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Posted on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke expects 'makeshift offense' to continue to evolve in offseason

By Kyle Meinke


The Michigan offense this year was a combination of the spread option used by Rich Rodriguez -- like this shotgun read option that quarterback Denard Robinson and tailback Fitz Toussaint ran against Ohio State last week -- and the West Coast offense favored by new offensive coordinator Al Borges.

Melanie Maxwell |

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has taken to calling the Wolverines' hybrid offense a "quasi-" or "makeshift" offense.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges calls it a "spread-West Coast" offense, because it's mostly an amalgam of the spread option offense that existed when the staff took over this year, and the West Coast offense Borges brought with him.

It borrows from both disciplines in an effort to get the most of running quarterback Denard Robinson, while also installing a featured back and vertical passing game.

Whatever it is, two things are known about it: It borrows from several offensive schemes, which makes it fairly unique to the Wolverines, and it morphed over the course of the season.

Hoke expects that evolution to continue in the offseason, which could give it an even different feel next year. He said Borges will continue to add to the offense leading up to next year's opener against Alabama in Dallas.

"There's no question," Hoke said. "When we get done with the recruiting cycle, we pretty much go back and evaluate what we can coach better on both sides of the ball, and in the kicking game. Is there something different to stay ahead of the curve you can look at?

"We'll do quite a bit of that in February, during the dead period. Because of bowl practices, you don't have that luxury (right now)."

The multiplicity of Michigan's offense was apparent in the team's 40-34 win against Ohio State last weekend. It gives the Wolverines an edge, when employed properly, because they can adapt to what defenses elect to key on.

"We ran some powers in there, and some one-back powers, too," Hoke said of the Ohio State game. "(Play selection) depends on the opponent, but also because everyone defends you a little differently.

"At halftime, there were some things they adjust because of that, so the lead play may be a bigger part of it, the jet-sweep read may be a bigger part of it. How you block it is the real issue."

The Wolverines blocked well against the Buckeyes, leading to 40 points and a career day for Robinson. He completed 14-of-17 passes for 167 yards and rushed 26 times for 170 yards. He accounted for five touchdowns, a team quarterback record against Ohio State.

Robinson finished fifth in the Big Ten in rushing, fifth in passing and first in total offense.

His best overall performances of the season came in Michigan's final two games against Nebraska and Ohio State. He credits his growing comfort level in the offense, which has improved his decision making.

"Don’t think you have to just force the ball in there if it’s not there -- I think that’s the big part of it,” Hoke said.

Two things helped Robinson settle into the "quasi-offense."

First, he was the primary -- and sometimes only -- running threat early in the season, but sophomore tailback Fitz Toussaint hit a groove in the season's final five games, when he had four 100-yard games and finished with his first 1,000-yard season.

He'll be an important part of the offense from the start next year.

Second, the offense evolved from about two-thirds shotgun in the opener to almost exclusively shotgun in the finale. Robinson is more comfortable operating out of the shotgun.

Expect that evolution to continue next year — as well as the introduction of some new components entirely.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

Any coach that is given the excuse; 'Those are the other guys players'. Is just that, an excuse. Hoke N change proved, coaches can win with the players they have....sure 'The Hoke' has Shoelace, but.......The Hoker has a style, interpersonal skills, he can reach the player.... After defeating the Buckeye Monster...Denard was quoted..."I'm So Glad I Stayed". That's Hoke N Change.....Real change, we can believe in...


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

I agree with those folks who say that this offense caused the opposing defenses to work overtime to figure out what UM was going to throw at them on the next play. It was great fun to watch. Good job coaches!


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

A lot of good comments so far, good to see. In my opinion, the success of the team this year can be largely attributed to improvement in three areas: 1) A coaching staff that can evaluate the talent it has (in some areas it was pretty thin) and develop schemes to play to its strengths. 2) Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Offense: blocking techniques, passing techniques, ball protection, reading defences. Defence: pursuit angles (big in stopping long gainers), tackling, reading blocking schemes. 3) Players buying into the new "system". Senior leadership, player confidence, players "accepting" coaching. All three of these areas are driven by COACHING, not just laying out a sysem and expecting the players to execute. The job Hoke and the staff did, starting with Hoke selecting the staff, was tremendous. Going forward I expect more of the same - plus an upgrade in talent in some areas. The preferred "system" of the staff seems to be more downhill rushing with drop back QB on O and active, strong pursuit on defense. The combination of the two will make both tougher and better as they practice against one another. But, I suspect that Borges is going to be a bit "addicted" by the "mobile QB is a heck of a weapon" bug - so I think we will see drop back passers with a bit of mobility instead of the big "oak tree" types in the future.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

Hoke should start molding his successors, the responsibility Carr did not fulfill.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

In terms of production, the offense this year (and last year) has been amazingly successful. In fact, much more successful than any Carr offense with the drop back statues. Why move away from it right now? Recruit speed at QB and the skill positions, give them good blockers, devise creative plays and watch the offense hum.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 7:12 a.m.

When you think about it, hearing Coach Hoke calling his offense "make shift" suggests he is still stuck with his own historic preferences. I would have expected him to be a little more respectful of Borges's and his own ability to create what is unique to Michigan. I also agree that "West Coast Offense" is an obsolete term, at least for the Michigan Wolverines. I see no reason to "honor" the West Coast version of anything. For one thing, the state of Michigan alone has almost the same length of coastline as California, Oregon and Washington combined. BTW: after a little fact-checking, I learned that 40 points IS the most Michigan has scored on Ohio since the 1940s. I think Michigan also holds the advantage in the number of shutouts in the Michigan - Ohio series. Am I right - do we learn what Michigan's bowl assignment will be next week? I can hardly wait to see who the opponent will be. I'm not "counting on" the BCS at large thing at all. I may be wrong but I think it's still too early for the Wolverines to face a top-10 team. Painful: to know we'll have to wait until late summer to know who the starters will be on Team 133. At least we know it'll be different: as in The Michigan Difference. (as in "BETTER")


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:43 a.m.

Next years defense DE- Craig Roh DT- Will Campbell DT- Quinton Washington DE- Jibreel Black LB- Jake Ryan MLB- Kenny Demons LB- Desmond Morgan CB- J. T. Floyd CB- Blake Countess SS- Jordan Kovacs FS- Thomas Gordon Next years offense QB- Shoelace FB- Stephen Hopkins RB Fitzgerald Toussaint WR- Darryl Stonum WR- Roy Roundtree TE- Brendan Moore OT- Taylor Lewan OT- Michael Scofield OG- Patrick Omameh OG- Ricky Barnum C- Rocky Khoury Should be even better team next year


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

I bet Thomas Rawls will get PT also..

Matt Patercsak

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

i bet Nathan Brink puts on weight and beats out Jibreel Black at DE and Ondre Pipkins splits time with Campbell


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:12 a.m.

As important as these issues are, let's not lose sight of what I believe is the biggest factor in our turnaround: teaching fundamentals, technique, developing your talent effectively, making adjustments, being a father figure for these kids...These were nowhere to be found for 3 years. Oh and did I mention understanding B1G football and the importance of DEFENSE? We are Michigan again! The talent will come, it will be developed properly, fundamentals will be emphasized...and this staff will adjust to what it has. I can't believe we've already come this far. Go Blue!


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:39 a.m.

I see no reason why this offense should not be our offense going forward. It works, and keeps defenses off guard! Of course, we would need to continue to recruit duel threat qb s, which we aren't, so it's moot. But I ask why not? Many offensive schemes are stumbled upon for a multitude of reasons. I say keep it!

Matt Patercsak

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:58 a.m.

morris is being recruited as a pure pocket passer. the long term goal of the offense is to have an accurate, smart passer at qb, followed by a workhorse tailback that can tote it 30 times if he has to. BUT and this is important.. our current offensive line is not capable of base blocking every play. they are fast, but far too small. however, the incoming recruits were brought here because of their massive frames and pad level, specific to blowing people off the ball and creating a solid pocket. not their speed or zone blocking abilities. but it will take time to build their bodies and get them experience. i expect kyle kalis however, to crack the rotation early. he's a man-beast. a couple things i would like to see happen in the off season offense: first and foremost: brionte dunn commits to UofM second, fitz adds about 8 pounds to his frame to get him to the 205ish area, particularly in his lower body. thomas rawls lights a fire under his ass and hits the weights to gain about 5 pounds of fast twitch muscle. stephen hopkins ups his weight by 10 pounds. (fluff allowed, but muscle preferred) Taylor lewan adds more wight to get him to 315 Defense: blake countess, become a leader. on and off the field. and in the weight room An air of intense competition among current and incoming linebackers (eye on rob bolden) Brennen Beyer, go on the hot and ready diet....far too slight big will, start hitting the stairmaster competition between Washington, jibreel black and Ondre pipkins for DT craig Roh become a captain of the defense JT Floyd..speed. speed. speed. no more getting burned Kovacs and Gordon will be solid


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

-We have talented Dual threat QB's in the system currently till at least 2015, DR, DG and Bellomy are all dual threat guys with a lot of talent and GREAT coaching, Morriss is also pretty athletic for a passer, so I see no reason why Borges couldn't maintain this type of Offense that is complicated to prepare for. -Therefore I disagree matt P. that we should just be a power team, I want my team to be able to do it all. -Can you imagine how we'll play when the coaches have a month to prepare for someone for the bowl game (maniacal laughter ensues) -Call it the Borges or Michigan Spread Coast Offense -Remember it was me who kept telling everyone what a class act Hoke was? His demeanor on the sidelines, his coaching and recruiting ability and how the players on SDSU just loved him. Well now he is our guy and he ain't goin' nowhere, this is his dream job, no NFL or anyone else, we're lucky. A heartfelt Go Blue my brethren!!!


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:32 a.m.

Nice comment Jarhead, a hurrah to you my man. I wouldn't trade what we have in Hoke and Staff for anyone. As for ohio, Meyers' act won't last long, he leaves jobs like it's going out of style. We'll see how long he will last at that school in ohio. Once he sees it's too much to deal with, he'll come up with some kind of stress related reason to bail and ohio will have to go out and get another ideal guy for them, whatever that is.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:40 a.m.

Mick I agree with your statements of Hoke and his demeanor. Did you see the way he handled Will Haggerup after he missed the hike? No dirty looks or yelling, more like "it's okay, shake it off, you'll do better" kind of encouragement instead of underminding the player, like i've seen Pelini do and Kelly at ND. That kind of treatment makes a player work hard for his coach.

Johnny Smith

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.

Awesome video of Denard . . . <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.

The offense the last 2 games was beautiful; in fact in the &quot;ohio&quot; game the offense bailed out the defense. That was the first time that happened this year. Coaching and calling plays with the players you have rather than the players you'd like to have was one way RR failed. Hoke and Borges proved themselves smart rather than dogmatic.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

SemperFi nailed it, it is attributable to the coaching staff and the players buying in. It's so very exciting considering the recruiting prospects, current roster players, Stonum returning next season, and the coaching staffs adaptability (which cannot be understated).

Matt Patercsak

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

the offense could go one of two ways depending on some recruiting factors 1:if Brionte Dunn commits to Michigan, you will see a trend towards more power formations 2:if he commits to OSU, we will push more in the direction of a zone read type offense, but with a little more beef up front I hope Dunn comes to Michigan, he &quot;doesnt want to play in the spread&quot; and his commitment would push brady to adapt offensive schemes to his skill set. which is that of a dump-truck. we would have packages for Denard and Fitz for zone reads but we would also have beefy I-formation packages for Hopkins and Dunn. and that is mouthwatering. as long as denard is here the RR slaps have nothing to worry about, because we will always have elements of zone reads and qb runs, but once shane morris is under will stay just that: under center. god willing.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:24 a.m.

They will continue to adapt until they have the kids they want and tready to play. I think Dunn knows we are headed in the direction where he can be the guy running downhill. A solid power running game is still very important in this conference. It will be interesting to see what type of things we run off play-action. They seem to have lots of ideas.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

True. I hope our running backs and receivers are spectacular when Morris is under center. Lloyd Carr offenses sometimes put me to sleep.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Michigan coaching was the difference this year. There is no doubt. Hoke and company were able to take the broken shards of the RR era and mold them into a semblence of a football TEAM. Coaching is what's going to take Michigan to the crystal bowl. Hoke says, &quot;I don't play a single down.&quot; No, but he inspires players to perform at a higher more consistant level and they buy into the program. The fact that they are able to utilize the players they have and be successful with a hybrid offense, speaks of their coaching ability. RR was a 1-trick pony who couldn't think out of the box he built for himself. Hoke is a darn fine coach and a great guy to be around. He will continue to bring in top-quality, great-character recruits and will also attract the best assistant coaches to the program. Go Blue!

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

Hey guys! Does it really matter what they call it if it works?


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:07 a.m.


jeff blue

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

Both the offense and defense improved greatly in the course of this season -- this is directly attributtable to good coaching. We were especially strong at home this year -- not a close game that I can remember: OSU, NEB, Minny and Purdue. The ND game was very close, but I am not counting the pre-season. We need to become &quot;road warriors&quot; for next year. We did not play WIS or PSU in 2011 and we lost road games at MSU &amp; Iowa. We must get stronger and win more road games in 2012. We'll have a couple of very big tests in 2012 -- our bowl game from this season and then a matchup with the NFL caliber Crimson Tide to start next season.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

I just hope they keep parts of the spread offense and recruit passing quarterbacks who can also run effectively. A dual-threat quarterback is the ultimate weapon to have . If the coaches don't buy in after these last 2 games, they never will.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

I hope they do not go back exclusively to the traditional Michigan stick in mud quarterbacks like Navarre and Henne who could not move, took sacks all day long and never were a threat to run. This is so much harder to defend. We're not likely to see someone of Denard's explosive speed again but if they're willing to run and quick enough to rip off 10-15 yards if unmarked that will be a valuable threat.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:25 a.m.

Disco I couldn't agree with you more. I actually love the way the offense looks in its current state. Nebraska and Ohio defense were tough defenses and the offense torched them. If &quot;end of the season&quot; DR was playing that way against State earlier in the year Michigan would have won that game easily. A dual threat quarterback who has a nice touch (as much as I hate to say it, like Braxton will be) will work. It appears as though Coach Hoke and Coach Borges have found something with this &quot;hybrid&quot; or &quot;quasi&quot; offense. I have made other posts stating as much, build off of this and recruit for this if it continues to have success. That is a big &quot;if&quot; with still lots to prove, but next year with the tougher schedule will be a sure sign tell all. If Michigan has great success next year with this offense, how can you change it? Personal opinion, I am no coach, but just like what I see. Go Blue! Love that we beat Ohio, can't say that enough.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

In the last two games of the season Denard looked like he was able to see the defense and understand what it was trying to do better. This led to much better passing by him! You could see it in the Neb. game when Denard made a touchdown pass from 45 yards to the back of the endzone. That was the best throw I have seen him make in 3 years! Also having a running back like Fitz is very important because it not only keeps Denard healthier but it also gives the defense another thing to key on. The fault of the RR system is that it relies completely on the QB allowing him to get beat up through out the season and it requires him to throw the ball accurately. When you take some wait off of Denard and he realizes it he relaxes and throws better, runs better, and overall makes better decisions. As someone that thought that Denard had no passing skills earlier in the season I am glad to say that he looks like a more competent passer! This ads such a different dimension to the offense that it really puts defenses in a pickle. Look at ohio for instance. The have a good defense and had 40 put on them and it could have been more. Same with Nebraska. Good for you Denard for progressing and getting better! Also for all of those saying Michigan wont be in the Sugar bowl or other bcs bowl. There are possibly 8 teams ahead of Michigan that may lose. Wisconsin/MSU, Vtech, Oklahoma/Oklahoma St., Georgia, Houston, Kansas St. The only lock is LSU in my opinion. So Georgia drops with 3 losses, Oklahoma drops with 3 losses (they lost to worse teams than mich. +1 more), MSU or Wisc. drop with 3 losses (it wont matter even if it is a hailmary again plus wisc. lost to ohio and mich beat them). By the end of it Michigan will be 12th or 11th in the nation and if they beat most likely Houston they will be a top 8 team going into next year setting up a top 10 vs. top 5 matchup against bama. Also, if oklahoma state wins against oklahoma big they will jump alabama!


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

No, no one is jumping Alabama. The point difference is too big between Bama and the rest, and no one will drop Alabama while not playing. LSU vs. Bama is pretty much a lock, because no one will drop LSU far in case of a loss after going undefeated with that tough schedule they had.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Another reason, I noticed, why Denard has been a better passer was the amount of time he's had in the pocket. It's given him more opportunity to make smart decisions.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

The statement about allowing DR to use the shotgun formation shows good coaching. I knew DR wasn't comfortable by the way he was playiing. He is such an athlete and threat to a defense, it would be foolish not to use him to allow all of his abilities to be maximized. I am so glad Michigan now has a coaching staff that actually knows how to coach football.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

@ maizenbluedoc Its nice to hear someone besides me that will just come out and admit their feelings about the coach.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.

You can never turn a runner like Denard into a pure drop back passer. It goes against nature. There has never been a pure runner who when he stopped running- was worth a damn. They lose all confidence and their throws get worse.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.



Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Fitz Toussaint for.........Heisman!! 2012!! MEEEEEEEEANchigan has returned...raise your glass to a toast!! As the offense rolls on with the &quot;spread-West Coast!!!!!!!


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

So ... what's wrong with this 'makeshift offense'? I think it's cool ... I think it makes it hard for defenses to prepare for, because they've got to prepare for two different types of offenses. As long as you've got the skills to run it ... I like it!!