How to stop Denard? Put him under center, says RR

Submitted by wolverine1987 on September 8th, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Interesting RR comment:


“When he’s in the shotgun surveying the field, whether he’s running or throwing it, he’s one of the best weapons in college football,” Rodriguez said. “And when I saw that game, they’re still doing a lot of that because that’s what he does well and sure, you’re worried about him getting hurt a little bit but I think you also get hurt when you have your back to the defense, standing in the pocket waiting and trying to find somebody open."

His earlier quote in the article was as in my headline. Cue the RR bashing/defending.…



September 8th, 2011 at 3:40 PM ^

Things always get crazy when RR comes into play.  You think that Mallet wasn't on the team when RR took over?  Wrong.  He was on the team.  He left after the hire.  Whatever the reason he left; he left after RR came aboard.  You can't begin an argument with a false statement and expect it to have any value.

In any event, yes RR should have adjusted his offense to whomever the QB would be.  RR was stubborn, lost 9 games and eventually, his job.


September 8th, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

No, Mallett was not on the team when RichRod was actually running the offense. He transfered and we got to see what the offense looked like with a walk-on and a redshirt freshman running it.

But I'm confused as to why you even brought up Mallett. Are you suggesting that RichRod should have, during the 2008 season, changed the offense to fit a QB who wasn't on the team? If you want to argue about RichRod not doing enough to keep mallett on the team, argue elsewhere because that isn't what you were arguing earlier.

Let me guess, you are going to suggest he didn't use those 2 amazing WRs in his offense too, right? You know, the ones who got drafted


September 8th, 2011 at 4:20 PM ^

Mallett (once again) was ON the team when RR was hired.  RR chose not to talk to him and Mallett left.  Maybe Mallett was going to leave otherwise.  We'll likely never know.  Maybe the NFL caliber receivers would have stayed if they thought they'd see the ball.  We'll probably never know that either.  

Now, listen closely, it doesn't matter if the QB was Mallett or Sheridan or the ghost of Bobby Layne - RR should have adjusted his scheme to fit the available talent.  He chose not to.  From that point on, all of his complaining and excuses were rendered irrelevant.  He made decisions and those decisions have consequences.  At least we now have a program that preaches accountability.


September 8th, 2011 at 5:53 PM ^

Serious question: do you actually think people take you seriously? You hate when people speculate about the Ryan Mallett situation and then write sentences like this:

"Maybe the NFL caliber receivers would have stayed if they thought they would see the ball."


RichRod chose not to talk to him and Mallett left."

And since you put so much stock into internet rumor, Manningham and Arrington hated Mallett and were not sticking around anyway.

Also, either you completely ignored the point that everyone is making or you don't get it. Adjusting a system to redshirt freshman Steven Threet, who is not playing football anymore and had 1 mediocre season as redshirt redshirt junior, is not at all the same as adjusting your offense to junior Denard Robinson, who had the best season as a dual threat QB in the history of college football last year. What makes you think if RichRod actually had taken over with Mallett at QB (the fantasy world you like to live in where he is the QB throwing to 2 future NFL QBs), he wouldn't have adjusted to the talent? And just so you know, the offense that trotted out there in 08 had 1 player drafted, who was a redshirt sophomore offensive lineman. Tell me again where all this talent he didn't adjust to was?


September 8th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

I doubt that R^2 wanted DR to run the ball 25 times a game.  However, our RB's did not perform.  In order to win R^2 called the plays that gave UM the best chance to win.  If our RB's can do better fine.  However, there will be games this year where DR should run 25 times.  Troy Smith ran 25 times on us in a game out of a spread look.

So question for the board.  You know that every time you call a QB run you get 6 ypc.  Every time you call a RB you will get 3.5 ypc.  You know this as a certainty.  Is there anyone on this board bold enough to state they would still only give DR 10 touches because he of injury concerns?   If the difference is 4 verse 5, you even it out.  But in the first situation I would rather have DR have 25 carries for 150 yards and my RB's 20 for 75, then DR have 10 carrries for 60, and my RB's 35 for 100.

When we play a team with a good run defense, that is going to be the situation.  Other then Lewan, the Oline is not a bunch of road graders.



September 8th, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

I doubt that R^2 wanted DR to run the ball 25 times a game. However, our RB's did not perform.

The QB is always going to carry the ball a lot in a Rodriguez offense. If the tailback is a star, then they simply don't pass the ball much. In 2007, WVU had an embarrassment of riches at tailback (Slaton and Devine) and its QBs still carried the ball 243 times. WVU ran the ball 74% of the time. That's probably how our offense would have looked if he'd stayed.

Consider the 2010 UConn game - a game we won by 20 points (and thus theoretically didn't need to overuse our QB as a rusher). Denard carried it 29 times and the tailbacks 28 times, while we attempted only 22 passes.   That was very reminiscent of RR's WVU days.  If we hadn't trailed in so many games, we'd have put up more stat lines like that.


September 8th, 2011 at 10:59 AM ^

Al Borges has already shown himself to be more flexible than RR. I'm confident that if the under center stuff isn't really working, he'll phase it out. Rich Rodriguez is a very creative football coach but he's definitely a stubborn man and the idea that Borges shouldn't be seeing what he has under center is ludicrous.


September 8th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

Creative yet stubborn is a good way to describe RR. Stubborn and not even remotely creative is a good way to describe his predecessor. I know which one I preferred.

I do agree that Borges appears to be the most flexible offensive mind we've had here in a while and I'm happy that our schemes are at least something eclectic.



September 8th, 2011 at 11:03 AM ^

Did CBS hire this dude to analyze football or to make daily remarks that no one is interested in hearing, and that will only be heard by michigan fans who pass the word along in order to scoff at their former coach?


September 8th, 2011 at 11:18 AM ^

Analysis...sure (even if the analyst got fired for his inability to win at the program he is now analyzing). Problem comes when he says that Michigan doesn't know what it takes to build a top level program. His whine about "They never let me have a night game" is similarly pathetic.


September 8th, 2011 at 11:44 AM ^

I don't think RR was saying flat out that M doesn't know what it takes to build a top-level program. He was saying that M didn't understand what he, particularly, needed to build such a program.

Is there anything wrong with RR still having confidence in his abilities and still believing he could have turned it around? And it's his job now to analyze football, and it seems to me he's been pretty respectful and fair towards M throughout. In terms of borderline petty comments, I'd say Brandon has handily outdone him.

Section 1

September 8th, 2011 at 11:58 AM ^

We've disagreed about that, and I think that sometimes you've been unfair.

But here, you are being fair, and sensible, and I owe you that acknowledgment.  Although I don't understand the Brandon part.

Rodriguez is an analyst this year.  Under contract to a major media corporation (CBS) to provide analysis of college football, and answer questions.  He is being asked questions, and is answering them to the best of his ability.  He will be under a microscope as to everything he says.  It is silly to think that Rodriguez wouldn't have some different ideas about coaching strategy, apart from Brady Hoke.  Personally, I'd just like to hear what they are.  This is a top-level BCS football coach, and we will almost certainly only have one year of him in this media-exposed role.  I am just going to enjoy that for what it is.  It would be nice, if Rodriguez could say some things that would teach the CBS audience about his ideas on football coaching and strategy.  It is really a whole lot easier to be a Michigan fan in 2011 if you give both Rodriguez and Hoke the respect that both of them so very much deserve. 


September 8th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

I know folks want to make excuses for RR, but he very specifically said "you". He didn't said "I", "me", "we" or anything of the sort. There's no need to rationalize his exact words and turn them into new and different ones. The guy is a failed coach who is now attacking the program. It's that type of behavior that made it tough for him to make friends here. He thinks he knows it all and any shortcoming is someone else's fault. The program knows what it takes to win and they fired the first obstacle.


September 8th, 2011 at 11:42 AM ^


“Being the right fit is important and being in a place where they thoroughly understand exactly what you need to do to build a top-level program,” Rodriguez told Brando.

Here, the emphasis is on 'you,' where Rodriguez is referring to himself with respect to Michigan. The issue here is that there are numerous ways to build a top-level football program, but Rodriguez only knew of the way HE was accustomed to building a top-level program rather than, say, the way Bo Schembechler did it, or how Moeller or Carr continued Bo's success. In this case, it is reasonable that Michigan (that being Dave Brandon and other alumni that thought Rodriguez didn't 'get it') truly did not understand how exactly Rodriguez was building a winning program, since it was much different than what they were accustomed to.

Also, was running Denard in the shotgun the reason why Rodriguez didn't win and got fired? I think Denard's performance last year proves that, among his failures, Rodriguez knew how to use Denard effectively.

Edit: Jack beat me to it.


September 8th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

And though maybe even the more likely one, it still could possibly be taken as "what you (you guys, the program) need to do".  So their view isn't inaccurate, because none of us are inside Rich's head. I don't automatically assume the worse, so I think your position is maybe likely more valid, but I don't know it.  Frankly, it's just another sign that Rich doesn't choose his words very carefully (or doesn't care to).  When Brandon makes a compliment of liking what the program is doing under Brady, people constantly read into it that he's bashing Rich Rod. I don't know why when Rich says something it automatically has to be taken as the best possible meaning.


September 8th, 2011 at 2:29 PM ^

In both Brandon and Rodriguez's case, they need to be given the benefit of the doubt in their comments regarding Michigan. Brandon should be allowed to comment on how he likes the way the program is being run, while Rodriguez should be allowed to answer the constant questions regarding his stay at Michigan without every answer being brought into question. The exception to this, of course, is when it's painfully obvious that either person is blasting the other (Rodriguez deserved to be criticized for questioning Brandon's job qualifications), and if Brandon speaks of how Hoke is better than Rodriguez because of (insert irrelevant job qualification here, like Hoke's knowledge of the city of Ann Arbor without needing a map), any criticism of him would also be justified.

In this situation, I think Dahblue's stance that Rodriguez definitely meant that Michigan has no clue how to build a top-level team is not sufficiently supported by Rodriguez's quote. While it's true that my interpretation is also not 100% supported by Rodriguez's quote, I am also taking the stance of giving Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt, where the burden of proof is not required.

Fast version: You're right, but understand that my position of needing sufficienct evidence to justify criticism is constant regardless of who the accused party is, whether it's Rich Rodriguez, Dave Brandon, Brian Cook, Braylon Edwards, Osama bin Laden, Lloyd Brady, or even Dahblue.


September 8th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

I can appreciate your giving the benefit of the doubt, but when the plain language is evaluated, there's only one interpretation - RR is bashing the current athletic department and saying that they do not understand what "you" need to build a top-level program.  It's only by stretching and reaching and twisting that any other interpretation is possible.

He didn't use the past tense (which could have referred to his program).  He used the present tense and instead of saying "I" or "we", he said "you".  "You" refers to others (especially when speaking in the present tense about a program with which he is no longer related).  Bottom line is that what RR thinks doesn't matter, but the way people stretch to defend him is bizarre.


September 8th, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

You can call it whiny if you'd like and maybe he shouldn't have said anything, but people like you have no desire whatsoever to look at the failed marriage as a two-way street. That's simply childish.

I support our new coaches and don't blame them for this, but I will say that I have a strong hunch that the Bacon book next month will shine a light on what many already knew/suspected: that Michigan football had become beyond institutionally fucked in the modern era and that some of these cretents would have made life hard for any new coach that came in here.


coastal blue

September 8th, 2011 at 11:32 AM ^

Why wouldn't the former coach of Michigan, who also recruited our most high-profile player, be asked questions about Michigan football and Denard? 

All he can do is give his opinion and considering that Denard was fairly successful last year in the shotgun, is his really that wrong? 

Quite frankly, the rest of you are beyond petty at this point. Its a good thing you weren't being quoted by any sort of media or you would be hiding in shame at your ignorance. 


September 8th, 2011 at 11:39 AM ^

There's not a lot of scoffing here. RR makes a valid point.  He just approaches the game from a different philosphy than the current staff (e.g., impact of the type of O you run on your own D, both in practice and in game).  M tried his philosophy.  It worked very well last year on O (albeit with a once-in-a-lifetime athlete at QB), but the other elements were horrific. Hence change. His comments are of interest but not very relevant.

Silly Goose

September 8th, 2011 at 11:49 AM ^

The best way to use Tim Tebow is in the shotgun. The best way to use Cam Newton is in the shotgun. The best way to use Tom Brady is in the shotgun. The best way to use Denard Robinson is in the shotgun.


September 8th, 2011 at 12:06 PM ^

RR feels the best way to use anyone is in the shotgun and he always will feel this way because it's the only offense he knows how to run.  Borges is going to ensure that over the next 2 years Denard is comfortable and effective in and out of the gun. By the end ofthe year, Denard will be far more dangerous operating in the spread-power hybrid than in just the spread due to all of the wrinkles Borges will add to the offense over time. Denard will be effective without being in the gun all the time and he will likely be healthier longer.

Recruits at the QB position are now seeing us operate like many professional teams and this is a huge plus.

Btw, RR built a top tier team when the spread was new and defenses hadn't figured them out yet like when Alabama power figured out Texas spread in the national Championship game.  It seems nearly all the teams that are successfull using the spread now run a mix of spread and power both.  Borges is doing the same and Denard will flourish.


September 8th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

He's expressing his opinion.  Seems stupid to argue about it.  From his personal experience and success, the shotgun is "where it's at" and the best formation.  Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer, Bear Bryant and Bo Schembechler probably would all disagree because they ran option footbal out of the I or wishbone.  It probably does help the QB survey the field better.

Borges hasn't really unfurled his playbook yet. Once DRob starts flicking some screen passes out of various pro-sets to Shaw and Touissaint that go the freaking distance a la Skip Hicks and Deshaun Foster, I'm sure that even RichRod will be going: "Oh yeah, now I see what they're doing there. Nice."



September 8th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

Is whatever way secures a win, while also focusing on keeping him healthy for the entire season. Both options (shotgun / under center) provide the defense things to think about and to honor with their set up, the more we have the D thinking the better.  We don't need to run up stats in early games we just need to win the games.  This is important so we still have a healthy Denard when we need him at the end of the season against (Nebraska, OSU, B10 Championship game).  He's not going to get clobbered in the shotgun any worse than he will running 20+ times a game.

I don't think we should have him taking unnecessary hits early in the season that prevent him from being able to improvise (Be Denard) when we really need him later in the season.  All YPG, YPA numbers diminished as competition got stiffer last year, as well as Denard was dealing with more nagging injuries.

I couldn't care less what Denard’s stats are this year, if we win every game... and neither does he.

Also, don't care what Rich says... old news, wish him well in whatever he does.  But he’s just a reporter now, I only care what the current coaches have to say.

Go Blue, Keep Denard healthy (until we need to release him, yea like the Kraken on opposing D's!) 


September 8th, 2011 at 12:44 PM ^

Sorry RR, you seem like a nice enough guy and I will be forever grateful to you for Denard, but you really should stop talking out of your a$$.

I know you want to posture yourself as the architect of our turnaround who just ran out of time but you shouldn't feign a concern for Denard's safety when your offense by design puts QB's at significant risk.  I don't know how many times I heard you say, "I'd like to have 2 or 3 QB's I can win with."  That's because it's impossible for a QB in your system to stay healthy for a full season.

The way you keep Denard productive and healthy is to do exactly what Borges is doing.  Reduce the total number of plays the offense runs by slowing the pace; design plays that our running backs can get yards with; keep the opp. defense guessing with mutiple looks (including under center); and wear the opp. defense down with long sustained drives instead of running no huddle.  This has the added benefit of allowing our D to rest, recover and stay fresh.

RR's offense is designed to wear out opposing defenses with fast pace.  Unfortunately, it has the negative side effect of gassing his own defense.

micheal honcho

September 8th, 2011 at 3:42 PM ^

The big LEAST says you're wrong. Pat White & Slayton had the unique privlidge to play under an innovative offensive coach in by far the weakest conference in the country. Remember, UConn won that conference last year, meaning RRod's Wolverines, while not good enough to finish near the top of the Big 10 last year, would have dominated the Big Least as demonstrated by defeating its eventual champion.

I'll jump on the RR as football genius wagon just as soons as he wins a conference championship in a real conference. Until then he's just another coach. Only time will tell whether we or he missed the boat. I'm betting its more "he" then "we".


September 8th, 2011 at 6:56 PM ^

The argument wasn't about any sort of RR "genius" talk.  It had absolutely nothing to do with was about whether a qb in his system could stay healthy.  For the most part, Pat White did.  A major reason for that is that he had effective RB's to hand the ball of to...that's all.

Your whole statement really shows that, no matter what, you're not a fan of RR.  That's fine.  Just don't make shit up for the sake of jumping on the guy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Hoke hire if you feel that way about RichRod...I would think that going 60-26 in the Big LEAST (oh so clever) would still be significantly better than a sub-.500 record in the MAC and WAC. 


micheal honcho

September 9th, 2011 at 12:45 AM ^

Pat White stayed relatively healthy. Do you think if he'd played consecutive weeks against Alabama, Auburn, S. Carolina & Florida he would have stayed healthy?? He stayed healthy because he was in the big least.

Even Juice Williams, a bigger, stronger athlete than Pat White, could not stay healthy in the Big 10 running Zooks version of RR's offense.

As far as his record vs. Hoke. Thats a matter of fact I dont dispute. Hoke has something to prove just like RR did. Only difference is that I think Hoke knows it and RR never figured he had anything to prove. That somehow his stellar record in a castrated big east(check his record while Miami & Va tech were around) gave him carte blanche to to ram whatever schematics he wanted, with whatever assistant/chronies he wanted right up our blocked M shaped asses. Wins be damned, records be damned. We'll win eventually and this bunch of arrogant, self entitled pricks wil just have to sit on their hands and wait for it to happen.

The genius thing was my honest belief that in some ways RR is a real football innovater and offensively might eventually be considered a genius of sorts. Only act 3, if it takes place in a major conference against top level teams week in and week out, will reveal that to all of us. And if he takes over a Goergia or a Washington or a Texas Tech and wins consistantly, I"ll be the first on this site to say "we" missed the boat. Acting like his greatness is somehow a forgone conclusion is just premature IMHO. He needs to sharpen his edge against some tougher stones before I tip my hat to the man.

Hoke has a humility(although not to our rivals) that begats a man that understands the entire task laying ahead of him. Make no mistake, he stil has to get it done on the field and hang some B1G championships on his belt before he gets knighted among the great MIchigan coaches.


September 8th, 2011 at 1:30 PM ^

The job of the offense is to score touchdowns. The job of the defense is to stop the other team's offense. If our defense under RichRod wanted to be less tired, they should have gotten off the field after 3 plays instead of letting the opposing offense march down for TDs. Guess what, weather the offense scores on 1 play or 10, the score will still be 7-0 and the defense will still have stop the other team.

Also, I love random internet guy calling out established FBS head football coach for "talking out of his ass" about Denard Robinson, the guy he made the best dual threat QB in the history of college football last year.


September 8th, 2011 at 12:54 PM ^

The author of this site did a very good analysis of runing verses not running and the odds of staying healthy.   I believe it was determined that there is no difference.  It does not matter if you are being tackled on a run or being hit on a sack.  Football is a game of violence.  Do you limit the touches of your star running back to 10-15 out of fear of injury?  I hope the Titans do not listen to folks on this board and limit Chris Johnson to ten touches.

What any player can do is protect themselves.  Some runners know how to take a hit or make hits glancing blows and/or go down when there is nothing left to gain.  DR could probably do a better job of that.  I agree that it would be nice to win games with DR getting only ten touches.  However, in the signature games, I believe UM needs him running 25 times(Troy Smith) to have a chance.  We will lose if we are unable to score 30 points against the likes of Wisc, Neb, or OSU. 

The problem with DR being under center is the options of what he can do to pressure the defense go down.It will be easier to defend DR.  All the zone read runs go away.  DR under center running is not nearly so useful.  Also any run under center in a passing down gets tougher because he is running away from where he wants to go first.  If we had road graders like Wisc maybe under center works.  But not with this line.




Indiana Blue

September 8th, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

against any defense RR put up.  Isn't "stop" a defensive term?

Denard is a play-maker from any position on the field ... and the 2011 Wolverines will prove that!

Go Blue!