Borges Ball

Submitted by blueheron on February 4th, 2011 at 9:56 AM

"To a degree … we're blowing a lot of it up ..."

In today's DetNews, the new coaches discuss their vision for the offense:…

Reading between the lines (which I'd invite everyone to do), I think Vincent Smith may have a reason to be nervous:

"It's a different style of run game," Jackson said. "You have to have a back who can go down hill and do it successfully quite a bit. We have a couple guys built for this and a couple guys we'll have to wait and see."

Speaking as a fan of the spread 'n shred, I'm intrigued by what Borges and company might be able to do with the returning players.  His remarks about Denard make sense to me. (Aside: I wish they'd go easy on the whole "toughness" / "physical" theme.  I'm tired of it already.  Do they think the O-line played soft last year?  Does anyone else think that?)


Mitch Cumstein

February 4th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

I agree its being over emphasized and starting to get old.  However, one thing I can maybe point to is the turnovers, specifically fumbles.  If this whole "toughness" and "physicality" focus results in coughing up the ball less, I can't say I have a problem with it.


February 4th, 2011 at 11:27 AM ^

It's all about winning hearts and minds, hyperbole is a good thing if it builds a positive consensus. Something we haven't had in a few years around here.

I'm all for the talk regardless of the reality of the situation - everyone on this board knows that the o-line played a pretty physical game last year, but the majority of Michigan fans don't believe that to be true.

Losing the hearts and minds battle is the reason RR was never able to gain solid footing around here, let's learn from that Hoke and DB clearly have.

Marley Nowell

February 4th, 2011 at 10:05 AM ^

Our interior O-line was mostly excellent last year, and the tackles will keep improving.   Toughness was not their problems, it was turnover margin and putrid special teams.


February 4th, 2011 at 10:08 AM ^

I don't think the offensive line was soft but on the few occasions per game when they lined up under center and tried to run out of the I-formation, they were very ineffective.


February 4th, 2011 at 10:09 AM ^

Has a QB ever run for 1000 yards out of the WCO? 

A big part of me thinks that this whole Denard Robinson as athlete QB in a pro set experiment will end fairly quickly. Robinson already had a tendency to choose pass over run in the spread, coached to run a WCO you would expect this tendency to be even stronger. He'll be a passer who simply runs out of trouble or he'll not be the starter by the end of the year in my mind.

Also toughness is simply code for lining up and outmuscling the defensive front rather than trying to maneuver with mobile linemen. Something I don't think we've been very good at under RR and who knows how the linemen we have can adjust to that.







February 4th, 2011 at 10:27 AM ^

worked against MAC, FCS, ND and Big East opponents. It didn't against the big boys. Which is precisely why the second half of the last two season were so damned frustrating, and may have a lot to do with why our running-back-running-game has not been so effective (and I guess for that matter our QB-running-game in the second half of the season).


February 4th, 2011 at 10:33 AM ^

Has there been another quarterback like Denard that has run the WCO? I honestly don't really know, but there are very few QBs who even have DR's skill set.
<br>In the new O, they may just tell him to take off quicker if something opens up instead of waiting to throw. Without as much designed runs, you got to get the defense to respect his legs somehow.


February 4th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

Denard is going to get yards because he is a tremendous athlete.  I am actually very excited to see what he can do when he is running out of broken plays rather than mostly running designed plays.

If Borges can get Denard to fix some issues with his mechanics, get his check downs set, and get a good mental clock in Denard's head, this offense has the potential to be unstoppable.  Every play that we can keep the opponents D committed to pass coverage will look like punts to a mid-90s Desmond Howard.

Denard should repeat "1....2....3....CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!!!!" in his sleep by next season.


February 4th, 2011 at 11:42 AM ^

"Robinson already had a tendency to choose pass over run in the spread"

I agree wholeheartedly with this observation. This is one of the areas I saw that was really lacking in Denard's game/decision making. When running a roll-out/waggle, the QB should attack the line of scrimmage and force the defender to make a decision to come up and defend the run or sit back in coverage. Denard had a tendency to stretch that play out by running parallel to the line of scrimmage and allow the defender to stay in coverage as the backside pursuit was able to compress the field. Denard was reluctant to run in those situations to the point where he tried to force bad passes into covered receivers. The big runs early in the game sets up the passes later on.

However they adjust for the WCO, it will be key to either get Denard back away from the line of scrimmage (he seems to get a lot of passes swatted back) or move the pocket. I believe that traditionally the WCO is primarily 3 and 5 step drops and Denards length may be an issue.


February 4th, 2011 at 10:10 AM ^

well, i hope to the lord that this reinstilling of toughness doesnt translate to the old version of big, slow, plodding, but strong.

you need not go further than Barwis to know that these kids can be tough. RR's problem while he was coach is that the team needed to be bigger but maintain speed and athleticism. he was improving that as time went on.

i hope the new Michigan isnt the opposite. yes i want to be bigger in the trenches, but not at the expense of speed.

before anything, give me versatility. id rather have players that can run over you and run around you if need be, rather than a guy that can only do one thing well.


February 4th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

/s ?

I think you need to separate the issues.  He didn't make the argument that the RichRod years were overall better than Lloyd's.  His focus was on the Andy Moeller years.

That famous picture was taken in '07, I believe (Lloyd's last year).  I can't find it at the moment, but it has been featured here a couple of times and I'm sure the OSU fans have had even more fun with it.

Do you think we went to those Rose Bowls near the end of Lloyd's years because of outstanding O-line play?

Double Nickel BG

February 4th, 2011 at 12:44 PM ^



and we saw this alot towards the end of the Carr era. We had a all time great in Long, and the others were decent players, but when we faced a fast attacking defense like Ohio State or USC, we couldn't handle it. That coupled with the unimaginative playcalling makes me not want to return to the era of the slow plodders.


February 4th, 2011 at 12:50 PM ^

I don't think we went to those  Rose Bowl's solely on line play, but I don't think there was concerns in that area from that era. I guess my point is If that wasn't good enough then what's the alternative?  A lot of those RB's from those times are at the top of the statistical leaders in Michigan history in large part due to the O-line.  Every defense knew what our game plan  was.  I think that needs to be taken into consideration.  The running game was predictable most times, yet we still executed most times because of talent up front.


February 4th, 2011 at 11:46 AM ^

Here's my issue with the old version: When Andy Moeller was in charge, it was one of the team's mediocre units.  David Baas and Jake Long were the only future NFLers over a long period of time.  Guys like Alex Mitchell were closer to the norm.  I think this got ignored because of Michigan's "tradition" at the position.  People just assumed that the line couldn't be a problem.

To put it another way, poorly informed fans talk about Long like he was the whole offensive line during that era.  Really, he was the sole shining star.  Similar errors are made when looking at the secondary during the back part of Lloyd's tenure.  Complaints tend to be met with "Leon Hall would like a word with you!"  No one mentions Johnny Sears et al.  Watch the Rose Bowl with USC and you'll see what I mean.


February 4th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

more interested to hear knowledgeable people discuss how HE fits. If someone tells me he's really not cracked up for manball either, then I think I do want to slit my wrists. 


February 4th, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

I absolutely do, I look at what they did against lesser competition, and they were rock solid.  Against the tougher competition, we lacked the toughness to run effectively.  Games are won in the trenches.  Without Denard last year our run game looked like a train wreck, and with Denard it was only because he could make ALOT of people miss.  I don't think our OL's lack toughness, it is all about the scheme.  In the spread and shred, they are taught zone blocking, which means less firing off the ball and knocking the snot out of someone.  Then in the downhill run game (IE I-formation, wishbone, option) you have to fire off and hit someone.  I don't think the lack of toughness is due to the personnel at all, I think they will grasp this concept of blocking much easier than most think, it was all about the scheme played.


February 4th, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

Zone blocking has more to do with pre-snap thought about who you'll be blocking, then you block that man according to his positioning.  The idea is that you don't have to move someone out of a pre-established hole, you just need to move him and the hole will be created naturally.  You allow defensive players to take them out of position.  Running backs with great vision and good change of direction thrive in this structure.  Cut back lanes open up galore when it's done well.  It's the reason why you'd have that "oh shit, Denard's gone!" moment as he was cutting at the LOS.  It kills defenses that overpursue. The Denver Broncos ran zone schemes for years as they used interchangeable RBs.  At that level, they could all see and cut, so it worked for all of them.  You need RBs that run like Denard, downhill fast with decisive cuts. 

However, one issue with zone blocking is that being outnumbered in the box can be fatal as we saw in the Big Ten season when teams played one-on-one on the edges -- zone blocking works best if you're balanced offensively.  If we can pass effective and get good, athletic zone blockers to also be maulers, the running game will be one hell of a lot of fun to watch. 


February 7th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

With it put that way I think you may have just changed my mind about the zone blocking scheme.  I still think we need the hard nosed OL's that fire off the ball and knock the snot out of people as well.  


Thanks for the explanation of the zone block, I was never taught it in all my years of playing, so obviously was not clear on the meaning, or mentality.


February 4th, 2011 at 10:41 AM ^

considering all the bluster we heard during the RR era about much tougher Barwis & Co were going to make us.

Both RR's staff and Hoke's staff have tried to paint the previous regime as "soft."

I think all the emphasis on "toughness"—on the part of both staffs—is misplaced to a great extent; the far more important question is how good are the players at what they're supposed to do, and that comes down to innate talent, experience, and coaching ability. At the least, we were short in the latter two categories during last season, especially on defense.

Considering that the previous defensive coordinator brought stuffed animals to the sideline, perhaps the question of toughness applied more to the coaching staff than the players.


February 4th, 2011 at 11:25 AM ^

I can't honestly say I like what I'm hearing out of Borges.  Having to retool the offense again is probably going to set us back a game or two.  As with everything I'll reserve actual judgment until I see it in action, but the more he uses words like "blow it up," the more I hear "hope you don't mind 6-6 til we get this straightened out."


February 4th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

"I wish they'd go easy on the whole "toughness" / "physical" theme.  I'm tired of it already.  Do they think the O-line played soft last year?  Does anyone else think that?"


I don't think coaching memes are designed for people like us, who consume every little bit of information about Michigan football. They are likely geared more towards the average fan who sees 1/4 of the information they put out. This person likely has the preconceived notion that we've been "soft" and "weak" for the past couple of years, and hearing about toughness really makes them feel warm and tingly.