I wanted Al Borges fired for a long time, anyone who knows me personally can attest. The 2012 Ohio State game was the breaking point for me and this past season was simply torturous.
Week after week, we saw the same story: Borges develops a new wrinkle for that specific opponent, and early in the game it may even work. The opposition makes adjustments that Al had no counter for and the question becomes how many times will our defense get off the field then watch the offense go three-and-out before they budge?
It wasn’t just his tipping plays with personnel that made Borges’ offense so dreadful to watch. He created a playbook with a mishmash of base plays while continuously rotating in new linemen to each interior position that were underclassmen to boot, who ideally wouldn’t see the field for another year or two. That in itself put the offense in a bad position, although that wasn’t Borges’ fault. Under his tutelage, this unit was absolutely destined to fail, plain and simple.
But it got interesting when Brady Hoke was put in a difficult situation regarding his good friend’s job status after the 2013 season. When Hoke was hired in January 2011 he constantly reiterated his love of Michigan, even insisting that he “would have walked” to the University of Michigan from San Diego State.
Now for the first time, this sentiment would be tested. Hoke acted decisively in firing Al Borges (or David Brandon did, potentially) and replaced him with just about the best name on the market: Doug Nussmeier.
Nussmeier’s resume, both as an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, is exceptional. Not only does his hiring promise added quarterback development but more importantly, a simplified inside-zone centric scheme along with (hopefully) positional consistency. This base play should be much easier for our young offensive linemen to grasp (a nice primer from Roll Bama Roll) and additionally, Michigan’s offensive line coach Darrell Funk is a zone-blocking specialist, so that cohesion could streamline this rebuild.
Ultimately, Michigan’s offensive performance this year will come down to how quickly these young linemen can figure out Coach Nussmeier’s new playbook and if they are ready enough physically — despite their age — to get this unit back on track. It’s tough to make a prediction on whether or not that will happen, but as hard as it is, we’ll have to sit back and wait and see.
I do believe that on the defensive side of the ball Michigan will be more than adequate, but more on that, player development, and my own personal barometers for the 2015 season next week.