Showing posts with label Al Borges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Al Borges. Show all posts

REPORT: Michigan Hires Doug Nussmeier as Offensive Coordinator

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Well, that was quick.

Following the firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges earlier this afternoon, CBS Sports is reporting that Michigan has already hired his replacement in the form of Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama.

A PULSE IN ANN ARBOR! Al Borges Has Been Fired

Offensive coordinator Al Borges will not be retained by the University of Michigan football program in 2014, Brady Hoke and the school announced today in a press release.

No Surprises Here; Ann Arbor Still Silent After Bowl Game Disaster

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The definition of insanity is "something that is very foolish or unreasonable," according to the Miriam-Webster dictionary.

Following an embarrassing 31-14 loss in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to end 2013, it appears as if things will remain as they were in 2013 going forward, with Brady Hoke and his entire staff remaining intact.

Hoke Expects Borges to Remain with Wolverines

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coming off of a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Ohio State at home to end the regular season, the University of Michigan's football program has many questions to answer and problems to address coming off of a disappointing 7-5 season, the team's third under head coach Brady Hoke.

The year is not done yet, as the team will likely be playing a bowl game sometime around Christmas, but now is the time that changes to a team are usually announced, whether it be staff or player related.

That being said, Brady Hoke stated earlier this week that he does not anticipate any changes to his coaching staff an expects everyone to return for next season, including much criticized offensive coordinator Al Borges.

Offense stalls in latest Saturday blunder, 24-21 loss to Iowa

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Heading into the second half of today's game with a 14-point lead and having both offensive and defensive units rolling would surely equal a victory, right? Dead wrong. This was the case today as the Michigan offense completely no-showed in the second half and Michigan gave up 17 unanswered points in their latest 24-21 losing effort to Iowa.

This is why Michigan fans can't have nice things.

A search party should've been conducted for the Michigan offense in the second half. Heading late into the fourth quarter, Michigan only managed six yards of offense in the second half. Six. Yards. Jeremy Jackson would catch a pass for 18-yards a short time later subsequently tripling their offensive output.

Michigan finished the game with 158 yards. Not to mention Michigan only managed to get ten first downs the entire game. How in anyone's world is that acceptable? That's not Michigan, that is not Big Ten. Those stats are reserved for obscure D-3 schools who are just happy to have a football program. The blame game has gone on for too long, Michigan just flat-out stinks.

This is the same old Michigan football that's been on repeat all year, this loss shouldn't come as a surprise.

The Iowa defense shut everything down in the second half. Every play that was working in the first half failed to work in the second. This has been an all too familiar storyline as the season progresses. The offense freezes, Michigan stumbles and often times plays themselves right out of the game. The second half today was the best example of this.

Not only did the offense completely seize up, it was embarrassing. There's no one to blame here but Al Borges. Looking back at his body of work, this should seal his fate. There is no reason to believe that he should return as offensive coordinator next season. Michigan does not have a bad football team on paper, Borges makes this a bad football team.

Brady Hoke needs to look inwardly after the season is over and think about the status of his staff. Does he show loyalty to Borges or does he show loyalty to the progression of his program? The answer should be clear.

The only bright spot on this day was the Michigan defense. In fact, Greg Mattison should be a deity in Ann Arbor right now. If it wasn't for his leadership with the defense, we are looking at a five or worse loss team. Blake Countess and Ramon Taylor came up huge with a pair of interceptions. Even oft-shuffled Brennan Byer had a pick-six to open up the scoring for the Wolverines.

Now I know how Akron feels. To dominate the turnover ratio but still lose? Something deeper is happening here.

Dan Wetzel said it best. Michigan is slowly turning into what Notre Dame was with Charlie Weis. A team full of good recruits that failed to produce on the football field. This is what it has come to, comparisons to Notre Dame football. What has Michigan proven otherwise to argue the opposite? We've fallen a long way from 97.

With Ohio State heading to Ann Arbor and determined to finish the year 12-0, it's not going to be pretty. Michigan is dangerously close from being ran out of their own stadium next Saturday. That thought alone is unacceptable.

For the Wolverines, the nightmare of 2013 is almost over. As a season many would love to forget, many are hoping this nightmare does not get stuck on repeat.

Deebo Knows: Time to Hold Al Borges Accountable

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another ugly display of offensive ineptitude resulting in another road loss for the Wolverines against a quality opponent...

Yes, Saturday in Columbus might as well have been Groundhog Day. We've seen this movie a few times in the last two seasons where the Michigan offense falls flat on its face away from Ann Arbor in a big game.

Many have tried to spin it multiple ways and insist that the struggles are due to the fact that offensive coordinator Al Borges does not have "his guys" to run his offense. Well, Greg Mattison does not have "his guys" either and he is making it work. He's making it work quite well. Enough with that nonsense. Truly good coaches take what they have and make it work.

The bottom line is that an offensive coordinator's job is to come up with schemes/game plans that work with the team's strengths and work around its deficiencies and also, maybe most important, to make in-game adjustments to to help win games. I'm sorry guys but I can't tow the company line here and say that Borges is doing a good job here. If you think I am being a fair weather fan and want to make excuses for him you are living in a fantasy land and need to take off the Maize and Blue homer glasses. He's racked up points on teams with inferior talent and has fizzeld against those who don't.

If you are being honest with yourself you will admit that many times in his tenure he has been stubborn (Alabama and ND), incredibly predictable and unimaginative (MSU), and unable to make quality in-game adjustments to attack defenses' weak points (many games but OSU the most glaring example). These blunders were key contributors to at least two losses this season and, as a TRUE FAN (not a homer/slappy) that can think objectively, I think it's time to take a serious look as to what exactly Al Borges brings to the table. If you can't think objectively or will blindly support anything that this coaching staff does then stop reading because this is not for you.

Forget last year, let's just look at a few games this year where this Al Borges-led offense cost Team 133. And yes, I'll throw out the Alabama game because we weren't beating Alabama this year. Sorry it wasn't happening.

I think one of the biggest blunders was the Notre Dame game in which UM lost 13-6 to the supposed #1 team in America. A game in which the defense played their a***s off and gave the team a chance to win on the road. Why didn't they win? Because the offense had a gazillion turnovers including four Denard Robinson INTs primarily because Al Borges asked him to play the role of Tom Brady and sit in the pocket and throw the ball down field 30 times. Also, at a time when the offense was steadily moving on the stout ND defense and knocking on the door inside the 10 yard line in a scoreless game early, Borges dials up a halfback pass with a 5'7" Vincent Smith only to see it get intercepted and destroy momentum. Not going to go into any further detail but if you watched that game you saw the offense cost that team a W. No two ways about it.

Nebraska was a different avenue for ineptitude. Yes, Denard got hurt. Tough blow. But how in the world is Russell Bellomy not at least adequately prepared to resemble a functional QB? I don't want to hear it was a tough spot blah blah blah. Yeah, it was a tough spot. But it's on the coaches to make sure he is at least serviceable. No excuses. The staff was ill prepared to deal with the possibility of Robinson going down. And who is ultimately responsible for the offense? Al Borges.

I won't even touch on the fact that it's hard to believe that Borges truly felt that Bellomy was going to be the better option to back up Robinson in the event of an injury. Forget the fact that Gardner is an athlete and was a decent WR. His ability at QB is a heck of a lot higher than Bellomy's and I find it hard to believe the coaches didn't see that in the spring or the summer. Gardner may have even been the team's BEST option at QB and it's also hard for me to not at least entertain that idea. Not after what we have watched since the Minnesota game.

Even though the Wolverines beat MSU, they failed to score an offensive TD in that game. A combination of a completely horrendous Spartan offense and a pretty darn good defensive effort by Mattison's boys enabled Michigan to escape with a 2-point win after only mustering four FGs. Why did Michigan only score 12 points? Partly because MSU has a very good defense, but a big part also had to do with the fact the offense was beyond predictable. Denard run left. Denard run right. Denard run center. Maybe a tailback carry in the same fashion. Failure to convert red zone trips to TDs. They didn't even attempt to outscheme that tough Spartan defense. A win is a win but that is a game that very well could've or should've been won 24-10 or something along those lines. Thank God for Greg Mattison.

Now the most recent example of terrible offensive coaching leading to a loss was the disaster in Columbus on Saturday against the Buckeyes. The offense looked pretty good in the first half scoring 21 points and heading into the halftime with a 1-point lead. It had appeared we would see more of the Devin/Denard backfield that worked wonders the previous week. So what happened in the second half? Well, Gardener would throw a 1st down pass for six to eight yards only to be taken out to line Robinson at QB for designed runs. OSU knew he couldn't throw so it was as easy as stacking the box to stop the run. It worked. Shocker.


Not only did the constant QB shuffle kill Gardner's rhythm, it essentially telegraphed what play they would run. If Gardner was in it would likey be a pass. If Denard was in it was certainly a run. Basically, Borges took all of the possible creative ways he could have them both on the field and keep the defense off balance and disregarded all of it. At least when Robinson had his QB runs in the first half they attacked the edge of the defense where they were struggling without one of their best players. In the second half they decided to attack the Buckeyes' strength (and the UM weakness all season) the interior. It's one thing to try that with Robinson who can make plays on his own, but to constantly run a 5'7" 180 lbs. Smith on a power iso play on 3rd and short yardage was inexcusable. How did this make any sense? Someone please explain this to me?

Where were the Gardner rollouts (maybe even with a misdirection play action to Robinson) with a run/pass option that worked so well? Where were the bubble screens to Denard? Heck, try an option with Gardner and Robinson. Where was the creativity we had seen in previous weeks? I'll tell you why we didn't see it. The plays were called to not lose. They were not called to win. And, once it was painfully obvious OSU was not going to allow Denard to burn them again on QB runs, Borges kept dialing them up. By the time they stuck with Devin at QB and didn't even put Denard in the game for what seemed to be most of the fourth quarter, the offense was so out of sync it was hopeless. They didn't even cross the 50 yard line in the half. There is no defending Borges for what transpired on Saturday.

No imagination. No threat of a pass with Gardner out. No moving Denard around even as a decoy. This amounted to no win. The end.

Those are just a few examples of the ineptitude we have seen this season from Al Borges. And if you can't see how they greatly contributed to losses then I want some of what you're on.

You can point to the fact that the running game was putrid or rehash that Borges didn't have "his guys." I'll give you a response of a fart noise. Michigan has one of the most dynamic players in Denard Robinson at their disposal and also what appears to be a darn good dual-threat QB in Devin Gardner. A coach that has been touted an offensive genius and is "well-respected" in the college football ranks should be able to do wonders with that. Many coordinators are able to do a lot more with a lot less. I have a very difficult time defending Al Borges after this year and would not argue with anyone who would think that he held the team back in the win column this year. The numbers and the facts are right there in black and white. The argument can be made.

I am not one of those saying Hoke should be fired. That's goofy talk. I think he is the right guy for the job. Am I a little concerned about some of his game management at times along with his 3-13 road record in his last four seasons against winning teams?  A little. But I think the good he has done as whole has far outweighed those things and I can look passed those for the time being.

However, I am seriously wondering if we have the right guy in Al Borges to run this offense in the future. I am concerned that it is entirely possible that his stubbornness, questionable play calling, propensity to get cute at the wrong times, his inability to make sound in-game adjustments, and his inability up to this point to outscheme any truly good defense could hold Michigan back from winning anything significant. It think it may have done just that this year. I am not saying this will 100% be the case moving forward but if you can't say the thought hasn't even crossed your mind you're crazy and probably delusional. I have seen enough in the last two seasons to at least be concerned.

I hope I am wrong about Borges. I hope he makes those of us who question his abilities look like imbeciles by directing juggernaut offenses. We'll see. But starting next season he won't have to "figure out" how to adequately use Robinson, he will have a QB capable of making the throws needed for his offense, and will have two years of recruiting "his guys." All of those crutches he has used to stand on will be gone and, at least for me, he is now on the clock. No more excuses.

Sorry for the rant. Losing to OSU in a game that was very winnable will do that.

GO BLUE!!

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: QB Controversy? NO, STOP IT!

Monday, November 5, 2012

ATTENTION ARMCHAIR QBS, COACHES, ATHLETIC DIRECTORS, ETC: There is no quarterback controversy at the University of Michigan!

Please take the time to read that once more, and maybe a few more times to let it sink in. I'm serious. Read it as many times as it takes for you to fully grasp those words that are written clearly and concisely in the English Language. It is the only language I am capable of speaking and writing in (even though I know very basic Spanish and some cuss words in Italian) so there should be no confusion here.

Okay, if you're still puzzled let me spell it out further. Ready?

For the remainder of the 2012 season, when Michigan's senior quarterback, Denard Robinson, is healthy enough to play he will be, and SHOULD BE, the starting quarterback for the Wolverines, and Devin Gardner will remain the backup. There is no controversy, discussion, second-guessing, wiggle room, ambiguity, or two ways about it. Enough. Stop with the nonsense.

Yes, Devin Gardner was a 5-star recruit and the #1 dual-threat QB coming out of high school and he sure looked the part on Saturday. Not to diminish Gardner's accomplishments on Saturday but they did play the Minnesota Golden Gophers who don't exactly tout a defense that draws comparisons to the '85 Bears.

And yes, Hoke said in his Monday presser that the offense we saw on Saturday was more of the pro-style Al Borges will run starting next year and Gardner ran it well. He appears to be more of the "traditional QB" mold and a better passer than Robinson.

All that is great, but Denard will still be the starter for the rest of the season as he should be. This supposed "QB controversy" is simply another case of the backup QB, goalie, etc. being the most popular guy in town and fans overreacting to the point of ridiculousness.

Robinson may not be the ideal QB that everyone, including the coaching staff, wants to see under center for U-M. However, the fact remains that he is still one of the, if not the, most dangerous player in all of college football. He has not put up the gaudy statistics, broken records, led dramatic comebacks, etc. by luck. He is a very good football player who makes plays and knows how to win football games. Oh yeah, he has also started every game the last three years up until Saturday. One good performance by Gardner is not enough to wipe that away nor should it blind us all as to how special of a player Denard Robinson truly is.

Let's not overlook the fact that Robinson IS the Michigan rushing attack which is why he accounts for over 75% of the team's offense. He's accomplished that by playing QB, not RB, WR, or anything else.

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the RBs and the OL are struggling and Robinson is the only ball carrier who has proven that he can overcome those shortcomings. With that said, stop and think before you speak when you suggest he should be moved to RB or WR for the rest of his college career. If that move was to be made it would've been done either before last season or before this season at the latest. You don't make drastic position changes like that nine games into the season unless your team is desperate and does not have anything left to play for. Michigan is not one of those teams. Enough with the charade.

Look, what Devin Gardner did on Saturday was very encouraging and comforting for the future. If Denard is held out of games at any point during the rest of the season we now know that Team 133 has a very capable backup. That is a complete 180-degree turnaround from the sentiment we all felt after the Nebraska debacle. But that is as far as it goes, at least for the 2012 season.

As for next year, the optimism is completely different. Denard Robinson, for better or for worse depending on which fan(s) you speak to, will have graduated. Now you can talk all day about Devin Gardner being your starting quarterback. After Saturday's performance you would have to believe it may very well be his job to lose. He has the size, the arm strength, and overall ability to be very effective in a pro-style offense and he certainly can make things happen with his feet if things break down in the pocket. Saturday may have been a bit of a glimpse of what 2013 will look like and that is very exciting.

Notice I did not mention incoming 5-star recruit Shane Morris as being thought about as next year's starter. That is because if you think that is a good idea you really don't know much about football. Not trying to be a (insert expletive-filled insult here) but it's the truth. You do not start a true freshman at QB at a program that has championship aspirations unless you either have no other feasible option or said freshman completely blows away the other candidates.

For every Chad Henne there are about a gazillion Jimmy Clausens. Keep in mind Henne had Edwards, Avant, and Breaston to throw to, Hart in the backfield, and a very talented and experienced OL. Morris will not have those luxuries. Let the senior Gardner lead the team for a year, Bellomy play the role of backup, and let the talented 18-year old redshirt and learn for a year.

Don't agree with me, go back and watch some Jimmy Clausen highlights (if there even is any) from his freshman year at Notre Dame. He was the top QB recruit and looked like a deer in headlights all season long. Not pretty. Basically, chill out with the Morris for Heisman 2013 campaign. This is not Xbox.

To get back on track, the moral of the story is that if you are one of those fans that have been screaming from the mountain tops since around 3:00 PM on Saturday that Devin Gardner should start over Denard Robinson save your breath. It ain't happening. The coaches have said as much and they are right. Michigan will be just fine with "Shoelace" under center and will more than likely be fine next year with Gardner, not Morris, as the man. Enjoy the rest of the season and the rest of Denard Robinson's last year at Michigan...as the starting quarterback.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Bellomy Should Not Be Judged By Nebraska Game

Monday, October 29, 2012

There is no denying that Team 133 will only go as far as a healthy Denard Robinson will take them.  That was made perfectly clear after "Shoelace" was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter of Michigan's loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday with a nerve injury to his throwing elbow.

Enter 2nd string QB, and possible 2013 starter, Russell Bellomy...a redshirt freshman...in Lincoln Nebraska...under the lights...in a crucial divisional matchup.

In a situation like this as a fan you take a big gulp and know disaster lies ahead.  Bellomy's final numbers were of Armageddon proportions:
  • PASSING ACCURACY - 3/16
  • PASSING YARDS - 38
  • INT - 3
  • TD - 0
  • RUSHING YARDS - 0 (Multiple sacks nullified the yardage he gained on 5 carries)
He didn't have have much help as his receivers dropped a handful of passes, he was under duress by the Nebraska pass rush, and the RBs continued to contribute next to nothing, but the numbers are still ghastly no matter how you slice it.  Subsequently U-M suffered a 23-9 defeat and failed to score an offensive TD for the 2nd straight week.

There is always doom and gloom after a Wolverine loss but this week was a little different.

"Russell Bellomy is a terrible QB!"

"We're screwed next year because we have no QB!"

"Shane Morris is going to have to start as a true freshman!"

"Fire Al Borges!"

"FIRE BRADY HOKE! (Yes, I did indeed see this on Twitter)

Look, I was just as angry and frustrated as anyone and entertained some doom and gloom myself...FOR THIS SEASON.

Once I had the opportunity to cheer myself up by watching some Seinfeld and think logically, I was able to put things in the proper perspective.  Bellomy is a redshirt freshman with minimal game experience who was thrown into a snake pit and asked to win a crucial game with very little help.  I am not sure what everyone was expecting.  I would think that nine out of ten QBs would struggle in that scenario.  Give the kid a break.

Was I a little shocked that he wasn't a little more game ready? 

Yep.

Do I think some of it falls on Al Borges and the offensive coaches to ensure that they have a QB ready to go in and at least be serviceable?

Since they have a running QB who gets pounded every game and has a history of getting banged up you're darn tootin' I do.

But let's get things straight, this was a kid thrown into a situation where the odds were severely against him.  His future career at U-M should not be judged or speculated upon based off of one underwhelming performance in which he was asked to do the unthinkable.  People who think his career will be defined by what happened on Saturday need to scale back on the caffeine and/or narcotics a smidge.

Once the season is finished his mindset, as well as the mindset of the coaches, will completely change.  He will be preparing, mentally and physically, to be the starting QB at the University of Michigan.  Not the backup.  He will be prepared by the coaching staff, mentally and physically, to be the starting QB at the University of Michigan, or at least compete for the spot.  Not to be the backup.  The offense will shift from the spread to more of a pro-style, Al Borges' preference, to adhere to his skill set.  He will be more equipped to be a serviceable, and who knows, maybe even a pretty good starting signal-caller for the Wolverines. 

I don't have a crystal ball but I am pretty certain that given the reps and the opportunity next season, he will prove that he is not nearly as bad as he appeared in Lincoln.  He would not have been recruited by the coaching staff if he was and there is a reason he is #2 on the depth chart.  They are the same coaches that get praised daily for their recruiting prowess so I think we can safely say Bellomy was not brought in by throwing darts at a dartboard.  Chill out people.

Also, those of you who think Shane Morris is going to come in as an 18-year old freshman and take the starting spot are nuts.  I can't put it any other way.  You saw what happens on Saturday when you put a kid in at QB before he's ready...disaster.  As talented as Morris may be he will still be a freshman. 

You don't start a frosh at QB unless you absolutely have to.  And if that is indeed the case you'd be extremely naive and borderline crazy to think Morris will come in and be lights out and lead Team 134 to a B1G title.  This ain't the MAC or Conference USA.  It's the B1G and you don't ask a kid to lead a big time program into places like East Lansing and Iowa City.  At least at Michigan you don't.  Chad Henne was the exception not the rule.  He also had Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, and Jason Avant to throw to and Mike Hart in the backfield.  Enough with the Shane Morris talk people.  At least until 2014.

If you want to worry about what might happen this season if Denard Robinson can't stay healthy then fine.  Believe me, I'm right there with you.  But when it comes to next season let's all just relax and trust the coaches to have the starting QB, presumably Russell Bellomy, ready to run the offense smoothly.  Give a very good staff the benefit of the doubt and step away from the ledge.

Team 133 is in the middle of a battle for a division title.  They are undoubtedly focused on just that and not next season.  I suggest the fans follow suit.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Pay No Attention to the Spread

Monday, October 15, 2012

Revenge. Redemption. Payback. Paul Bunyan. Those are the words that are on the minds of the Wolverines and their fans as THE RIVALRY WEEK is upon us. Those words seem like a very possible reality for Team 133 as the two teams that will square off on Saturday appear to be heading in different directions.

The Spartans (4-3, 1-2 B1G) appear to be crumbling as they suffered a heart-breaking loss to a putrid Iowa team at home on Saturday. Add the fact that the week before they barely squeaked out a victory against Indiana and struggled against EMU a few weeks prior and you have a floundering football team.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 B1G) put a gigantic maize and blue boot in the behinds of a not-so-great Illinois squad to the tune of a 45-0 massacre after "shocking the world" (or at least Kirk Herbstreit) by embarrassing Purdue on the road the week before. They are hitting their stride and booming with confidence at the right time.

As a result, Michigan opened up the week as a huge 11.5 point favorite for Saturday's game. The spread has now dropped to 10 which, in my opinion, is still way too high. Wolverine Nation should not buy into this absurd line...mentally or monetarily. Let me explain.

First and foremost, let's all remember who coaches the Michigan State Spartans. Yes, the man with the biggest maize and blue chip on his shoulder...Mark "The Red A**" Dantonio. He has a complete and utter disdain for Michigan. Hate is definitely not a strong enough word to describe his anti-love for the Wolverines. As a result, he puts quite an emphasis on this game every year and thus has them uber prepared and fired up for this contest...every...single...year. I expect nothing less this year nor should anyone else. Especially after they were embarrassed on Saturday by Iowa at home. He will have the Spartans, angry, determined, and desperate knowing a win against their arch rival is key to salvaging their disappointing season. They will be coming out swinging...count on it.

Second, Michigan State still has a very formidable defense. The group is number one in all major defensive categories in the B1G. It is also a defense that for the past three years has completely shut down Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense.

I am not going to waste my time throwing out the blatant statistics. Anyone who has watched the last few games in the rivalry knows that defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi's "Spartan Dawgs" have lined up and punched the Wolverines' offense in the mouth. It has looked like full grown Pitt Bulls against Shih Tzu puppies. It is THE team that has mapped out the blueprint on how to stop "Shoelace." Many of the players who effectively stymied his play previously will be taking the field on Saturday. It will be up to Denard and Al Borges to prove they can figure out how to bite back. I truly believe Robinson will be incredibly focused on beating the Spartans in his final try and will play his heart out. We'll see if he can keep calm and play within himself and not try to do too much.

The Spartans are the inverse of the Wolverines of the Rich Rod Era. While they tout an incredibly stingy defense, their offense is pretty pedestrian (I am being P.C.). They're pretty bad. No, I am not being a Michigan slappy or a "Walmart Wolverine," that moniker still holds no water to any intelligent sports fan but I digress, I am calling it like it is.

Anybody who has watched the Spartans in the last few weeks will tell you they are anemic offensively. Once again I am not going to throw out the glaringly supportive statistics, I am simply going with the eyeball test. Their receivers are young and drop a ton of balls, Maxwell is still fairly inexperienced and makes some questionable decisions, their offensive line is banged up, and they live and die with LeVeon Bell. With that said, Maxwell, statistics aside, has shown he has the potential and physical tools to get the job done and Bell is an absolute horse. With a struggling air attack, they will feed Bell the rock constantly and force the Michigan defense to match their physicality and stop it. While the UM defense has dramatically improved in recent weeks, they have yet to step up to the Spartans' challenge in recent years. It will be up to them to keep that struggling Spartan offense from breaking out and give their own offense as many possessions as possible.

Don't think I am being a Negative Nancy and thinking the Wolverines will lose the game. Quite the opposite. I fully believe the Wolverines will play inspired football in front of their home crowd and break "The Streak." They look like the more complete team and are motivated to get the MSU monkey off of their backs. However, I am not buying the huge spread that Vegas is selling, nor am I jumping on the Train of Overconfidence that many fans are currently riding. This is a rivalry game, and in the past, no matter how good or bad the teams have been, it is typically a close, hard-fought game. I expect nothing different here.

The Paul Bunyan Trophy has made a home in East Lansing for four years now. It basically has changed its area code to 517. Its keepers, the Michigan State Spartans, a.k.a. "Spartan Dawgs," will be rabid, desperate, angry, and foaming at the mouth to ruin Michigan's chances at a division championship. Dantonio, Narduzzi, and Co. will see to it that MSU gives Team 133 all it can handle on Saturday. Buckle up for another exciting chapter of this civil war because bringing Mr. Bunyan back to the 734 area code will not be easy.


**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Now THAT Is a Road Win!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Wolverines exorcised a demon on Saturday in West Lafayette. You know, the one that normally has Denard Robinson's head spinning like Linda Blair's in the 1973 horror classic (minus the pea soup puke of course). That's right. We're talking road games against a decent opponent.

It has been no secret that away from Ann Arbor in the Brady Hoke Era Michigan has struggled against quality competition. They may have hushed some of the critics with their 44-13 suplexing of the Purdue Boilermakers. The offense was kept simple and was efficient, the defense was aggressive and opportunistic, and the team didn't kill themselves with bad penalties or ill-timed turnovers. It was maybe the perfect road game.

First and foremost, it appears Al Borges FINALLY swallowed his pride and had a game plan that put Denard and the offense in the best position to succeed. Robinson was not asked to sling it all over the yard (only 16 attempts), the routes were those of the high-percentage, short to intermediate variety, his legs were utilized (24 carries for 235 yards), and drives were not stalled with goofy gadget plays or formations. The result was 37 points (the defense added a score), 409 total yards, roughly 13 minutes time of possession advantage, and only one turnover when the game was, for all intents and purposes, over. And this was done against one of the better defensive lines in the B1G.

It is clear that when the offense is kept simple and Denard is allowed to be himself, especially on the road, Team 133 will score points. This was a masterful day in the booth for Borges. I would imagine he now sees the blueprint for this team to succeed offensively and I would expect to see a similar attack moving forward.

How about that defense eh?

If Greg Mattison has shown one thing so far in his tenure at Michigan it is that his defense will improve as the season progresses. This year they have gone from a perceived weakness to a strength. They are one of the best pass defenses in the league and nation, they are starting to create turnovers, the young players are becoming difference-makers (see the monster also known as Jake Ryan), they are aggressive, and they seem to be developing a swagger.

On Saturday they faced a Purdue team that was averaging around 500 yards per game and could score in bunches. Michigan held them to 213 yards (157 passing and 56 rushing) and 13 points. The Wolverines also forced the Boilermakers' offense to cough up the ball three times, held them to one 3rd down conversion, and recorded two sacks. They completely shut down the high-powered Purdue offense. If this is a sign of the things to come, Mattison's boys will give Michigan a chance to win every game they play from here on out.

Also, Michigan played a clean game. They only had one turnover (AND IT WAS NOT AN INTERCEPTION...YAY!!) and they only had one penalty all afternoon (false start). They kept their cool in an important road game, remained poised, and played physical within the rules. That same cleanliness will be needed when they take the field in Lincoln and Columbus, but for now, bravo boys. Bravo.

All in all, Team 133 played the closest thing to a perfect road game as possible. They imposed their will on offense, kept it simple, managed the clock, played shut-down defense, and didn't shoot themselves in the foot. They walked into Purdue's house and punched them square in the teeth. This also may have been the best game they have played this season regardless of venue. If "Big Blue" can stick with this basic formula for the remainder of the season they can very well win every game whether it be at the "Big House," "The Shoe," or the moon. Maybe, just maybe, they can make a stop in Indianapolis before they conquer space travel.




**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at www.deeboknows.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

 

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