In defense of Borges

Submitted by tasnyder01 on October 13th, 2013 at 7:08 PM

First, Michigan scored 34 points in regulation.  I don't think anyone was unhappy with how the 3rd quarter worked; despite the 1st half, we were in a position to win.  Then, we put on the brakes, which presumably gave the game away. Let's see how that worked.

with 6:35 left in the game, Michigan led 34-27. Herein lies the following drive:
7 rushes, 1 pass. 

What did this "putting on the brakes" do?
It gave us the ball on the PSU 28 yard line, on first down, with NO PSU timeouts left. The time read 3:10.

We ran twice, for 1 total yard; there were less than 2 minutes left and Michigan was within field goal range at the 29. 

I just don't understand how this could be construed as a failure. We took off 4 minutes left, and drove to within field goal range; if we made the field goal then the game is effectively over as we're up by two scores with less than 2 minutes left.

The failure:
Michigan then takes a delay of game. (Blame goes equally to Borges, Gardner, and Hoke). The DOG makes it 3rd and 14 from the 32 yard line; there are 80 seconds left and PSU has no timeouts. What would you do here? an incomplete pass gives PSU 30 more seconds, a QB draw is OBVS(!), and a run is also OBVS(!). 

Borges chose to run it, and we lost 3 yards, taking us out of field goal range. Yes, this was a problem, but I think it follows sound game theory. A run takes the clock down to 50 seconds, and the punt means PSU has to drive it 80 yards, with a FRESHMAN QB. I mean, everything had to go perfect for us to lose. Playing not to lose isn't really a bad strategy when everything has to go perfect for you to lose. I don't think too many people were moaning about the choice to punt it after the failed run.

Then, people are bitching about the OT. In OT #1 and #3, all we had to do was make a field goal. I don't know what everyone's seeing, but I still think that game strategy dictates that you just take the 3 free points and go home with a win. The fact that Gibbons missed/had blocked 2(!) field goals is not on the play calling. 

OT is really what gets me. How does a pass, an end around, etc improve our odds of winning? We've got one of the best FG kickers in Michigan history, and were out around 25 yards. Of course, a TD could win it; DG also has 3 TOs at this point. Why not just take the easy 3 and go home? 




October 13th, 2013 at 7:32 PM ^

jokes aside, what would you have done in those situations?

last drive, 3rd down. Would you call a pass with DG in there? A fade to Funchess, a slant to Gallon. The slant is liable to be intercepted, the fade to be incomplete. 

OT: same thing. And end around? What would you call?

It's cool to be dismissive of things, but not productive. If you're a hater, justify it; dismissing something doesn't make that something less rational.


October 13th, 2013 at 7:51 PM ^

Assuming that Borges controls all plays here is what I would NOT have done:

1. I would not have fiddle-farted around getting the play in at the end of regulation causing us to take a delay of game penalty

2. I would not have run a tailback 25 times into stacked lines with zero hope of success

3. I would not have sat on relatively poor (for OT anyways) field position to try and kick a 40 yard plus field goal.

4. I would not have run a play with my back-up QB in the game in OT - I would've called time out and let my starter regroup and get back in.

5. I would not have continued to run zone stretch power when it was painfully obvious by the second series of the game that wasnt working

6. I would not have run my tailback into a stacked 10 man front on 3rd and less than a yard in the 4th OT

7. I would not have abandonded Funches in the fourth quarter and OT

8. I would not have continued to put my QB under center when the only thing working in the running game was Devin in the pistol or shotgun

Jesus man I could go on and on and on with how absofuckinglutely HORRIBLE the offensive game calling was put I'll just let you read any of the over 1,000 comments in the four threads remaing standing if you want some other flavor.  It was bad - sickeningly, horribly, awfully bad and it cost us a game we had no business losing.

You can try as you might to polish up this turd but it still won't shine.




October 13th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

Oh please.  You've been around long enough to know that in football you're never totally "sure" of anything going right.  But for Christ's sake running zone stretch plays with Devin under center was almost damn SURE of going wrong from the second series on.  Did you see anything...anything at all that game any indication that that play was going to produce anything but lost yards from about the 10 minute mark of the first quarter on?

Ok I'll do it the other way then:

1. I would've gotten a play in without a delay of game penalty at the end of regulation.  Running a wheel route to Fitz prolly would've gotten 8-10 yards and gotten us in that "easy field goal" range the OP references which would've put the game away.

2. I wouldve run Devin out of the Pistol or Shotgun

3. I wouldve targeted Funchess in OT at least once.

4. I wouldve called time out after Devin got dinged or, if i insisted on running a play, I wouldve bootlegged Shane off a fake to Fitz and he prolly walks into the endzone untouched.  Either way we're trying that same "easy field goal" of 32 yards if it doesnt work.

5. I would've gone for endzone at least once on a fade route to Funchess in one of the four OT's to end the damn game once and for all.  The fade route is about as interception-proof as they come.

6. I would've given Green more carries when it was very obvious it wasnt Fitz's night.

7. I would not, not, not have punted at the end of regulation (but that one for sue is on Hoke)

Is that better?


October 13th, 2013 at 8:31 PM ^

#3 is fine in theory, but if Gardner gets dinged up you are bringing Morris out there and asking him to, what, hand off for 3 downs and then hoping the defense holds?  This is the same problem the team had with Robinson at QB, but at least then you had the possibility of Gardner stepping in.  Morris is light-years worse than Gardner was last year, and that's your QB depth.

I'm going to take issue with #6 - Green had 1 yard on 3 carries.  I know people around here keep thinking he's the same guy his rankings denote, but that guy isn't in the UM backfield right now.  He's had the whole season to prove himself and he has shown NOTHING to make me think he could handle being a feature back right now.  On a half-dozen runs yesterday, PDT was hit in the backfield by multiple tacklers.  Show me documented evidence where Green would have been any better. 

As for #7, then what play would you have called?  Tell me a 4th and 17 call that gets you a first.  Or, hell, tell me with a straight face that you think Wile or Gibbons is a lock to hit a 50+ yard FG.  Because if that doesn't happen, PSU is 15 yards closer to a tying TD and with a bit more time.  I'll agree that the 3rd down call was sub-optimal, but on 4th down you have two bad options and Hoke picked what I think was the less bad one.



October 13th, 2013 at 8:35 PM ^

1. The delay was stupid, but if you throw that wheel and Devin throws another one short in the flats right to a defender with a nice return you're getting shitcanned today.

2. How often do you run Devin? He looked beat the hell up at the end. Of do you just keep doing it till he's Denard last year? Would like us to run more Pistol, and the reads were working ok, but I don't know how much more you can run Devin.

3. Didn't he drop one in the end zone to the right? But yeah, that he wasn't even in there as a decoy for plays was maddening.

4. I think there was worry that we'd need the TO later (which we actually did). But if you're not going to call TO then you have to run a play the whole world isn't expecting. I might have even tried an easy lob pass because no one would even bother to defend it,

5. I don't know that anything is INT-proof with Devin (were any of his throws that got picked particularly hard?) but trying to do more than set up a long FG would have been the right call.

6. I don't know that Green showed us anything last night either, but it couldn't have hurt.

7. If you hadn't done #1 and still got the penalty, what would you have done instead? Kicked a FG THAT long? (You got your wish in OT...he missed). I'd rather have had Devin heave it at that point rather than a kick. I don't know why corner kicks and pooch punts have become a lost art, but they have, and it's not just us, get him inside the ten they don't go all the way down the field.


October 13th, 2013 at 10:18 PM ^

We have become the worst thing you can be in a football game where you are not significantly more physically dominant than your opponent; predicatable. PSU was putting 8-9 guys in the box and running up a safety on all of our dead give away running plays. You could have thrown quick passes to our WRa all night long with their CB 10+ yards off the LOS. How hard is it to coach Devin if the box is loaded pass, if not run. I dont feel so bad about Funk today. How can 5 linemen block 8-9 guys flying downhill at the snap. That is all scheme and playcalling. That is totally on borgess. Let's see if Hieko has the guts to ask the real tough questions to Uncle Al this week.

Blue Durham

October 13th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

On most first downs, with all of the defenders in the box and LBs leaning forward, play action pass. For the season, the run/pass ratio on first down (factoring out running out the clock and passes late in the game when behind) has got to be huge.

About as sure thing as you can get in football, and it sure as hell can't be any worse than repeatedly running Fitz into a pile of defenders.

This has been a return to Bo Schembechler football, but without the ability to block anyone.

Maize and Blue…

October 13th, 2013 at 8:22 PM ^

instead of putting it all on the shoulders of a kicker who was having a bad game. As much as I want to blame Borges, Mattison using the "prevent the win D" at the end of regulation was just as infuriating.  Hackenburg had picked apart our 3 and 4 man rush most of the game, but struggled when we brought pressure.  So we sat back in zone D and let him wait until his WRs broke open. Dumb!!! Hoke should have put a headset on and said enough of this play not to lose crap to both of his coordinators!   


October 13th, 2013 at 8:27 PM ^

What the fuck ever happened to the gardner PA fakes, where he rolls out on the 3rd and 1's or 4th and 1's?  DO we somehow just abandon the play that nearly works 99% of the time on the road?  We couldn't have done that even once when PSU KNEW we were gonna run it up the middle..


Even at the end of regulation when Hayes was completely uncovered for that little 5 yard catch..  We could of easily done that play one more time as PSU didn't even have anyone within 5 yards of hayes he just fell out of bounds on accident


October 13th, 2013 at 10:50 PM ^

I would have put the ball in the hands of my best playmakers on offense. Those are: Devin Gardner, Jeremy Gallon, and Devin Funchess. I would NOT have run the ball with my Lewan-less line.

Am I sure this would have gone better? No. However, I can say with 99% confidence that it would have worked better. You dance with the one that brung you...and Saturday, that was the passing game.

Now stop pissing me off...Scherzer has 13 Ks and my Lions won. I'm happy dammit!


October 14th, 2013 at 12:31 AM ^

Hard to get it to your playmakers when the ball has to travel through the air to get there. Gardner's 2nd pick is one of the worst I've ever seen. Just fires it right at an LB. And we're counting on that guy to get our playmakers the ball?

He throws a damn good deep ball. Anything short to intermediate is a crapshoot. The shitty thing is our line can't block anyone, so its tough to even get those deep balls up in the air.


October 13th, 2013 at 8:09 PM ^

All your comments are "I would not [insert thing that went wrong]". Jesus, is that what flies for analysis these days? Tell me what woul would have done, and WHY IT WOULD BE BETTER; don't just say "I wouldn't do something that didn't work out". 

1.) I agree with this actually. Still, Hoke/DG should have called TO. Bad decision by Borges, but DG/Hoke ensured that the decision became desasterous.

2.) Most of the running came in the 4th quarter/OT: we had 16 runs in that one drive + the two missed FG drives. In those cases, the defense is stacked against the run because they know the run is coming because the run is the right thing to do. You want to bleed out the clock, keep the ball, and end the game. In the 4th Quarter, that 10 run drive took 5 minutes off the clock (down to less than 1 minute), all of PSU's TOs out, and WOULD HAVE WON US THE GAME if we didn't screw up that time-out.

3.) I agree that we should have gone for the win. How though? would you have passed it? Which passes? Wtih DG, the TO-machine? I mean, you can't have it both ways: you can't want DG throwing less interceptions, and also us throwing more. What would you have called?

4.) You and I are in total agreement there buddy. 

5.) Agreed.

6.) What would you have called? A roll-out sounds obvious, but I bet PSU knew that was coming as well. I'm not sure what's the best play there: a roll-out, a drop back, a sneak?
I bet they all had a chance of working, but the one we called just didn't. 

7.) Did you see how PSU rolled coverage to Funchess' side? It wasn't the play-calls of Borges that stopped DG from throwing to Funchess. DG just saw the coverage and threw away from it.

8.) I think we're all pining for that.

Without a doubt, Borges messed some things up. Still, it's not the shit-show some people think it was. 34 points in regulation



October 13th, 2013 at 9:43 PM ^

Seriously with that response? Cause we will know what play will work?

Fact is, running Fitz up the middle was guaran-fucking-teed to fail. 20 plays on Saturday not to mention the prior five games made that a known fact. A good OC will take what the defense will give you. Borges seems pretty determined to try to prove his point despite there not being an inkling that it will succeed. We scored 20 something points on O despite Borges not because of him. Our offense appears to be pray and hope Devin can make a play.


October 13th, 2013 at 8:39 PM ^

Al, it's extremely unprofessional & unbecoming of you to post this thread!
If you think your pathetic rationalizations can sway the Mgobloggerati you haven't looked at the # of B (and even C) votes on the Hoke thread. Do the right thing Al, go & take Funk with you before you drag down a great man and the best recruiter the University of Michigan has seen.
Oh, and hand Brady your headset on your way out... he really needs to be more involved in and informed of the game calls!!!


October 14th, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

You don't believe we can complete a pass in situations where the defense is selling out against the run?

My major ongoing problem is that I'm able to call Michigan's offensive plays correctly about 75% of the time just based on situation and how they line up.  And I'm no defensive coordinator.

We don't ever make adjustments based on what the defense is showing.  Don't understand that.  Don't understand why they don't get to the line 5-8 seconds sooner in nearly every situation.  Remember the other delay of game we should have been called on (and wish we were, after the play was run)?  Just because the refs didn't catch it doesn't mean it didn't happen.  And there are so many other times where Gardner is just barely beating the clock - I'm puzzled why this hasn't been addressed in practice because it's something that's relatively easy to work on and it's having an impact.

I also believe this hurts our defense - it's clear that they struggle when a team goes up-tempo, maybe because they never see it in practice.  Indiana is going to play fast next week.

It goes without saying that the delay of game at the end of the PSU game was just nuts.  Not going to put that on Borges, though.  If Hoke isn't calling the offense and isn't calling the defense, he should @#$% sure be monitoring clock and display some situational awareness.  




October 13th, 2013 at 8:22 PM ^

I don't think anyone is claiming that losing last night was a good thing, but at the same time scoring 34 points on the road really should be enough to win most games.  Borges called a crap game in OT, but I'll admit that his playcalling until that point, especially in the 2nd half, was pretty good.  Of course, with the massive caveat that trying to establish a running game behind this line is insane.


October 13th, 2013 at 8:30 PM ^

Playing devil's advocate, maybe it was a good thing. The company line the past three weeks has been, hey, we won. We're 4-0. Why should we have to defend poor play when there's another notch in the win column? And the main gripe, at least on this blog, is that Borges and to a lesser extent Hoke, continue to do the same thing over and over again. So with a loss, and an ugly one at that, they have no choice but to address some of these issues. The one thing they have done is change up the offensive line. But obviously more needs to be done. Hoke doesn't seem like a guy who likes change, but perhaps a loss after a few near misses will force him to make some changes. 


October 13th, 2013 at 9:37 PM ^

Don't be so sure.  During one of the interviews after the game, Hoke was already explaining away the loss, triggered by a Freshman QB driving 80 yards in 50 seconds for a TD, as just a fluke thing.

You can be sure they think that they did the right strategy and it was just one of those 1 in a hundred things that it did not work out.  You won't see much change.

Time to embrace 1 yard runs on first down.  They are us and we are them.



October 13th, 2013 at 7:11 PM ^

In the last OT all PSU had to do was kick a field goal. They played for the TD while being willing to settle for a FG. Guess what happened? They scored the TD. We did nothing but play for the FG in OT. And how many of those late 4th quarter runs were by Devin? How many of them in OT were by Devin?


October 14th, 2013 at 12:33 AM ^

in pursuit of the 1st and 10 inside the 15. 

If passes had been incomplete, we still had the FG available.  The 3rd OT, I can see thinking you'll win on a 33yd FG.  It wasn't a shocker, however, to miss a 40+ FG in the 1st OT.


October 13th, 2013 at 7:16 PM ^

I actually agree, especially considering you have a kicker who has been amazingly consistent. I'm sure someone could do some statistic mongering, but I'd take the odds of Gibbons kicking a 40 yarder over Devin throwing any day, considering some of Devin's accuracy issues; an interception in the 1st half isn't as big of a deal (which is why I'm angry at Borges for not airing it out earlier), but an interception in OT is (obviously) game over.


October 13th, 2013 at 7:46 PM ^

before last nite's game gibbons had made 6 FGs > 40 yds.  he had missed 11 FG in his career.  the likelihood of making a FG goes up exponentially as you gain field position.  a 40+ yd FG from gibbons is probably at best 50-50.  that's why it's important to gain yardage.  the one kick may not get blocked if it were a closer attempt.  that said, i do agree going conservative when we had the ball at the 15.  that is probably nearly a 90% success opportunity and gibbons just failed on that one.

Bando Calrissian

October 13th, 2013 at 7:17 PM ^

Why chance giving it to the freshman QB, daring him to drive 80 yards and tie the game with a home crowd under the lights, after they've been scoring successfully all game? 

This game was lost when Brady didn't use one of the timeouts we had to give to prevent the delay of game penalty. It's worth giving up 15 yards of field position if you miss the field goal against the chance to go up two scores. Period. The punt is not the ideal or intended scenario there.


October 13th, 2013 at 9:15 PM ^

I've read a lot of posts over the past 24 hrs, on numerous different threads now. EVERY one keeps blasting Hoke for the DOG, but it was clear he was watching the clock run down & simultaneously conversing with the official... I believe he was telling the guy he did NOT in fact want a TO with 1 sec left on play clock, but was letting it expire to get 5 more yds for the punt. I'm positive, I was watching him watch the clock while talking. It wasn't a brain freeze, it was a calculated decision to try to pin them.
As it turns out he traded a chance for 3 pts & essentially icing the game for 15 yds of field position. I was screaming about it then, and every worst case scenario played out. It was chicken SHIT, but then after Gibbons missed all those FG, maybe prescient?