Week 14: Crazy Rivalry Saturday Pt 1 – A look back at the coaching – OSU/UM

Posted: December 2, 2013 in Weekly Reviews
Al Borges
110416-denard-robinson-al-borges-spring-gamejpg-a0dd822b4f78dc0a Give the man some credit. A former “Assistant of the Year” at Auburn, Borges came in with a cohesive, direct game plan and the play calling and adjustments became much easier. Still, due to the complications of switching schemes back and forth from Pro to PS, Gardner had to execute to near perfection, along with Borges, to get this to work. 
Three years ago, Borges came followed Brady Hoke to UM from SDST. Hoke wanted to incorporate a Pro Power, 2 Back Set with a West Coast/Downfield Passing Spread like he had at SDST and Ball State.  The talent left from Rich Rodriguez’s Power Spread offense made this hard to do. Power Spread football has an inherent flexibility. The old Pro Schemes do not.
This was supposedly the year of the switch over, now that speedster QB Denard Robinson was gone. But why?? Devin Gardner’s athleticism and strong arm made him perfect for a PS Pass type offense. Some Read Option and Pistol – down hill power, combined with the quick pass spread attack.
The Pro Offense worked for Hoke before, but times they are a changin. Trying to mix PS and Pro sets throughout a game takes incredible coordination and game planning. Borges pulled it of this past Saturday, but good luck doing that on a regular basis. KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. The Power Spread works. No need for all the complication.
I figured we would see less Pro Sets and more PS stuff, but I was wrong. What I was right about was all the misdirection and play action combined with a quick pass/West Coast spread design. OSU’s Defense was not ready for this and possibly the Team as a whole was too overconfident.
OSU made adjustments in the 2nd Quarter with tighter coverage for the short passes and more of a blitz mix to throw Gardner off rhythm. It was starting to work, but with a 2 TD lead, Borges fooled me and the rest of the Buckeye Defense.
He started running even more Pro Power schemes from under center. Run, Run, quick pass, Run. OSU had forgotten the run and got blown out briefly, helping UM come back. In my Live Commentary, I felt that Borges screwed up by going way too much Pro Power, but UM busted off a couple of big runs and consumed the clock keeping OSU’s unstoppable Offense off the field. Then, as the Buckeyes D started to adjust again and shut down the run, Borges went back to more quick passing – even  switching back to more Power Spread at times. 
Finally, after all that, Borges went to a hurry up no huddle on the last drive with more down the field West Coast passing concepts. Out of necessity – yes, but still amazing the way he kept OSU’s D off balance all game! 
The last dagger came with the big screen pass to Toussaint that set up the last Touchdown. OSU had gotten conservative early in the last drive. Then changed up and started to blitz. Poor deception and scheme design. Once Borges saw we were now blitzing he simply called for a RB wide screen lft. He had tried this all game with no luck as we had some nice fake pressure, then dropped off into coverage, shutting down the screen. Not this time. Full out silly blitz – showing our hand pre snap – and Borges played it perfectly.
Like I said at top – he had to be perfect – he almost was. The same with Gardner. The last 2 pt conversion attempt was not necessarily a bad design, but it was something they have done many times before and DB Coach Kerry Coombs was ready for it. He told Tyvus Powell to jump the short man off the triple stack set and that’s exactly what Powell did. Game over.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid – was something Borges did brilliantly on this day, but that last design may have been TOO simple at the wrong time. Then again, maybe the complications of switching between PS and older Pro schemes all game long is just too much to ask of a Coordinator and his Offense. UM was near perfect – but not perfect enough.
Urban Meyer
urban-meyer2On the other side of the ball, OSU was far from perfect. In fact, with all the dominance of the OSU Offense, I would say that Borges was far and away the coach of the day on Saturday. Why? Because he didn’t have the advantage of a Carlos Hyde /Braxton Miller going against a young, depleted Linebacking crew all game long. Out of the Read Option PS scheme to boot!
Then again, is this not the brilliance of Urban? His OC, Tom Herman, has the creativity to do much more in the PS Offense. We have already seen it. His pass pattern designs can be brilliant. Go back and look at the first TD to Devin Smith. Still, Urban is a proponent of KISS! This year more than ever.  
In a way it’s like old Woody Hayes. Keep doing it until they stop it. The big difference is the variety and deception of the PS Offenses. Way more potent than the “3 yds and a cloud of dust” employed by Woody. This Read Option invented by former UM Coach, Rich Rodriguez has made great successes of far less talent than Miller and Hyde. Check out Auburn
I don’t know if Urban can continue to employ such a simple gameplan against the likes of Michigan St or our bowl opponent. Teams with PS defenses will sell out to stop the run if they have to and take their chances getting burned deep. UM’s DC, Greg Mattison would not do this and that was his failure. As we saw in the Auburn game, their Defense gave up some huge plays – but it also made huge plays. Mattison’s Defense made some big plays – but not nearly enough. Especially in the run game. 
Urban Meyer understands the POWER in Power Spread like no one else, but this week will be telling for his Offense. Dantonio’s aggressive Defense WILL sell out and at least slow down the run. Will OSU be able to step it up with Tom Herman’s brilliant schemes after so little variation from the Miller/Hyde Power Scheme throughout the Big 10 Schedule? We will see…

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