Amateur Overanalysis: 5 critical plays not on Borges

Submitted by Bodogblog on November 25th, 2012 at 1:27 PM

1 in the first half, 4 in the second.  All descriptions are approximate because I only had the reply on BTN and can't rewind (I didn't DVR).  Admittedly some of these are asking for good/great plays.

Play, the first.  Michigan is in field goal range in Ohio's end in the first quarter.  Gardner drops back and is sacked by A. Washington.  The true freshman went right around Taylor Lewan for a sack/fumble.  Result: 3 potential points lost.

Play, the second.  Michigan near mid-field on the first drive of the second half.  This is the The Play of The Game.  4th and 3.  Gardner leaves the field and Denard comes in.  It's described as "Borges ran it straight up the middle into a stacked front!".  I don't think that's true, but even if it is, this play is there.  All blocks are made except one - our best OL Taylor Lewan whifs on a simple downblock on and undersized Sabino, and he makes the tackle.  If he even occupies him, Denard has the first easily, and likely a lot more. Result: field position and momentum lost.

Play, the third.  Gallon deep ball / post.  Either Borges calls a play that occupies the safety, or he's horribly out of position, but Gallon is by him as he continues through the catch.  The cornerback he'd already beaten lunges for a shoestring tackle and makes it.  Pick up your feet or run through those arms/hands and it's six points.  Denard will fumble on the next play.  Result: loss of 6 points. 

Play, the fourth.  Last drive.  Gardner does an outstanding job of avoiding another strong rush, runs for 8/9 yards on first down.  Play is called back for holding.  Result: 1st and 20 instead of 2nd and 1/2 near midfield.

Play, the fifth.  Gardner again with an outstanding scramble, rolls to his left, and throws to a covered Funchess.  Given man coverage on that side of the field, he could have kept and picked up at least 10 yards.  Maybe significantly more.  Result: 2nd and 20 instead of 2nd and 10, potential big play/momentum lost.

This was a close game.  Watch again tonight on BTN if you can stomach it.  Not excusing Borges because I believe he failed in several ways, but there were plays to be made in the second half.



November 25th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

I appreciate the write up, and I can't argue with the points you made, but those mistakes were rather small compared to the numerous ones in the scheme in the second half, giving those kids very little chance of success. Running a well planned, effective offense, then simplifying it drastically and attacking the defenses greatest strengths with our offenses biggest weakness repeatedly for two full quarters is a bit of an elephant in the room. Switching to that scheme at all was infuratingly stupid, especially since the team has proved that plans ineffectiveness repeatedly this year, but doing so after another scheme worked so well, then sticking with it for the rest of the game was just, I don't know, wrong? 


November 25th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

Also stopping the 2 qb looks, or the versatile one qb plays, for obvious offense of Devin comes out=passing Denard comes out=running. Any defense could defend that. And stopping the effective sweeps outside, and running and passing screens, and the read where our team was so dangerous with their speed, elusiveness, and downfield blocking, and Ohio was so weak being one of the worst tackling teams and biggest yards after contact teams in the nation for an offense where we run between the tackles, where we've been ineffective all year and they've been so strong all year, and basically telling them we're doing it before the snap.

snarling wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 3:26 PM ^

The playcalls we ran on 1st and 2nd down were generally productive.  We should keep that in mind.  It was 3rd down that was absolutely disastrous and colors everyone's perspective.  I agree 100% that those were lousy playcalls.   But there were good calls at other times.   The post to Gallon mentioned above was a great call and throw, and nearly went for a 90-yard TD.  My takeaway from this game is that we specifically need to rethink our short-yardage game.  We don't have to completely overhaul everything.



November 25th, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

I went back through the play-by-play as well as my own notes, and the one thing in common that the three unconverted third downs out of the four total is that they were run plays. You're right about the short  yardage game, in my view, and if we're going to to the ground in these situation, the inside runs and attempts to go up the middle are fine, but admittedly I have found myself wondering why they don't go to the hybrid running game that we are able to currently employ a little more in these situations as it suits the current personnel a little better. 


November 25th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

Well put.

Play, the second: I don't understand why M didn't simply punt here.  There was no reason to go for it at that stage in the game on our side of the 50.  I think this was the single biggest mistake of the game. 


November 25th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

A T.O.

I think Devin and others may have talked him into it. Devin can be seen signaling to bench to go. Of course if he knew he wouldn't be in, he may have thought twice. If Hoke didn't have the conviction right away, you're spot on.

It appears his first instinct to punt was true


November 25th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

It's an easily debatable decision, but I wouldn't say it's inexcusable by any means.  Brian, the Mathlete, and others have been advocates of going for it on fourth down.  I would love to see what the math says in this situation.  We had been moving the ball pretty well on that particular drive as well.

People talk about the impact of not making it and all the downsides, but they don't focus enough on the upside.  Say we make it and really crush the spirit of the Buckeye defense, get momentum, etc.  There is such thing as generating positive momentum, not simply losing momentum.  There was a great Smart Football article about this.

snarling wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 2:53 PM ^

Wasn't there a consensus on this board that "momentum" is overrated, and a bad tool for guiding your playcalling?

I disagreed with the specific 4th-down call, but I think people are making too much of it as far as how it affected the game.  Ohio got only three points out of it.  Yes, it turned out that we didn't score again, but I don't think anyone would have predicted that at the time (we'd scored 21 in about 35 minutes).



November 25th, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

At that time in the ballgame.  Our offense was moving the ball and was on pace to score 40 and our defense was on pace to give up about 40.  I like the aggressiveness of going for it despite those stats.  I just didnt like the playing towards their strengths and against our weaknesses especially when they have an 8 man box.


I would have liked to have one last chance when we had them to third and 7 at midfield on their last drive of the game. That would be one of my keyplays as well as the use of our second timeout on first and ten.


November 25th, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

Was, why go for it? It was the first possession of the 2nd half, punt the ball, and try to flip the field. I especially thought they hold have left devin in for the conversion once they decided to go for it, he is much more versatile in that situation given that he can run or throw. The playcall was bad regardless of whether someone missed a block, we did not run a play that utilized one of our strengths against their weakness. I'm okay with going for it, I like the guts, I just don't think hoke was ever certain that he really wanted to go for it, he was hesitant, and then to call that play just made zero sense.


November 25th, 2012 at 10:50 PM ^

Wasn't that the first possession of the second half?  UM's defense gave up 20 points and something like 230 yds in the first half.  The defense did not play well in the first half and since OSU hadn't had the ball in the second half no one knew whether the second half was going to be another shoot out or not.


November 25th, 2012 at 2:12 PM ^

Going for it was the kind of gutsy call that I love about Hoke. Ferentz, Lloyd, DeBord, et al would have punted.   A simple rollout with the option of hiting a 3 yard pass or running for it was all that was needed... and the PA would actually have worked in that situation!  The call was cool, but running Denard into a stacked middle was Einstein's definition of insanity.


November 25th, 2012 at 6:03 PM ^

Although pinning them deep would have been great, hagerup would have been punting from around our 40 and given our generally bad punt coverage I don't think we could have "pinned them deep." It would have taken a 55 yard punt with great coverage to pin them anywhere near their goal line and the most likely result would have been a catch and return to the 20. Granted that would not have been nearly as good field position and may have been the smarter move, but I think you overestimate the possibility of pinnin them deep.


November 25th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

Lots of 10 man football out there.  I noticed it as well.  Borges doesn't call interceptions / fumbles / blown assignments.  Although the counterargument goes, he needs to call runs that his players can execute, even if that only amounts to like 1 running play haha.


November 25th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

Excellent post OP.  

However, I disagree on the 4th down play.  I watched it over and over (sickeningly) on the game highlights at MGoVideo and Denard had already been engaged by a Buckeye defender.  Lewan does whiff his block completely, you are right, but it's unlikely that Denard would have gotten 3 more yards while being slowed by a defender allowing Buckeye help to get to him.

While this wasn't a straight up the middle play, it also wasn't attacking the edge which we did earlier extremely effectively.  

I'm still not sure why we don't just have Gardner rollout with a run-pass option.  That seems like our best play threatening the defense in multiple spots.


November 25th, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

I'll amend that a bit.  The defender you're talking about did engage, but I think Denard could have slid inside him if Lewan had taken care of his man (Shazier, not Sabino). 

However, that defender (Sabino) actually had 2 blockers whiff on him.  Hopkins and a pulling Omameh both somehow miss him. 

So in my mind the point stands - there are ample blockers to pick up that first down. 


November 25th, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

It seemed like there were several blown blocks on those short yardage plays.  Is our offensive line coach a problem?

In either case, in my opinion it's still on Borges for failing to recognize those things that our team does well and those things we do not do well.



November 25th, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

Being in the stands there was a play in 4th quarter where devin scrambled and picked up a few yards but my biggest problem was tree was in the slot vs sabino and beat him on a vertical route bad with no saftey help. It was probably the biggest miss of the entire game from the passing aspect.

Blue Blue Blue

November 25th, 2012 at 2:15 PM ^

some people keep thinking "hire experience", but lets face it, Borges has bounced around to lots of schools, never staying reall long anywhere   In the real world, we knoiw what that means.

He gave up on his own offense before the Alabama game even started.  Remember how Denard had about 3 carries in the first half?   Borges just assumed they would take away the run and he let Bama pin Denard in the pocket.  (Manziel and Texas AM stuck with their own game).  

And for all the bad calls yesterday, was any call all year worse than the Vincent Smith option pass from the ND 2 yard line?

We could spend all day itemizing the inferior job of Mr. Borges this season.  Lets hope we have someone new next year.



November 25th, 2012 at 5:13 PM ^

Surely you recognize the difference between moving up in positions (e.g., from ND to Florida to a very good NFL team) and bouncing around multiple locations, being fired, not coaching for a year, and ending up in the Moutain West after your last position was in the SEC, right?  Greg Robinson also held a lot of positions, and has more success on his resume than Al Borges.  There is a reason why Greg Robinson was not in demand when RR hired him.  There is a reason why Al Borges was not in demand when Hoke hired him. 


November 25th, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

One key play that hasn't been discussed yet and pissed me off at the time was not kicking into the end zone after Denard's long TD run. Instead we squib kick it and OSU gets the ball at like the 40 with plenty of time left. We did pretty well to hold them to a 52 yd FG but 15 more yards is pretty significant in that situation.


November 25th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

Should we just ignore all of the critical failed plays that can absolutely be pinned on Borges?  In the last paragraph you say "not excusing Borges" so I know you aren't trying to ignore the elephant in the room.  It's just frustrating because it was such a winnable game and Mattison and Co. held in the second half.  Honestly, I think it's delusional to support Borges' choices in the second half.  

The Barwis Effect

November 25th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

I would add the decision to squib kick it at the end of the first half to your list.  That is actually the point where the momentum began to turn for the worse.

EDIT: I just read that Goblue89 had the same suggestion a couple posts above.

snarling wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

#4 is the really frustrating one for me.  I hope that was a legit hold on Schofield because that really hurt right when it looked like we were starting to put a drive together.  As for #5, Gardner did do a great job to elude the rush and get the pass off, but yeah, the running lane was there.  He's got to remember on 1st down that he doesn't have to get it all on one play.  Of course, it's harder to remember when you've barely eluded a sack just before.  


November 25th, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

of the negative Nancies who have been clinging here for the last 24 hours, but. . . cooler heads than theirs were going to prevail anyway. If you fired every football coach whose head the "fans" call for after every loss, salaries would be more inflated than they already are.

After five, six years of coming here religiously, yesterday took some of the shine off in a way even the RR controversy hadn't. Somehow, even despite differences of opinion on that one, I felt like we all went through it TOGETHER. Yesterday we got. . . fart jokes. This is Michigan, goddamn*t. Act like a Spartoon somewhere else. 


November 25th, 2012 at 3:47 PM ^

On 2 you can add that Denard has admitted he made the wrong read and should have taken it outside. That play had lots of problems.

3 kills me because he should have been gone and looking at the final score, a TD instead of a fumble (obviously) makes a big difference.


November 25th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

I watched #5 on replay several times.  Gardner had running room, but that play had broken open.  Funchess had beaten Boren deep, the safety was only brought back into the play a bit by the throw.  It looked like Gardner wanted Funchess to switch to his right shoulder toward the middle of the field.  By the time the ball was in the air, it was too late and Funchess turned the wrong way (inside instead of outside). It wasn't a perfect throw, but it looked like the opportunity and mismatch we wanted was there.  On tv, you could see Funchess gesture that he had made the mistake.


November 25th, 2012 at 5:36 PM ^

does anyone with any reasonable football knowledge know the adjustments Ohio's defense made in the second half, or was it simply poor/predictable playcalling on our part???


November 25th, 2012 at 6:17 PM ^

I was talking 3 way on the phone with some friends, all watching the game, seeing play five unfold and hollering NO!  When he released it I was sure someone was open but I saw how much room that he had hoped that he would take the time to take a sure first down.  I think we might have thrown on all three downs that drive...