SBNation Article on Nussmeier and Borges

Submitted by ChiBlueBoy on March 6th, 2014 at 11:10 AM



March 6th, 2014 at 11:21 AM ^

Money quote for me on Borges:

"His system put major stress on the weakest parts of his team. His attempts to problem solve revealed further flaws in his napkin-domination approach to the game. Michigan switched between primary run schemes on a regular basis, moved young linemen to different positions, and integrated new formations and plays every week, rather than building an identity for the team to become comfortable with."

I think he neatly and far more eloquently summed up about 150 or so of my Borges-bitching posts in one paragraph.


March 6th, 2014 at 11:55 AM ^

The puzzle is why he insisted on continuing with his complex system?  Borges was an experienced OC and could have switched to a simpler system when he saw that his more complex model was not working.

I wonder if Borges just wanted to leave.  He had history of not sticking around for long.


March 6th, 2014 at 4:42 PM ^

He was often too smart for his own good.  When he found something that worked, he would not stick with it for some reason, as if that would not be sporting 'Ole Chap.  

In that sense he was like Charlie Weiss without the arrogance.  You could always count on Charlie Weiss to do something stupid to show you how smart he was.  

Like throwing against our five star corner back on third and long when if he had just run the ball, he would have left us with under a minute to drive the field with a freshman QB.  Of course, it was incomplete and Tate had enough time to engineer a game winning drive.  Miss you big guy XOXOXO.



March 6th, 2014 at 11:59 AM ^

Yup, and it is spot on.  Borges offense felt a lot like GERG defense (which I know was not all GERG's fault).  That thing we tried one time didn't work, let's change everything.  

Or "What? We have a bye week?  Well let's install something COMPLETELY different in 10 practices instead of getting better at what we already know."

Or "Forcast calls for 40MPH winds this weekend, and I have the best running QB in the history of ever... I better drop him back 30+ times."

Or "2 minute drill?  So, lets see, that means we only have enough time to run 3 plays."


March 6th, 2014 at 1:13 PM ^

has always been Borges' greatest passion, he said as much during candid interviews in 2011.  At the time people ate that shit up, Borges was a football intellect, he always had a new play to answer the problem.  Unfortunately for him, and Michigan football, his answers never addressed fundemental questions the longer he ran his system(s).  If he had stuck to the fundemental idea of 2011, Keep it Simple, Stupid....but he couldn't, that is not Al Borges.  Al Borges is destined to out think himself.


March 6th, 2014 at 11:24 AM ^

Interesting and hopeful. We've heard this before and it is one of two great hopes for the O. The other is Nuss' QB-guruosification of DG. I'm sleeping under both blankets of hope until December.


March 6th, 2014 at 11:27 AM ^

HAS to be on eliminating the never-ending flood of negative plays.  I've never seen a Michigan offense go backwards the way the Borges offense did.  That just killed us.

J. Lichty

March 6th, 2014 at 12:23 PM ^

My anecdotal recollection was that when Mike Debord went to a zone stretch scheme, the offense's exposure to negative plays jumped dramatically -- only to bailed out by Mike Hart's shitiness behind the LOS time and again.

I recall that at the time the big threat (and I saw this with the Minnesota Vikings as well when they went to a zone stretch) was that the Debord version of the scheme (and Bevell in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson) was suceptible to and did not exploit the hard play side slanting by the front 7.  

Hart (and Peterson in Minnesota) were able to exploit this at times if they were able to break backside contain, but it was definitely a flaw in the system leading to many (and many more potential) negative plays.


March 6th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

How exactly do you focus on eliminating negative-yardage plays?   That's a rather vague point of emphasis, like telling a basketball team to focus on not missing shots.


True Blue Grit

March 6th, 2014 at 1:37 PM ^

Other than telling guys never to run away from the line of scrimmage or stop running sideways in a vain hope of turning the corner, negative plays are mostly a by-product of poor play selection/scheme, lack of fundamental skills, the other team being better, and poor execution - or a combination thereof.  


March 6th, 2014 at 1:17 PM ^

Did say his #1 priority is to eliminate negative plays, I don't think you get there by focusing on being not negative.  The best way to be not negative is to be positive.  Always seek the solution that ensures postive yardage, the not negative will then take care of itself.


March 6th, 2014 at 11:28 AM ^

I think a more basic/simpler offensive scheme will help the offensive line out. I don't think it will necessarily make the offense more explosive but should help make it more consistent.

I think Borges at times called some nice plays but I don't think Michigan was ever going to have a "Power" offense under him. Like the article alluded to, I think he liked the long pass and complicated plays too much.

Even if they have to strip it down so much that they are telling guys to go find someone with an opposite colored helmet and block him, then so be it.


March 6th, 2014 at 12:14 PM ^

"Even if they have to strip it down so much that they are telling guys to go find someone with an opposite colored helmet and block him, then so be it."

You just described the Nuss base play inside zone run.  It is literally, run forward, block other team's players in front of you.  Can't get any simpler.  Okay oversimplification but still.


March 6th, 2014 at 11:32 AM ^

This, IMO, leaps off the page:


"For example, the [Borges] offense involved six primary run schemes: power, iso, draw, horn (a tackle lead play), inside zone, and outside zone. It's worth noting here, just for comparison, that NFL run-game guru Alex Gibbs believes that a ground attack should be built almost entirely on just inside and outside zone."


March 6th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

Hoke, GMat, any of the other coaches, or star players (e.g. Lewan) tell Borges that his players are confused and they need to simplify the system? How does this even happen with all of the people involved daily in practice?

Was he told, just incapable of simplifying? How come Michigan has been the only team to not pick up his concepts?

EDIT: This article is also pretty helpful (and linked).


March 6th, 2014 at 11:39 AM ^

Good article.

This is what cost Borges his job:

Borges knew how to create matchup problems and stress points for a defense both with the passing game and the run game. He didn't know how to do it off of simplified concepts for young players to master quickly.

Michigan has too much talent to not get their O-line play right eventually. You really have to feel for our linemen.  They come in  with two strikes against them physically because of their age and then get hit with too many schemes to master. It would seem that Hoke and Borges should have figured this out and simplified the offense early on.

Ron Utah

March 6th, 2014 at 4:29 PM ^

Borges is a smart guy that understands constraints and football theory.  But it appears he is not as adept at being able to coach his players to execute his multiple schemes, especially when the players are younger.

His concepts have always been sound, and when his teams have been smart/skilled enough to execute, he's had great success.  But when his teams can't master his sorcery, they fall flat on their faces.


March 6th, 2014 at 7:10 PM ^

I will give you that in his initial year, he utilized the talent-and it was pretty good- to maintain the spread that had been installed. It would have been unwise to do otherwise with Mr. Robinson still leading the offense.  However, in his second season (and I did not forget that we lost Fitz and DR's contribution was mitigated tremendously by the arm injury).  However, he screwed up badly, most notably in the OSU regular season finale by refusng to adhere to Coaching 101, i.e., "When having success, make the defense stop you."  And I'm really not certain why Brady allowed this. In the second half,  Devin threw for roughly 8 yards on every first down and despite OSU showing neither the ability or desire-their defense made no adjustments to take this away-, Al inexplicably called(and they knew it was coming) running plays througout the entire second half on virtually all second and third and short situations. He could have done a number of things, including stretching his first down routes past the chains, rolled out Devin on options, utilized zone reads, qb keepers in a number of ways but despite the defense giving up only 6 in the second half, he-and this is where I think Brady might have been guilty-decided to play Man Ball, and despite having a decent OL,it was still one that was definitely built for the spread.                                                ^I don't know how he would have done here this season, but I do think Brady's recruiting, and hopefully, willingness to follow the example set by Bo will allow Nuss to enjoy a decent season. I totally believe Nuss wants to follow the example Bo set by minimizing OL assignments but practicing them to the point they are executed perfectly. It will be step by step and diversity will come with proven results and experience. They are green, but they are also talented. Hell, it's not any different than what Saban does yearly. We had a couple of young wrs show promise last season, and i believe along w/Funchess our receiving game will surprise.  Remember RR inherited one offensive starter and that was a second year RT. In his final two seasons, he put up numbers we haven't seen here in years.  And I think we can all agree this OL is far superior relative to talent. JMO, and I realize the worth of that, but I think we get to ten Ws this years, based on that talent and diversifying as they and the seasons progresses, rather than unrealistic expectations starting with game one. 


March 6th, 2014 at 11:38 AM ^

"The repeated mantra by Nussmeier is removing the negative plays that plagued Michigan in 2013 by providing players with foundations. Once the line is competent in blocking plays like inside zone and power and the quarterbacks understand how to make reads in passing concepts like shallow cross and Y-sail, then the team will advance towards finding an identity."

There really was no base scheme last year, so there was nothing which would have served as a foundation to build from with any reliability. The ground-up approach should work much, much better and will definitely accelerate the learning curve for players, I think. I expect that, if things go well, we should see a better than expected performance from a lot of players on offense. 


SC Wolverine

March 6th, 2014 at 11:40 AM ^

This is what we are counting on: Nussmeier providing a simpler scheme and consistency with our line that will enable them to succeed.  Our whole season is basically riding on this.  He should be able to do it.


March 6th, 2014 at 11:42 AM ^

this article nails down some of the player development issues. Asking your o-line to be good at several different schemes, sets them up for failure. My hope with the new offense is an identity, allowing the players to practice a specific scheme over and over, allowing them to learn it, and more importantly gain confidence in it. This confidence should look like player improvement over the course of a season and that is what I am hopeful for...


March 6th, 2014 at 11:43 AM ^

A great read, and I found this part very hopeful/exciting:

The Crimson Tide easily overwhelm the Aggies behind the tight end/H-back combo block, while they also flawlessly respond to the Aggies throwing a middle linebacker blitz at them. It's just inside zone for the line.


March 6th, 2014 at 12:27 PM ^

Do I feel that our offense is going to be leaps and bounds ahead of last year? That might not say much considering we were awful. I think Nussmeier will have them ready.