Snowflakes re: our coaching staff

Submitted by michgoblue on November 25th, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I have not read all of the million threads criticizing our coaches, defending our coaches, analyzing our depth chart and generally offering thoughts on the state of this team, but I have skimmed at least a few.  I will try not to be too repetative, although I doubt I will succeed.  Some general thoughts on our coaches after 2 seasons:

1.   I still believe that Hoke is the right guy for us.  Most importantly, he seems to have instilled a sense of "we are Michigan" that seemed to be lacking.  Call it fit, whatever, he does seem to get it and I think that over time, this will help return us to our former glory.  He also seems to get that the game starts in the trenches, and is appropriately loading up with quality big bodies in both.

2.  Clock management - whomever is running our 2-minute drill needs to go back to coaching 101.  There have been numerous times this season that we looked lost or failed to even attempt a score.  This happened again in the first half, but DEnard's great run and OSU's crap tackling saved us.

3.  Borges - I am not yet ready to call for his head.  THat said, he has been terrible this year and last.  His game plan for big games is pathetic.  ALso, complete inability to adjust.  Why not call for his head?  Because these players do not fit the system that he knows well.  If he still has the same problem next year, he needs to go.  Next year, Devin will be able to run the pro=style with a group of Hoke-recruited OL. 

4.  REcruiting - we are doing great.  And loading up the lines.  But, I am concerned about hoke's inability to land premier skill position players (other than Morris).  We keep striking out at WR and RB and it is going to continue to hurt us.  What's the issue here?  Is Hoke's no-nonsense style less suited for coddling bigger ego guys?

5.  Mattison - he is amazing.  Nuff said.  We lack so much athleticism on his side of the ball, and his results are still great. 




November 25th, 2012 at 1:34 PM ^

I kind of think we give Borges a pass until he has a couple years with his players on the field. Right now he's trying to run a pro-style passing offense with a terrible o-line, a mediocre set of running backs, on scholarship tight end who is thin as a rail, and an average wide receiving corps. Yes, the I-form pounding was stupid, but in a few years I think that will be a given to pick up that one yard once the manbeast OL classes are older. While a lot of the focus yesterday was on Borges, the fact of the matter is that we got utterly mauled in the trenches. Even Oregon's offense looked like crap when that happened to them against Stanford.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

Agree. The O-line is subpar this season. Missed block assignments - not blocking to the whistle. We don't have any punishing North-South backs. A Wheatley, Biakabutuka, Powers, Hart type of guy the gave the defense two people to worry about and could block blitz.

Denard or Devin - it's a one man show. The defenses that beat us just blitz constantly. Our O-line and backs can't pick these up.


November 25th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

Hoke - Doing a good job, but may need to get a bit more involved in offensive playcalling.

Al - Im keeping my fire Al Borges emotions bottled up until next year. If the questionable play calling rears its head as much as it did this year then his head shall role. The fact that he doesn't recruit also bothers me a tad. It certainly would be nice to have an OC who can pull in talent at skill positions on offense.  Look at our classes, loaded with elite trench players ...... which is credit to Mattison, Funk, and Hoke.

Mattison - great



November 25th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

Hoke is the PERFECT coach for this program and Mattison is a defensive genius. It's going to be scary to see what this team is like once they get their type of player in there.

sports fan

November 25th, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

Borges's principal sin in my opinion is not putting his players in the best position to succeed.  I believe he knows how to do this.  (See first half)  Then in the second half he runs between the tackles at 4 critical times; i.e. the weakest part of our game into the strongest part of their game.  That is putting our players in the worst position to succeed.  What is going on here?

Brown Bear

November 25th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

"But, I am concerned about hoke's inability to land premier skill position players (other than Morris). We keep striking out at WR and RB and it is going to continue to hurt us. What's the issue here?"

He's only had one recruiting class and we have no clue yet if Darboh and Chesson are good or bad. Wait a few years before we say this is an issue.


November 25th, 2012 at 8:09 PM ^

He is almost through his second full class. If he misses on Greene and treadwell, he will have failed towns a single elite (by rankings) player at either position in 2 classes. Given out gapingly wide open depth chart at both positions and the general media love for hoke and Michigan, this is a concern as he should be able to sell instant potential playing time.


November 25th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

Eh, I'm not concerned. Hoke is definitely the right guy for the job. Just because Borges cant fit his system to his players doesn't mean he's a bad coach - he could be really good at doing one thing well

Ultimately, I think it comes down to the talent level. Attrition and poor seasons are going to make it hard to catch up but if this coaching staff can bring in two top 5 classes after what happened in 08-11, imagine what they'll do after a couple of years of fairly strong performances.

We weren't able to beat more talented or more stable programs but the teams we should beat, we did soundly. Good things ahead


November 25th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

The one constant that gives me comfort right now is Brandon.  As much as we complain about uniformz / rawk musik / etc. you have to admit the man seems dead-set on putting a strong product on the field in both MBB and football, and the incompetence of the prior AD seems to be a distant memory.  I think long-term if a coordinator or position coach isn't working out, he's going to be willing to commit whatever resources needed to make it right.  If Borges continues to flail, you can bet your ass he's going to throw 3/4 of a million dollars/yr at getting the problem solved ASAP.  Let's see if it comes to that.


November 25th, 2012 at 2:32 PM ^

My point isn't that Martin was an utter failure.  Re: Rich Rod, I liked the hire at the time, but isn't it pretty widely accepted that the AD was extremely negligent during the search process and botched it pretty badly?  Also isn't Brandon responsible for Crisler renovations and most of the new practice facilities, and the Hoke hire?  Before getting Beilein Martin also presided over several basketball head coaching failures, don't forget about that.  My point more broadly here is, our AD seems much more engaged than the last one and more determined/likely to put and keep a top tier product on the court/field in basketball and football.  And as a corollary, I'm not worried about some short-term struggles from one of our coordinators.  Do you disagree with that?


November 25th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

With 750K we might be able to pull great coordinators away from head coaching jobs.  Like Paul Chryst (currently at Pitt), or one of Boise's former OCs (they're now at Texas and Florida, which haven't benn great, so idk).

A big part of my frusteration with the "Fire Borges" talk is that I don't know who anyone expects to be a better fit, or just better in general...  Of the guys we have a snowballs chance in hell of hiring without dropping head coach wages (at lower-level football schools, but still) I can't think of anyone who'd be a better fit.  And Hoke's likely to be very defensive of Borges.  For better or worse it'd take some heavy leaning on Brandon's part to oust Borges with any speed...  Which should be okay since we're starting to accumulate the round pegs for Borges's round hole offense...  If he can't win with those it'll be time to find someone who can.


November 25th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

I think hoke has a good eye for talent. I believe every WR he brings in has the potential to be a good receiver for us, no matter their ranking based on high school achievements. I mean one of our best receivers this year was our second string qb. Hoke's bringing athletes in. I think he can teach them enough to be successful


November 25th, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

We went 8-4 this season, but we lost to the 2 teams that are most likely going to play for the National Championship, a third team that would be in the National Championship conversation, if not for NCAA sanctions, and a likely Rose Bowl participant. We had a better season than our record suggests. We were in every game other than Bama, and although we're not going to the conference championship, or a BCS bowl, I think that we did pretty much as well as most of us expected to do. I think that we can definitely compete with whatever team we play in our bowl game, and this team will end the season on a positive note. The coaches are bringing in killer recruiting classes, and Devin looks like he'll be a beast next season. This team is heading in the right direction. I know we would have killed for an 8-4 season in 2008. Hoke is the man for this program, and I trust him to make this team into a powerhouse. Go Blue.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Agree to disagree. I have no doubt The combination of Hoke and Mattison can turn UM into an elite defensive school again...heck, maybe even an awesome OL school ala Wisconsin (meaning - an NFL factory for OL). But I am very skeptical about UM ever being an offensive juggernaut under Hoke and I think he has a serious problem recruiting and landing skill players. Moreover, in games, we are getting outcoached. Urban Meyer owned Brady Hoke yesterday in nearly every facet of the game.

I am all for giving Brady time and I am by no means calling for his head. I am however calling for him to manage the team. By that, he needs to sack Borges and hire a competent OC to complement Mattison.


November 25th, 2012 at 2:07 PM ^

Mark Smith is the one to keep an eye on, I think. Frey got Lewan playing at a high level as a freshman with only one year of HS Oline experience, Molk obviously developed into a Rimington winner, Omameh had a very promising sophomore campaign, Dorrestein and Huyge turned into serviceable players after not being very highly regarded. Since then Lewan took a step forward and then a step back, Omameh turned from an asset to a liability and Barnum and Mealer as 5th year seniors didn't cut it. Even if Lewan comes back next year we'll have a very young line with little depth. If the line is serviceable Smith will have proven his chops, if it isn't Smith hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt.

eamus_caeruli (not verified)

November 25th, 2012 at 2:25 PM ^

Well the bloody Mary's have kicked in already. Madonna just won a tight reelection bid. Whoo

Mark Smith = LB coach

Darrell Funk = OL coach

There is this cool website that has all the coaches and their profiles. I think it's called

Perkis-Size Me

November 25th, 2012 at 2:11 PM ^

Overall, Hoke is doing a great job recruiting. I have no doubt that the defensive side of the ball will remain in good hands as long as Mattison is at the helm. And our O-Line talent will be superb. Our problem is that, aside from Morris, Hoke has as of yet been unable to land any elite offensive skill position recruits. Yah, I know stars don't mean everything, but we need to be able to land the Laquon Treadwells or the Derrick Greens of the world, otherwise we will always be playing catchup to the elite teams of the country.

As we've learned from MSU, you can't win on defense alone. My worry going forward is that we won't be able to surround Morris with the kind of talent we'll need to compete consistently as a top 10, maybe top 5 team.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:24 PM ^

Al Borges does not recruit, he just doesn't. Mattison is our ace recruiter but of course he is on the Defensive side. We need an elite recruiter who can also call a game of offense. Isaac, Treadwell, Green and Diggs (last year) just some names we didnt and still havent locked up.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

I was concerned when Al rejected the notion in a previous presser of Denard calling a play while injured. He dismissed it as if only he could make a play call. With Hoke off a headset for 90% of the game, no one is ideating or debating his calls from my perspective. Like an employee with middling results, Al needs more "supervision or support" to achieve top performance.

Outstanding play callers string together a long set of plays to manipulate the defense throughout a game. Al hasn't achieved this standard except maybe the Neb last year.

At this point after TD shutouts and big game implosions, someone should be offering play recos or entire series combinations for Al to tweak or think ahead - like a QB coach.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

Hoke, Kelly, and Meyer started at roughly the same time in the same leagues.

In 10 seasons Hoke has three top 25 wins, 0 top 16 wins, and has never won a conference championship at any level.

In 11 seasons Urban has two national titles and two other undefeated seasons and 5 conference titles.

In 10 seasons Kelly has won 3 conference championships and gone undefeated twice.

Hoke's recruiting has been great, but he must have top coordinators to be effective, not good ones, great ones.


November 25th, 2012 at 4:36 PM ^

Ball State was the equivalent of EMU when he took over.

Meyer coached at BGSU and Kelly at CMU. CMU in particular is a traditionally strong program  in the MAC. In fact, they rank in the top 25 for all time wins. BGSU has 10 MAC football championships. They also are located in Ohio and the abundance of talent that comes with that.

Conversely, Hoke coached at Ball State in the state with the weakest high school football in the Midwest and in a program with poor history in football.

Meyer took over for a solid coach at Utah. Ron McBride built the Utes into a solid mid-major program. Meyer deserves credit for taking that program to another level, but it is not like he took over a crummy program.

Kelly took over for Mark Dantonio at Cinncinnati. Dantonio, like McBride, left a decent program for Kelly. There was no major rebuilding job for Kelly here.

Hoke was only at SDSU for two years. SDSU had middling success with Ted Tollner and Marshall Faulk in the  early 90's, but their history is largely mediocre. Hoke won 9 games in  his second year.

Your facts are true, but they also are misleading. Blaming Hoke for a lack of top 15 wins in 8 years at SDSU and BSU is unfair. At smaller schools opportunities to play such teams is limited and those opportunities are often against teams with significant advantages in talent.

Finally, can you point to me the great upsets Kelly and Meyer had at their stops at mid-major schools? 




November 25th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

OSU, ND and Alabama do not have equal talent to us - they have more.  Nebraska might be equal to us, if we were at full strength.  

That Hoke managed to paper over our thin depth and win 11 games in 2011 doesn't mean he can do that every year.  We are nowhere near a typical U-M team in terms of talent from 1 through 85.



November 25th, 2012 at 6:17 PM ^

The darn line graph that shows our "mature" talent shortage (at least based on recruiting site rankings ) cannot be ignored. It's also frustrating to know the gap will exist for a couple more years.

Great coaching and good fortune (injuries, TOs) can mitigate the gap like last year, but talent is crucial.

Hopefully our recruiting revival will keep us a perennial top 5 candidate in the coming years.


November 25th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

OSU fan here.  Serious question:  At what point does Hoke get blamed for your inconsistencies on offense in addition to the blame everyone on this board puts on Borges?

Obviously Borges was brought in to call the plays.  Hoke, more than most coaches, seems to be completely hands-off in that department (doesn't even wear a headset during the game).  At what point is it on Hoke for not stepping in and overruling Borges during the game on some play calls or for not getting more involved during the week in practice when the offensive gameplan is being created?

A specific follow-up question is:  From what you guys know as fans of UM, is it ultimately Hoke's call as to personnel decisions on offense or does he defer that decision-making to Borges as well?  In other words, was it Hoke who ultimately decided to move DG to WR and Bellomy to 2nd string behind Denard?  Was it Hoke who ultimately decided to move DG back to QB and Denard to a non-QB role? 

Thanks in advance for your knowledgeable responses.


November 25th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^

Borges I give him one more year. His second half game plan yesterday was the absolute worst I have ever seen. I'm being critical on him but I'm not coming for his head or anything. I just think we give him one more year and then determine if he is good for our program.


November 25th, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

you tell me Borges has been terrible for 2 years but your still not ready to get rid of him... how many years of terrible does one need?  I am shocked at the number of people who insist on paiting an 8-4 season in a medioce conference as a "good season"


November 25th, 2012 at 7:47 PM ^

Here's my reason for not dumping borges:

First, look at most of the better offenses in cfb. What do they have in common? Ok, talent. Bit what else? Consistency of coaches. We all know by now the results of flipping D coordinators under rr. Coaching changes have their costs so if we can avoid it, we should.

Second, it is hard to judge Borges until he has a chance to implement his system and under his types of players. From this year and last, all we can say is that Borges is crappy at coaching the spread and coaching players that don't fit a pro-style system. But, these seasons are no indication of how he will perform with pro-style players playing in a pro offense.


November 25th, 2012 at 8:35 PM ^

Our 2011 offense averaged 33 ppg and scored more points on OSU than any team since Fritz Crisler's era.  That was far from a terrible offense.  

This year's wasn't as good overall, but still, to average 30 ppg given the significant injuries is not that bad.  We had some bad individual games, and the OL did not develop like we were hoping, but all is not lost.


November 25th, 2012 at 6:04 PM ^

not having devin ready in lincoln  when " whole season depended on it"

offense that could not score any TDs nebraska/ND/msu

offense shut out in second half of ohio game

is hoke the mirror image of RR?

RR thought defense was something the other team had that he coached against. hoke thinks offense is something borges does that he watches.

Can we have a  head coach that is involved with offense, defense and special teams?






November 25th, 2012 at 7:42 PM ^

I have been a huge Hoke supporter, but I don't like his lack of involvement in the o. He has said repeatedly that he speaks to Borges once per week to go over the game plan. Given that the offense is where we have struggled, I am disappointed that he has not taken on more of a role there. The whole "I'm a defensive line coach" thing is great, but he isn't just a DL coach.


November 25th, 2012 at 7:58 PM ^

Does it really take Hoke, Mattison and Montgomery to coach 4 DL? I'm glad the DL is a priority for this staff as it can neutralize an opponent if played at a superior level. Montgomery is regarded as a fine position coach with potential for DC/HC. He has 2 Sr, 1 RJr and 1 So starting - not a greenhorn group.

Meanwhile, we have lapses on offense while Borges gameplans, coaches QBs by himself and calls all the plays. Grad Assis help is always a big factor. The scheme and play calling need more input, based on the observed results.

Maybe Borges has too much on his plate?

Ball Hawk

November 25th, 2012 at 7:26 PM ^

I want to see what Borges puts together for the bowl game. This will be a good game to evaluate him on. He has a whole month to prepare for it. The whole game needs to be put under a microscope. I dont care if its not his playets. You coach what you have and you put people in the right positions to be most successful. Win or lose the game plan must be flawless. Hoke better have good clock management. Borges must pass this test before he gets another year. As for recruiting elite offensive players, Borges isnt helping it out any.


November 25th, 2012 at 7:39 PM ^

First, Borges is not getting fired after this season, regardless of the outcome of the bowl.

Second, I am not sure how indicative the bowl will be of next year. Many coordinators ate great in bowls with a month to prepare, whereas they are less great on only one week's prep.

Third, he is still going to be coaching players in the bowl who lack real talent (OL, RB,WR, TE) and who do not fit his system. We can't evaluate him properly until we see what he can do with some 6'1" receivers, a quality thumping back and a decent OL.


November 25th, 2012 at 7:47 PM ^

every poster that is not part of the cool aid drinking, everyone gets a medal, be proud of losing 4 games crowd?

It's not the X's and O's, it's the Jimmys and Joes


Hoke has recruited zero elite athletes at the skill positions.   Hoke has put together solid classes but is seriously laking game changing athletes.   

And I get it, Hoke recruited Morris.     


November 25th, 2012 at 8:03 PM ^

I love hoke and everything that he has done. And I agree with him that the game is won in the trenches. A great OL can make an average qb and rb look very good. But, to be really great you need elite talent at other positions, as well. we are in a conference with Ohio, which also gets great line men. To regularly beat them, aside from great lines and defense, we will need to have top WR and rb talent, as well. In particular with rb, a great rb can put a team on his back to march down field.

snarling wolverine

November 25th, 2012 at 8:43 PM ^

I want the skill guys too, and I think they will come (or maybe some are here - are we writing off Darboh and Chesson already?).  But what we really, really need are linemen, and this staff is loading up on them.  Have you noticed how Iowa keeps plugging in walk-ons and whatnot at tailback after all the injuries and still has a functional running game? That comes from having a good OL.