Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Coach's POV - Michigan vs PSU - 4Q Play-by-Play

Link to Quarter 3

Michigan drive 14 - 13:09 4th 27-24

Play 1 - 1st and 10 - Michigan stacks Funchess over Gallon and run the PA tunnel screen to Gallon. This is a play to take advantage of soft coverage on the outside, by forcing them to retreat and getting a block down field. Would have liked to have seen this a couple more times this game, but it's another way to stretch the box horizontally that isn't a bubble screen.

Play 2 - 1st and 10 - Pro I from Michigan. The PA and the screen have effectively backed off PSU. There are no 7 defenders in the box. PSU in a standard 4-3 Over. Gardner checks to weakside Iso. Why? He's likely running power to the strong side here, or even stretch, but PSU has essentially stacked both LBs over their DL on the strong side, making it very difficult to get out on players. Meanwhile, on the weakside, its 3 blockers for three defenders. Good check by Gardner to attack the correct side of the formation for a nice first down pick up.

Play 3 - 2nd and 5 - TE and wing to boundary, two WR to field. Michigan runs PA again and max protects to help the OL. Blocking assignments to help the OL, again. They still miscommunicate here and bust. The key is though, that Gardner has been stepping into the pocket time and time again, this means the DE is trying so hard to get to his level and then merge in, instead he takes a straight 45 at him. This allows DG to spin and get outside the pressure. He isn't able to find anyone and only picks up a yard on his scramble, but this is serious progression from DG.

Play 4 - 3rd and 4 - Same look that has given Michigan a high/low to field and in/out to boundary all game. This time, Michigan switches it up though, runs two outs to the boundary and a short hitch in the slot to Dileo for a first down.

Michigan would run this same play or similar in OT but miss Dileo

Play 5 - 1st and 10 - H-back motions to put 3 to the field. 2 outside are stacked, HB in a wing position. Play action max protect to help out the OL. He gets protection. Steps into pocket. Michigan is running double posts. Gallon runs a corner-post to keep any cover 3 corner in the corner. Then it's the same read as slants. Center field stays over top and follows first guy, throw to second, he hangs down and doesn't get over top, throw to first guy.

Turns out PSU blitzes the slot CB in an attempt to stop the run. This puts a LB on Funchess, so there is no clear, it's just Funchess over the top for a big gain.

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  1. Great write ups here. I agree with you on all the heat that Borges is taking. He put this team in a position to win whether it may have been ugly or not. Youth, execution, and turnovers are very real problems. Its so easy to blame the coaches after the fact every time something goes wrong. I think anyone that hasn't coached doesn't understand that. Would there be all this criticizing happening if Michigan holds on the win 37-27 or 37-30? Or if Gibbons hits one of those field goals?

    Overall there are some things I'd like to see Borges do more, like running from more 3-wide sets and some quick passes on first down. But overall after re watching the game and reading your write ups, his play calling was not the reason they lost this game. And quite frankly I do not trust running Devin 20+ times a game between the tackles with the way he takes hits and the way he holds on to the ball. He is a great scrambler but not that decisive of a runner on called running plays.

    It will be interesting to see where Borges and the offensive staff goes from here on trying to get Fitz and the backs going in the run game. Do they mess with some other formations to get some guys out of the box and throw some more quick passes or do they just chug away and try to shore all the mistakes that being made on the oline. Hopefully a little of both.

    1. I wrote a long reply then it didn't post, so I'll try again.

      I do agree with you very much. I think people saw a few isolated things they didn't like and it formed their opinion about the rest of the game. My preferred philosophy is closer to Borges's than Rich Rod's, but it certainly also isn't Borges's. I'd like more 3 wide, I'd like more option, I'd like more balance on first down, I like bubble screens. But that's my opinion and one way to do it, but it doesn't mean his way of doing it is wrong, it just means it's different. As they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

      But I think to a degree people have been taught that there is a certain way that football needs to be played now compared to years ago. That things that are what Borges is doing are out of date and bad. But that's simply not true. It's just different. But it's still valid and it can still work, just like it did against PSU.

      Now, one of the biggest issues I typically face is people complaining about play calls, lack or play calls, and schematics of play calls. Every play is optimized for a look, a front, a coverage, whatever. But it also has adjustments in it to work against pretty much any logical thing that is thrown at it. Some coaches can get into optimal plays a couple more times a game than others, but there is very little big difference. It's not negligible, but it isn't what people make out Borges compared to others.

      Now, I'm not saying the coaches aren't without blame. They are responsible for coaching their players and teaching their players how to play the game, and how to play it within their system. Being upset with coaches isn't invalid, but I think people often take the too easy way out and blame the OC. No one makes OC at this level if they don't know how to take advantage of things they are seeing within their system, and Borges is no different. Whether the coaching everywhere is what it needs to be, I'm not sure.

      I think we go to more of how the 2nd half looked in the future, but we won't and shouldn't ditch what we did in the first half. It just needs to be mixed up a bit better I think, and I think they recognize this.

    2. Exactly. And don't get me wrong I am not saying that coaches don't deserve blame. I know you don't think that's what I'm saying, just clarifying for anyone else who may read this. Coaches and players are both apart of the team and you win or lose as a team. There are things both players and coaches could have done better to win that game. It's just that these last couple days most have seemed to focus solely on Borges.

      My personal preference falls much closer to Borges as well but like you its not exactly the same as Borges. I agree with his overall philosophy just might have a few different ways of going about it. And this philosophy as you say is not out dated. Ask Bama, LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin. Teams are going from a "spread" system back to a "pro" system each year. Florida, Pitt, and Purdue are just a few that come to mind. I know that spread based hurry up offense are whats "in" right now. I don't doubt their success one bit. I've said many times you have to believe in a system and stick with it. All systems have had success or else people wouldn't be using them. I think the people that look at Michigan's lack of "success" at this point and think its system and schematic based are wrong. There is nothing wrong with what they are trying to do offensively. People assuming Michigan would be so much more successful right now if that ran more "spread" concepts I think aren't considering a few things:
      1) lack of execution and blown blocks are going to happen in that system too. I know you're getting less #'s in the box and optioning off a man, but getting blown five yards into the backfield, going the wrong way and not identifying LB's are going to kill those plays too. Bryant whiffed on an inverted veer against PSU as well.
      2) teams aren't preparing for Michigan to run this right now. So looking at the YPC and saying thats the reason they should do it is a it misleading. If a defense spends all week preparing for Michigan out of the gun its going to have an effect on their success.
      3) Gardner is a great scrambler but not a great runner on designed running plays. Yes he makes some things happen. But he isn't decisive, runs upright, doesn't protect the ball and often doesn't locate or feel defenders coming from behind or from his side.
      4) Michigan has had some success under Borges with some spread stuff in 2011 and 2012 but the interior lineman while not dominant blockers were much more suited for that style. Doing this with Kalis, Glasgow and Bryant or maybe Bosch may not give you the same results.
      5) Borges can dabble with this stuff but its not his "thing". So while he will be able to draw up some gun option stuff he's not really going to take advantage of all the other aspects that come along with the system. Which is well documented on MGOBLOG and other sites from the 2011 and 2012 season.