Sunday Bye Week Snowflakes

Submitted by ehatch on September 29th, 2013 at 11:56 AM

I'm not married, so it isn't wife day for me.  My thoughts from this week.

Apparently to be an All-Big Ten/All-American Cornerback you need to hold the reciever on every play.  Dennard and Roby are masters at defensive holding and refs ignoring it.  

It was very frustrating watching Wisconsin shoot themselves in the foot over and over.  Missed FG.  Meaningless penalty negating a turnover.  Dropped interception leading to a Hail Mary touchdown.  They outgained the Buckeyes and we have to go another week hearing how great they are despite them being lucky every week.  

I am less concerned about Al Borges, Offensive Coordinator.  I think he is an above average OC, he isn't in the Chip Kelly/Gus Malzahn category, but I think he is a good OC.  Where I am concerned is Al Borges, QB Coach.  For 2 years we watched Denard regress in his mechanics.  Now we are watching Devin have poor mechanics.  Based on Space Coyote's post over at Maize n Brew, a lot of his problems are coming from poor mechanics.  I would really like to see a full-time QB coach come in and teach some good mechanics.  


Mr. Yost

September 29th, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

You're completely wrong on the mechanics...Denard didn't regress in his mechanics at all. He just went from an offense that was 1 or 2 reads then an offense that was NFL progressions.

He wasn't asked to have ANY mechanics under Rich Rod and it was fine...he was running a read-option offense that got WRs wide open. How many times was he asked to drop back and go through his progressions, step up in the pocket and throw a lazer to his target like his name was Brady or Manning? Rarely.

Denard had to do that under Borges and struggled. He also got hurt which limited him as a passer.

How has Devin regressed? He's started what...8 games? He was lights out vs. ND this year, his best game of his career. So he's had 2 bad games. Is that mechanics or is that poor decisions on his part? Turnovers on his part?

He hasn't forgotten how to throw the ball. However, he's always had that "superman" in him. Last year vs. Minnesota he makes that play to Dileo and it works. First game of this year he does the same and finds Dileo and it works. Against ND he does that SAME and makes the worst play in the history of organized sport. That's not mechanics. 

Borges can do A LOT of things better, and he's not the best QB coach. But to say these QBs have regressed in their mechanics is a poor argument.

Borges is a MASTER play/formation designer. He's probably one of the best 5 OCs in the country in designing a play. He's not a very good play CALLER. None of that has to do with mechanics though.


September 29th, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

How has Devin regressed?

He went from being the nation's most efficient passer in 5 games last year to turning over the ball the most of any player in the country.

Don't get me wrong, I love Devin and I am happy to have him on this team, but to suggest that the past two games hasn't been awful for him is naive in my opinion.  That said, of the 9 game sample size, he's been good or great in 7 of them, so there's certainly no reason to panic.

Mr. Yost

September 29th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

The OP said "regress in their mechanics."

There's no question that each got worse as the year went along, but that's not due to their mechanics.

Denard got worse because he first played in an offense that allowed him to make easy reads and easy throws and his completion percentage was great. Then he was in a new offense. Then he got hurt.

Devin has regressed due to turning over the ball and making poor decisions. Not because of his mechanics getting worse. His mechanics were pretty damn good vs. ND when he was stepping into the pocket, on balance, and firing the ball all over the field.

The reason he's struggled is because he waives the ball around like an idiot, he forces plays then fumbles and he tries to force throws.

He's always run around and thrown against his body, not just now. Hell against ND on the first drive he made some weird ass throw to Joe Reynolds on 3rd down where he slung the ball in a reverse softball motion. But it worked. Those weren't good mechanics though.

Throwing the ball while jumping aren't good mechanics.

So Devin's poor play isn't really about that because he's never been great mechanically. Although he's gotten better, not regressed. He just can't hold on to the f-ing football and his decision making has been awful the last 2 games.

He's thrown a pick in every game he's played, it's not like last year he was All-World and this year he's chopped liver (mechanically). If he doesn't turn the ball over, we're not having this discussion. THAT is his problem. He's always going to be a work in progress mechanically.


September 29th, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

Gardner has certainly been inconsistent, but so has his WR/TE corps.  Fans tend to overlook the latter issue.  Not all of these INTs are necessarily Gardner's fault.

We have a flawed receiving corps.  Gallon is the only proven playmaker, but he's undersized. Dileo has great hands but is small and slow.  Chesson has the size and speed but is raw, and hasn't yet learned to make plays on the ball in the air.  Reynolds and Jackson are too slow. Funchess is big but has so-so hands.  Darboh supposedly was going to be the total package, but he's injured.  

Twice, Gardner his been picked off (against CMU and UConn) when he threw a deep ball to a receiver in single coverage.  That's a perfectly fine decision for a QB to make.  On the first one, Gallon appeared to run the wrong route and didn't make it to the spot; on the second, Chesson waited too long to come back to the ball.  Gardner has also thrown two INTs that hit his intended receiver in the hands.  The one in the UConn game (to Gallon) was not a great throw, but not entirely uncatchable, and it was bad luck that it bounced off Gallon's hands straight in the air.  (That's also one of the downsides of having your go-to receiver be 5'8".)  The one in the Akron game (to Funchess) was a good throw that Funchess just muffed.  

Now, that still leaves four other interceptions this season (one against CMU, one against ND, and two against Akron) which I do consider bad INTs on Gardner's part.  But four in four games, while not ideal, isn't horrible for a guy that isn't that experienced.  I'm equally concerned about the receiving corps' ability to help him out.  Even the greatest QB needs to be bailed out by his receivers sometimes.  We really haven't seen that so far this season.


Mr. Yost

September 29th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

1. Thank GOD for a Bye Week..I really just think that this team needed to hit the reset button. We needed to get healthy, we needed to catch our breath, we needed to have time to make a few personnel changes. I think we come out and hammer Minnesota and a lot of people are eating crow and looking like idiots.

2. We're trying to do TOO much. Borges calls plays like he's got Peyton Manning at QB. And I know..."it's the level of the position." But eventually you have to understand that you don't have Peyton, you don't have the Cowboys OL of the 1990s. You have to play to your strengths.

---Stop running stretch plays to the right
---Give Devin easy throws to build his confidence and get him a rhythm
---Focus on getting first downs in the 1st quarter and just maintaining drives
---Install some easier reads in the offense (1st read, checkdown, RUN type plays) vs. 4-receiver progression plays
---Run behind Lewan more
---Use Dileo more
---Easy on all the play-action...I love it, but he uses it FAR too much. Allow Gardner to just drop back, survey the field and make the throw.

3. Keep disguising the defense (something we didn't do vs. Akron)...when we confuse the OL and/or the QB it helps our DL more than anything else we could do

4. Countess doesn't always have to play NB, he can shadow the other teams best WR like Roby did last night.

5. Give Kenny Allen a shot at punter if Wile continues to struggle.

snarling wolverine

September 29th, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

I'm not sure why everyone seems to think Borges is giving Gardner difficult throws to complete.  I see us throwing a lot of slants and little stop routes, which should be easy for most QBs.  (And most of the time, Gardner can complete them easily.)  If those are difficult throws, what would constitute an "easy" throw?

Also, regarding running to the right, if you throw out a whole side of the field in the running game, you make the run game very one-dimensional.  Lewan is awesome but if the D anticipates that it's going his way on a running down, his job gets a whole lot tougher.  To be a good running team, you have to be at least minimally effective running left, right, and up the middle.  We have to find a way to be better at the latter two.

Mitch Cumstein

September 29th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

I know it is a penalty for a defensive player to mimic the snap count to throw off the OL.  Does Braxton's clap to initiate the count from the center count as part of the count?  In other words, would it be a penalty for defensive players playing against OSU to start clapping randomly while they are lined up?

Mr. Yost

September 29th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

How come everyone gets on Borges (and many times rightfully so)...but no one ever says anything about Fred Jackson?

I love the man, he's a Michigan Man to the core. No question. All-time greatest RB coach in school history.

But our RBs haven't been much of anything since Mike Hart left.

I'd love to see a Tyrone Wheatley there, if not, that same Mike Hart.


September 29th, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

I've wondered this as well.

He must have something going for him ... he's served a long time across several different coaches.  One theory I'd heard is he's great at recruiting.

As for his lack of post-Hart success ... could that be due to the shift in offensive philosophy?  I'm no X's and O's guy, but with Rodriguez's spread wasn't the O-line all about zone blocking, and might that entail a slightly different coaching technique to recognize gaps and seams?  Borges maintained some of this. 

Honestly, I don't know ... I'm just guessing.

He's certainly got the talent in house now -- Touissant, Green and Smith -- so I would think we should start seeing some results.  Maybe the signs are there but we're just not seeing them?  Kind of like Graham Glasgow ... Brian's UFRs seem to reveal he's actually pretty good?