During the Big Ten season last year Michigan fans were upset about two situations that didn't make much sense.
1) Why Devin Gardner wasn't prepared to take snaps in the Nebraska game?
2) What happened with the play calling in second half of the OSU game?
In part two of Mgoblog's interview with Big Al, he discusses the second half of the Ohio State game:
Gotcha. I want to ask you about something you’ve said in the past, about how the success of your offense later in the game is often dependent on your success earlier in the game --
“Right -- turns."
"Your issues with play-calling are what I call ‘turns.’ How many turns do you get? How many chances do you get? How many first downs do you get so that you can call more plays? And this is where you become a victim of execution to a degree.
“There’s a lot of criticism, I know, from the Ohio State game, which the plan was very similar [to the Iowa game] and there was a lot of the lauding or praises for the Iowa game. A lot of the [Ohio State] plan was in the Iowa game. There was a lot of the same stuff. There was a little more nuance that we actually ended up running in the bowl game -- I’m telling you something I haven’t told anyone before -- but the second half of the Ohio State game we didn’t get to a lot of those calls because we failed on third-down-and-short situations several times. We failed, we turned the ball over a couple times. A lot of those calls don’t get out of your mouth. You see what I mean?
“I told you guys this in the press conference, and I remember saying this: everybody’s going to complain about the play-calling and who’s touching the ball, you know? Getting carries? If you’re not getting first downs, you’re not getting calls out. You don’t get that turn. You lost that turn, because something went wrong and you didn’t move the chains. You turn the ball over. And now everybody’s going to think you screwed it up, which, at the end of the day, maybe you did. It’s not all the players; it’s the coaches, too, now. We don’t always make the perfect call. But the bottom line is at the end of the day, if you don’t get a lot of chances to call plays, you’ll always be short. You won’t rush the ball very well. Nobody will rush for 100 yards. You won’t have a receiver catching over 100 yards. Your quarterback won’t have good numbers. You have to keep the chains moving so the play-caller can get more calls off. You’re in a constant situation where you’re trying to set plays up, but if you don’t get to those plays, you never get to the counterpunch.”
I see. So for your offense to be successful, you need the opportunity to run plays so you can set up other plays.
There were plays that you ran in the bowl game that you didn’t run against Ohio State because you weren’t able to set them up?
I think Al makes a decent point here but I also would challenge him a bit on that theory. I don't like the excuse we weren't successful so we didn't make the "good calls". I understand that if you go 3 and out or if there is a turnover you can't get deep in the playbook, but that is a poor explanation in my opinion. I really don't like re-watching games where Michigan plays poorly, so I'm going from memory here but if I remember correctly Big Al had Denard at QB a ton in the second half. What that did was send a clear message to the OSU defense that the run was coming. Everyone knew he couldn't pass and it took any advantage the Michigan offense had on being balanced. Wasn't the success Michigan had on offense in the first half a good enough set up to be effective in the second half?
The ironic thing, later in the interview Big Al talks about the most important aspect of a Michigan offense is being balanced and keeping the offense guessing if it's a pass or a run. Yes, the Michigan offense was more successful in the Bowl Game but I would also challenge Big Al that the offense game plan and formations were much different from OSU to the Outback. Maybe that was the month of preparation or maybe Big Al finally understood how to use both Devin and Denard in the same backfield. Too bad he didn't figure that out much earlier in the year or last summer when he put his 5 star QB at WR.
Side Note from the interview: Remember when I questioned if Big Al watches other successful college offenses' and the NFL to get ideas on how to tweak formations and plays?
Well, you and Brady have talked about changing the look of the offense for the last three years. Obviously you’re not there yet, but is there an endpoint to the evolution, and what does that offense look like?
“Oh, it won’t stop evolving. We can’t stop evolving. If you look at the way college football changes over the years -- I mean, what it looks like now doesn’t look the like it did in 1986. Players are getting faster and stronger … What defenses are doing with their coverages and zone blitzing is a lot more sophisticated. If you look at what Michigan was doing back in 1940 with [Tom] Harmon carrying the ball, even the uniforms weren’t the same. You can’t stop evolving. That’s why we do so much time studying what other people are doing. Now, we may not use all of it, but we have to keep up.”
That's exactly what I was afraid of. He didn't mention RG3, Andrew Luck or what Harbaugh is doing with the 49'ers. He used examples from 1986 and Tom Harmon. Someone buy him the Red Zone channel! To his credit, he does talk about playing fast (they call it Nascar) which I assume he is talking about Kelly's Oregon offense and how he feels it takes away from the defense and special teams being effective.
- Michigan was out to see 2014 OL Jamarco Jones yesterday.
- Don't forget about Sunday and Peppers on ESPNU. I believe the telecast is around 4:30 PM.
- U of M Mott Hospital uses 3D Printing to save the life of a young boy.