During his first offensive coordinator job at Portland State University (1986-1992) under famous HC Pokey Allen, Al Borges coached one of Division II's most talented quarterbacks in John Charles.
Charles' career at PSU was brief. He played only his junior and senior years at PSU, but broke dozens of passing records at the Division II level and won several post season awards. Charles is most famous for leading the Vikings to an improbable 1992 52-26 trouncing of Boise State on the road, a game that later cost Skip Allen his job at Boise State and motiviated Boise State administrators to hire away Allen and his entire staff (including Al Borges) to Boise State in 1993.
As a junior, Portland State finished 11-3. Charles went 201 of 331 (61%) for 3,527 yards, 41 TDs and only 11 INTs. As a senior, Charles was 194 of 281(69%) for 2,944 yards, 24 TDs and 8 INTs.
Here is some footage of John Charles' quarterbacking exploits vs. Boise State in 1992, running what many regarded as the most complex offense in the nation. Note the variations of offensive formations, tons of 3+ wide, single, 2- and 3-back sets, lots of pre-snap motion, screen passes, reverses and all of it with the QB under center.
"John Charles was one of the finest fundamentals quarterbacks I ever coached. His courage in the pocket and overall understanding of our offense made him one of the finest quarterbacks I've ever coached. He has great communication skills and is a valuable resource to anyone he comes into contact with. I've been fortunate enough to coach four first-round draft picks at the quarterback position. John was as good as any of them."
In other words, it might be a tad early to judge Al Borges on his record in Ann Arbor. I think the spread is the way to go, but I would love to see Borges succeed wildly at Michigan with the WCO.
Any coach needs his own seniors so that he doesn't spend so much time with remedial teaching every year. Eventually, the upperclassmen do a lot of teaching to the newbies, freeing the coach to watch more film and make subtle tweaks and adjustments.
At any rate, we will find out in a few years. Ohio will provide a direct comparison every year as to the effectiveness of the WCO vs the spread.
So Borges did well twenty years ago when he had one fantastic record-breaking athlete for a QB and is doing poorly this year when he has another fantastic record-breaking athlete for a QB. I really don't enjoy pouring cold water on this, but it doesn't inspire any confidence in me.
Charles was an actual Quarterback and not just an Athlete like Denard. 11 INT's and 8 INT's is something Denard will never accomplish. I don't know Charles rushing stats but I doubt his rushing yards match Denards. My point being Borges will excel with an actual Quarterback oppose to just an Athlete.
...I don't believe the OP was necessarily defending Al Borges or attempting to inspire confidence in the fanbase that things will improve in the future because of the success he had with John Charles. I believe the OP was simply providing a view into our offensive coordinator's past in order to provide the readership with a mid-week general interest story. IMHO, these are the posts that make MGoBlog so special. There are so many capable contributors with unique and fresh takes on myriad topics that tens of thousands of us come here on a daily basis to delve deeper into our fanhood. This may not be a hyper-relevant post to the gameplan against Northwestern, but it's a hell of a story nonetheless.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.