Michigan football: Impact of Doug Nussmeier as offensive coordinator

The Michigan football team officially announced today that Doug Nussmeier would be taking over for recently-fired Al Borges next season. Nussmeier most recently held the offensive coordinator position at Alabama for the last two seasons.

Many fans were unhappy with the way the Wolverines performed, especially on offense. Much of that blame rested on former offensive coordinator Borges. Well, those fans got what they asked for, as we will have a new guy in Ann Arbor calling the plays in 2014.

Pro-style offense

Something that Michigan fans were excited about heading into last season was the utilization of a more pro-style offense. That didn’t quite work out this past season, as Michigan really struggled to run the ball and protect the quarterback. Ultimately, Borges was forced out of his comfort zone and used more of a spread offense.nussmeier

Nussmeier’s offense is similar to Borges’, in that they both want to run the ball and work primarily from under center. With Alabama the last two seasons, Nussmeier’s offense remained one of the most balanced teams in college football. Most notably, the offense ran for over 200 yards per game. Michigan, on the other hand, managed only 125 per game.

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With running backs like Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith, this change will surely benefit the running game next season. Instead of using the spread and zone read option plays, Michigan can finally get back to its roots and use a power run game. Another year of experience will help the offensive line, which had its fair share of problems throughout the season.

It will definitely be interesting to see what kind of changes Nussmeier’s offensive scheme brings to the Wolverines. His success with Alabama is hard to argue with, which makes this a very exciting time to be a Michigan fan.

Quarterback competition?

Devin Gardner isn’t your prototypical pro-style, drop back passer. Shane Morris, however, is a pocket passer. Many fans were not happy with the way Gardner performed last season, especially early in Big Ten play. They wanted the freshman Morris to step in and get back to the pro-style offense Michigan fans of old are familiar with. The addition of Nussmeier to the staff as offensive coordinator as well as quarterbacks coach makes you wonder if we could actually see a competition next season.

michigan football

Devin Gardner (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

While I think that a competition between Gardner and Morris can be very beneficial to both players, I don’t see how No. 98 isn’t running Nussmeier’s offense next season. The fifth-year senior accounted for 75 percent of Michigan’s offense a season ago. Without Gardner, I’m not sure Michigan wins more than three games or so.

Many are saying “move Gardner back to receiver” and I think that is crazy. I’m not sure if those people watched Gardner run routes a couple seasons ago. While he has all the athleticism in the world, Gardner is a quarterback and nothing more. His time as a receiver was a short-term solution when Denard was still with Michigan. Putting Gardner at receiver does not make this team better.

So I expect there to be a “competition” of sorts in early practices next season, but I expect to see Gardner to take the majority of the snaps once again. Morris has tons of potential and performed admirably in his first start in the bowl game, but he will most likely wait another season to get his first shot at Michigan’s starting quarterback.

Nussmeier has worked well with quarterbacks at each of his stops in college football. Aj McCarron and Jake Locker highlight some of the best quarterbacks he has worked with. With Alabama the last two seasons, McCarron thrived as he threw 46 touchdown passes to just eight interceptions in the two years under Nussmeier. Hopefully the new coach can help Gardner out with his turnover issues this past season.

Another proven recruiter

One of Brady Hoke’s strengths throughout his coaching career has been his ability to recruit players. Despite below-average seasons the past two years by Michigan football standards, Hoke’s recruiting classes boast some of the best recruits in the country. With Nussmeier on board, this gives the Wolverines another guy that can recruit with the best of them.The duo of Hoke and Nussmeier will be a very appealing staff for future recruits.

Other things of note

Nussmeier will become the third-highest paid assistant coach in college football, with an annual salary around $1.1 million.

Nussmeier played quarterback at Idaho, under former Michigan State coach John L. Smith. He won the Walter Payton award at Idaho, which is basically the FCS equivalent of the Heisman. He was a lefty quarterback, which couldn’t hurt the development of Shane Morris.

His first college gig came as the quarterbacks coach under John L. Smith at Michigan State from 2003-2005. Other stops include the St. Louis Rams, Fresno State and Washington.

So what do you think of the new hire? Leave your comments below!

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Comments

  1. LarryZ says

    All of the offensive problems can’t be blamed on Borges, but, dealing with 19-21 year-old kids, if they don’t fully trust you, they won’t produce. They are smart enough not to totally quit on their coach, but if their heart is not in it, they will not fully “execute.” They believe in what the coaches want them to do, but when it doesn’t work, they too get frustrated.

    And where is the enthusiasm in the players? I’ve noticed a significant lack of emotion among the players, in general. They celebrate their accomplishments, touchdowns, tackles, etc., but I don’t see that “Let’s go out there and beat some —— a**” mentality.

    Hopefully, Doug can instill some enthusiasm back into the team.

  2. says

    It’s an impact hire but he has an awful lot of work to do to get this thing moving again. Gardner has to be the guy next year but he also has to show improvement. He was largely the same QB this year as he was when he stepped out of his WR formation when Robinson got hurt in 2012. He has to improve and Green and Smith need to get in the gym and find some explosiveness.
    Much to do. Probably a good hire though.

    • Lucas Rains says

      There’s no doubt there is a lot more to do than to make coaching changes. It’s not fair to say that all of the problems that the offense had were all on Borges, though. You’re right, if players don’t make significant improvements, it won’t really matter who is calling the plays. Nussmeier, fortunately, has experience working with quarterbacks, so that could be very beneficial for Gardner.

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