Wojo: "poor coaching drags Michigan into first real crisis"

Submitted by wolverine1987 on November 10th, 2013 at 12:40 PM

I think most of us like Wojo and rcognize that he is one of the few good sportwriters around in the Detroit MSM. He also is evenhanded and seldom calls out anyone. So to me it's significant that his column today calls out the offensive coaches and Hoke.





November 10th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

You can throw in ND, cool. He's 2-1 against ND because of the magical play of Denard Robinson in year one, not because of scheme. He's been outcoached by our rivals in every game. His one victory against MSU came without scoring a TD. His one win against Ohio State came when they were 6-6 and happened because of a missed bomb by their freshman QB. 

We hired a guy who never won a conference title and had an overall losing record in 7 years of coaching. He got the job because he liked Michigan alot and knew Lloyd and Dave Brandon after Harbaugh chose the 49ers. 


It's fairly clear that Brandon thought he was going to get Harbaugh and didn't have a plan B (which should have been let Rich Rod have one more year and if he fails go after Meyer). 


November 10th, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

First when you use a phrases "except for" it just means that you don't like that data point as it doesn't fit your view point.  Oh and guess what QBs miss passes.  Its called football.  Give the "because of a missed bomb" argument a rest.  It is crap and eveyone knows it.

Nebreska has been a "divisional rival" for 2 years and starting next year will not be.

Are the Arkansas fans freaking about about Bielema?  Is Cal freaking out about Sonny Dykes?  Are Miami fans clamoring to fire Al Golden.  He's had a lot less success than Hoke.  Yes he has had NCAA issues, but he did not arrive at Miami after basically 3 disasterous recruiting classes.  


November 10th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

Is that where we've fallen to? Are you kidding? Dykes and Bielema are in year one, not year three. And yes, Nebraska is a division rival. They're the best program in our division, and we're 1-2 against them. The except fors matter because we've been lucky to pull out a couple wins against rivals. Yes, that's football, but it doesn't mean that we should be happy to have beaten a crappy OSU team barely and an average ND team twice. 


People are not clamoring the Al Golden to be fired because he's looking at a 10 win season and had his team in the top ten (and could very well win his division). The trajectory of Miami (ytM) is upwards, ours isn't. As a sidebar, Al Golden has as many wins against Ohio State as Hoke does. 


November 10th, 2013 at 4:11 PM ^

No the except fors are because those data points don't fit your poinf of view.  And we've also been unlucky to lose some games.

Nebreska is not a rival.  No one comes into the season with that game marked on their schedule.  And for all intensive purposes they aren't even in the division.

If you think Miami was actually a legit top 10 team at any point season you are high.  Where are all these great wins for Miami?  There best win is over GT.  Beating ND and Minnesota is more impressive than that.  Their D just got destroyed by a VT offense that has been absolutely awful.

No rantional person can say Michigan's trajectory isn't a lot better than Miami's.  None.  You might not like the fact that highly rated recruiting classes don't pay off until those players are juniors or seniors, but that is just how it is.


November 10th, 2013 at 1:16 PM ^

It was so painfully obvious yesterday it was basically black and white. Slow developing plays up the middle against the blitz consistently went nowhere, quick plays to the outside avoiding that pressure worked quite well. Yet for some inexplicable reason we favored calling slow developing plays that were vulnerable to the blitz. It's even more obvious that Fitz is a completely ineffective blocker. Ever since the ND game having him in the backfield doesn't even slow any defender down, at all, yet we still rely on his blocking to keep Devin upright. Its stupid, stupid, stupid.


November 10th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

Serious question for people: why is everyone convinced that Hoke won't make serious changes to the staff after this year?  Everyone seems to be telling themselves that basically if Brandon doesn't force him, he'd be more than happy to keep Borges and Funk until the end of time.  Where does this come from?  Past history retaining underperforming coaches/coordinators?  Something else I don't know about?  If it's just going based off of his comments, I don't take much from those.  In most cases, even if he was thinking about making big changes, he would probably be publicly defending his guys until the end.


November 10th, 2013 at 1:36 PM ^

Serious answer for you.  Because I have seen absolutely nothing from Hoke in either his words or his actions that give me the slightest hope that he even sees there is a problem.  And if he doesnt see a problem why on earth would he think anything needs to be fixed.  Here, IMO, is the offense world accoding to Hoke:

  • Young line = ineffective run game no matter what we do
  • Young line will get order and therefore better next year and freaking AWESOME the year after that
  • Manball works
  • Manball only works if you're committed to it and to be successful we must stay the course and not lose faith
  • Borges is a great OC who is powerless to do anything given the state of the offensive line

Now why would any changes be needed?  The problem (according to Hoke) will be resolved with time - not coaching changes.

Like I said earlier - we are fucked.

Deep Under Cover

November 10th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^


Because I have seen absolutely nothing from Hoke in either his words or his actions that give me the slightest hope that he even sees there is a problem.


That's a bit of a straw man argument, isn't it?  You say you haven't seen or heard anything, but what would you expect to see?  We know he isn't an offense-minded coach, so there is only so much he will do before he just shows the Al the door.  For one, we have seen offensive line shuffling.  We have also seen Funchess moved out to more of a WR role.

Obivously there are still issues, but do you honestly think Hoke doesn't believe there are any issues?  Do you honestly think Hoke is satisfied with how things are going?

Hoke is a defensive coach, do you believe he doesn't see what EVERY other team sees when they face our offense?


November 10th, 2013 at 1:58 PM ^

No I honestly don't.  Because if he did he would do SOMETHING about it and not just blindly support Borges.  Something, ANYTHING that indicated he didnt think all was rosey with our offense.

I'm sorry guys but there's a lot of room between "I see nothing wrong with the play calls" and throwing your coach under the bus.  You could say "of course there are issues - everyone can see what we are doing isnt working as well as we'd like and we're all committed to fixing it."  

I don't see why acknowledging what is painfully obvious to everyone is somehow disloyal.  


November 10th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

You have your opinion, and you're entitled to it. But, as a defensive coach and a defensive player, I assure you that he is very in tune to field position.  I think you are clearly mistaken.  The question, though, is what should he do about it.  I saw major deficiencies in QB play yesterday.  Do you want him to take Gardner out?  I see lack of blocking from the RB in blitz. Do you want him to take Fitz 0ut?  If so, then please tell me who is coming in. 



November 10th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

If he is in tune to what has been going on, why is his OC repeating the same mistakes.  This felt a lot like the play calling from the PSU and MSU game.  The running backs in this game had 17 runs for 17 yards, but they thought it was a good strategy to run on 1st and 2nd down after the muffed punt.  

If Hoke is aware and fixing things behind the scenes, why am I not seeing any changes in the playcalling when we could have put more distance between us and Nebraska.


November 10th, 2013 at 5:06 PM ^

What mistakes?  Please articulate what them.  I presume we're talking about play calling.  If so, what should have been different?  If not, what is the mistake?

I don't remember if they ran on first and second after the muffed punt.  I guess I'll go look it up. I do remember that after getting the ball in NE's side of the field, we threw a bomb on first down unsuccessfuly.

I get that we can't run.  I also get what happens with Gardner if you throw every down.  Is there a backup who you think will play better, more consistently, or make throws instead of eating the ball while watching the d rush/  Who is that?  Same quesions regarding the O line and running backs?  Who are these subs that will perform? 


November 10th, 2013 at 6:12 PM ^

Wormley 3rd quarter recovery:
1:01 1st & 10, NEB22
Tommy Armstrong passed to Quincy Enunwa to the right for 11 yard gain. Quincy Enunwa fumbled. Chris Wormley recovered fumble
0:50 1st & 10, NEB33
Devin Gardner incomplete pass to the left
0:42 2nd & 10, NEB33
Devin Gardner rushed up the middle for 2 yard loss
4th Quarter
15:00 3rd & 12, NEB35
Devin Gardner incomplete pass to the right
15:00 4th & 12, NEB35
Matt Wile missed a 52-yard field goal
Norfleet muffed punt recovery:
11:15 4th & 16, MICH24
Matt Wile punted. Jordan Westerkamp returned punt for no gain. Jordan Westerkamp fumbled. Dennis Norfleet recovered fumble
10:30 1st & 10, NEB26
Derrick Green rushed to the left for 1 yard gain
10:03 2nd & 9, NEB25
Derrick Green rushed to the right for 2 yard loss
9:40 3rd & 11, NEB27
Devin Gardner rushed to the right for 4 yard gain
9:10 4th & 7, NEB23
Brendan Gibbons kicked a 40-yard field goal


November 10th, 2013 at 2:24 PM ^

I'm going to have to disagree with you strongly.  Let's assume for a second that firing an OC mid-season is bad and regardless of what will happen to Borges eventually, the administration will try to avoid this.  Given that, almost regardless of what happens in-season, it seems to be in Hoke's best interest to circle the wagons until the changes actually need to be made at the end of season.  He gains little by publicly throwing his staff under the bus mid-season before the changes, so the fact that he says little and defends the play calling, in my mind, reveals very little information about his true intent.  The only time I could see this helping a coach is if the head coach is on the hot seat as well, and needs to buy some time.  Hoke isn't, and doesn't.


November 10th, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

"But all Nebraska and Bo Pelini did was copy the defensive plan employed a week earlier by Michigan State. Blitz, blitz, blitz, and when Michigan brought in extra guys to protect, Gardner held the ball too long, waiting for someone to get open."

It would seem then that I wasn't the only one that noticed the eerie similarities between defensive gameplans then. Yesterday's game dropped us to the #81 offense in Division I by total yards, if I managed to calculate the average right. 


November 10th, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

Hoke is a figure head coach, a delegator. When things go bad, he is unfortunately resigned to being a cheerleader, especially with the offense.

Hoke does not have the capacity to fix this offense, so he needs to be a true leader and axe Borges for someone who can. Delegator coaches need the leadership to make the tough decisions, or they are just bystanders.

Leadership is more than recruiting and cheering....it's about holding everybody accountable.


November 10th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

I completely agree with you 100%. This is actually one of the things I like about Hoke. He is the CEO of Michigan football (DB not withstanding) and I think he allows his coordinators to do their jobs without micromanaging.

That being said, this is Hokes time to take some action. He needs to make some changes on his staff and the vetting process better begin now (if it hasn't already).


November 10th, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

Both Pete Carroll and Les Miles were coordinators before getting a head coaching job.  I am not sure I agree that they are delegators.  Their coaching experience would suggest they are more engaged then that. 

Pete Carroll was a Defensive Coordinator and Offensive Coordinator at points in his college career as well as an NFL Head Coach.

Les Miles was an Offensive Coordinator during his college coaching career. 


November 10th, 2013 at 1:36 PM ^

It is plain as day. There need to be changes on the offensive coaching staff. If Hoke makes them and we see progress next year that will reestablish my faith that he is the guy. If he doesn't make changes and we see the same things next year he will be on the hot seat. If we don't make it to the Big Ten Championship game in 2015 and probably win it then he will be out.

If these things don't happen and Hoke is retained after not making changes then the infrastructure will probably take a hit and fans will not park their butts in the seats. The next thing to go will be viewing it on TV. Vicious cycle.

Please be the guy Hoke.


November 10th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

My honest prediction, barring a big turnaround that includes an OSU victory (doesn't seem likely, does it?) is that Borges and most if not all of his staff is shown the door at season's end.  Hoke isn't gonna go down with the ship and get fired from his dream job just to save Borges.  They aren't childhood buddies.  They've coached together for 4 3/4 seasons now.  That's it.  I don't see why everyone assumes Hoke and Borges are soulmates.

All it takes is Brandon pressuring Hoke to make a change, and IMO a change is made.  He may well choose to make it even without Brandon chiming in.  There is NO WAY Hoke is happy with the rushing performance, all the tackles for losses, the inability to do ANYTHING out of the I formation.  He's not just going to stick with business as usual in the offseason.  This job is all he's ever wanted.  He may not know how to fix the offense (that's where a new OC comes in,) but he's surely smart enough to see that it's broken.


November 10th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

Fred needs to retire (his kid is graduating, so it's a perfect scenario). Funk needs to be fired ASAP.

I think Borges could be good, if he has a really good team. He's not a create something out of nothing kind of guy. Nor is he creative, but in 2-3 years, with a solid senior class and great recruiting, Borges could be good, IMO.


November 10th, 2013 at 2:20 PM ^

I agree with everything you've said in this post, but is that the type of OC you want for a college football team? I mean, its not every year you're going to have the perfect team. Every college team in the country has some sort of deficiency and most teams have many. A good OC in college is creative, plays to his teams strengths and gets the most out of the players he has on the roster.

Having a "good" or senior laden team should not be a requirement for an OC. I would even agrue that Michigan has had "good" teams or offensive players every year since Al has been here.



November 10th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

Hoke is a glorified position coach.  he spends all his time with the defensive line with greg mattison.  he has no clue about the offense that is why he lets the offensive coaches and al borges do what they want.  he doesn't listen to play calls.  Hoke decides when to kick a field goal or punt, whether or not to call a time out.  that might work in the MAC or Mountain West.. NOT IN THE BIG TEN.  he needs to go to a Head Coach clinic this offseason and learn how to be a head coach or Dave Brandon needs to start thinking about a new head coach.