“What Illinois did (to disrupt UM) I don’t know what OSU is doing”

Each week, TMI’s Sam Webb and former Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges come together to celebrate Michigan’s offensive collapse, a recap of the previous week’s competition with a deep dive into game strategy and analysis. Borges uses his decades of coordination experience to explain the key takeaways for the Wolverines’ future. To view the latest issue in its entirety, click the play button on the video embedded below.

In the transcribed excerpt below, Borges explores Ohio State’s defenses.

Al Borges: “The Buckeyes[are]a little bit different than Illinois. This is from a configuration perspective. At the back end they start off with two high looks like so many do. They play partially man-to-man, but they are not primarily a man-to-man defense. Their starting point on defense is to play zone, move their front a bit, and they’ll show you what I call scratch flashes, where they stab the end in, bring the nickel off the edge, and scratch the linebacker. They flip safeties in the box, play 1-high with cover 3, they pinch their fronts a little, occasionally they jump in a weird look — especially when Sawyer, no. 33, is in play. You’ll see that more often with him than with the other guys. They’re going to play conventional cover-2, the conventional two deep zone with some robber twos where they can put a guy in the middle to protect those two safeties. But… their defense isn’t really complicated to me. There is enough variety where you just don’t know, “here it comes”. But it’s not structural (overwhelming with complexity). And I’m not talking about the players – because that’s a completely different matter and that’s the most important thing, I might add. (But) it doesn’t create many problems structurally for what Michigan wants to do. What Illinois has done (to cause problems for Michigan) I don’t know what the State of Ohio is doing. Well, I think the next question a lot of people would like to ask is, “Well, why wouldn’t they just do what Illinois did?”. Well, that’s just not their culture. They can use these things, but they won’t be good at them because they haven’t practiced them from day one, and they’ll probably put their players in bad positions if they try to emulate what Illinois did. Illinois does what Illinois does, because that’s what they’ve done from the first day they walked onto the practice field. I think some of the (players)… I can’t even say this guy’s name Sam, maybe you need to help me…”

Sam Webb: “Just call him JT (JT Tuimoloau) made too many plays for Penn State. He won this game alone.”

Al Borges: “He’s a good player. He is number 44. He will mainly play on the left flank. I saw him on the right side but he’s a very good soccer player. Ty Hamilton, her nose guard, plays a shadow. He’s a good, solid player. (Taron) Vincent, a defensive tackle, no. 6, and Zach Harrison, what they call their “JACK,” which would make you think he’s a linebacker, but he really isn’t — he’s much more of a defender. Chambers and Eichenberg play linebackers MIKE and WILL within (are) active kids. They kind of get them all lined up correctly. It was not bad. Hickman, no. 14 and No. 12, ransom is their security. #14 and #15, your Nickel guy, Tanner McAlister, they sort of line up on the same side. And then no. 12 and I think no. 41 started the last game. So I’m not sure if those guys will be in there. But I saw four or five games. Those are the people I’ve seen for the most part. Cameron Brown, 26, started the last game but he didn’t play nearly as much as some of the other kids. And no. 10, Denzel Burke has played a lot and usually plays in the left corner… (he’s a) good athlete, good player. I mean they are solid. They’re from the state of Ohio, they got a few guys. I mean, who are we kidding here. But Michigan does, too. So does Michigan. And the matchup is anything but a mismatch. Well, would I like Blake Corum? You’re damn right I would. I’m not going to minimize that. But this isn’t a team that should be able to tear Michigan apart. I can’t see it — not the way Michigan played defense this year. And when you add bad elements to that, which is always possible, I think that plays to Michigan’s advantage, and evidence of that is when you look at how Ohio State is playing in a few other games, like the Northwestern game . They were sometimes incapacitating in that game, offensively, which I never would have thought. But it was the elements that held her back (below typical performance)… and her running game was a bit unpredictable at times, and I’ve heard the return run could be injured. So this is a pick ’em game. I mean anyone (can win). And let me tell you something, I think playing in Columbus is an advantage for Ohio State, but I don’t think it’s a huge advantage. I think most of the rivalry games I’ve been involved in have been self-motivated. You didn’t care who was in the stands. I think it has a much bigger effect in other games where you’re not as motivated. But you can bet the Wolverines will come out inspired to play these guys. So yeah I think it’s home advantage but I don’t think it’s worth a lot of points. I say so.”

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