Inside the Boxscore - Team 133, Game 12

Submitted by ST3 on November 25th, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    In the Tuesday Presser, which seems like ages ago already, Al Borges said, "My creative juices are flowing all the time. Depending on the game, I’m considered creative or idiotic, but they’re always flowing. That’s what kind of makes this game fun for coordinators." I'd say about 99.9% of the MGoBoard is going with idiotic. I won't defend Borges here. When Rodriguez was fired, Brandon said that they were going to pay the going rate for top notch coordinators. Mattison has earned his salary, and then some. The same cannot be said for Borges, not yet. Part of getting paid an astronomical amount for being an assistant coach is dealing with the inevitable criticism that comes when the team falls short.

    At that same press conference, Borges said, "...the key is to keep the chains moving so you can call more plays." Borges called 47 plays on Saturday. 

    More Borges: "When people are complaining about, ‘Well, how come this guy’s not touching the ball more? How come this guy’s not touching the ball?’ Well generally it’s because you’re not getting first downs." Michigan had only 13 first downs on Saturday, three were a result of Buckeye penalties.

    Borges: "You don’t get the turns. You don’t get the calls out. What Devin’s done a good job of is, when it isn’t there, creating something to get us more calls." Michigan was 4 of 10 on third down. Not great, but not terrible either. There were just so few chances.

    Borges: "Get the receivers touching the ball more. Get the tailback touching the ball more." Devin Funchess had zero catches. Drew Dileo had one. Thomas Rawls had 5 carries, Devin Gardner had 7, four of which were sacks. After getting 6 carries for 117 yards in the first half, Denard had 4 carries for 5 yards in the second. Those carries were for 6 yards (over left guard,) -2 yards (over left guard,) a no gain fumble (up the middle,) and a 1 yard gain for his only carry in the fourth quarter (this time, over right guard.) Nothing went outside. They never went back to the play that resulted in a 67 yard TD run.

    Borges: "There’s just no way you can call everything perfect. Can’t do it. So what’s going to happen when you don’t?" The MGoBoard is going to eat you alive.

    On the 60 Minutes broadcast that featured Michigan Football last Sunday, there was a fascinating story about babies. They put two bowls of cereal in front of a baby and a couple puppets. The baby preferred the puppet that liked the same cereal as the baby. The lesson was that we are hard-wired to like those that are similar to us. I would guess that the majority of the MGoBoard is closer in age to Denard, Devin, Jake Ryan, and Jordan Kovacs. It is easier for us to walk in their shoes, than the old guy sitting in the pressbox. And so, Al Borges becomes the villain. I'm not sure that's fair, but he's the one getting paid.

Burst of Impetus
* In the first half, Ohio scored. Michigan answered. Then, Ohio scored again. Michigan answered. Ohio scored, Michigan answered, Ohio scored. Halftime. Ohio scored, and scored again. Wait, WUT? Yeah, I know, the pattern was broken. Michigan went for it on fourth and three from our own 48 yard line. Had we made it there, perhaps we're talking about an amazing victory over the hated ones. We have generally supported Brady Hoke for going for it on fourth down, so we shouldn't be critical just because we were stopped this time. The play call, though, we can criticize.

Malachi Crunch
* The leading tackler was WLB Desmond Morgan with 11. Last week's leading tackler was also the WLB, James Ross III. I guess they are not kidding when they say there is an expectation for the position.
* Will Campbell had one of the craziest defensive stat lines I've ever seen: 0 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles.
* Jake Ryan was back making plays all over the field, 9 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. On Thomas Gordon's sack, Ryan jumped on Gordon's back and tried to sack Gordon and the QB. It's been said of others, but I don't think it applies to anyone better than Jake Ryan, he plays like his hair's on fire.
* We had 7 TFLs for 51 yards, including 4 sacks for 39 yards. The sack yardage masked what was our biggest liability on defense, an inability to stop their run. Hyde ran for 146 yards and Miller was good for 108 on his positive running plays.
* We actually faired better on third down than ohio did, as we held them to 4 of 13. No one is calling for their OC's job, though, because they won the game.

Ermahgerd, Erts (almost) Ervehr
* Denard's day was a microcosm of his career at Michigan. We all remember the 5-0 starts, those runs where he lost a shoe, and the Heisman talk of his Sophomore year. We also remember how that first season stalled. He had an electric run in the first half that gave us a temporary lead, but wasn't able (or allowed?) to finish what he started.
* I think it became clear that Denard wasn't able to throw, which allowed Ohio to bring their DBs up close to the LOS, sealing off the outside. The counter to the outside runs is either throwing - which wasn't an option - or running inside. We found out what happened when we tried to counter with inside runs.

* Devin was 11 of 20 for 171 yards. That was almost good enough to win. However, the two fumbles, four sacks, and one INT made sure that didn't happen. Let's not forget his only other road start was at Minnesota, where Michigan QBs turn into hall-of-famers. All-in-all, it's about what we should have expected from him in his first true road test.

Bunches of Funchess
* It's clear that Devin and Gallon have developed a comfort level. Gallon caught six passes for 67 yards.
* Roy Roundtree caught three for 92 yards, one of which went for 75 yards thanks to a great downfield blocking effort by Dileo.

And Justice for Rawls
* Would Toussaint have made a difference? I don't know, but ohio was playing without John Simon. His backups fared better than ours. We still have depth issues due to the transitions and the Free Press hit job.

Norf and Souf
* Net kickoff and punt return yardage was basically even. Ohio was obviously kicking away from Norfleet, who had one return late for 27 yards.

* At halftime, Urban said, "If that's a late hit, what game are we playing?" Showing that he comes from the same branch of the coaching tree as Narduzzi and Hayes. Mike Jones later demonstrated to Urban what a late hit is.
* Ohio was hit with 9 penalties for 74 yards. I kept waiting for a holding penalty on the guy blocking Roh. It never came. On our last drive, Schofield was hit with a holding penalty that wiped out a 9 yard gain. I don't recall seeing a replay. That put us in an obvious passing situation. Gardner threw incomplete, and then an interception. Ballgame.

* First downs: M 13, O 22
* Net rush yards: M 108, O 207
* Turnovers: M 4, O 2
* Red zone chances: M 1, O 5
* Braxton Miller: 14 of 18 passing

So as much as we'd like to be able to point the finger and blame someone, I think we were fortunate to keep it as close as we did. In the end, it still comes down to "The Team, The Team, The Team," and our team did not execute as well as that other team. I've seen a lot of comments asking why we used all of our good plays against Iowa. Well, buckeyes and hawkeyes have the 'eyes in common, but that's about all they have in common.

Outside the Boxscore
    The one thing that bothers me most about this Blog are the posters who claim that there is some sort of moral equivalence, or that we're no better than them. We are better. We do things the right way, and when we falter, we punish those responsible. We do not bring them back and celebrate their lying, cheating ways. We do not hoist them on our shoulders and parade them around for all to see. That display with Tressel and the 2002 team sickened me. Ohio's athletic director should be fired by their worthless excuse for a president for allowing that to happen. Additional scholarships should be taken away, and the post-season ban should be extended, because it's quite clear, those assholes still don't get it. Sour grapes? Maybe, but I'm still PROUD TO BE, A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE!




November 25th, 2012 at 1:44 AM ^

Not at all.

My quick math says Devin was 4.5 YPA minus the big play to Roundtree, and Denard was 5.5 YPC without his big play. Not sure how to feel about that.

That last holding call killed us. I remember a soft pass interference call also, but they had one, too.

LSA Aught One

November 25th, 2012 at 9:41 AM ^

Well said. An old man that I know who happens to be a buckeye faithful said "it was a good season, if only there was dumbass vaccine, we may have gone to the Rose Bowl." Those are the fans that I feel for in this situation. No matter how much I despise the program, there are some decent fans out there who are hurting because of the dumbass decisions.


November 25th, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

They enjoyed a recruiting advantage due to their policies. It was long term, and systemic. Since success begets success, if they had a dumbass vaccine, they might not be where they are. If a member of the academic community were to tell me he feels slimy, I might buy that, but not from a football fan. That inability to see that the success was dependant upon the lying and cheating makes that fan base no different than the PSU fan that states that Paterno only made one small mistake.


November 25th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

I meant to address the 4th down call by Hoke as well, and I agree 100% with your take.  I agree that it was the right situation, bad play call. 

My issues with Borges really have less to do with his age or my affinity for the players and more with the broken-record type play calling that he (and other OCs before him) seem to embody.  He's an average OC on a team that should be able to get someone better. 

The Meyer quote at halftime made me laugh.  Gardner was a solid 2-3 yards outside when he was hit.  Doesn't mitigate what Jones did, as both were untimely and ill-advised late hits.  But for Meyer to throw a little hissy fit on live TV over a play that nobody thought was a bad call seemed childish.


November 25th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

Not to blow your theory out of the water, but I'm closer in age to Borgess, and I think he has the wrong mindset.  If you listen to his pressors, there's a certain passivity there that is quite bothersome.  He often uses the phrase "it isn't there" or "it wasn't there."  This first struck me when he said it as an explanation as to why there were not more called runs for Denard against Alabama.  Sure, the guy knows football far better than I do, but it almost implies that he's letting the defensive formation dictate his play calling... passively calling plays the defense is forcing you into instead of aggressively calling plays that highlight ur playmakers.  

It's all easier said than done, I know but the point about not going back to the play that got Denard the long run illustrates my point.  That play should be run until it's proven not to work any more, and then run at least once more.  It shouldn't be avoided because the defensive formation has changed and "it's not there."


November 25th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

I did disagree with the call to go for it on fourth down in that situation. If we were at their 35 or so then I would probably agree but 4 and 3 from anywhere on the field is a lot different then 4 and 1 or 4 and inches.

Regardless I agree that if you are going to go for it especially after calling a timeout use a better play.

Dutch Ferbert

November 25th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^

This is a good read. I appreciate the outside the boxscore segment most. We are different than them. Yes, our athletic department, coaches and athletes have broken rules before, but they receive real consequences for their actions and do not receive heroes welcomes (and no, Buckeyes, Moeller did not cheat, but he faced consequences for one horrible night and wasn't honored until 17 years later). Our fans and alumni get it. Winning means nothing if it is not done with honor. Go Blue!


November 25th, 2012 at 5:47 PM ^

Whatever the reason I can't buy him not playing the 4th qtr. I know they called it "a coaches decision." You have only so many chances to be a legend and I'm not taking away from the dozens of moments he has had in the past. But for all the criticism of him and his QB skills he had the chance to not only raise his draft stock but to become a player we put in the same level as a Woodson or Howard. He had the chance to in reality get 200 yds and maybe another score or two that game. OSU was giving up some big plays and Denard was already making them pay. Your final regular game a chance to dominate OSU for 2 years in a row. I only wonder what if he had played in the 4th.


November 25th, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^

Woodson and Howard won the Heisman.

Denard is/was not a Heisman-caliber player, although we all wished he was.  The bottom line is that he couldn't get it done in big games at the QB position, and he turned the ball over too many times.  The kid threw 29 touchdowns and 24 picks over the past two seasons, not to mention the fumbles.


November 25th, 2012 at 8:51 PM ^

I won't disagree with you that Denard was never at the level of the two men you listed, but to dismiss him as not a Heisman-caliber player, in today's college football, is something I will take issue with.  Since Woodson won the Heisman in 1997, only three Michigan players broke the top-6 in voting.  Chris Perry finished 4th in 2003, Mike Hart 5th in 2006, and Denard 6th in 2010, and Denard was only a sophomore.  Looking back, I have a feeling that with a consistent offensive system in place for the next two years, Denard would have put up numbers and performances that would have kept him in the running, and any improvement on defense probably would have swung a couple of those games. 

The Heisman isn't about pro potential, and sometimes it doesn't even seem to be about winning and losing.  It tends to follow the best story, the easiest narrative supporting your vote.  That's why Te'o is in  the running, along with Johnny Manziel, Collin Klein, and Marqise Lee.  Heck, Klein has stats not that dissimilar to Denards from 2010, though Denard did it against better defensive competition and arguably with fewer weapons around him.  But Klein won all but one game, while Denard's team limped to a finish. 

And sure he had some poor games against top competition, but he also accounted for over 300 yards and 5 TDs against OSU and over 400 yards and 5 TDs against ND in 2011, as well as a decent enough showing against MSU this year to get them the win.  People remember ND because it was a horrible performance, but nobody on the team played well that game. 

My point isn't to discuss Denard's place in Michigan lore, but to argue that to dismiss the kid's accomplishments because he didn't live up to unrealistic standards seems disingenuous.  Name me one offensive skill player Denard played with in his 4 years that has/will get drafted in the first 2 rounds of the NFL draft?  Maybe Fitz if he is healthy, and perhaps Funchess when it is all said and done, but certainly not based on his performance this year.  When you say Denard is not a Heisman-quality player, all I see is a team with mediocre talent for most of his tenure and a guy who kept the team competitive every time he stepped onto the field.  Put him on another team in a different situation, and I don't doubt that he'd be in the running every year.


November 26th, 2012 at 10:24 AM ^

I  do think there is blame to go around with the coaching staff for Michigan's failures, and probably moreso with Al Borges than the others.  But talent-wise, outside of Lewan, Gardner, and Robinson, Michigan doesn't really have the kind of players yet on offense to compete against the better defenses.  Funchess will be a great tight end, but right now he's too skinny to block effectively.  Gallon and Dileo are decent receivers, but they don't have the size or speed to be game changers (and Dileo dropped a pass, too--something he rarely does). Roundtree has decent size but average speed.  We don't have a dominant RB, and the rest of the O-line is either mediocre or servicable or playing out of position.