MGoPodcast 5.10: Drink Deep The Sweet Nectar



Bryan Fuller


Hey! Positive yards, you guys. Fourth and two call… oy. Throw a fade to Funchess. Devin Gardner, persisting.


Another good to very good performance with more safety rotation; they defended the option very well. Ace brings up Green smoking Nebraska, and immediately regrets saying the word "Nebraska."


More aggression is good; Matt Wile is officially good again. Oh right and that thing.


Ohio State bludgeons without even trying, MSU eventually pulls away from Nebraska thanks to a bunch of turnovers.


"Across 110th Street."
"Flying Over Water," Jason Isbell
"In Love," weird Ben Folds side project with William Shatner called "Fear of Pop"
"The Great Communicator," Ted Leo

The usual links:


Blue and Joe

November 18th, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

Yeah, Ace hit it on the head with that sick burn. Borges will be good when the team is loaded with talent. But I'd rather have a coordinator that can win with whatever he has to work with.

Ron Utah

November 18th, 2013 at 8:18 PM ^

I like how you didn't answer the question.  I also like that you used a coach as an example that still had a losing record in year three of his tenure, and didn't start winning until he had some pretty ridiculously good talent.

It is not magic, but there isn't an OC out there that is winning national championships with sub-par talent.

So I'll ask again: who is the OC that would take the Michigan job and lead our offense to success?  It certainly wasn't anyone we had during the Carr era.

My point is that these amazing coaches that making something out of nothing are EXTREMELY rare, and often can't put together a winning team even if they can get their offense to work correctly.  Saban didn't win a NC until he had SEC talent.  Same goes for Meyer.

I'm not saying there aren't some great coaches out there.  I'm saying they are hard to come by, and people need to stop pretending that there is a simple solution to our OC issues and starting naming someone that has a chance of getting hired and might do a better job than AB.

So, instead of pretending this is a simple problem to solve, I'm challenging you to find a viable candidate for the U-M OC job.


November 18th, 2013 at 8:38 PM ^

Since I'm on my phone, I'll keep this short.  Greg Mattison took over one of the worst defenses in the history of UM football and every year has fielded a unit that is demonstrably better than its talent.  And on defense, it is quite a bit harder to hide your deficiencies behind a single player.  As for OCs, how about Tony Franklin at Cal?  The team has struggled on defense but that offense has been pretty good considering they've been pretty bad the past couple of years.  Or the guy at Georgia who is still fielding a pretty terrifying offense despite having a half-dozen starters miss significant time.

Ron Utah

November 18th, 2013 at 10:49 PM ^

Greg Mattison is a great coach.  If you think it's easy to find guys like Greg Mattison to get them to coach at Michigan, consider how much we had to pay him and where we got him.  It's not easy to find his offensive alter ego.

That said, there is no way this fanbase would be pleased with Mattison's offensive equivalent.  In 2011, GM allowed ND, Northwestern, Iowa, and a middling Ohio State team to score 24 points or more.  Those are the kinds of games Borges gets castrated for around these parts.  In 2012, with much better talent, GM allowed 25 from Air Force, 31 from Northwestern, and our defense lost us the Outback Bowl (I won't even mention the 41 we allowed to 'Bama).  And this year our defense got shredded by AKRON (418 yards and 5.29 YPP), allowed 30 points to ND, let PSU drive to tie the game and then beat us in 3OT, and allowed 47 to Indiana.

Our fanbase would not tolerate those performances from an OC.  Furthermore, I take issue with it not being harder to hide deficiencies on defense.  GM has not had to deal with any personnel issues comparable to this year's OL.

But let's leave that argument for a moment, because I do completely agree that Mattison is an amazing--and rare--coach who gets more out of his players than does Borges.

The Cal guy?  His offense is averaging less than 24 points/game, 3.57 YPC, and 5.16 YPP.  After starting the season strong for three games, they haven't scored more then 28 points.

Georgia's OC is Mike Bobo.  He's been at Georgia since he was a freshman in 1993.  He's not coming to Michigan, and the question was, "Who would you prefer to Al Borges?"

Furthermore, since Mike Bobo took over as OC in 2006, Georgia has lost at least four games in five of his eight seasons, including a seven-loss effort in 2010.  He's also coaching a program that has some of the best talent in the country, all of which was well-seasoned by the time he took over in 2006.  He does a good job, but he's also loaded with talent and experience.  You couldn't honestly compare him to Borges for another two seasons.

Again, I am not defending Borges or saying I think he's a spectacular coach.  But I'm tired of all the bitching about how any competent OC would take our offense to the moon.  Good coaches are damn hard to find, and if you're going to complain about Borges, offer a viable alternative.

FWIW, the two names that I would consider (if I wanted to fire Borges--which I don't) would be Danny Langsdorf (Oregon State OC) and Matt Limegrover (Minnesota OC).  Both of those guys play for less prestigious programs and make a lot less money than Borges, and both fit Hoke's philosophy.  I'm not sure we could get them, but they are somewhat realistic options.

But I certainly wouldn't bet that either of them would do better than Borges, and we'd be changing systems again, and acclimating our players to a new coach again, and recruiting would change a bit, too.

For a Funk replacement, the only guy on my list would TJ Woods (Wisconsin OL) and I'm not sure he'd come.

TL;DR - There is not a clearly better alternative to Borges that I can find (and I have actually looked), at least not one that I believe is worth another coaching transition at this point.  We are just starting to try MANBALL, and I'd like to give this staff--and these players--more time before we scrap the system AGAIN.  Art Briles ain't comin' to Michigan, and even if he wanted to be our OC, Hoke would never hire him.

So if you want to bitch about Borges, please do.  But offer a realistic alternative.  And don't forget that for as bad as our O-Line is, Borges has a QB on pace to be #2 in passing yards, a WR on pace to be #1 in receiving yards, put up record numbers in a single game, shredded a good ND defense, pummeled a good Minnesota defense, should have beaten PSU, and is still averaging 34.3 pts/game.

Finally, I think all fans should ask themselves this question: Why don't we yell at Mattison every time the opposing offense connects on a big play?  We've allowed more points/game this year than last by almost a TD while playing weaker competition, and laid some pretty bad eggs while inviting offenses to make more big plays against us than in the previous two years.  In fact, our scoring offense is ranked 39th, and our scoring defense is ranked 51st.  So, why aren't you yelling at Mattison?


November 18th, 2013 at 11:28 PM ^

"there is no way this fanbase would be pleased with Mattison's offensive equivalent". Do you really think that? And how can you know that? We're obviously fairly happy with Mattison's defensive equivalent (i.e., Mattison himself).

According to the Advanced Stats (FEI plus), Michigan's defense is 26th in the nation, with an absolute value of 8.7%. The equivalent offense (i.e., ranked 26th) is Auburn, with an absolute value of 9.1%. You don't think that we wouldn't be pleased with an Auburn-esque level of offensive performance?

Having said that, I agree with a lot of what you've said. Guys like Mattison are extremely rare.

Ron Utah

November 19th, 2013 at 2:19 AM ^

This is a great post, and I agree with it.  I would be very pleased with Mattison's OC equivalent.  But if we had a better offense and had lost some of the games I listed because of sub-par defensive performances, you don't think our fanbase would be calling for Mattison's head?

Our defense is good, not great.  We don't make many big plays.  Even if we had a stronger offense, I'm not sure we'd be a top program nationally or even win the B1G.  We don't get enough sacks, turnovers, or TFLs.  We are solid, bend-but-don't-break defense.  Honestly, I thought our defense would be better this season.

Having said that, I agree about Mattison.  He is a great coach, and I certainly don't want to replace him, and I certainly don't yell at him.  He makes bad calls, like every DC, and is not infallible, but I think he is a GREAT coach.  It's hard to find guys like him.

Our defense has not improved from year-to-year.  You could argue last year's strength of schedule accounted for our decline, but this year we don't have that excuse and we are not playing better.  I submit that if our defense hadn't been SO terrible under RR, Mattison wouldn't be viewed as a savior and patience would be wearing thin for some of pitchfork and torch fans who will complain that our staff sucks unless we're winning every game.

My larger point is that firing people leads to more change, and change is hard for college kids and college programs.  If you're going to gripe about someone, have a viable alternative in mind that you can be real confident will get the job done, because otherwise we're just firing someone else in three years.  I honestly believe--despite his bad calls and some poor gameplans--that Borges should get more time.  Not becuase he has been a great coach (he hasn't) but because we are in the first full year of a transition after three years of transition and these kids deserve some continuity and a chance to execute a scheme that they have been recruited to run.  If Borges can't show improvement in the next couple of years, I'll be side-by-side with everyone calling for his head.  If we can get a spectacular OC who runs a similar system with a proven track record, I'm on board.  But my point is that is very, very, very hard to find, and if we can't find it, let's give these coaches--and more importantly THESE KIDS--the chance to do what they were recruited to do.


November 19th, 2013 at 8:13 AM ^

The best programs are those with stability, and if Brian's theory is correct (that Borges is good when he's got the pieces), then sooner or later the recruiting will catch up to what the team wants to do.


November 19th, 2013 at 12:26 AM ^

We aren't yelling because Mattison took one of the worst defenses in the country and immediately turned it around.  It has been a top 20/25 outfit ever since.  No excuses that he needs five years of recruiting his kinds of players, etc.  Moreover, Mattison has a track record of success, which, while not a perfect indicator of future success, is a better sign than a track record of failure.

It appears that you would like to use scoring offense/defense as your indicator of whether a coach is performing well (as opposed to total offense/defense, or FEI).  Even cherry-picking this statistic, which helps Borges (as opposed to total offense), here is his track record (this includes the year prior to his arrival as well as his years at each stop):

Year    Team    Total    

2000    Cal    80th    
2001    Cal    104th    
2001    Indiana    19th    
2002    Indiana    69th    
2003    Indiana    98th    
2003    Auburn    66th    
2004    Auburn    18th    
2005    Auburn    30th    
2006    Auburn    56th    
2007    Auburn    84th    
2008    SDSU    104th    
2009    SDSU    85th    
2010    SDSU    19th    

2010    Mich    25th
2011    Mich    26th
2012    Mich    57th
2013    Mich    39th

In the Pac-10/Pac-12, regression.

In the Big 10 (at Indiana), steady regression.

In the SEC, after catching lightning in a bottle with two first round RBs (seniors) and a first round QB (senior), all developed by a previous coach, three years of steady regression.

In the Mountain West, one good year (2010).

In the Big 10 again, regression.  (Yes, the scoring offense number at 39th so far isn't as bad as 57th last year.  I do not think we will be scoring as many points on Ohio State as we did on CMU or Indiana.  We have one TD in regulation the past three games.)

Given that we are willing to pay an OC enough to put him in the handful of highest paid coordinators in the country, we can find people with better resumes (i.e., track records of success, rather than regression).  There were threads earlier that threw out a handful of names.  Personally, I would love to see Hoke and Brandon take a chance on someone like Bob Stitt.  But if you want to emulate Stanford (and we swung and missed on Harbaugh and his staff), why not go after Bloomgren?  Or how about Charlie Taaffe (who makes a quarter of what Borges does?  Or Sean Kugler, about whom Chris Peterson apparently said: "There's absolutely no question that he's the best football coach I've ever been around." (Kugler was assistant head coach with Peterson at Boise State in 2006, when they went undefeated.)  He's making $280,000 as head coach of UTEP.  He could coach his son and the rest of the blue chips we brought in, who look confused under Funk and Borges.  We have plenty of preferable options to our current situation.


Ron Utah

November 19th, 2013 at 2:52 AM ^

This is a good post.  I appreciate that you're thinking of solutions.

You've left out some important data on Borges.  At UCLA, he had three seasons of improvement.  My guess is you've left that out because it hurts your argument, but it wouldn't be fair for me to say that Borges hasn't shown regression at some previous stops (although one year at Cal under a doofus HC is hardly a sample at all, and I would argue his second year at Auburn was an amazing achievement, but that still doesn't submarine your point).

Also, total offense is pretty lousy indicator of offensive success.  Scoring is much more important than yardage (ask the 2012 Lions).  But I won't argue that AB hasn't show regression--he has.  And I won't argue he's a great coach--he hasn't proven that.

I would argue that Borges hasn't been anywhere long enough to prove he's a good or bad coach.  I think it's clear he's not a GREAT coach--those can make an offense more productive upon arrival.  But as I've said, they are extraordinarily rare.

As for Mattison, I think you hit the nail on the head: he saved us from the oblivion of the RR defenses, and is still honeymooning.  Don't get me wrong--he is a GREAT coach and I don't want to see him leave EVER--but we have regressed as a defense this year, and there is no excuse for that.  We have an easier schedule and a better roster on defense.  I expected better pass rush, better LB play, and fewer big plays allowed in the passing game.  Any truly objective observer would label the Akron game as primarily a defensive failure.  If not for DG's turnovers, the offense probably scores 40+ points, and all of those turnovers were just bad individual plays--there were guys open when he threw picks and fumble was just...but our defense allowed almost 5.3 YPP (one of our worst performances against a low-level team in many years) while our offense produced 6.85 YPP.  That near-loss is on our defense and our QB.

Anyway, I'm glad to see that you are looking for solutions, and actually trying to name some.  If we could get Bloomgren--which we can't--I'd go for it right away.  He runs the same base system we do (WCO) and the terminology is similar.  But why would he leave Stanford?  Look at his background...I don't see it happening.  I'd love to be wrong.

Bob Stitt?  The guy has never coached at a high level.  But that doesn't matter, because his philosophy doesn't fit with Hoke, so you'd have to fire Hoke too.  Are you willing to do that?  Bob Stitt would be a huge could very well be hiring someone else in three years, after spending three years recruiting for Stitt's system.  He is far from proven, and would be a huge gamble.

Same with Taafe--Hoke will never run that system.  That said, if we did decide to part ways with Hoke, I would support hiring someone like Taafe.  But no way that happens this year, nor should it.

Sean Kugler's UTEP team has the 91st ranked scoring offense.  Their total offense is even worse: 97th.  Kugler has never been an OC.  Did you mean bring him in to coach the O-Line?  This guy has NO track record as an OC.  I would not be pleased if he were hired as ours.

My point, as I made above, is that chaning the OC now means changing the system, changing the coach these kids have gotten know and work with, and asking the kids we recruited for MANBALL to play something else.  If you're going to do that, you need to be DAMN sure the guy you're bringing in is an offensive genius.

RR is an offensive genius.  He's one of the best offensive coaches in the history of the game.  In year three, he still couldn't score points against top teams.  How long are you willing to wait?  And are you willing to screw all the great talent we've recruited out of the chance to play the system they came here to run?  Isn't that what we're dealing with right now?

I'm not saying Borges is a great coach.  I don't think he is.  But I'm also not sure he's a bad coach.  He might be good.  What I'm saying is that these kids--even more than the coaches--deserve some stability and the chance to spend several years trying to learn a system.  If you're going to replace Borges, it has to be with a surefire replacement who has proven success and would fit with Hoke.  And that's damn hard to find.


November 19th, 2013 at 11:47 AM ^

Again, I was literally talking off the top of my head, so I'll accept it wasn't a great list.  But Franklin has taken a team with pretty middling talent and had them put up decent performances against a slew of ranked teams with varying levels of defensive abilities.  And Bobo can't be totally blamed for the team's overall performances over the years than Borges, but the talent gap between Georgia and UM on offense does not appear nearly as vast as some think and, frankly, if it is that vast I'm not sure Hoke is going to narrow that gap immensely at the still positions for at least a couple more years.  

As I've said about Borges before, he's a good OC who can work with lots of talent, but that's not necessarily a viable solution because you could say that about most coaches.  The offense has gotten progressively worse both in total as well as relative to competition since Borges has taken over, and while the whole "square peg, round hole" argument holds to an extent, at some point you can't keep blaming the last guy for not giving you viable pieces to work with.

More generally, and I think we are largely in agreement, Mattison is a great coach that UM is paying to do a good job.  Well, Borges is getting paid a great salary for an OC; UM can afford to get one of those "great" coaches to run this offense.  This isn't San Diego St.; this is one of the premier coaching positions in the country.  If Borges can't do any better than "wait 4 years", then he needs to be replaced by one of these other top OCs out there.  Pay them the money it takes, and see what happens.

And for everyone's sanity, we need to throw out that IU game because it makes the defense look significantly worse and the offense significantly better than they both are.  As I noted earlier, ignoring that game and UM is averaging about 25 points a game in conference play despite going to 3OT against two teams and playing only one of the conference's best defenses (MSU) up to this point.  


November 18th, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

My family and I have been drinking deep the sweet Kool-Aid since before Bo arrived and we have learned over the generations to spit out the tart specks.  Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.  I just hope this doesn't give me bladder problems down the road.  Serially.

Ron Utah

November 18th, 2013 at 5:42 PM ^

The Auburn offense was really good in Al's second year; maybe better than his first.  The passing game wasn't as strong, but the running game was about 0.4 YPC better, and they scored more pts/gm.

2006 and 2007 are interesting comparisons to our current offense.  Borges actually improved Cox's rating and YPA in 2006, but weaker O-Line and RB play seemed to hamper the offense.  In 2007, they started nine different players on the O-line, including two true freshmen.

That said, there's lots of valid criticism in this podcast: too many rollouts, not enough deep to Funchess (or red zone targets), and a couple silly calls on key downs.


May 7th, 2014 at 7:26 AM ^

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