The Hot Seat

Submitted by ijohnb on October 28th, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Hoke is not the one to take anything public regarding his concerns, and I thought Rich Rod's willingness to throw specific help at least  near the bus if not completely under it was his worst quality and not the way to go about business.  That being said, Borges has to be a concern at this point.  His seat may not be hot yet, but it needs to be warm at a minimum.  Regardless of who you have running your offense, and regardless of if he isn't your dream come true, your schemes at least need to make sense, to somebody, anybody.  I have taken Brian's concerns with Borges a little sarcasticly to date, but I have to say I am concerned that portions of what I am seeing border on incompetence, and they are being accepted as the status quo. 

I am not going to debate that Borges has impressed me from time to time with specific calls, but the number of times that his offensive philosophy against specific defenses has been outright baffling is too many to count on one hand now, and I think it is more than just a side note at this point.  I understand that Denard going down was a blow, but backup quarterbacks can be remotely effective, and at least not outright humiliating as was the case last night.  Bellomy was never rumored to be John Elway, but at the same time I don't think anybody took him for a fish out of water when he came in.  True, our offensive line is not record breaking, but we are not converting defensive lineman for god's sake, this line is nobody's leftovers, they are a pretty solid group.   

Hoke hired Borges in 08, and Borges' offenses at SDSU were solid enough, but I don't know if Hoke is married enough to Borges that he is in untouchable territory.  Shane, along with the best offensive lineman class in the history of the world  are certainly reason for optimism, but I have to say that Borges should be answering for something right now.  I am not expecting the best show on turf here, I am just asking for a little rhyme and reason, and perhaps that there is a Plan B available in the case Denard cannot go.  An injury to your starting quarterback is tough, but not tough enough to look like a fairly competitive high school team in the aftermath.  I have been a Borges supporter, but last night was alarming even before Denard's injury. 

Here's to hoping that this offense can get right before it ventures to Horseshoe, because the cat is out of the bag, this offense in ineffective right now, and I think it is acheiving beneath its personnel.  Am I seeing this clearly, or is this misplaced?  I would love to know.



October 28th, 2012 at 8:12 PM ^

Look, I am as disappointed in our offense as anyone. 8 freaking quarters without a TD? General incompetence and inability to put together sustained drives? It's been a shit show. Bit fire Borges? Let's step back and look at things rationally, starting with the roster:

1) Denard may be the fastest, coolest, nicest, most awesome guy on the team, but he is not a complete qb and as a result, decent or better defenses consistently stop him. This is nothing new - he had the exact issue since 2010 under a coach that practically create an offense designed for his particular skill set. At the end of the day, Denard is a great runner (although he misses obvious lanes), but a terrible decision maker, an inaccurate thrower and a poor manager of the offense. Does he dominate against crappy teams - yes, 100% of the time. But teams with better talent stop him cold. This is not on Borges.

Backup - Bellamy. Not sure how the inability of a low-rated redshirt freshman qb to step in and play we in a nigh game in Nebraska is on him. The onl y thing that is his faul is not going to Devin at some point when it was obvious that Bellamy was not getting it done. Why not take a shot with a guy that can at least run, especially since was doing nada at WR anyway.

2. WR

Our best WR is a 5'8" (generous) gallon, followed by an even smaller Dilio. We have a converted qb playing the position a well. This is the least talented group of Michigan wideOuts I have ever seen. How is it Borges' fault that guys who are smaller and slower and less athletic can't get separation against decen DBs?

3. RB

Sorry, I know that fitz had a great 2011, but he is clearly not getting it done in 2012. Just doesn't look fast or elusive. His backups are the microscopic and slow v. Smith (awesome blocker though), the even smaller true freshman Norfleet, and a couple of middling sophomores. We do not have a guy who can carry the ball 5+ times and put up 100+ consistently. This allows teams to cheat onto Denard. The lack of a non-Denard runnig game has plague us for 3 years now. Not on Borges.

4. TE

The funchess has a ton of physical potential. But he is a raw freshman who is too skinny to block tight now. Behind him is another true freshman who is too lumbering to go downfield and a senior who is just a guy.

5. OL

Aside from Lewan, who on this line will even be considered Goethe draft? And, we lack any upperclassman backups.

Basically, this is the most talent depleted Michigan offense I have seen since nick Sheridan was running the show. It is not Borges fault. Give him time and we will e fine.

One caveat: none of what I said above will change if we cannot close the deal on some op skill position guys. We still have not signed on a top Wr or rb under hoke. Hope that this changes with treadwell and Greene.


October 28th, 2012 at 9:05 PM ^

1.  Denard Robinson's completion percentage has plummeted since his sophomore season while his INT rate has skyrocketed.  Just saying, "Well, he's not that great anyway" doesn't explain the inverse to just about every quarterback's career ever taking place.  People complained about pegs and holes when freshman Steve Threet put up a nearly identical season to freshman Ryan Mallett.  Everyone should be alarmed when the starting quarterback gets less good as his career progresses.

2.  Funny how you don't even mention a guy who put up 900+ yards as a sophomore to lead the team.  Seems one coaching staff had him playing at an all-conference level (2nd team, media) as an underclassman.  Another has made him nearly invisible as a junior and senior.  Did Roy Roundtree get suckier the last two years somehow?  Or is your baseline for his and any other player's performance not what they have actually accomplished on the field in the past, but rather making excuses for not coming close to those prior benchmarks? 

3.  Is the running back situation better than it was in 2010?

4.  If your tight ends can't block, you don't have to make them do it.  Honest.  Lots of teams run offenses that would just let Funchess line up in the slot, snatch balls over linebackers heads and dance into the end zone.  No past or pending legislation requires any team to line up with a tight end if that is a weakness.

5.  The 2006 offensive line produced one draft pick (Long a year later).  The 2003 line produced 2 (Baas a year later and Pape with one of the final picks).  Pape never made a roster, though he did kick ass in NFL Europe according to Wikipedia.  All of our starting linemen (the only ones who play) are upperclassmen.  Four are returning starters.  Four were 4-star recruits coming out of high school.  Their offer lists are full of teams currently ranked or who had recent success.   


October 29th, 2012 at 1:31 AM ^

    but, to be fair, sometimes players do regress over time without any discernable coaching incompetence to explain it.  It's not common, but it's not a gross anomly.  Henne, for example, had an uptick in interceptions in his senior year despite significantly fewer attempts.  His completion percentage dropped as well.  Some of that is injury related, but Denard was hurt last year too.   Tebow had a lower QB rating his senior year than his previous two years.   Colt McCoy performed significantly worse in his senior year (+ 4 ints, - 7 tds).   On the WR end, Breaston had two mediocre years sandwiched between excellent sophmore and redshirt senior years.  Avante had a junior year slump.  Crabtree had 800 more receiving yards his freshmen year than his sophmore year. 

I'd agree that this group isn't been used to their fullest potential, but I'm not convinced that coaching/coordinating is to blame for every instance of a player for Michigan not playing as well this season as they did in past seasons. 

Re: OL.  I think the guy your replying to is foolish to think the OL starters lack talent, but the OL does lack depth and I think a lack of depth does affect the how the starters play.  But the bigger issue is that the line is replacing the former best center in the country.  I think Molk's departure was a much, much, bigger loss than most anticipated. 



Sione's Flow

October 28th, 2012 at 8:27 PM ^

The biggest issue we have on offense is that we have one playmaker and defenses realize this. Funchess is a weapon, but underutilized. Fitz isn't getting the creases he had last year. Some of the issue is with the O-line, but we lost a monster in Molk.


October 28th, 2012 at 9:41 PM ^

Here are my two cents, which I can tell the internet is clamoring for. 

I'm unsure why Fitz is getting nearly all of the carries. He hasn't produced this year. He's not fast enough to get to the outside; he's not breaking tackles; he's not making guys miss. Well, people say, the OL isn't blocking as well as it was last year. I agree. However, if the yards aren't readily available it might be time to try a guy like Rawls, more of a bruiser, to just take a one yard gain and turn it into three. I get the whole lateral movement thing on the veer, but it doesn't seem like Fitz is hitting holes w/ speed or power this year. I'd like to more of Rawls. I think the production has been poor enough to warrant at least a split in the carries. 


It doesn't look like the OL is as good as last year. Michigan, post Notre Dame, has kind of gone into a shell offensively. This was the first game that they used effective play action to push the ball down the field. The I-Form run on the third down early was a horrendous call. However, that happens. I was happy to see that slight change. It seemed like they really needed to push the field vertically to get those safeties out of the box. They aren't getting big plays in the running game, and they aren't scoring. 

I've been a fan since the early nineties, and I mostly remember M having at least one guy who could get open. They don't seem to have anyone at WR who can consistently beat someone over the top. Granted, Denard isn't the most accurate QB, but we're not looking at Manningham, Edwards, Howard, or Alexander level separation. The WR's often seem to be pretty well covered. I miss stud WR's. I also miss stud RB's. I wish that Michigan had a better back up QB, but I saw Navarre in person at UCLA in his RS freshman season, and I remember watching Mallet against Wisconsin. Unfortunately, other than Robo Henne, it's tough to play QB well out of nowhere. In long, more excellent RB's and WR's. 

Bernard Ducamp

October 28th, 2012 at 9:49 PM ^

The offensive running game seems to be built around: 

running the back sideways, and

Denard countering North-South

The problem with that is that it seems to be designed around the Q-back.

Why do you want your running back running sideways?

If Denard is injured,

a sideways running back is not much of a threat with a backup quarterback in the game.

My suggestion:

Build a solid offense, make the players play to that, not one built around a single player.

That is the way the M defense is developing.


October 28th, 2012 at 11:34 PM ^

Just like RR, Al Borges gets a grade of "incomplete."  I'm a spread fan myself, but I really don't think anyone here is qualified to judge Borges' performance until he has his own seniors on the team.  

If the WCO is still struggling with a junior Shane Morris at QB, or of Ohio and ND start walking on Michigan the way Oregon did with their spread, then I will start to be concerned.  Really, though, nobody can say with any degree of certainty right now whether or not Borges' system will allow Michigan to compete for a Big Ten Championship and/or a playoff spot on a regular basis.  

I think that whenever the team struggles even a little bit, some of the posts look way too much like those on RCMB.  Maybe some of us should pretend we've seen adversity before.


October 29th, 2012 at 2:05 AM ^

With offenses ever evolving within college football it seems like ours has slightly digressed.  I don't see a whole lot of new wrinkles or anything that takes advantage of how defenses line up and play against us.  We have talent, we have speed, and we have one of the greatest athletic quarterbacks this game has ever seen.  Yet it's almost like our offense is using "training wheels" so to speak. 

The last 8 quarters have been hard to watch.  The Bellomy situation was handled very poorly on his behalf.  Usually a coach will have a plan for the backup in case of emergency, but that did not appear to be the case.  The east / west ZR running game was still regularly called despite the fact that Nebraska knew Bellomy's legs were not going to beat them.  Some of the passes were slow developing routes against cover zero and zone blitz type coverages.  Russell Bellomy took a lot of slack last night but the kid was put in a really tough situation.  I think Al should have dumbed things down a bit, changed the running game to some extent to focus on maximum north / south output, and the passes should have been very quick initially, especially after watching nebraska continue to send blitz after blitz.  He rolled the pocket only once that I can remember (which does help a young quarterback to some degree), and probably the worst call of the night to me was the 3rd and long when he ran the speed option.  I feel like Al hasnt been prepared against good defenses.  It's almost like the plan against the MSU's, and Alabamas of the world is to play not to lose.

I dont know if it's a personnel issue or if Borges is really just set in his ways.  I gave him credit last year for adapting to the players he inherited.  This year though I haven't seen much growth or too many different concepts for that matter.  That full house formation with both DR and DG in the backfield gave teams fits last year.  I think ive seen it once this year, if that.  Hopefully this is just a bump in the road, but if it continues to happen again and again at what point does his seat get really hot?

I think Chip Kelly could put up 35 ppg all day with this offfense.  I think Al Borges can have that type of output too, I'm just not sure what the problem exactly is at this point, and its frustrating to have such dynamic athletes and watch them go all Sparty on us. 

Sorry for the long first post, had some thoughts on this subject for over a week now.  Thank you to this blog for providing me all of this amazing material.  God bless and GO BLUE

Gorgeous Borges

October 29th, 2012 at 4:03 AM ^

Al Borges had a sound game plan against Alabama, and it wasn't conservative. We just didn't have the quarterback or the receivers to win in one-on-one man coverage against Alabama's DB's. So far, no one has. Not a single team has put more than fourteen up on Bama since FCS Georgia Southern a year ago.

Al's gameplan against ND was insanely aggressive. Michigan punted once in the entire game. His plan was to try to pick on a young Notre Dame secondary. It didn't work, probably wasn't very smart, so he adjusted to a Denard-based running game in the second half. We call that gameplan the whole game, Michigan probably wins.

Against Michigan State, Al Borges' game plan WAS play not to lose, and he admitted as much. When you're going up against an offense as inept and a defense as great as MSU's, that gameplan actually makes sense. Also, we happened to win that game, putting up 50 yards of offense and five points less than all-world spread guru Urban Meyer.

The Nebraska game, well, I don't know. Before Denard went out, it was almost the end of the first half. We were inside the ten, we had three points against a team that had performed badly on defense against nearly everyone on their schedule. That's pretty damning right there, but I'll await the UFR to see what was going on.


October 29th, 2012 at 3:09 AM ^

So what you're saying is: yes I know Denard got injured and yes I know Bellomy was completely ineffective and yes I know our O-line is mediocre and yes I know we have some talent coming in that's better suited to Borges' offense, but I AM STILL ANGARRR.


Gorgeous Borges

October 29th, 2012 at 3:40 AM ^

As a side note, who are the hottest pro-style coordinators in college football right now? Say that we were to replace Borges with another pro-style coordinator, who are the top guys in college football right now? Who would you like to see?


October 29th, 2012 at 5:43 AM ^

Brady should have considered hiring a offensive coordinator that specializes in the spread. He is the one that decided to hire a pro style OC to run a spread. That would be like hiring Chip Kelly to run a pro offense. Also, Hoke decided to gamble on moving Gardner from QB to WR. The head coach is responsible for offensive and defensive philosophies and what coaches he hires to teach these philosophies. I'm not going to get all crazy and say coaches need to be fired until after year three. Lets see how the offense does when they actually implement their preferred system.

Bill the Butcher

October 29th, 2012 at 9:10 AM ^

Why would Brady Hoke hire a spread OC when he has no intention of running the spread?  

Should he have hired this spread OC just for 2 years until Denard graduated and then switched directions that way?

Everyone knew that when Hoke was hired the "spread was dead" at Michigan.  The staff came in and tried a bunch of pro-style, WCO stuff last year and mixed in some spread concepts to ease the transition.  It didn't work that well so they moved to more spread stuff and now mix in WCO stuff.  In other words they are attemtping to adapt to the current players. They just aren't doing a very good job.  I dont know if thats because Borges and Hoke don't want to teach any more spread concepts since it will likely leave when Denard graduates, or if Borges is just in over his head with an offense he is unfamiliar with and therefore cannot even scheme against a simple scrape exchange.  


October 29th, 2012 at 6:18 AM ^

I agree even before Denard went down the offense sucked. We might have been able to get the one touchdown with Denard but that is against a Nebraska defense that gave up 63 pts. to Ohio.   I assume Bellomy plays much better in practice because if that is what they are looking at in practice, I don't think Gardner would be a WR. I realize that Denard and Borges style of plays are clashing but at Michigan we should have great coaches and great coaches get the most out of the players they have that is why RR is a good coach but not a great coach because he just runs a system.

Sten Carlson

October 29th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

even before Denard went down the offense sucked

What game did you watch? This is the crap that is so frustrating about Michigan's fanbase (at least in here). Denard had completed passes downfield (one was called incomplete) to Tree, and had moved the ball into the redzone. I am not saying they were going all Oregon on Nebraska, but to say the offense "sucked" is hyperbole, to say the least.

I think everyone should just calm the heck down. We thought coming into the season that the defense was going to be a liability, and the offense was going to be the strength. Well, it's turned out the opposite. Things happen like that sometimes. Unlike many of you, I have complete faith in Hoke & Co. to do what is necessary to move the team along. It's very easy to sit back as fans and criticize the coaching staff for the problems that we see every game. But, if we see them, you can be damn sure that they see them -- and if they see them, you can be damn sure they're trying to fix them. Fans act as it fixing issues is like flipping a switch. They call for another RB to replace the starter, but have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Imagine if someone came into you workplace, saw a problem in your operation, and then started calling you an incompetent idiot for not making what THEY see as the appropriate adjustment(s). They don't know your business (although they think they do), they don't know the strengths and weakness of your personnel (although they think they do), and they're not going to be held accountable for the success or failure of any changes.

I love discussing Michigan football as much as anyone. But all this belly aching is really pathetic in my mind. The offense is struggling, and it is frustrating. But, let's give the guys who run the program the benefit of the doubt, because YOU might thing the solution is obvious, but each and every one of us is operating at a near COMPLETE lack of information.


October 29th, 2012 at 6:58 AM ^

To put it succinctly: this is going to get much, much worse before (if it ever) gets better.  The "this will never, ever be a pass not even one time out of a hundred WR package" has already returned.  Hoke has shown this season that whatever supposed acumen he displayed for clock management and controlled aggression last year was a mirage.  Down 14 with 7 minutes left?  We don't need no hurry up, fergodsakes.

In fact, the word from Schembechler Hall is this weeks installation consistes entirely of fitting Kerridge's helmet with a megaphone so he can scream at opposing defenses, "Hey morons, I'm motioning this way!  The run is going here!"


October 29th, 2012 at 9:46 AM ^

im not here to bash my team,yes i am very frustrated as any fan would be who loves there team when we see things go up in smoke ,but i will still express my opinion,lets be very clear there definatleyhas been some poor coaching desicions as of late,first borgess playcalling has been gettin louzy for last 2 games,,also coach hoke what are u still trying to get oughta tousssaint ,what game are u watching..umm obviously not him, cause u shoulda done pulled or at least let rawls play more snap  or some series of plays,to me you  actin like this aint happening , u throw blame on your o line, ok i can see some plays ,but mostly its been his inactiveness to hit his marks,shame on you hoke for this coaching error,i like hoke alot,and believe he can get job done for michigan,but he has to be honest to himself and to team and us as fans,and we all correct me someone please if u feel im wrong about this seen toussaints performance goin down slumps even to this day and what we are at game 6-7..are u kidding me,i respected you ,and i do believe in u, but these things are gettin a lil crazy to watch..and i dont wanna be like wtf on you too,its time to start looking inside what u need to fix on offense, and get settled quick,help me if not alotta fans confidence that you are a coach who will make the nessary changes we need to suceed,,i know as a coach you are trying to set good foundations here,and truly believe these kids like you..u have set your standard frm day one,to win big ten,and u know most of us knew we might still have 2 wait another year,hopefully not 2,but anyways,but this kinda of desision making shoulda been corrected better than that non chalant excuses you keep makin for toussaint,we know what he is capable of but like denard(sorry bad comparision denard better at run)when its not working ya gotta look for somethin else ,u have a big ten legend contender squad ,and this coaching u and borgess are about to drop the ball if ya dont loosen up and get ahold of this now!!,as of defense greg mattison has done his part in preparing week in week out,no one should be complaining about our defense i still believe we have best defense than any big ten school,and u know why its the way they play together ,the way they are coached on mastering technique, this offense might need this same thing , just dont know if borgess can get them on the next level to get his side to work harder to get to balls,hold lines longer for the qb to make good throws,but also a coach at his position to call plays that move chains efficently,and who aint scared to try to let if fly a lil more ,im prayin for the best , but its gettin late season,we need to wake up now no more excuses, exicute....GO BLUE FOREVER


October 29th, 2012 at 9:51 AM ^

Run the spread, he's a west coast QB, some what mobile and a bigger QB.


Why was he running the zone read?  He can't do it!!

Why on third and seven did Borges have him run the speed option?  He can't do it.


Borges seems to have a nack this year for calling the perfect play for the other teams defense in big games.


October 29th, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

The only thing that looked obvious was the coaches didn't have Bellomy ready to play.   I'm sure he is a better QB than what he showed Sat night.  He wouldn't be here if he wasn't.


October 29th, 2012 at 2:05 PM ^

We want to complain about our backup. It's been agreed that we were not ready for a plan B, But where in the world is Rawls.

I am tired of people complaining about our O line. They have had holes for Fitz, but for some reason he isn't hitting them. Try Rawls once in a while. He runs down hill and hard.

Funchess seems to make plays when he is called upon, but his number isn't called much.

Dileo saved our butts last week against sparty and he was invisible Saturday.

I love what Hoke and Co. have done so far, but if we want to play manball then play manball.

If Denard was hurt enough Saturday that he could not come back in the game, he more than likely will not be able to play next Saturday. If he does play, he is one right hand hitting the ground from being out again.



October 29th, 2012 at 9:07 PM ^

What an embarassing offensive perf Sat night. I hope we dont start losing recruits because of this.



Why not run denard on a speed option?? But we really need Denard for OSU - so hope we dont burn him up before that