Borges Gripes

Submitted by Ziff72 on October 20th, 2012 at 11:12 PM

I'm relieved we won but this game just angered the hell out of me.   Bitching about the OC is so cliche, but these seem so obvious.   Can anyone disagree with the following?


1.  2 years ago Roundtree made a living off a play born off the sheer terror of our qb's legs.   MSU had all 11 guys in the screen on several occasions.   Why can't we try a play that had guys open for 15 yards?   One time just try it please.   I. Lewis was begging to get burned today.  They were swarming Denard.  I didn't see any reverses, or counter action to take advantage of that fact.  

2. We have a throwback screen that works like a charm.   We ran it today for an easy 20 yards.   Are we saying they never gave us a similar defensive look that we couldn't try it again?   When a play is that open you have to try it again or put a wrinkle or variation and burn their adjustment,  to never come back to it when we are struggling is mind boggling.  Same for the screen play that the MSU guy made a great play on.   We had 3 blockers and a ton of space run it again.

3.  Get Funchess involved.  WTF?  We have a weapon and we just let him waste away on the sidelines.  He's a match up problem.  Get him involved.   

4.  Maybe this is on Denard but we have to get a quick screen audible installed asap.  Did you see that play at midfiled when they blitzed 2 db's off the edge and we just ran right into it? Just toss it to the edge.  Indiana made MSU pay with bubble screens all half before they adjusted.  We couldn't explore that at all as they A gapped blitzed all game?

This gameplan was very infuriating.  

Denard/Borges Cuisine was like a rice cake with no water today.    Pretty bland and hard to swallow. 




October 21st, 2012 at 10:02 AM ^

We didn't win because of the offense.  A 38 yard FG as time expires is basically a coin-flip, and it was a minor miracle that we even got a chance at that FG to begin with.  We got pretty damn lucky to win because the offense was incredibly ineffective at scoring points all day.  So saying "we won--shaddup" is pretty silly.  The offense clearly didn't play well enough.  Just because the team managed to pull a victory out at the very end doesn't mean we should just ignore the struggles of the offense. 

Any time you win without even scoring a touchdown (and the weather didn't suck) I think you have to endlessly praise your defense and then figure out what the hell went wrong on offense.


October 21st, 2012 at 10:34 AM ^

As well as the defense played, we did fall behind twice and need the offense to mount a game-winning drive at the end.  The offense also flipped field position several times, and never turned the ball over (except the meaningless one on the final play of the first half), thus keeping the defense out of bad spots.  That's why "but we won" is a legitimate argument.


October 21st, 2012 at 10:45 AM ^

We fell behind BECAUSE THE OFFENSE NEVER SCORED!!!!!!  How can you NOT fall behind when you never score a touchdown?

Yeah, the offense managed to micaculously pull the game out in the end.  That doesn't magically absolve it from the being complete ineffective all game long.  The reason the offense had to mount a miracle last-second drive is because it didn't score a touchdown all day.

Honestly, when your offense never scores a TD, you are going to lose most of the time.  We probably should have lost yesterday.  Claiming the offense played "good enough" is just not true.  The offense played good enough for the game to be a coin-flip if our defense played great. Lucky for us the defense DID play great and the coin came up heads.   



October 21st, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

How was the offense "completely ineffective?"  They moved the ball and when we absolutely needed to get points, they scored.  They didn't give MSU any short fields.  Could the offense have been better?  Certainly.  Doesn't mean they were "completely ineffective."  

Was the MSU offense "effective" by your criteria?  I mean, they did score a TD, so...




October 21st, 2012 at 10:37 AM ^

How do you figure out what when wrong with the offense without giving some credit to the defense they were up against and the built in intensity of a rivalry game with an oppoenent whose entire season (in terms of the conference) was on the line?  And how do you disregard the built in limitations of gameplanning when you have a QB with a penchant for throwing interceptions?

Michigan put up over 300 yards, the second most that State has allowed anyone this season.  Yeah, a couple of those FGs should have been TDs with better execution but to say that Michigan got lucky is what's silly.  I'd say State got lucky that Denard missed a couple of chances to put the ball in the endzone.


October 21st, 2012 at 10:15 AM ^

OP, DO NOT say you are the least bit upset about anything regarding a 2 point win over a bad msu team where we didn't once get it in the endzone. DO NOT! I did last night and despite admitting being happy and "I'll take it, but...." all of the awesome football genius posters here came to my house and raped me. Be warned. Snark and ignorance hurts like hell going into your asshole.

Eye of the Tiger

October 21st, 2012 at 10:29 AM ^

The OP has the right to say whatever he wants, and point #1, at least, is something Brian has asked for a year and a half now. You could add "where are the bubble screens" legitimately as well. These were staple plays in the RR days that would work well with our personnel, and help push defenders out of the box. 

That said, I do think as fans we need to realize we're not OCs. We tend to gripe that "Borges didn't do X" because Y obviously didn't work all that well, but sometimes we selectively forget that he did actually do X, as in point #2. (FTR, we did do the throwback screen, and it didn't work.)

It's also worth noting that passing plays typically have more than one read, and so to answer #3, Funchess was almost certainly "involved" in the plays Borges called--either he wasn't open or Denard didn't make that read. MSU has good, athletic linebackers, and they probably made covering him a priority. I'd have to see some tape to know that, though.

For #4, that would entail Denard being able to accurately read the blitz. Otherwise you throw a screen and it blows up.





October 21st, 2012 at 10:33 AM ^

Is that on Mattison? Or is that a special teams coach? That was obviously a huge turning point if it doesn't succeed. I am amazed that we were not prepared there.


October 21st, 2012 at 10:34 AM ^

In hindsight, most of the plays that didn't work were Denard or a receivers fault. Making the wrong read on the option or the throw, or just a bad pass. That option read in the red zone when Toussaint lost 6 yards was probably Denard's fault. My only gripe with Borges is that we should have pounded Toussaint and Rawls, MSU was clearly completely sold out on stopping Denard, Toussaint averaged 5 yards per carry despite having only 10 runs, 2 of which he lost about 12 yards on which were totally because of misexecution by the offense....luckily Denard did break free once to give us the field position advatage...and luckily Dileo and the D came to play.


October 21st, 2012 at 10:53 AM ^

1. Willing to bet we usually package the screen with a run check based on the front/coverage the defense shows. Most teams do this (even on the HS level). It's a good bet that with as much success as we've had with this play, teams are responding to the sets we use to run the throwback screen.

2. We had two instances of a wide open receiver in the end zone that we didn't convert on (Gallon behind the D, Jackson three Yards behind everyone on the next to last drive). Play calling seemed ok there. It's not like we didn't have chances to score two or three TD's. Even the Funchess fade is a score if he releases a hair later. Penalties and lack of execution were much more to blame for our lack of points than was Al Borges. (Incidentally, Funch is not ready to block a good defensive end, that's why he's not in there more. Hoke has hinted at this before)

3. Michigan State's defense is legit. We just beat them with a one dimensional (albeit sensational) senior QB.

If you are looking for an example of poor preparation from our staff, one glaring example would be lining up outflanked on the fake punt, not to mention against a team known for its love of shenanigans. If you watch that carefully, it's an auto check that they have in place when teams are foolish enough to give them the edge by lining up inside. Bad scheme there.


October 21st, 2012 at 11:02 AM ^

While the clock management at the end was God awful (although it ended up working in our favor) and it did seem like the offense was sticking to plays that Sparty was keyed on, I can't blame Borges.  Last year we attempted tons of passes in a wind storm on the way to an ugly loss.  Even though it wasn't pretty, Borges is mitigating Denard's arm and giving the run offense every opportunity.  Could he have adjusted or thrown more on first down?  Yes.  But if he calls a more aggressive passing game and Denard turns the ball over and we lose, he gets torched even worse.  There were no naked boots in the passing game, I remember one rollout that didn't count and everything else was in the pocket.  With all that said, Denard won the game with his arm.  I'm not going to blame Borges especially when our defense is at the level it is.


October 21st, 2012 at 8:02 PM ^

Denard almost lost the game because of terrible accuracy on the most basic of throws. He almost lost the game because he inexplicably doesn't understand when to tuck and run and then tosses up shitty deep balls that no one but Hemingway could catch.

As much as I dislike Borges overall, he put Denard in position to score touchdowns but Denard couldn't execute. The under thrown fade to Funchess and the throw behind gallon on the slant when he was wide open over the middle come to mind.

Bottom line is saying that Denard won the game with his arm is misleading. We shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place.


October 21st, 2012 at 11:03 AM ^

Borges is the luckiest guy in the state today.  If Michigan would have lost the game it would have all been on him.  We have so much talent and he calles the dumbest plays with half the talent standing next to Hoke.


October 21st, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

No, the luckiest coach in the state is Dantonio.  Consider:

-Twice, his team fumbled inside its own 15-yard line, and both times, the only Spartan in the area managed to recover.

-His defense twice left  Michigan receivers (Roundtree and then Gallon) completely uncovered in the endzone on 3rd and goal plays, and both fell incomplete, leading to field goals instead of touchdowns.

-His corners got away with at least two borderline pass interference infractions, which would have kept Michigan drives alive.

-His pass rushers were never flagged for roughing the passer, despite a few hits that were high and late (most notably the clothesline attempt on Denard on the deep ball to Gardner).

-He called a fake punt on 4th and 9 at his own 20-yard line, even though there was still 10 minutes left in the game and his defense was playing well.  He would have been absolutely pilloried if that call had failed.

-The officials inadvertantly let about 10 seconds run off the clock on our final drive and never asked for a reset.



October 21st, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

You can also add:

- Had the good fortune to coach while RR was in AA, allowing him to build a talent level that Sparty normally cannot touch and whose momentum will keep MSU above average for a while.

- Has the low expectations that come from being a Spartan and consequently gets his good points magnified (the media was picking MSU to win everything, assuming their O would be ok under Dantonio's tutelage) while his bad points overlooked (I was too nervous to have the sound on the TV at that point yesterday, but I doubt the BTN crew pointed out how we successfully spiked the ball before Ice Cold Gibbons's final field goal vs. the Yakety Sax coached-by-little-leaguers scene the week before when Sparty needed to spike the ball at the end of the first half for a field goal that, it turns out, would have won the game).


October 21st, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

1. What play are you talking about?  Reverses and counters don't work that great when you're getting penetration up the middle.  They work if the defensive ends are getting too far upfield, but with middle linebackers blitzing and defensive tackles shooting through, you're better off running right at them.

2. The throwback screen might have been open one more time, but that's a play that you don't want to call too much.  It can end badly...

3. They tried to get Funchess involved a little bit.  It didn't work.  MSU covered him well, and our quarterback is a far better runner than passer.  You could say to get Roundtree and Dileo and Gardner more involved, too, but our QB was 14/29 passing.

4. Eh, fair enough.


October 21st, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

is Denard coached not to take off running during passing plays? I remember him running more 2 years ago.  So many times he could easily gain 5-10 yards but it's like he's told to pretty much stay in the pocket and find someone... it's killing me to see that several times a game, esp on a couple of crucial downs where he has tons of green right in front of him

Ron Utah

October 22nd, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

I love Denard as much as anybody, but he's not a good passer, and maybe even worse at decision-making in the passing game.

Borges has repeatedly said he wishes Denard would tuck and run more on passing downs; I have to assume he coaches Denard to do it.  Denard just doesn't do it.

If find it ironic that after weeks of bashing Borges for not "letting Denard be Denard," Al finally calls a game that is completely Denard/spread focused and the four criticisms leveled at him all concern throwing the ball more.

Really?  You want more turnovers?  Other than the two minute drill, Borges did what he had to do, and what everyone has wanted him to do: call plays that fit Denard's strengths and DON'T TURN THE BALL OVER.

It's time for fans to be honest and recognize that our offense's shortcomings are much more about our QB's talents than our OC's playcalls.