No TDs scored ... becoming an issue

Submitted by stopthewnba on November 3rd, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I'll just leave this at statistics alone:


Coach Seasons Games with no TD vs MSU/osu
Schembechler 21 6 of 247 (2.4%) .667 (28-13-1)
Moeller 5 1 of 60 (1.7%) .600 (6-3-1)
Carr 13 4 of 162 (2.5%) .615 (16-10)
Rodriguez 3 0 of 37 (0.0%) .000 (0-6)
Hoke 2+ 4 of 34 (11.7%) .400 (2-3)


This actually doesn't paint the full picture, as Hoke's team scored a TD in his first 16 games.

They've failed to score a TD in 4 of their past 18 games (2012 ND, MSU, NEB, 2013 MSU)



November 3rd, 2013 at 10:38 AM ^

Sample size is way too small to draw conclusions. Obviously the offense is something none of us are happy about, but 2 of those 4 games were against a very elite MSU defense that let up 3 points and 0 points the two weeks prior.

Furthermore, the record against MSU/OSU needs a closer inspection. How many of the teams taht Moeller and Carr faced were legitimately good? MSU is legitimately very good, and was very good in 2011 as well. Neither of those losses were that surprising and I wouldnt be surprised if some of Carr/Moeller/Bo teams lost to the 2011 or 2013 versions of MSU on the road too.


November 3rd, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

RR scored at least one TD with Threet/Sheridan  in every game. Lets not sugar coat this. Borges, Funk are absolute failures.

LOL most of LLoyds teams would have handled those 2011/2013 sparty teams. Braylon/MM/Terrell would have feasted on that 1 on1 coverage.

snarling wolverine

November 3rd, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

Given that Lloyd's 2007 team (with Henne, Hart and Manningham - all more or less healthy at that point) barely beat MSU's so-so team that year, I don't know that they would have "handled" MSU in 2011 or '13.

Dantonio's a good coach and he's obsessed with beating us.  He'll be tough to beat as long as he's around.


November 3rd, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

First of all, I'm not defending Borges or Funk. I think they are both doing a terrible job. But I don't like when people just post statistics without any real analysis which is the bigger issue I have with this post.

Is losing to Toledo 13-10 or Ohio State 42-7 an accomplishment because we scored a TD? I donno, even though the game was horrible its nice to at least be bowl eligible consistently which is something Rodriguez only managed in 33% of his seasons (if we're going to bring up ridiculously small sample sizes) compared to Hoke's 100% rate.

I have no doubt that Braylon/MM/Terrell all would've done much better against MSU than this UM team did yesterday, but I think their win rates over time would've been lower. When you post MSU/OSU win percentages, but MSU had a garbage team since the late 80s it makes it look like you're accomplishing a great deal more than you are. The reality is we beat OSU occasionally and MSU consistently, hence the 60-65% win rate against those rivals. If MSU's team was as good as the current MSU teams are, I bet it would've looked a lot closer to 50% win rate against rivals (losing a little more often to OSU and a little less often to MSU).

Who knows what's going to happen the rest of the year. Obviously Michigan will be huge underdogs to OSU, but they are undefeated at home and you always have a shot (that's why the games are played). If by some miracle Michigan pulls out a win against OSU then Hoke will be 3-3 against MSU/OSU and 2-1 against Notre Dame in his 3 years. Granted that doesn't seem extremely likely, but at least let the 3rd year finish before looking at 2-3 game sample sizes.


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:02 PM ^

Not good or even great ones, but he had veterans who had played.  David Molk was in the middle.

Devin Gardner has no time to throw because our OL and RBs can't block.  It's always 1 guy missing an assignment or being put in an impossible position on every play.  

But the RR comparisons don't work because the OLs are different.

Maize and Blue…

November 3rd, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

In 2008 RR had Schilling and four guys who had never started a game in their career. They were all lightly regarded and had Threet/Sherideath at QB. Funk is a total failure as an Oline coach in his time at Michigan and Borges is Narduzzi's Bit*h.
The bottom line is this staff had two weeks to prepare for this game and not one of them came up with a decent plan. That is totally unacceptable. Either MSU has much better players than Michigan does (meaning all the recruiting sites are wrong) or they have superior talent development and coaching.


November 3rd, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

Greg Frey was perhaps the most valuable member of Michigan's coaching staff under Rodriguez. He turned some poor/mediocre talent into fairly productive lines.

One of the big problems with the OL right now, in my opinion, is a lack of identity. Michigan runs zone, power, iso, read options, etc., but they don't run any of them well. The inverted veer is their best running play, but if the defense knows it's coming and loads the box on the strong side, then you're SOL.

angry byrne

November 3rd, 2013 at 10:41 AM ^

Even 2008, UM scored a TD every game?  That's amazing, and yes, despite small sample size and whatnot, pretty damning of the current offensive staff in my opinion.  To take it a step further, as more teams are scoring more points these days, to not score a TD in as many games as Carr and nearly as many games as Bo is pretty bad indeed.

Mr. Yost

November 3rd, 2013 at 10:50 AM ^

Is how we can't limit the weaknesses until we get the guys that we want and get experience with them.

It drives me crazy.

I'm not saying we've got Peyton Manning and we're trying to run a wishone option offense. But we're still doing things that expose our weaknesses.

If you have a weak OL, get the ball out quickly

If you have a weak OL, call more max protection

If you have a QB that holds the ball too long, get the ball out quickly

If you have a QB that makes questionable decisions, give him simple reads

If your RB can't block, put a TE in the backfield

...or do none of this and play MANBALL, run play action pass 50% of the time, and run exotic plays that take too long to develop. 

snarling wolverine

November 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

We actually did a lot of those things.  We had 6 OL on mutilple plays, often with Toussaint in the backfield.  Even then though, the protection was still pretty bad.

We also threw several quick-hitter passes to Funchess right after he got off the line, but these always seemed to be in heavy traffic and most were incomplete.

I don't know for sure, but I don't think a lot of Gardner's reads were that complicated.  Certainly, the throws to Funchess off the line were not.  The pocket just kept collapsing on him.  

Now, I'll agree with you on the over-reliance of play-action, but it seemed like we couldn't consistently protect Gardner under almost any circumstances when MSU blitzed up the middle.



November 3rd, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

"If you have a weak OL, get the ball out quickly." - State's D takes away the quick inside routes. Plus their Double A-gap blitz takes the shortest route to the QB, thus minimizing the amount of time the QB has to make a read and get rid of the ball. 

"If you have a weak OL, call more max protection." - Michigan does this to some extent. The issue with max protection is that it means there are fewer receivers running passing routes. Maxprotection also doesn't help matters if one of the lineman whiff on their block. Something that happened to Bosch a few times yesterday. And happened to Miller earlier this year. And Molk 2 years ago at State. 

"If you have a QB that holds the ball too long, get the ball out quickly." - Your statement is amusing because your proposed solution (getting the ball out quickly) is mitigated by the problem (holds the ball too long). This is complicated by defensive schemes (MSU's) who take away a lot of the quick reads and try to make you beat them over the top, on longer developing plays.

"If you have a QB that makes questionable decisions, give him simple reads." - Michigan does this. They run stuff to just one side of the field and ran a number of roll-outs yesterday. They also called some slide protections. All of these are designed to simplify the process for Gardner. He's actually made a lot of progress here since the beginning of the season. But yesterday he rushed some throws and misread some plays in an effort to get the ball out faster and not get hit. The o-line issues compounded the matter by continuously making mistakes, Lewan included. 

"If your RB can't block, put a TE in the backfield." - This would be a viable option if there was a TE on the roster with the size and intestinal fortitude for blocking. But the TE options are Funchess (a WR), Butt (a true freshman), and AJ Williams (hurt and largely ineffective due to technique issues."

Mr. Yost

November 3rd, 2013 at 7:28 PM ^

There are plenty of ways to mitigate team weaknesses. It doesn't guarantee a win, but it limits mistakes.

Too often we're running PA pass plays with double moves to try and freeze the LBs and it does nothing but give Gardner less time to throw. It also doesn't stop the pass rush and leaves the QB running for his life.

I'm sure you'll point out the few times that it worked, and that's fine. But I'd rather take away those 2-3 huge chunk plays and ALSO take away the negative plays and just dink and dunk my way down the field.

Are balls going to be dropped? Sure. Are you going to punt more? Probably. But you're also going to extend drives. You're going to get more first downs. You're going to give your playmakers a chance to turn a small gain into a big one. You're going to put the pressure on the defense to continue to tackle and make plays.

Instead, we run plays trying to set up for the kill shot and it doesn't work vs. elite teams when we're not one.

Protect your team, shorten the game, limit mistakes, give the defense rest.

It's like having a good running game, eventually you're going to move the safeties up...THEN you've set up the double moves and PA pass that we love so much.

It's a common misconception that you have to setup the pass with the run. You can ALSO setup the pass with the pass.

Indiana put 28 points on that defense and had only 1 catch over 20 yards. Meanwhile we had 4 catches over 20 yards and scored 6 points.

Case and point.


November 3rd, 2013 at 10:57 AM ^

in a biased manner for a preconceived agenda. They scored no TDs against Sparty. This is true. MSU's D has stopped 4 opponents from scoring TDs this year. And they haven't allowed a TD since October 12. Michigan State's D is outstanding. They are disciplined, experienced, and physical. This year's unit is probably the best out of the Dantonio era. 

You make it sound like Michigan can't score against anyone when in fact the Michigan offense scored 145 points in the previous 3 games. How is no TDs an issue? 



November 3rd, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

almost every team in the country has then against very good defenses. Almost every team struggles to score elite Ds. This is what makes the defense elite. See:

Alabama 2012 - only 2 teams scored 3 or more TDs. 8 scored 1 or 0. 

MSU 2013 - only 1 team scored 3 or more TDs. 6 scored 1 or 0. 

Notre Dame 2012 - 'Bama was the only team to score 3 or more TDs. 9 scored 1 or 0. 

These are just 3 examples. 


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

According to this message board we have a dozen excuses ranging from O line youth, to poor schemes, to poor QB play, to no heart, to not physical, etc., etc.   There is only one excuse: AL BORGES.  Until he is fired and replaced with a real offensive coordinator, it's pointless to split hairs over the abundance of other excuses as to why we don't score TDs vs decent defenses.


November 3rd, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

So you're telling me if I dig through the PREVIOUS 42 SEASONS, I won't find one other stout defense?


Law of large numbers .... the fact that we have not scored a TD in 4 of our last 18 games when we failed to do so a total of 11 times going back to 1968 speaks for itself.   We don't make adjustments.  We come out and broadcast what we're going to do, and when the opponent makes adjustments, it gets ugly.


I noticed a trend.  I looked back to previous results and the trend I noticed is supported as something that didn't use to happen often at all.  There was no agenda, just the thought of 'how often did we used to fail to score a TD?'


November 3rd, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

There's a direct correlation to our diminishing returns on offense to our diminishing offensive line play. The less push we get the less we score. With Molk Omameh and Schofield in the middle we could bully other teams up front, even injured. Now lowly UConn and even Akron push us around up front at will.


November 3rd, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

I only went back as far as 2008 on this, but it might be a better way to look at what is actually being discussed here. Some time ago, I fiddled with the idea of using average points per red zone drive as a means of measuring scoring efficiency. It might be a more accurate measure of how they are actually doing when in a position to score. 

Games with no TDs don't seem to say much, but perhaps I am misunderstanding you. I am not sure what these stats are actually trying to say other than on four occasions in Hoke's era, we've been stymied to the point where we didn't get into the end zone. Sample size and other caveats would definitely apply to such an analysis. 

YEAR Name Drives Scores Points Pct Avg. Points Per Successful Drive Avg. Points Per Drive
2013 Michigan 36 30 190 83.33% 6.33 5.28
2012 Michigan 46 43 243 93.48% 5.65 5.28
2011 Michigan 58 49 293 84.48% 5.98 5.05
2010 Michigan 56 44 291 78.57% 6.61 5.20
2009 Michigan 48 32 195 66.67% 6.09 4.06
2008 Michigan 35 27 162 77.14% 6.00 4.63

Interestingly, we're as efficient as we were last year. What is a little concerning - moreso that perhaps the stats the OP posted - is that we're outgaining teams on average by a lesser margin than last year. In 2012, we outgained teams by an average of 4.65 yards, and this year, that is down to 3.47 yards. I think that comes back to offensive line problems and finding a consistent rushing game. 



November 3rd, 2013 at 5:25 PM ^

Perhaps an interesting take would be look at average field position in games with no TDs. I do not know if the issue is they just can't get to the redzone but it would appear that getting to the redzone does result in points from your data. Maybe those games they tend to start deep in M Territory and on others the touchdowns are due to say turnovers on the short side of the field.

There is a lot to look at but I think there is a lot that could be done for the evaluation.


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

We didn't beat ourselves.  We didn't commit a single turnover until garbage time, when Devin could barely walk at that point.  Yes, one bad snap and a couple of untimely penalties on offense, but even those might well be attributed to being mentally rattled by a superior opponent.

We got our asses kicked by a better team.


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:08 PM ^

Given that the bad snap came right after we'd picked up two first downs and driven from near our endzone to midfield, I don't think it was a function of being mentally rattled.  



November 3rd, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

Appreciate the additional insights.

I do undestand the limitations of statistics ... my genesis here was literally the thought 'we never used to not score TDs, right?"


It's one thing from the RRod era to realize we were inept due to personnel and execution.

This seems to be a new direction - I can recall many games in the past two seasons where we come out, the opponent stops what we're trying to do, and we just keep doing it anyway.   That 3rd and 2 QB option from Staae's red zone was a horrible play call.   I don't think we tried to roll out Gardner until our penultimate drive.   


Running into a brick wall over & over again (no pun intended) isn't going to weaken the brick wall.


November 3rd, 2013 at 11:59 AM ^

The offensive identity is the issue.  We have none.  We cannot block, throw, catch, or run if our lives depended on it.  State is elite on D, but I bet OSU will score at least 24 points on them in the B1G championship game.


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

He was the backup plan when we expected to hire a big name and whiffed at the last second. He was an assistant under a legendary coach and as a headcoach had one year where he unexpectedly saw some decent success. He's great off the field, but isn't elite. Because the guy before him was bad, he'll be given a longer tenure in order to maintain some stability and because his first year he did fairly well.


I expect after going two more 8-5 seasons we'll go after David Shaw, Harbaugh, etc


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

It's a sober analysis of the situation. Hoke wasn't the first choice, neither was Tommy. Both are good guys, but weren't great with Xs and Os. 


There's really nothing in Hoke's resume that suggests he can be elite. That's why so many fans, including Brian, were so leery. We're looking at a 9-4, 8-5 season in year three. 


November 3rd, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

That is sobering.

I think most of Borges's gameplans make sense, including yesterday's.  But it seems like coming up with Plan B when Plan A isn't working is a problem.  I thought we'd at least be able to protect Gardner with max-protection, but even then it was a huge challenge.  So what to do?

One thing I miss from the Carr era is the trick plays.  Many times Carr used these to jump-start the offense.  The 2001 season, when we seriously lacked offensive talent by our usual standards, was full of tricks to scrounge up points where we could get them.  We ran reverses (and sometimes double-reverses) on a weekly basis to compensate for the lack of an outside running game, and broke out a crazy single-wing play to help there as well.

The Transcontinental (the throwback from the WR to QB) especially was effective, even with our statuesque QBs at the time.  I think it's a shame we never ran it with Denard, and we haven't so far with Gardner either.  I think it would have been a nice play to bust out yesterday.  We already run a lot of pass plays out of the stacked formation, so why not throw to the guy in the back and have him toss it back to Gardner?

When we were lining up for the FG down 6-3 late in the half, I was thinking that was a prime opportunity for a fake.  Against MSU, why not take the chance?  If you fail you're still within three points.  

Obviously, you can't totally make a living on these things (the 2001 offense overall was poor even with them), but in a key game, they can be very effective.  It was worth a try yesterday. 


Blue Durham

November 3rd, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

Agree regarding Borges and Plan A, Plan B etc.

While watching the Penn State and MSU games, I couldn't help but wonder why Borges didn't seem to have any contingency plans.

What should the offense do if the defense puts 9 or 10 guys in the box? Run Toussaint again. And again. And again.

What if Michigan State is getting huge pressure across the line of scrimmage and is getting a lot of pressure of Gardner. Drop strait back and try to throw long. And again. And again.

In both games, I saw very little change in approach after the 1st quarter when it was apparent what each defense was committed to do.

Indiana Blue

November 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

is also a concern.  MSU pulled off 2 gadget plays yesterday.  Their first offense play was a trick play, even though the TV announcers were unaware.  If your fullback is 25 yards in the flat ALL BY HIMSELF ... then its a called play.  It went for a bunch and was the only 1st down on the drive that gave them a FG.  Then the 3rd down play after they picked Devin.  Just a little end around - but also caught us.

When Taylor got his pick and returned the ball to the MSU side of the field (I believe the score was 16 - 6) and it was the PERFECT time for a trick play.  So what did our OC call ?  A Fitz run for a loss ... what a fucking surprise.  Momentum was ours for THAT play and after the run ... IT WAS GONE.  

Go Blue!


November 3rd, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

First, on the no-TDs comparison, take a look at RR's 2008 offensive stats. We were near the bottom 20 in every grouping excellent running game, which was still mediocre. But we had at most two returning starters from 2007 (Mathews and maybe some other chump once Boren left). At least some excuse for ineptitude. 

Even with two white stiffs at QB we scored 21 vs. MSU (though they had a mediocre D that year).

This team is in Year 3 of Borges and Funk's control. Best two OL returned, as did TB, one WR, TE, Devin. Simply no excuse when you know MSU lives by the up-the-middle blitzes. Borges and Funk had two stinking weeks to get ready! The only strategy against that is a rolling pocket, which takes away some of the passing lanes, but gives you time to throw or run. 

Another play that should have been used - jet sweep to Norfleet, Gallon, etc. At least the THREAT of it. 


November 3rd, 2013 at 3:52 PM ^

I wasn't happy when Hoke decided to bring Borges with him, but I gave him a chance anyway.  I think I've seen enough of him.  Time to show him the door.   You can't call only one screen pass all game when your opponents blitz you every other play.