the only thing that keeps you from having everything you want is one immutable fact, it's tempting, and fatal, to try to ignore that fact.

Put your goddamn pants on, Al. It's cold outside.

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Brian: I want to not be cold, too. I want so badly to have a nice fire to curl up in front of, but instead there's just this dude trying to light some rocks with his shoe. 

I don't know, man. Everyone saw one of Michigan's primary issues after a couple games: they didn't have a tight end who could block. My solution to this problem was stop playing the tight ends. Borges's was make the tight end the left tackle. Minnesota is stupid and thin and untalented and had no tape of this, so it sort of worked. But it really felt like a gimmick, as formations where you run 90% of the time tend to be, and Penn State ruthlessly exposed it for that. They loaded the box, they threw their entire DT two-deep out there at the same time, they... uh... waited for Michigan to take delay of game penalties.

I'd like to think this is a come-to-Jesus moment, but Michigan has had, what, eight of them in the last three years? They've never been inclined to look at either stats or, you know, their team and decide that we have to wait on the manball stuff. Offensive competence this year looks like Texas Tech: sling it around and deal with the interception fallout.

This is probably an overreaction, though. Once Michigan ditches the tackle over crap and resigns itself to the things it can actually do they will look vaguely better. And the Big Ten is still horrible. It looks bad now, but when Iowa or MSU rolls in they're not exactly Alabama. You are not as bad as you think after these sorts of things; years and years of curating the blogpoll taught me that.

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Ace: I'm going to answer Seth's last question first, since BiSB nailed the rest of it: I'm pretty sure this is an overreaction, and it's deeply concerning that I'm not 100% sure about this.

Michigan is going to make a bowl, at least. They need one win among the six games left on the schedule; that should come against either Indiana or Iowa (or both, preferably), and even the four difficult games contain teams with some major flaws (MSU's offense, though that's disturbingly coming around, and Nebraska's defense, to name a couple). The defense, especially as Jake Ryan rounds into form, should be able to keep this team in most of those games. I could see Michigan turning it around and going 4-2 the rest of the way, which considering the schedule up to this point would be an improvement; I could also see them, in a worst-case scenario—I can't emphasize "worst-case" enough—going 1-5, but even that gets them to a bowl.

Brian and BiSB have covered the issues with the offense extensively: they are flawed, and instead of adjusting in any way that makes sense to those flaws Al Borges is doing anything he can to prove that his hatred of the spread is well-founded, despite mountains of evidence that he's on the wrong side of history—especially when it comes to coaching this particular team, with a supremely talented runner at quarterback, a very solid top-four group of receivers (Funchess included), and a line and tight ends that seem averse to blocking POWER or zone stretch or anything that puts the ball in the hands of the running back.

I'm fully expecting a bad November—if I had to make a bet, I'd put it on them going 2-3 in that month, which won't go over well—and, even worse, I don't think much is going to be done about it. Hoke seems as dedicated to the antiquated MANBALL principles as Borges, and while that may just be him standing behind his guy, he's doing so forcefully—I'd be very surprised if Borges was fired after this season unless the team completely bottoms out in a way that can be pinned almost exclusively on him. (This isn't out of the realm of possibility, unfortunately.)

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Seth: Yes, the offensive line has problems. Bryant gets shoved backwards a lot: dude has two starts and is basically a freshman given he's been unable to practice almost since he arrived here. Kalis has trouble identifying who to block when he pulls: that's better than not arriving, and again: freshman. The tight ends can't block at all; there's only one who wasn't a glorified receiver (or a linebacker) in high school. Personnel complaints ring hollow when it's still possible to cover over the interior of the line with the threat of Devin's legs, and keep linebackers from stacking the box by running Gallon-Dileo-Funchess-Chesson out at the same time. Cry for want of a fullback and 117 coaches would happily trade you theirs for any of 9 players on this offense. Shelving things like Dileo, Gallon, or Gardner's legs to fit an identity that they're not makes as much sense as shoving a stuffed animal in Kenny Demens's face because the beaver is the hardest-working creature in the animal kingdom.

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As Urban Meyer can attest, winning football games by throwing bubble screens absolutely makes you less of a man.

During the Ohio State-Northwestern game this year, 11W's Ramzy Nasrallah tweeted that he wished Urban would sometimes be more willing to grab what he wanted rather than always taking whatever the defense gave him; in this case he meant NW'ern couldn't keep Hyde from getting 4 YPC against 8-man fronts so why keep throwing to Philly Brown in the space that provided? I nearly died right there.Obviously if you play as bad as your worst day you'll be horrible. But what was Michigan's worst day?

  • When they mailed it in against Akron?
  • When they went to East Hartford and Gardner was throwing to Storrs?
  • When they needed a gimmick offense to pull away in the 2nd half from the Gophers at home?
  • When their opponents left 200 chances for victory wide, wide open, and the coordinator instead decided to bash his head against a brick wall for four quarters and four overtimes?

The Penn State game wasn't out of the ordinary. It was the ordinary: obviously superior to their opponent in talent, obviously stupider. In the car ride from the game to the bar we agreed if Bill O'Brien was coaching Michigan on Saturday the Wolverines win by 30. Forget for a moment what happens when Michigan State's 60 minutes of defensive holding takes away the thing that actually works in this offense (the mid-range passing game; for his faults Borges still knows how to get guys open) and think what happens when we give Nebraska and Indiana's defenses such a break? Lose those three atop the two legitimately good teams on the schedule and the trip to Iowa—when they've still yet to play a good road game in the Hoke era—is the difference between bowl eligible and not.

I find 6-6 far more likely right now than 8-4, and 5-7 is 6-6 plus any bit of bad luck. If they miss a bowl, the offense becomes a laughingstock, and Hoke declares his staff is Borges or bust, the recruiting classes could disintegrate. That is the threat.

Can they find offensive competence? Borges coached some brilliant games at home: ND this year, Ohio State and Nebraska in 2011. The further Michigan sinks to the pack, the more likely they'll be to stop pretending they can Hyde, and start coming up with an identity that has at least something to do with who they actually are. They wouldn't be the first UM team to do so. The 2001 squad wasn't diminished for being "chuck it to Marquise." The 2004 team was pretty good once it committed to freshmen at QB and RB and "let Braylon get it." Next year Gallon is going to find a home in an NFL that increasingly cares less about size. Putting him on the same side of the field as Funchess is a workable base offense; Gardner power and option plays that make life easier on the interior OL (e.g. inverted veer, belly) would be a nice complement to that.

Comments

SamIam

October 16th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

Even if Borges doesn't like the bubble screen at what point does Gallon one on one not scream let my play maker make a play.  If you are successful one time it helps your run game the rest of the game.

ijohnb

October 16th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

a successful season, I am not sure why I am following this team any longer.  I am not being condescending, I am just really confused about my fandom.  If a January 1 bowl game has some meaning to me, which it seems to, then I have admitted that the team being good is of importance to me.  Except that being in a January 1 bowl game does not mean that, so why is it significant.  That is the crossroads where I am at and where a lot of college football fans of teams of rumored significance are arriving.  Everybody wants to be "good" but with the soft schedules, increased games, and increased bowls, there are actuallly less opportunities to prove you are good than before.  It is counter-intuitive, and seriously frustrating.  Nobody has their pulse on this game anymore.  9-3 with a January 1 bowl game is not "good."  It is nothing.  And I can't figure out if I am frustrated because Michigan is not "better" than that or if I am frustrated that that is not recognized as good anymore to begin with.  In short, I am not sure what college football is right now, and I am not all that sure i really like it right now either. 

Brian said in his portion of this post, "the Big Ten still sucks."  Until that statement is not in the college football vocabulary anymore, or at the very least not an accepted and heavily discussed topic in regional Big Ten country, what is the point?  You can't even be good by winning the Big Ten because it sucks anyway.  This is not the way I remember college football being.  Something is seriously wrong.

maizenbluenc

October 16th, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

until we stop sucking, and given our wins over Akron and UConn, and our loss to Penn State, we still suck.

Our last Big Ten title was 2004. Nine years ago. Other than 2006, there was a whole lot of suck in between. Don't see us winning it this year, and I'd really like to see Michigan in Pasadena on New Year's Day.

 

ijohnb

October 16th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

us winning a shitty conference would prove that we are not shitty?  How does that work?  What does it prove to win the Big Ten?  Nothing.  If it sucks it sucks.  Why should recruits come here?  Why should anybody want to play in the Big Ten?  It sucks anyway.

People.  Stop saying the Big Ten sucks.   It is a stupid thing to say, it is a defeatist, negativiistic, self-fulfilling prophecy that humiliates the team in defeat and marginalizes their victories.  It is ensuring that we can almost never be regarded as good, it is hurting attendance everywhere in the region, and it is really making it difficult to enjoy Big Ten football, which I used to love.  Say anything, just don't say that.  It serves no purpose.

BiSB

October 16th, 2013 at 1:37 PM ^

I'm pretty sure that if you asked any of us at this point, we would take 10-3 and run like hell.

If Michigan could win 10 games running this offense, I'd be a happy man. If they could win 12 games running the Wing-T, I'd be a happy man.

ijohnb

October 16th, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

you consider that good? Bad?  Would that record make you happy?  Would you feel the season was a success or a failure, and why?  I am just curious. 

That would mean we would have lost 3 out of 8 games in a conference that "sucks."  Would that not be really bad?

aiglick

October 16th, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

That's where the bowl game comes in and it is actually a blessing (in some ways) to play a really good PAC-12 or SEC team. Go 9-3 and win a bowl game against a quality opponent and yes I would say it is a good season. In 2007 we beat the vaunted Gators with their Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow; it was extremely gratifying.

Of course I want to be Bama with the morals but there are ways to have a good football season without winning it all.

One thing I like about college basketball is that the season is truly successful if you make the Tournament. I know teams like Kentucky feel like that is not the case and they have to win it every year but generally to make the Tournament you have to be in the upper 20 percent or so of all of college basketball. Generally the further you make the better you are perceived to be but that is a pretty good feeling to have at the end of the day.

Monocle Smile

October 16th, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

If running tackle over to the boundary actually worked, I'd say let's do that 'til the cows come home. Whatever.

But it doesn't. I care much less how we win, just THAT we win, and that includes the coaches putting us in the best position possible to win.

This isn't about Penn State. This isn't even about last year. This is about the next month and a half of football and the future. Are we content to have a staff that regularly blows winnable games for dumb reasons?

Ron Utah

October 16th, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

If we were 6-0, I'd be inclined to agree.  Borges has always taken his shots on this board--as would any offensive coordinator--but this is the first time I've seen almost the entire board attack him.

The problem is that we've almost lost to two terrible teams, and did lose to a mediocre team with a true freshman QB and no discernible defense.

If we go 9-3, we're showing progress, and I'll probably be happy.

wolverine1987

October 16th, 2013 at 3:53 PM ^

is 10 wins, regardless of the B!G strength level that season. Win 10 games per year and you can fairly be called an elite program (as long as you are in a "BCS" level conference). Since this is true IMO, then 10 wins is the standard every year if you want to be a Michigan "elitist."

Hail-Storm

October 16th, 2013 at 3:28 PM ^

Michigan just lost a game they should have won, and almost lost 2 others against teams with far less talent. All wins are not created equal.  If Michigan continues to play the way they do against the tougher half of the schedule, there will not be wins you speak of.  I think the board has a right to say these wins (and loss) are not good enough play moving forward.

nickb

October 16th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

on Borges. it is on the entire coaching staff. This team has REGRESSED since the start of the season. When a team regresses, blame invaribly points to the head coach and staff.

I never was a Hoke fan but was willing to give him a chance. I honestly believe he is not football savvy. Many on this board know more about football than he does. He cannot question Borges because he does not know any better. But for GregM agreeing to coach the defense this program would be no better off than with RR. 

If you were to ask anyone before the PSU game what would be the key for a PSU win, all (except our coaching staff) would have said stop the run and make DG throw it. Yet, Michigan game plan was to run the ball into a 8-9 man defensive scheme.

Enough said.

If there is one sport where coaching makes a difference it is in college football. Sadly, we our saddled with a head coach who is a terrific human being but clearly out of his element.

justingoblue

October 16th, 2013 at 9:30 PM ^

If Hoke isn't "football savvy", why was he hired by Jack Harbaugh and Gary Moeller, and promoted by Lloyd Carr to do nothing other than teach football skills (and recruit)? What about his three conference coach of the year awards awarded by three completely different sets of coaches?

dnak438

October 16th, 2013 at 7:10 PM ^

And: close wins against Akron and UConn were disturbing, and the win against Minny wasn't awe-inspiring. The fears that those wins engendered turned out to be justified, don't you think, considering what happened on Saturday?

Bodogblog

October 16th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

A third interception in the PSU game, especially to end the game in OT, may have also ended Gardner's confidence for good.  If that was part of the play-calling thought process, it's not horrible.

Instead he gutted it out and had a near-heroic second half.  They'll play better and win more. 

El Jeffe

October 16th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

I don't really disagree with any of this. But the complaint from the "take the free yards, Al!!!" crowd is that no one is asking Devin to fit a skinny post into an NFL window. We are asking Borges to "TAKE THE FREE FUCKING YARDS, AL!!!"

Now checking into a TAKE THE FREE FUCKING YARDS play may be impossible because of our huddle proclivities. In which case I rescind my criticism of Borges and place it squarely on Hoke.

To me, that's what it comes down to. Either Borges sucks or he is being hamstrung by Hoke, or worst of all, maybe both.

Bodogblog

October 16th, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

In fact I had a bit typed in there about my biggest disappointment being the lack of adjustments / time to make adjustments due to late huddle, but deleted for brevity.  And absolutely throw the screen - or just throw it out there and don't call it a screen - on these free yardage plays.  That would take an enormous amount of pressure off Gardner and help him succeed.

jamiemac

October 16th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

Speaking of the rest of the schedule. Here it is, with current betting lines, per sportsbook.com

UM +1.5 at MSU

UM -5 vs Nebraska

UM pick 'em at Northwestern

UM at Iowa, no line up

UM +4.5 vs OSU

stephenrjking

October 16th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

Borges likes to throw the ball. We know this. The fact that he has turned to Tressel/Lloyd philosophies in the offense is disturbing, but we must know that there has to be a reason.

We can find it in the three game preceding the PSU loss. One of them, against Minnesota, was a comfortable victory in which Gardner did not turn the ball over, the defense bent a bit but did not disintegrate, and Michigan was able to grind out some yards. 

Two of them were terrifying disasters against vastly inferior opponents. And the reason they were terrifying was that Devin Gardner coughed up the ball, usually in awful places at the worst possible times.

I think Borges and Hoke decided that Michigan's best option was to play ultra-conservative, because the team still has tools to win most of its games even if it doesnt use all of its talent. Borges is capable of opening things up more, and he did in the second half, but the coaches appear to think that having Gardner throw the football that often is a dangerous idea.

And, you know, they were right--Borges held Gardner close until he needed points, unleashed him, reigned him back in before he could do damage, and produced a 10-point lead.

The problem is that Tresselball worked because the defense was great, special teams were perfect, and they didn't make mistakes. Michigan failed all three of those, and lost.

Just like the Lloyd era, but with much worse offensive line play.

joeismyname

October 16th, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

you seem to have a pretty level head about this....clearly our conservative plan stemmed from our decent success against Minny, especially in terms of not turning the ball over. Al called a good game to put us up by 10 as well in the 2nd half.

this blog, including the posters has been incredibly dissapointing and might I say downright devisive at times...it's alright to disagree with, and question some calls, but to think you can usurp the coaches and overhaul the offense and the gameplans of professionals is simply absurd. If Brian or Ace were calling plays, we'd probably get beat by 40.

Hoke and Borges were playing odds based on the team's past performances (which is what a good coach would do), and based on Gibbon's and defense's past as well. Hoke thought we could hold em' (they made 2 downright amazing catches in that short drive), and then they figured we would be in good position with Gibbon's kicking (so did I), especially when the defense is doing their job in OT. Al also called the plays that scored us 17 points on offense (should have been 21 if not for Funchess' drop in the end-zone or Devin's helmet rolling off) coupled with a great defensive performance in 90% of the second half. You can't blame a whole half on one penalty, the punter still could have put the ball inside the 20, maybe 10 or 5.

We all, both manball supporters and not, feel the pain of our shitty running game, and you would be insane to think Al and Brady don't see it or don't care, they care more than all of us i'm sure because their well being actually depends on it. They just don't want to put the team in worse positions which is what Devin's TO's against Akron and Uconn did. He's given up 3 defensive TD's this year for God's sake. He also does not want to hurt Devin...remember that brutal hit he took in the 4th after the 1st down? Come back to earth people!

247Hinsdale

October 16th, 2013 at 9:05 PM ^

I don't agree with the concept that just because these guys are professional coaches, they're doing it right. They might know more football than anyone on this board ( and certainly know a lot more than me), but having that knowledge doesn't mean they are employing it in the best manner.
On the other hand, it's equally difficult for me to believe that all of our offensive woes could be solved by running bubble screens and he coaching staff is either too stupid to see it, or so obstinate that they would sabotage the team, and risk their livelihoods in the process just to adhere to a given football philosophy.
I don't know, man. It would be interesting to know what's going on behind the scenes.

Holmdel

October 16th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

If you look back at Akron and UConn, and evaluate which player was most valuable to their chances of almost knocking off Michigan, that player was Devin Gardner, and it isn't even close.  When they had to go back to playing with their own players the following week, both teams were blown out.

Lesson learned, Hoke and Borges were in a desperate situation, and the best of a couple of bad choices was to play ultra-conservative.  A virtue of this approach is that helps you in the long-term.  If we scrap man-ball for the rest of the season, then we start in Spring with a bunch of guys with no man-ball blocking experience.  We might all agree that ugly wins with man-ball experience is probably the best strategy this season.  Well, if our reliable kicker hits a chippy, that's what we get in Happy Valley.  If our defense does what it had done all game, and doesn't let the freshman QB march 80 yards, that's what we get in Happy Valley.

Separate note:  The no-huddle argument has a lot of appeal to me.  However, I think we can get a bit carried away with its benefits, and by this, I mean, the difference isn't exactly between letting the defense prepare for your next play while you give yourself no time to adjust.  It's really about giving the defense no time to prepare for your play until you come to the LOS, with seven seconds to snap it, and then giving both units seven seconds to size up the opposition, and with both possibly showing a false formation to begin with.  

You come out of a no-huddle, and yes, you have more time to look to your sidelines, but how many more seconds does a team really need to review a defensive formation, look to the sideline and make a check.  Some plays it seems like we don't have enough time to accomplish this, but I think the answer is just simply to get the offense better trained to get out of the huddle a few seconds quicker, not change your philosophy completely.  

Bodogblog

October 16th, 2013 at 3:12 PM ^

Changing the pace of the huddle isn't difficult, but that in itself is a change in philosophy.  M intentionally slows down the game through longer huddles.  And there is a theoretical advantage to lining up late... the D has little to no time to adjust to your formation.  In theory.

And we don't run sideline checks.  That would be a big change.  One I'd like to see, but a big one.

Automatic checks would be easier... "Hey if they're playing off 12 yards on 1st and 10, let's thow it out there eh?"

dcmaizeandblue

October 16th, 2013 at 3:16 PM ^

This makes the most sense to me. People seem to discount how bad those first two INTs were because of how long the game went. And Devin certainly played better but I wonder if we would've been more willing to take to the air if at least one of those hadn't have happened.

The reason it's so frustrating is that despite the complete tank job at the end we still had at least 3 chances to take a win. And at the end of the day that's all I really care about. I don't care how it happens.

NiMRODPi

October 16th, 2013 at 3:48 PM ^

Couldn't agree more. Said something to this effect after Penn State and was told I was an idiot. All three terrible games were three turnover games for Gardner, all of which resulted in some points, 14 in this Penn State game. Short fields, momentum killers, and free points turned this game into a four overtime game when really it could've been a game won comfortably by two or three scores.

 

buddha

October 16th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

Pretty solid analysis and for the most part I agree. The part that bothers me, though, is DG is amazing at a lot of things; yet, Borges is requiring him (and other players, like the OL) to do things they are not good at...repeatedly! 

You could say that DG is a turnover machine, especially in the passing game, but - if that's the case - throw high-percentage / low-risk pass plays. Don't make him throw 15 yard outs to the sideline. Tell him to check down to safe options, like Dileo, instead of targeting a double-covered Gallon. 

Whether or not a popular opinion, I blame Borges for DG's lack of development, especially with DG's decision making. Part of it is I blame Borges for not better preparing DG mentally, but I also blame Borges for not putting DG in a position to succeed with safer plays. 

bubblelevel

October 16th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

And by "gang" I mean Brian et al.  Get together and find a youth, jv, maybe even a varsity highschool team to coach.

Incorporate all of your doubting, negative, regression analysis, smart ass bubble screen running jokes, second guessing, ufr's, picture pages etc and see how you do. 

If not continue with your collective scab picking on the team that in essance feeds you. 

I have no problem with analysis - something has shifted here and you are all trying to one up each other.

BiSB

October 16th, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

  • I'm pretty sure we've offered to take over coaching the team. The coaches rejected that idea for some reason.
  • "Regression analysis" is, like, math. You can't get mad at math.
  • "The team" doesn't feed those guys. They feed themselves by talking about/writing about/analyzing this team. There's a giant-ass difference.
  • I can't imagine why we would try to be ganging up on the worst running back performance in the history of Michigan football.
  • Other than me (and I'm always just baseless snark), everyone else here has given really, really well-articulated explanations of their particular complaints. If you disagree with those specific complaints, we're all ears. Otherwise you can't be pissed that the list of complaints is larger than usual.

EnoughAlready

October 16th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

but I think everytime a user dares to suggest a criticism of Brian et al, the response is not a response at all but reactionary defensiveness.  Our Dear Leader, and his cohorts, have never (in my observation) admitted the merit of a single criticism.

That's some hella fine scientific method there!  I wish I had oodles of statistics to objectively verify my hypothesis, but I guess I'll just rely on "snark."

bubblelevel

October 16th, 2013 at 2:49 PM ^

I said coach "a" team and then gave examples.  Did not say coach "the" team.  See how your collective hindsight does at coach real humans in real time.

"the team" does feed you all.  No Michigan football - no smarty pants blog sites (for this program at least)

I don't think you know why the performance of the RB game was what it was - I mean you should after looking at countless replays and affixing correlation to every causation.  This is what I mean by actually coaching some humans.  We kind of weird in that we are all over the place and make mistakes (even if taught the right way).  Humans are fallable ya know.

"Math" with humans is the source of much of the arrogance I see.  If I have a bunch of stats that say a certain thing should be done by God I'm going to criticize a coach that has a bunch of stats (that you aren't aware of) that say what he's doing in his opinion has a good chance of succeeding.

I'm also talking about tone - not specifically the fact that you disagree.  I know, you gotta drive eyeballs so the hot thing this week is think of every snarky headline and cut at the team. 

I feel bad about the game and there is something amiss currently keeping them from what our expectations for performance are, BUT being a snarky smart ass or asking about bubble screens to a coach that has for the most part been pretty good is what I am alluding to (among other things) 

How about this - when the team turns around and gets back on track (I am assuming success for fandom's sake) then I hope all of you go out of your way to give the same amount of praise to Hoke, Borges, Funk as well.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 16th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

if you have an issue with what is talked about on this site there is a really easy solution that would ease your delicate mind. This is a web site that you actively have to go to. If you don't like it or don't want to see what is being written...don't click on it. I'm getting so sick of posters trying to tell Brian and the rest of the mods how to run his site. Get a damn grip and move on if you don't approve of it. I don't know Brian or any of the mods personally, but I can say this with absolute certainty... they have the patience of Job. If I ran thinigs here posters like you would just get instabanned and not because we disagree, but because of the holier than thou jackassery you are portraying in your argument.

BiSB

October 16th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

You can't just say, "don't criticize the thing you cover because your livelihood depends on that thing." If that were the case, critical media wouldn't exist. And critical media is the only helpful type of media.

Besides, when Borges has done things that have pleased the authors of this weblog, they have made such opinions very clear. See the "Borges para Presidente" section of the ND game recap: http://mgoblog.com/content/shovel-little-more-coal

As for "affixing correlation to every causation," I think you meant "affixing causation to every correlation," and if so, you're damn right that's what we're trying to do. Just saying "welp, crap happens, hopefully they do better next time" makes for a terribly uninformative blog. Asking why Poor Damn Toussaint is more important than just acknowledging Poor Damn Toussaint.

chally

October 16th, 2013 at 4:24 PM ^

For me, the primary frustration in the analysis is that the highs are too high and the lows are too low. 

Using your own example, after 28 games at Michigan, Borges is hailed by Brian.  He writes:

"I love this staff's feel for the game. Michigan plays high offense and low offense games correctly; in this one Michigan could not feel particularly confident in a four-point lead so they went and got some more."

Yet, today (after 32 games at Michigan), Borges is described as a man trying to ignite rocks with his shoe.  Brian writes:

"I'd like to think this is a come-to-Jesus moment, but Michigan has had, what, eight of them in the last three years? They've never been inclined to look at either stats or, you know, their team and decide that we have to wait on the manball stuff."

It just feels a bit too much like revisionist history.  Coming into this season, 10-3 or 9-4 were likely predictions.  Coming into the season, most everyone knew we would drop a game we shouldn't, probably on the road.  From where I'm standing, we seem to be on pace.

Salinger

October 16th, 2013 at 4:41 PM ^

Respect is something that is earned, and when you hold a public position like the HC/OC of a major college program criticism is expected. You get respect when you earn respect. Our coaching staff hasn't been earning that respect lately. Do a better job and that problem goes away.

 

Hail-Storm

October 16th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

but I really don't understand your insistance on them coaching to have a reasoned argument.  There have been many posts exactly talking about the human factor.  Specifically, that the power run game requires 8 players to perfectly execute when it only takes one mistake to ruin the play. There have been several posts documenting how each of these negative or zero gain plays are 1 block or more away from being successful.  Michigan's coaches should minimize the human errors by putting their players in the best chances for success.  The blog harped on Funchess not being a good blocker.  The coaches moved him to reciever where his blocking was less of a factor in his game and came away with a career night.  The both criticized his use tight to the line and praised his move outside.  I think it is more than fair for the blog to criticize the coaches for not throwing a quick out or bubble to a reciever with a the nearest defensmen more than 10 yards away. Especially when you are trying to get a QB in rythm. 

And you are more than free to provide evidence where Brian and his team are wrong.  I've seen plenty of coaches on here (Space Coyote/ Magnus) disagree with a formation callout, or defend a layer who was blamed for a bad play, and Brian concede or spark a debate. 

HAIL 2 VICTORS

October 16th, 2013 at 7:21 PM ^

"I'm pretty sure we've offered to take over coaching the team. The coaches rejected that idea for some reason."

I was making these calls from my basement into Big Al's headset and I just wanted to test that Power O one more time...seventeen times.