Borges's failure to adapt cost Michigan a chance in The Game

Jamie Sabau

Over at the Freep this week I examine the offensive problems that hampered Michigan's quest for an upset in Columbus on Saturday, and what it might mean for the future.

So now we get to the heart of the problem, the big picture that presents a worrisome thought for the future of this offense.

No one is going to claim that Al Borges had an easy job this year. He spent most of the year saddled with a quarterback whose skill set is far and away the opposite of what he has coached during his long career as an offensive coordinator. The offensive line has largely struggled to execute the blocking schemes it has been given, and the tailbacks haven't done much to create yards that weren't readily there. It is a tough situation. It is also life.

Football is a complex game of many working parts, all of them human in that fallible, weak way that keeps even the best of us from achieving perfection. Some great play calls will go bad simply because the quarterback over throws his receiver leading to an interception. Sometimes a helmet on the ball will jar it loose, or a sack will turn into a fumble as the unsuspecting quarterback absorbs enough contact to separate himself from the ball. All of these things happened on Saturday. They will keep happening. It is the Tao of football.

The main criticism in the aftermath of the game seems to be directed at Borges' inability to use Robinson and Gardner at the same time, but I think that in the end that is just a symptom of the root cause: Borges is only ever very good when he is in his comfort zone.

The good thing is that Michigan is moving that way. The quarterback already seems to be in place, the offensive line is going to start shifting into more of what Borges wants to execute the kind of game plans he will run, and the skill position players are on the way as well.

That is all well and good, but the thing about football is that it never matters how good you are when things are going right. It is about how you respond when things go poorly, when your primary option is taken away, or when injuries leave you searching to fill holes.

Borges didn't do much on Saturday to make me believe he can be that coordinator.

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