How vanilla will our offense be against WMU?

Submitted by Lordfoul on August 5th, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I ask this because I found myself daydreaming about Denard's first carry against WMU and all of the possibilities his talents bring and how Borges could make such a statement in his first game...

Then I realized this isn't what we would see back in the days where we had our confidence and swagger, when we tuned in each Saturday expecting to win most times.  If Michigan is back to that level again, we should be hoping that Borges shows Notre Dame nothing but pro-set to give them that to scheme against defensively.  Then we let Denard loose ala 2010, but this time under the lights.

I am guessing the O will be as vanilla as vanilla gets; probably not a snap from shotgun unless we are for some reason desperate, and hopefully little more than a live-game tryout for the starting running back position.  I also predict this will cause a closer-than-it-should-be victory and no end of hand wringing on this board and elsewhere.



August 5th, 2011 at 6:24 PM ^

I want all running plays right up the middle for 4 yards, except for the five runs and five passes by Denard that he needs to get his 250/250 game and kick off his Heisman campaign.


August 5th, 2011 at 7:14 PM ^

I agree with BlockM's comments. What I would like to see in the WMU game is a UM O-line that imposes its will from the beginning. If we go vanilla all game, that means that we were capable of running effectively. 

Pretty unlikely that we can just ram the ball down ND's throat, so that is the point where we are likely going to have to break out the playbook.

So really, there are two reasons that I want the WMU game to be vanilla. One is the keep the good stuff stashed for ND, but the other is that a run only game is a sign of the tough kind of offense that we hope to play . . . 

Blue boy johnson

August 5th, 2011 at 6:28 PM ^

I used to believe the vanilla stuff too, but as a season progresses I rarely see any team breaking out the secret weapons. For the most part it is just wishful thinking on the fans part, hoping and praying the team does have a bag of tricks on the sideline, waiting for the right moment to spring onto the unsuspecting and baffled opponent. Seems the stuff of Hollywood to me.


August 5th, 2011 at 7:12 PM ^

That is not completely true.  I can't remember if it was last year or two years ago, but RR had certain plays and formations that we never saw early in the season.

The first one I can remember is the quick pitch to the outside.  I think the media saw this play in practice one day and reported on it after which we closed our practice to the media.

I think we broke out the "Wolverine Formation" late in the season as well.  I liked that formation because it allowed you to use two tight ends in shotgun giving Denard the run pass option. 



August 5th, 2011 at 8:03 PM ^

I tend to agree with the previous person, that the "vanilla fallacy" is just that.  When you mention certain formations that were not shown early in the season, I think those are more likely formations that RR had not installed yet.   Remember, when the season started he said the offense only had about 60% of the playbook to work with, or something like that.  The offense picks up new formations and plays throughout the season.  So, what one fan may call "being vanilla" may just be showing the offense that has been installed so far.

I agree with the previous person that for the past several years I've heard about this "vanilla" offense and looked forward to seeing special plays unleashed later in the season, very few actually happen.  Carry's teams actually did this more than RR's teams (think about the flea flicker vs. Wisconsin or the Navarre to Breaston to Navarre pass against Minnesota).  Carr's teams were always good for 1-2 trick plays late in the season. 


August 5th, 2011 at 8:38 PM ^

The vanilla thing is not a total fallacy.  In 2009, MSU lost to CMU then unleashed an entirely different defensive scheme on us, and many thought that they lost to CMU because they didn't want to show anything.  Furthermore, 2006 OSU came out swinging with a straight up passing spread in 2006 to our surprise.  Plenty of teams save the good stuff for the big opponents.  Heck if you want to see another example, look no further than SDSU vs Utah last year, when they unleashed a no huddle offense for the first couple of drives to Utah's surprise.


August 5th, 2011 at 6:28 PM ^

I hope the offense against WMU is like vanilla ice cream with vanilla morsels served over vanilla wafers.  

Michigan's best chance to beat ND this year is for ND to have no idea of what is coming.  I hope Borges sticks to about three formations and ten plays, and Michigan still has more than enough to overpower WMU.  



August 5th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

I would really hope they aren't surprised by the UM offense this year.  I expect them to defend UM very similarly to the way they took on Miami, though I seriously doubt Dennard will throw the same number of picks.


August 5th, 2011 at 6:35 PM ^

Borges has already said we will see more shotgun than a normal pro style offense. Don't be surprised to see the read option several times. Lots of Waggle and boot leg plays as well. He knows he has to get Denard out of the pocket to be the ultimate threat.


August 5th, 2011 at 8:47 PM ^

Definitely agree. I do think we can get by WMU/EMU without showing anything (other than Denard=fast). I also really hope we see a lot of the same offensive stuff that worked last year. Hopefully a back emerges that can take some of the load off of Denard for the rest of the schedule, but if we don't have a back that can tear apart the directional schools we're in big trouble for this season.


August 6th, 2011 at 9:00 AM ^

Um, I do? Read my posts above that one. I said that I want a ridiculously vanilla offense against WMU and Eastern, with a return to some spread concepts and what we saw in the SDSU/Navy game last year as the norm for the B1G/ND schedule. Hence my line about leaving a RB to tear up the directionals up the gut, DR hitting the bench early against Western, ect.

blue in dc

August 5th, 2011 at 7:15 PM ^

I think we'll see lots of handoffs - not to be vanilla, but to see if we can get our running game going. I think we'll see lots of Denard under center, not to be vanilla, but to establish he can do it. I think it's way to late to hide the fact that Denard is anything but vanilla, but that if we can start to establish that he can do the vanilla stuff, to make everything else that more effective.
<br>I exspect that we see some broken plays where Denard runs and I hope we see some passing plays where they give Denard a little room to run and he takes it. If that all happens, ND will have plenty to think about


August 5th, 2011 at 8:14 PM ^

I'm not sure vanilla is exactly what I'd like to see. Frankly, I'd like to see them practice their bread and butter plays. Whether that is off tackle left, draw, or read option it dosent matter. There are enough constraint play variations in play action and variations on the read option to keep defenses honest when it comes to ND.


August 5th, 2011 at 8:15 PM ^

I'm not sure vanilla is exactly what I'd like to see. Frankly, I'd like to see them practice their bread and butter plays. Whether that is off tackle left, draw, or read option it dosent matter. There are enough constraint play variations in play action and variations on the read option to keep defenses honest when it comes to ND.


August 5th, 2011 at 8:28 PM ^

VANILLA..........There is no way I want to see this type of offense.   A team competing for the Big Ten Championship should not have to pull out VANILLA offenses during certain weeks so that they can pull out secret weapons, or bunny's out of hats.   LINE UP and run over every opponent possible.  Build confidence in the players.  You do not build confidence by stepping off the gas.  Play ball and beat the opponent across from you!!!!