Al Borges 2014 - What must we see?

Submitted by CLord on December 3rd, 2013 at 12:56 PM

So my lovely avatar returns.  Fair enough.  Hoke's going to ride that horse and hope that consistency and experience will sprinkle faerie dust over the offense in 2014 and beyond. 

But no matter how you slice it, Al Borges was outcoached in several games this year.  So here is a list of the areas Al needs to focus on improving in 2014.  Question is, which do you think he will actually improve?  Here's my take, but I post because I'd love everyone else's thoughts on this.

Offensive line execution and coaching. 
Verdict: Significant improvement because can it really get any worse?  Al loses Lewan and Schofield but he returns a large stable of young 4 stars and more importantly, a year's worth of ineptitude to light a fire under him to make sure this area is improved next year and beyond.  Any OL product remotely as inept as this year will be unforgivable.  Fool Al once turrible offensive line, shame on you.  Fool Al twice, shame on Al.

Offensive consistency.
Verdict: Improvement because again, could it get any worse?  This year, where our offense could be characterized as two brilliant showings (ND/Ohio) bookending a whole lot of execution/turnover doodoo (Brian Cook Indiana caveat in effect, and maybe toss Minnesota in there), Al established himself as the Tracy McGrady of OC's - flashing brilliance, but just as frequently vanishing.  He showed signs of this last year with his brilliant vanishing acts in the second half of Nebraska (Bellomy's brutal lack of preparation) and Ohio.  I bet we see glimpses next year, but can it really get worse than this year?  So I expect improvement.

Verdict: Push.  For all Al and Brady's talk of execution and inexperience, when a talented D knows what you're bringing, light the play on fire 80% of the time.  This to me is the most concerning of Al's limitations because while we might get our team back to elite, this fatal flaw will be what might cost us as it did for example in the second half against USC in 2006-7 when their players noted "Same old Michigan" and claimed after the game that they knew exactly what we were going to run.  We heard similar rumblings this year vs Nebraska and MSU, but most damning of course was the 2 pt conversion vs Ohio where he stacked receivers, Ohio called time out to adjust, then Al stuck with the play, and presto.  Add to this that Michigan just doesn't seem on the same level with other teams at checking down at the line of scrimmage, and I'm not holding my breath for 2014 on this one.

Verdict: Improvement again because it can't get much worse.  As my signature attests, the most troubling aspect of this season to me was the cavernous gap in competence between Al Borges and Pat Narduzzi, and how completely owned Al was not just by the Narduzzi blitz happy attack, but the subsequently mimicked renditions of PSU and Nebraska (but not so much by Ohio or ND).  Borges simply had no answer for defenses selling out and blitzing Gardner.  See check downs, see predictability, see offensive line, see all other deficiencies.  Al was embarrassed by Narduzzi and other D coordinators.  He is the third highest paid OC in the country, we hope he will lick those wounds and adjust, working rigorously this off season on better check downs, slants, screens, etc.  Will Narduzzi/Dantonio still own Al?  I expect that to continue next year because the scheme/execution gap evidenced this year was just too big to expect a 180 degree change with the same coordinators.  Auburn beat Alabama after getting crushed last year, but Auburn had a new coach doing entirely new things.  We'll still have Al.

Stare into my avatar and allow him to mesmerize you.  Al will improve next year, even in the face of a brutal road schedule, but as to Al's ceiling, I imagine we all remain dubious.

Go Blue.




December 3rd, 2013 at 2:29 PM ^

it can be argued if that's on Funk or Borges, but that was the driving factor in suckitude this year. 

I think all of the other problems stem from inability to block much of anything well. You can't be too diverse in playcalling, you can't make many at the line checks, and you have to be a little predictable because anything else was even more likely to get screwed up. 

If the O Line improves to somewhere around "acceptable" and they can work on Devin's read progressions more, then the offense even minus Lewan/Schofield could make a pretty solid leap forward.


December 3rd, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

First of all, calling him the Tracy McGrady of OCs was brilliant...

Second, I'd like to see an offensive line that is less clueless - I felt for Lewan and Schofield trying to hand off the stunting defensive end only to watch the guard follow his man and lose the hand-off, resulting in Gardner eating another shot to the ribs...

Third, I'd like to see Green and Smith become a dynamite pair of runners, Norfleet be used as a legitimate slot threat, and Gardern continue to improve as a quarterback.






December 3rd, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

Gustavo you think Gardners a smart quarterback?  Sure,  he looked good saturday against Ohio State but did you even watch the Northwestern game?  Talented yes,  but smart....  



December 3rd, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

Not fair man.  Put yourself in Gardner's shoes where your performance is not entirely within your control given 10 other guys must execute, and all around him all year guys have been failing to execute, resulting in an endless carousel of 280 pound wackamoles popping up around him and stuffing him into the turf.  Amid the questionable coaching he has received, the futility around him and the punishment he has had to absorb, it is totally unfair to consider Devin anything less than a true hero and one tough mother.


December 3rd, 2013 at 3:28 PM ^

 A lot of that falls on Gardner holding onto the ball too long and seemingly never throwing the ball out of bounds.  Near the second half of the season the offensive line DID improve there pass blocking.  The northwestern game is a perfect example,  we were running the ball effectively and giving him great protection yet he should have thrown 5 interceptions.  We got lucky to win that game because Gardner was trying to give it away.  Now onto the OSU game,  i loved the heart he played with that game im not doubting that.  Very proud of him and the whole team for that game.  But over 150 yards passing in that game came from screen passes.  See Gallons 84 yard run.  See Jake Butts great run after the screen pass. Screen passes are essentially run plays,  its not Gardner doing anything amazing.  I just watched the replay of our offense in that game and it confirms my suspicions,  the entire offense was making great plays the whole game.  I just think everyones being blinded by one good game.  Gardner deserves just as much of the blame about this offense IF NOT MORE,  than Borges.  yes... im so blasphemous


December 3rd, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

Trying to argue that people are being blinded by one good game (it was better than good BTW) is absurd. It is not like the good things Devin did this year, occured all in one game. Nobody is going to argue that the two biggest improvements Devin needs to make in the offseason are getting rid of the ball when neccassary and cutting down on turnovers, that much is obvious. To act as though he also didn't make his fair share of good to great plays is ludicrious, though.

He was a first full year starter, trying to essentially carry a team without a running game. That is not a reasonable thing to expect. For you to sit there and try and downplay his great and gutsy performance against OSU after the beating he took this year flat out pisses me off. You talk about the screens inflating his yardage, while  ignoring the of plays where Devin made something out of nothing. The level of criticism leveled at him by some questionable fans such as yourself, has been over the top. As if a QB in his first full year starting, with not enough help around him, having issues with consistency is really surprising.



December 3rd, 2013 at 4:01 PM ^

If the OL, TE, FB, RBs etc can get us 2.5-3 yards consistently on whatever the base running play we go with (probably Power), it'll totally change the complexion of the offense. The system we've been trying to implement is completely contigent on that. We have enough weapons to take care of the rest. Another year of 0 and -2 yard runs though, I think we run into some of the same issues as this year with being one dimensional and predictable. I do think, even with continued issues with run blocking, we'll have more receiver weapons (yes, even with Gallon gone) and Gardner won't swing so dramatically from playing too loosely and too tightly with a bit more experience. As for Al, I think he'll have a little better feel for how to handle OL deficiencies should they crop up again. My hope is he'll be able to patch something together a little more quickly should the need arise.


December 3rd, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

Borges' whole game is deception.  This is what drives me nuts about people having issue with his "predictability".  It is supposed to be predictable.  Thats why the throwback screens work!  Great offenses are predictable and beat you.  West Coast - predicatble.  Option - predictable.  Spread - predictable.  It is about deception and execution.

Borges in my mind just needs to get a few more tricks in the book.  He seems to do very well setting up his strategy and then runs out of plays in the 3rd quarter.  By the 4th he has a couple left over and they save him.  Also, the two minute has worked well this season, so if Gardner can reasonably pass well from pocket in early quarters next year we should have a good year.  Darboh and a Freshman WR are gonna have to step up for the O.  The Line will be improved with age, weight, depth, and the RB will be improved with Derrick and Deveon.  Cant wait for more TEs and explosive WRs!


Go Blue!


December 3rd, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

Need to see a dramatic rise in offensive production. The offense has dropped each year under Borges. No excuse not to have a good offense next year, 10 of 11 starters will be guys that Hoke and Borges recruited, with the exception of Devin Gardner, who they'd of recruited anyways. No excuses next year, not to say there were any this year.

Mr. Yost

December 3rd, 2013 at 5:30 PM ^

From the TEAM
11+ wins and 2 out of 3 over the rivals.

From Hoke
More of a emphasis on the offense and special teams.

From Borges
Effeciency and very few negative plays. Also a mindset change that is focused on getting the FIRST Down > Touchdown. Keep the chains moving! Eventually, you'll get points!

From Mattison
Individual improvement and growth from young players. I want to see guys truly develop and get better during their time at Michigan (and it translate in games).


December 3rd, 2013 at 7:48 PM ^

Most of the other posts have covered the key concerns:

OL development

Play design / play calling


The area I would like to see major strides in is adaptation and adjustment by the offense for in-game situations. It seems that the offensive coaches (Borges and others) draw up a good plan and on paper it should work - but once the game starts, if that initial plan falters we are in for a long afternoon. The games where the Wolverines start out well (score on the majority of their first few drives) in general the offense remains effective. When they are stymied early on there doesn't seem to be a contigency plan or a rapid analysis of what is going wrong."