Hoke Expects Borges to Remain with Wolverines

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

Coming off of a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Ohio State at home to end the regular season, the University of Michigan’s football program has many questions to answer and problems to address coming off of a disappointing 7-5 season, the team’s third under head coach Brady Hoke.

The year is not done yet, as the team will likely be playing a bowl game sometime around Christmas, but now is the time that changes to a team are usually announced, whether it be staff or player related.

That being said, Brady Hoke stated earlier this week that he does not anticipate any changes to his coaching staff an expects everyone to return for next season, including much criticized offensive coordinator Al Borges.
While not set in stone yet, the potential return of Al Borges as the man who calls the shots on the offensive side of the ball is not a popular idea to many Michigan fans, and rightfully so. The offense was extremely underwhelming this season, and while it does not entirely fall on Borges, he certainly did not do a very good job of putting the team in a position to win with the personnel they had.

While many have pointed to Devin Gardner as the reason as to why things did not run smoothly, the weakness of the offensive line was a glaring hole for this team. Many expected the unit to be a bit weak in the interior of the line coming into the season, but the lack of production from that position group as a unit was shocking, and quite frankly unacceptable.

All things considered, Al Borges has not been very good in any of his three seasons with the Wolverines. In Brady Hoke and company’s first season, in which they finished with a Sugar Bowl victory, the team tried to use elements of a pro-style offense for about the first game-and-a-half of the season.

After a sluggish first half against Notre Dame in the first Under the Lights game at the Big House, they decided to open up the offense and go back to a spread-style that was used under Rich Rodriguez, which then-quarterback Denard Robinson was much more comfortable with. The team eventually won, and ended up going 11-2 that season.

Obviously, the Wolverines were limited in what they could do with Denard Robinson at quarterback, as he was a run-first guy who struggled to throw the ball. For that, many, including myself, gave Borges a free pass for that.

“Wait until he gets his own guys in there. Then we’ll see what his offense looks like.”

It was not until last season when Robinson was injured on the road against Nebraska that we started to see more of what the Michigan offense was going to be under Borges. Right off the bat, they squandered an opportunity to finish a winnable game against the Cornhuskers when they did not have a quarterback ready to come in and produce in relief of Robinson, as then-redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy was clearly not ready for game action and current quarterback Devin Gardner was still playing wide receiver.

The following week, Gardner was moved back to quarterback and had one of the best three-game stretches in the nation in wins against Minnesota, Northwestern, and Iowa, teams that Michigan should have beaten.

In their final two games against Ohio State and South Carolina, Michigan got off to solid starts offensively, but their play ultimately slipped due to failure to adjust in the second half, something we saw all too often in games this season, namely the loss to OSU over the weekend.

Al Borges’ playcalling is flat-out silly at times and he does not make adjustments when teams figure him out. It was not a problem that just showed up this season, but it was magnified because the team was losing. The BCS Bowl in the first season and losses to four of the top ten teams in the nation last year hid these offensive deficiencies, but it finally came to a head this year.

Continuity is important in building any successful program, and the fact that the Wolverines were so young this season gives the staff a free pass to an extent, but there is now almost no room for error next season. Devin Gardner, the offensive line, and the overall philosophy of the Michigan offense has to improve next season, or it will be more than Al Borges that loses his job.

Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.