QB Lead

Submitted by Ziff72 on November 7th, 2011 at 9:09 AM

One of the reasons I did not fear the coaching change slowing down the offenses progress from last year was the fact that(I think everyone would agree) our best play was not even a spread option play last year.  It was simply Denard taking the handoff, rb blocks and Denard reads the blocking and hits a hole.   This was a simple numbers advantage that allowed Denard to use his athleticism.  This was the play that allowed the "QB Oh Noes" to happen.  

This play has disappeared from the offense and for that to happen is pretty surprising/disappointing.  If they were trying to save him from abuse that's fine, but with 3 games left it's time to take the car out of the garage and let her go.

I took a look at last years tapes.  Look at some of last years offense ever snap videos.  Does denard look like a differnt guy running?  Everyone is looking at Denard's passing which is valid, but he looks very undecisive running.


Deep Under Cover

November 7th, 2011 at 9:13 AM ^

I think the play has disappeared because defenses figured out later last year how to stop it.  It wasn't working as well toward the end of the year and most teams have caught on this year.  As for why he looks indecisive, I think the above is part of it.  Teams are closing those gaps he would normally take so he has to be more patient and really wait for the hole to open up, which doesn't always happen, unfortunately.


November 7th, 2011 at 10:13 AM ^

M does call the QB lead once in a while (I remember Speilman saying something like Denard onlt runs on designed plays, not during a scramble and that's Borges' problem).

I think the other issue is that no oposing DC thinks Denard can throw an accurate downfield pass, and so they are scheming to prevent him from running.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to solve that problem (and I'm not the OC, obviously).


November 7th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

does NOT work this year.  Too many bodies stacked up to stop it.  

The one thing he NEEDS to do, though, is improvise on those pass plays where he first couple reads are covered.  I'm always yelling "RUN" when he's standing there with tons of space in front of him, but I think he's too concerned about staying in the pocket and finding a receiver.


November 7th, 2011 at 9:23 AM ^

you in one particular scenario (perhaps more but especially in one).  1st and goal from anywhere on the 5 yard line or inside.  Timeouts permitting, and obviously not in a scenario like the final series against Iowa, but near the goal line, you will often find smoke coming from my ears when we line up in a tight formation.  They just need to spread the field out and let him find a hole in that scenario.  Do it 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down, and if you need to, do it on fouth.  There could be a very effective option look from this as well, which would provide a wrinkle that could keep the D ends honest.


November 7th, 2011 at 9:23 AM ^

The only thing I can surmise is that Denard is focused so much on improving his passing that he's put his running ability on the back burner.  Spielman said as much during the broadcast, saying that Denard should use his passing lanes for running when he discovers that his first option is covered.  I think Denard staying in the pocket longer is his biggest change and, in this layman's opinion, has made him less dangerous and less feared by defenses.  He hasn't tested them with his legs on passing downs at all, really.



November 7th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

I agree with folks about rolling DRob out more on passing plays.  First it limits his options on where to pass to, so it is less likely a poor decision is made.  Secondly, when he is rolling out, he has some momentum going that if he decides to run, he already is moving.  All the D Lines we have faced (minus MSU) this year are coaching their lineman to just stand back keep him in the pocket and wait for DRob to scramble, and then contain him.  Hence the Iowa lineman who batted down 3 of his passes in the last game, just sitting back and waiting.  When defenses want to pressure our QB, they are getting to him usually from a blitzing CB or LB. 


November 7th, 2011 at 10:42 AM ^

a) I thought Brian, et al had decided Denard is less accurrate when he rolls out or throws on the move,

b) I seem to recall yelling Run, Denard, Run a lot last year, and thinking he was running after finding his first two reads not open earlier this year. So this seems to be a developing change as we progress through the season, and

c) is it possible that the strategy against Iowa was more conservative to keep Denard healthy for the last two games?


November 7th, 2011 at 9:28 AM ^

I just wish he would get the edge and take his 3-4 yards instead of trying to cutback and slipping to the ground. Has anyone noticed him "falling" a lot too?


November 7th, 2011 at 9:31 AM ^

yes, he always falls when he has a good 10 yards to get up field..


I fear he will never learn to take the passing lane and run for 30-50 yards sometimes..


I don't know if he just isn't that smart to run it, or is trying to prove he can be a passer.  The sooner he learns to step up in the pocket and take what the D is giving him the more dangerous he will become.


I can't see how any D fears him the way he is currently playing


November 7th, 2011 at 12:38 PM ^

so maybe it is the shoes.

Last year he wore Scorch SuperFlies. This year it looks like he is wearing adiZeroes or Lightening Flies. The Scorches have an asymmetrical cleat pattern under the ball of the foot that may help with cuts.

[Edit: I am wrong. A look at the AA.com photo gallery shows Denard still wears Scorch SuperFlies. Interesting so do the linemen (Adidas makes another shoe for linemen, but I guess our guys prefer the increased mobility.) DG, Vince Smith, Tree, and the DBs wear either adiZeroes or Lightening Flies.]

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2011 at 12:04 PM ^

That is why he slips a lot.  Notice that he often cuts off of his inside foot.  

It has been proven that if you cut successfully off your inside foot it is faster and more efficient (contrary to popular belief), however, if you don't have the correct center of balance you are more prone to slipping (which is why cutting on the outside foot is generally accepted).  When Denard is trying to cut quickly, his feet aren't under him, but rather to the side opposite he is cutting, thus him slipping.  Call me old fashioned, but I would like to see him cut off his outside foot, have a bit more power going forward, and assure the extra few yards he would get.


November 7th, 2011 at 9:32 AM ^

denard is like a caged animal ready to take off and run with the onther animals, only the zoo keeper wont let hime run cause hes afraid the animal will get hurt. i dont understand when people say "teams figured out how to stop denard and thata why he doesnt run as much". thats like saying teams figured out how to stop running backs so teams dont use the running back any more.  i say hogwash. if the offensive line blocks for denard and opens holes he can run as better or well than the running backs.


November 7th, 2011 at 9:42 AM ^

Just as the slightly annoying ESPN analyst was repeating all game, I think Denard needs to learn to tuck the ball and scramble for huge yardage. I'm not sure if Borges is telling him not to do this or Denard just wants to pass the ball because that's the play call, but something should change here. I'm not a fan of the Denard spread run. It just seems like it slows him down, to me at least, while he is waiting for blocks to set up. He's just slowly jogging to the outside and when the blocks don't set up he is tackled before he can get anywhere. Defenses have that play figured out. There's not a whole lot defenses can do if he's just scrambling on a passing play other than spy him. I hope to see Borges do something/anything to get Denard out of the pocket and using his legs. I understand that's probably why he uses the double QB plays, but that isn't enough (and in all honesty should just be thrown out).

Look Up_See Blue

November 7th, 2011 at 9:52 AM ^

One play that was very effective last year that I have not seen them run this year was the Denard fake draw to pull in the D, and throw it over the top to Roundtree who usually was lined up in the slot  That play worked well against Notre Dame last year and many other opponents.  I have not seen them run anything similar to this play.  Anyone have any ideas as to why we haven't seen this play or something similar this season?

El Jeffe

November 7th, 2011 at 9:53 AM ^

I think there are about 11 things Borges could do differently with Denard to maximize his effectiveness, but he's not doing (m)any of them.

People need to understand that this is the cost of changing a coach. The new guy gets to run his stuff. And when everyone bitches about him not running the other guy's stuff, he gets mad and snaps at poor Heiko (or was it Ace?). This is why teams don't just change coaches willy nilly (unless you're ND--zing!). Transition costs are unavoidable.

If at the beginning of the year someone had told you that M would be 7-2 with losses to MSU and Iowa, you probably not only would have been grudingly accepting of it, but you would have thought it was a reasonable scenario, if not even a bit overly optimistic. The reason we have adjusted our expectations mid-season is that the B1G turned out to be a flaming pile of horseshit, and the MSU and Iowa games were eminently winnable. In those two cases, the upgrade we got from Mattison didn't surmount the downgrade (conditional on personnel) we got from Borges.

Finally, if you are a person who wanted RR gone and are also complaining about Borges, you need to look in the mirror and say to yourself "I am not a reasonable person."

Kilgore Trout

November 7th, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

With that out of the way...

I am in complete agreement that there is a cost to transition.  It just gets frustrating on an emotional level when you watch the last two successful drives of the game and the last drive of the first half before the INT and realize that they can still run a fast paced spread and look really good.  I would just like to see more of it.  Iowa was a team on the brink and, in my opinion, we should have been hitting on the quick spread offense from the beginning.


November 7th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

I think that if you had said at the beginning of the season we'd be 7-2 at this point, AND that we'd have been right there in winnable games on those 2 losses, you'd have been branded overly optimistic.

I'm thrilled to be where we are, and Im stuck in Iowa. Sure, I wish we'd won, but I think the refs cost us a good 2 touchdowns, what with the bad pi calls and the shenanigans at the end. You can't always go on the road and give yourself a 2 TD cushion to deal with referee mistakes, and it's hard to argue they didn't affect the game. Bad PI calls resulted in both our turnovers, and without those, I think we win.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:00 PM ^

Because I agree with everything you say (and that's sure to freak you out and fill you with doubt).

Though I do wonder about the last line....if he's to be taken at his word, isn't Brian in that category of wanting RR gone, but complaining about Borges?  I mean, he went from "he needed to go" to "I'm glad he's gone", but has nothing but complaints about Borges.  Maybe it just needs the modifier of "if you were complaining about RR's offense...."

Look Up_See Blue

November 7th, 2011 at 10:07 AM ^

I certainly agree with your analysis about the record.  I would've danced with glee 8 months ago knowing we had a 7-2 record up to this point.  However, I think that once the team started winning and playing better defense, the expectations increased.  Now, people are frustrated because after a couple losses the fingerpointing begins.  sparty outplayed Michigan but I don't really believe Iowa did.  That being said, if they take 2 of 3 to finish the year that will be a great season and possible BCS At-Large depending on how everyone else finishes.

Look Up_See Blue

November 7th, 2011 at 10:08 AM ^

I certainly agree with your analysis about the record.  I would've danced with glee 8 months ago knowing we had a 7-2 record up to this point.  However, I think that once the team started winning and playing better defense, the expectations increased.  Now, people are frustrated because after a couple losses the fingerpointing begins.  sparty outplayed Michigan but I don't really believe Iowa did.  That being said, if they take 2 of 3 to finish the year that will be a great season and possible BCS At-Large depending on how everyone else finishes.


November 7th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

but I kind of like where we are right now. The last thing we need at the end of this year is a bowl against a juggernaut. I would like to play someone we can destroy and have tons of confidence coming into next year. I agree that finishing 2-1 in the next three games would put us in a good position. Don't get me wrong, I want to win them all. I just don't want to face a badass SEC team until we have another spring/summer to prepare.

I am really impressed with how Denard is improving as a pocket passer, and he is now going through his reads to find open recievers. Compare that to last year and he is really getting better fast. He still has a long way to go, but I really think this all sets us up for a big upset of Alabama in Dallas next year. Roll Wolverines!


November 7th, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

You already know you are in for a beating so I'll let you off easy, but you can't have that attitude.  It's simply unacceptable as a competitor.  

1. The SEC has no offense that we need to fear.  LSU and Alabama have great defense but we're not playing them.  No matter who we played we would not be embarassed.

2. Not wanting to succeed to play down a level is just wrong.   Are you the guy that when you are picking teams for basketball you stack your teams for easy wins?   Do you rig your 8yr olds soccer draft so you get the best kids?   I know a lot of people do it, but I don't get it.  I'm hyper competititve, but I would rather lose on a fair field than win an easy game.  To win a game with little competition is worthless,  it offers no satisfaction.  

I'd much rather play Georgia and lose  28-24 than beat Ohio 56-10 in the Motor City Bowl.   The satisfaction of winning a game as an underdog is simply the best feeling in sports, behind winning a championship and since we are not in the running for any championships competition is all we have left.



November 7th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

That is the entire list of "badass SEC teams" this year. We will not be facing either of them in a bowl, most likely. Arkansas is the third best team by a pretty good margin, but they will probably play in the Cotton Bowl. I would guess we either play Georgia, South Carolina, or Auburn in the Outback Bowl when all is said and done. Any of those would be a winnable game, imo.


November 7th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

When you change from one system to the other, a lot of plays "disappear from the offense."  I still think Denard is playing hurt, and that they are trying to save him a lot of wear and tear.  Devin Gardner has a lot of potential, but at this point, he is a downgrade from Denard when he comes in.  We don't really know one way or the other, but Bellomy is probably not close to ready.  

There is no Tate Forcier to bail the team out if Denard gets hurt, so Hoke and Borges are trying to do whatever they can to keep Denard healthy enough to play.  If that means they have to take a play or two out of the offense, that's fine with me.  


November 7th, 2011 at 11:01 AM ^

The point was that this play is a play anyone could run and learn in 2 minutes and we already know the play and we've run it this year.   I said I understand if we're saving him, but we just blew our chance at the B10 so it didn't work trying to save him and we only got 3 games left so let it go.

The other point that I didn't make is we are still running Denard on that stupid pin and pull play that has not worked much this year and we are running some of the zone read stuff.   We need to dump the pin and pull power runs and go with the qb lead which is more effective and sets up the long passes, because it forces the defense to gamble more to stop it.  


November 7th, 2011 at 11:47 AM ^

I don't get the whole "at the beginning of the year we would be thrilled to be 7-2 at this point" thinking. This is exactly where we are supposed to be. We have played 2 tough teams (I don't consider ND as tough) and been beaten by both. At the beginning of the year, I thought we would be around 7-2 at this point and looking at everything now, we should be going to the B10 championship game. We were outcoached in 2 very winnable games and this is the worst I've seen the big 10 in 20 years. We miss 2 of the best teams in the league and play 8 home games.


November 7th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

Borges has coached several.  Robinson and Gardner are still "freshmen" in this offense.

Borges made it clear in the offseason that he intended to reduce Denard's running, keeping some designed runs, but reducing the frequency of QB lead runs over time. 

He's done exactly that.  There are admittedly bigger tradeoffs with doing this when you have Denard Robinson at QB versus say a QB like Elvis Grbac in 1990 or John Navarre in 2003.  Grbac is going to get you 2 yards on a QB lead, he also might get hurt, and is likely to fumble.  Robinson might get 2 yards on a QB lead, he might get hurt, but he's just as likely, if not more so, to earn UM six points on 50+ yard scamper.

I can't say I'm pleased to see Michigan going back to a fully fledged, antiquated pro-style offense and all of the predictability that comes with it, but there it is.   Hopefully UM's offense under Borges includes some shotgun and spread option plays. But this is the future of Michigan football.  It will resemble Sunday football more and more.   There are very few QB lead runs on Sundays.

Except in 2011 Michigan is simply not ready to run this style of offense full bore right now. The OL is way too small, the receivers are not 6-4, 200 lbs, with 4.3 speed, and the QBs (Robinson, Gardner) have not been coached up to this level save for the last 10 months.

Things are not all that bad though. I would predict that next year both Robinson and Gardner are going to make some huge leaps developmentally. 

On the positive side of things, injuries have not been a major issue for Michigan this year on offense and defense.



Maize and Blue…

November 7th, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

who were drafted early or are you counting everyone who had a cup of tea in the league.  Cade was a huge bust and Borges only coached Campbell for one year.  Smith did coach Pat White who did get drafted as a quarterback.


November 7th, 2011 at 6:02 PM ^

Al Borges is a second rate has been. You had to truly be honest with yourself and know this coming into the year. It's the buddy system with coaches now. At least the defensive buddy was really good.