Borges flexibility gets him less rope?

Submitted by Blazefire on November 9th, 2011 at 11:14 PM

During the 2008 season, when things were horrible like WHOA on offense, some people asserted that Rodriguez should be running a Carr-style under-center set until he recruited the players he needed to run his Spread & Shred. This was shot down because, as it was put over and over, "He'd have no idea how to run it", and it would make it difficult to recruit for the offense he wanted, "We'll be running the offense you like... in two years." People accepted this and were unhappy whenever the O faltered, which was often, but accepted it as necessary to bring the team into the future. It's not really the offensive stumbles which got everyone upset anyway. It was the worsening defense and uncompetitive losses. When we won, it was good, but when we lost, we REALLY lost.

When Borges was hired, people had hope because he had run spread style offenses before. He might be able to make what he's got work better than Rodriguez did. And you know what, he is. Talent deficit or no, Borges isn't trying to make Stephen Threet run. But it doesn't always work. Sometimes, in spending a while trying to integrate what he wants to do, Borges gets away from doing what the offense is best at. People get upset. "Run out of the shotgun full time! More Zone Read! MOAR BUBBLE SCREENS!"

My question is, is it merely the fact that Borges has done these things before that's earned him less understanding for WHY he is not doing these things? Has his more varied experience shortened his rope? I think it has, and I don't think that's fair.

Borges has a plan for the Michigan offense. A place he wants to get it to. Just because he has experience with the Spread doesn't mean he should be expected to run it while Denard is here. It would make recruiting worse, and it would be unfair to the fans and the players when we suddenly had to go through an offensive transition in year three rather than year one. Give Borges the same rope as you gave Rodriguez on offense in the first couple of years. When he runs plays that don't really seem to fit the offense, don't say "Why not the other play?" Not the other play because that's not where he's taking Michigan, and it would hurt us later if he did.

He has an obligation to install the BEST package for him andthe players he will recruit right away, rather tahn preserve a momentary flash in the pan. At least our losses have been competetive.



November 9th, 2011 at 11:21 PM ^

It still shows up as a loss. The biggest difference between Rich Rod and Borges is that Borges now has Denard. He's wasting away Denard's talents and trying to make him into something he's not. Who did Rich Rod have? Threet? Sheridan? I don't think any offense would have made a difference. Rich Rod was trying to build something out of nothing and Borges is tearing down something into nothing.

Spontaneous Co…

November 10th, 2011 at 8:23 AM ^

I like stats and all but you can't say our offense was awesome last year against good defenses. I continue to be befuddled at the Borges critics who say he has ruined an offense that was not good against good teams last year. The plays are different but the issues seem to be not so different. Bad throws.

Spontaneous Co…

November 10th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

I would also like to see a few different calls to help Denard out, but my point was geared more toward the fact that a predictable spread like we ran last year was bottled up to some extent by the good teams we played. I would like to give some credit to those defenses rather than assume that it's Borges's fault that we don't roll MSU like we did Bowling Green. No matter what plays we call, good defenses will provide a stiffer test and require better execution. I believe much of the issues are with execution. This is no indictment of anybody in particular, only a statement that play calling can only mask weaknesses to some extent. Many on this board seem to suggest that since statistics show more productivity per play with the zone read that means we would automatically win more games with this team running more zone read. That is a sound hypothesis, I just don't believe it would test out to be true against defenses who are prepared for it. The thought that Denard can not beat good teams with his legs alone is not that profound. Good defenses have always exploited teams with a single strength. I don't agree with every play call but I commend Borges on his continued search for some measure of balance between under center and shotgun, zone blocking and man blocking, short routes and long routes, etc. I believe that at some point, perhaps next year, our execution in all of those cases will improve enough that we are able to attack defenses in multiple ways.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:52 AM ^

Our offense this year has been bad against average/bad teams as well.  WMU and EMU were not great games offensively.  We probably lose to WMU without the weather or defensive scores.  We looked bad in long stretches against other bad defenses as well.  This is not just an issue against good teams.  


November 10th, 2011 at 11:28 AM ^

Here's a list of how many points Michigan has scored in all of its games so far

34*- 35-31-28-58-42-14-36-16

What part of that is just plain "bad"? Sure, the two scores in the teens stick out...but one was in a trash tornado, and both were on the road. This isn't a bad offense...this isn't a stellar one either, for sure...but it is far from bad. Or would you like me to go over teh 2008 numbers with you, just to prove that this isn't a bad offfense? Please don't make me do that.

* - In 3 quarters of play

Alvin Wistert

November 10th, 2011 at 12:17 PM ^

But the last teamsto win the National Championship without running some version of the spread and I believe that team was Alabama.  So some aspects of the spread cannot all be bad, 4 out 5 of the last championships.  It would appear that some aspects of a spread style offense could be utilized especially with Denard under center.  Nothing against Borges he may just not have the personnel to run his preferred offensive game plan.


November 10th, 2011 at 8:39 AM ^

give me a break we moved the ball on every single team we played.. it wasn't the offense that didn't work last year, it was the 5 turnovers every game that our offense gave up that lost us the games...


How many times did we get into OSU territory last year just to turn the ball over?  A LOT, several inside their 40 yard line..   Not to mention all the other teams we turned it over on average about 3 times a game, and forced none


November 10th, 2011 at 8:47 AM ^

The offense was doing well enough to win last year IMO,  and being forced to catch up all the time since the D was so bad - that affected the O as well.  Not to mention the failures at field goal kicking. 

Having said that I find it a bit amusing that people are complaining that Borges "isn't using Denard right."

Are we wanting the spread option back already?   So many people over the last 3 years complained that the spread wouldn't work in the big ten, now people are wanting to see more of the spread incorporated... they aren't saying that outright but that's what they are really saying when they say "denard isn't being used right."



November 10th, 2011 at 10:44 AM ^

"The spread doesn't work in the Big Ten" is an idiotic comment.  It doesn't work great when you have an injured quarterback who is already inaccurate to begin with or a subpar offensive line, both of which we had last year.  But it doesn't work in the Big Ten against good defenses?  This is arrant nonsense.

El Jeffe

November 10th, 2011 at 8:48 AM ^

If the measure of "good" is whether an offense with mostly sophomores and juniors on it, led by a first-year starting quarterback, scores at will against the toughest defenses in the B1G, then you're right. It wasn't that good.

But then by your measure, M's offense is fucking atrocious this year. 14 points against State? Jesus, we scored 17 against State last year. 16 against Iowa? My god, we scored 28 last year. And that was with one defense tied behind our back, whereas this year the offense doesn't have that excuse.

blue in dc

November 10th, 2011 at 9:09 AM ^

Wasn't MSU at home, without a complete windstorm. Think just maybe this offense would have done better in similar conditions?
<br>What about the 14 points against Mississippi State - that was a beautiful offense.
<br>Furtherermore, last time I checked, football was a team sport and the head coach was responsible for everything. Last year, defense - attrocious, special teams - not so good, offense - great at getting yards - less so at getting points.
<br>This year, defense - amazingly improved, offense - some regression, but atrocious, I don't think so. Special teams - still need work, but better.
<br>After watching Mississippi State, I am not convinced we were going to see the offense make huge strides in the scoring department - after watching three years of defensive futility, I have no evidence to believe that Rich Rod was going tonfix the defense (why didn't he fire Gerg after 2010)?
<br>Yes, I can be frustrated that theboffense isn't as good as hoped, but all in all, I see a team that has improved enough in enough areas that in the only numbers that really count, I don't feel confident that RR would have done any better. Would he have had the defense to beat Notre Dame - doubt it. Heck, I'm not sure he would have had the defense to beat Western. It's asy to say that if only RR had coached the offense against MSUband Iowa we'd be 9-0, but sommany other things would have been different (and I think worse) that it becomes a ridiculous assumption

El Jeffe

November 10th, 2011 at 9:35 AM ^

My point was not to say this year's offense is atrocious. It was to mock the post I responded to. And further, my point was to make the very point you made--football is a team sport. A good offense is made better by a good defense, and vice versa. That's why M's 2010 offense, despite the insane ravings of various posters, was #2 in FEI, which accounts for how shitty your defense is.

This year, with a better defense, M's offense is ranked #17 in FEI (through the Iowa game, with three tough defenses left).

So let's do this one more time, with feeling:



November 10th, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

That's why M's 2010 offense, despite the insane ravings of various posters, was #2 in FEI, which accounts for how shitty your defense is.

In 2010, Michigan was #2 in Offensive FEI which in no way accounts for the defense. In Total FEI, which includes the defense, Michigan was #55.

Right now Michigan is putting up 445 YPG with fewer possessions per game than last season. Maybe FEI doesn't like them as much, relative to other teams, but they are hardly struggling. In terms of scoring, 2011 is right there with 2010--again with fewer possessions per game.


November 10th, 2011 at 10:47 AM ^

Considering we don't play 2 of the best teams in the B10 this year, the 3 teams we played last year that were 11-1 already have at least 2 losses already this year, the overall shittyness of the B10 this year, and the fact we still have to face 2 of the toughest defenses in the league, it might be wise not to say our offense is that good. People thought our offense was pretty good last year until the Wisconsin game, then all of a sudden it apparently sucked because it couldn't produce against 3 of the best 4 teams we played all year.

El Jeffe

November 10th, 2011 at 2:04 PM ^

Wat? FEI is a drive-by-drive analysis that takes into account strength of opposition. If your offense only gets 8 drives because your defense can't get the ball back for you, you can have a great game FEI-wise and a shitty game score-wise (see: Wisconsin).

Similarly if your defense holds another team to 3 and out on every drive, but your offense throws 9 pick sixes, you suck on the scoreboard but your defense is awesome.

That's what I meant by it taking into account your defense.

coastal blue

November 10th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

that people cannot understand that last year's offense was run by a first year starter at quarterback, had no special teams or defense backing it up and judging by all logical standards of progression it would probably have been better this year*

Not even worth arguing this idiocy anymore.

Carry on.

Monocle Smile

November 9th, 2011 at 11:23 PM ^

Threet/Sheridan/2008 offensive line would have all been godawful REGARDLESS of the system.

Denard and co. have proven that they can be better than fact, pretty darn a specific system.

Also, it's head-bashingly frustrating that a man with Borges' experience is so inexplicably hard-headed about a somewhat universal and decently effective play like the bubble screen.


November 10th, 2011 at 1:47 AM ^

A freshman QB (and as a transfer Threet was basically like a true freshman in terms of experience at Michigan) behind a makeshift o-line is a recipe for disaster in any system. 

It also isn't like Threet was out there running the triple option every play.  He got loads of opportunities to drop back, survey multiple wide receivers in their pass patterns, and throw the ball down the field.  He stunk at it.  Just like any young QB in the same situation would have, and not because some label placed on the offense made it impossible for a tall, not too fast white guy to complete passes.

NOLA Wolverine

November 9th, 2011 at 11:31 PM ^

"When the square peg doesn't fit into the triangular hole, you commission the sledgehammer."

You bring up the idea that we were okay with Rich Rod stinking it up in the first year due to possible future gains. But after that never came to fruition, why should we go along the same path again? 


November 9th, 2011 at 11:28 PM ^

if he'd been more flexible. He could've kept alot of talent if he'd been more flexible. He built things from the ground up because in some areas he needed to, but in many areas he blew everything up real good and threw kids and coaches away and started over too. 


November 9th, 2011 at 11:44 PM ^

sat down with him and talked about his place on the team. He may have stayed if RR tried to keep him or was as flexible with his system as Borges is with his. Malletts mom said that he may have stayed on anyways if RR had kept QB coach Loeffler.

There are two sides to the story, one of them involves RR being completely inflexible and throwing NFL talent away.

Here's a link to a Boston Globe article about Mallett highlighting the process in the series they're running about him called "The Making of Mallett."


Blue in Yarmouth

November 10th, 2011 at 7:50 AM ^

Three and out is written by a third party who has done credible work before and gives no reason to question what was written. What you are linking is based on Ryan Mallet and his families accounts....who do you think is more credible here? 

Mitch Cumstein

November 10th, 2011 at 8:11 AM ^

Actually I'm pretty sure a lot of people have questioned the credibility of things in 3&O.  And as credible as Bacon is, just b/c Mallet's family said something different doesn't necessarily mean it is incorrect.  Remember, many things Bacon put in 3&O probably came straight from RR's mouth, especially personal accounts of interactions like this.  I don't think you can just discount this article b/c it doesnt conform to exactly what you thought the truth was. 

blue in dc

November 10th, 2011 at 8:50 AM ^

This is not at all a slam on Bacon. I think it is a very good book and would totally recomend i. However, Bacon spent most of three years surrounded by one side of the story and many people on the other side of the story generally didn't talk to him.
<br>Can people honestly rad that book and not find some big missing pieces? How exactly did things go from Loyd calling RR about the job to him not supporting him. Might that little missing piece help a bit?


November 10th, 2011 at 10:15 AM ^

Here's my advice on the book: Don't believe all of it. A lot of it is the opinion of people saying what they thought happened, but that doesn't mean it did. Michigan did not offer Pat Fitzgerald. Even Pat Fitzgerald said he wasn't offered and it never went that far.

As for the curious change in view of Lloyd Carr toward Rich Rodriguez, it's pretty simple: The more Carr got to know Rodriguez, the less he liked him. And that falls on Rodriguez. He showed little respect for what Michigan had been and is, and came in with a very arrogant approach. You know, he was the offensive coordinator under Tommy Bowden at Tulane, when Tulane went 12-0. Tulane hardly ever has a winning season, much less go undefeated. Bowden left for Clemson and Tulane took a look at Rodriguez and passed. Why? Complaints about his arrogance and how he treated people. You have to consider the possibility that people thought he might be a great hire for Michigan, then got to know him better and had some concerns.

Carr was never going to allow Miles to be hired, but neither was Brandon. And it all had to do with Miles off-the-field activities when he was in Ann Arbor, and their view of him is justified. He was married when he was at Michigan, but not to the woman he is married to now. His current wife was a asst coach on a women's team at Michigan. Not hard to figure out what Les Morals, as they called him, was up to.

Rosenberg is an idiot and I lost all respect for the Freep because they never ran corrections on the many errors in their lame investigation. But trust me, the people who developed negative views of him, that didn't happen for no reason. He has a massive ego -- it is his fatal flaw.


November 10th, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

Really? Basically a redneck? Your argument is weak enough that you have to resort to namecalling based on the location of his birth? Stay classy, new posters, stay classy.

Edit: Original quote, since apparently it occured to the poster that his post was low-brow.

The more Carr got to know Rodriguez, the less he liked him. And that falls on Rodriguez. He showed little respect for what Michigan had been and is, and came in with a very arrogant approach. He also is more or less a redneck who lacks polish, has a foul mouth, and is not all that beloved by the people who know him.


November 10th, 2011 at 9:14 AM ^

Fairly certain the whole Carr advised Mallet thing has been out there since Mallet transferred, its not like Bacon reinvented the wheel on that one. 

This is probably want happend;

Carr said maybe you should go as he was fed up with him and his antics

RR said well if you want to go theres the door and didnt try that hard to keep him as he only wanted to coach kids who wanted to be at Michigan. 


This is not a controversy. 


November 10th, 2011 at 9:54 AM ^

and is worth noting- Bacon's account is through RR's eyes. The statements in the Mallet article referenced in this thread would not have made their way into Bacon's book because hw only heard from RR. If we find out he'd interviewed Mallet, that changes things. But the feelings presented in that article do tell a different side of the story. That's worth some controversy. Bacon's is an enlightening, however one-sided account. Mallet didn't have to take Carr's advice, and the story presented in the article indicates he was open to hearing from RR, that it wasn't a done deal. Without hearing more from him, we'll never know.


November 10th, 2011 at 8:10 AM ^

"Jim Mallett also said Rodriguez never asked to meet with Ryan Mallett, a 6-foot-7 pocket passer who clearly didn’t fit his spread option offense.

“Ryan’s the one who called (Rich Rod),” Jim Mallett told the Herald. “He said, “Can I talk about the offense?’ And then he told me, ‘Daddy, (Rodriguez) never looked me in the eye.’ He never visited with the family, he didn’t talk to us."

If this is true, then Rodriguez bears some of the responsibility for not having a viable option at QB in 2008. I think that's all he's saying.


November 10th, 2011 at 7:21 AM ^

Even if he kept Mallet, he would've had 2 returning starters on offense instead of 1.  While Mallet is a big time athlete, we saw in 2007 how raw is talent was even with a tremendous support cast.

People forget that regardless of any attrition that could be put on RR (which, I doubt he had control over mostly), the 2008 team he inherited still lost the leading passer in school history (Henne), the leading rusher in school history (Hart), and the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft (Long) to graduation.  That will make a dent regardless.


November 10th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

Not to mention that in 2008, Ryan Mallett had a 45% completion percentage and nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns. I'm not suggesting he would be as bad as Threet/Sheridan, but 2008 true sophomore Ryan Mallett is not the same as drafted after his redshirt junior year Ryan Mallett. Especially considering if he comes back, and he'll, I'll even throw Bowen and Arrington in there too, we still return only a QB, a WR, and 2 lineman, both of whom are sophomores. That still doesn't equal a good offense