Since Michigan’s football season ended, there has been talk that changes have to be made, specifically to the coaching staff. It seems Michigan felt the same way because University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke announced today (Wednesday, Jan. 8) that offensive coordinator Al Borges has been fired and will not be part of the staff of the 2014 season.
Now this is a little surprising to some, because it wasn’t to long ago that Hoke made a point to say he expected his entire coaching staff to be retained for the 2014 season. Which makes you wonder whether this was his decision or those above him decision. Nonetheless, the decision was made and Hoke made a point to make brief statement about it.
“Decisions like these are never easy,” Hoke said in a statement. “I have a great amount of respect for Al as a football coach and, more importantly, as a person. I appreciate everything he has done for Michigan Football for the past three seasons.”
Honestly, I have to say I have no issue with this move by Michigan because it honestly had to be done. While I respect Borges for his past success with other teams, it doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t have success with improving Michigan’s offense. The running game was obsolete, seeing that Michigan rushed for less than 130 yards per game this season, which is one of the worst showings in school history. Now some of that was due to the offensive line who was horrible this season, not allowing quarterback Devin Gardner anytime in the pocket or opening holes for the running game but blame still has to be put on Borges.
Now I know Borges was not a part of the coaching staff that recruited quarterback Devin Gardner to Michigan but that doesn’t change the fact that Borges never really made the much-needed adjustments to make Gardner better and this offense. At this point, we all know the Wolverines offensive line was horrible this past season which gave Gardner limited time in the pocket. So during the season I looked for Borges to call short and intermediate passes such as slants, draws, curls even screens and trust the receivers to make plays after the catch. Mainly because he couldn’t afford to call those long passing plays because the receivers had trouble getting separation from defenders plus Gardner didn’t receive enough time in the pocket for those play to develop. So I felt, he should have done his best to call short and intermediate passing play and if the scheme had been successful, it would have hopefully open up some deep threat opportunities but only if the short and intermediate scheme is successful first. Like I mentioned earlier, Borges should have stuck with the run more and made changes in the backfield with the running backs when needed. Unfortunately he didn’t do those things consistently.
Now some say it’s Borges offensive style which is the pro-style offense is the reason that the offense didn’t succeed. While I have no problem with the pro-style offense, it’s safe to say Borges had his best success at Michigan when he changed his offense in 2011 to cater to quarterback Denard Robinson’s skill set. During that season they averaged 404 yards and 33 points per game all while finishing the season with 11-2 record and a solid Sugar Bowl win.
I know some will say that Borges and this Michigan offense had their good moments this season like when they scored 41 points against Notre Dame and put up 600 yards against Ohio State and 751 yards put up against Indiana. However, let me remind you that Indiana and even Ohio State weren’t good defensive teams this year, so I can’t really say that’s impressive stat line, at least not in my opinion.
For those who are saying, other members of the Michigan staff need to be fired, I can honestly say I understand your frustration but in my mind, the only other staff member I could possibly see getting fired is offensive line coach Darrell Funk and that’s mainly because the offensive line was so horrible this past season. However, since I haven’t heard any news surrounding his job status, it safe to say he will keep his job, at least for now. Keep in mind that, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is on the hot seat as well. I may have focused on the offense for this article, since we are clearly talking about Borges being fired but that doesn’t change the fact that this Michigan’s defense was extremely inconsistent this past season. I’m not saying Mattison will get fired next, I’m simply saying all of Michigan’s problems were not just the offense. The defensive line was inconsistent when it came to pressuring the quarterback, the front seven struggled to contain the run game at times and the secondary at times had a tendency to make the average offense look like Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. So again, I will say that all of Michigan’s struggles were not just with the offense, the defense has work to do as well.
Overall, I believe Borges was fired because Michigan experienced to many multiple growing pains during Borges’ time as offensive coordinator and it seems the offense got worse each season, which is unacceptable. Like I mentioned earlier, it didn’t help that the play-calling was inconsistent and it didn’t seem like he did a good job of helping to develop the talent or making the much needed-adjustments when needed.
As of right now, there are multiple reports that Michigan has hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Alabama as their new offensive coordinator.
According to Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports, Nussmeier doesn’t come cheap since they plan to make him one of the top five highest-paid assistant coaches in college football:
Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 09, 2014
At this point, Michigan has yet to confirm this hire, so it’s not official in my mind but if the multiple reports are true, I must say this is a good hire.
Just remember that whoever they hire will be a crucial to Hoke’s future, since he is on the hot seat. Michigan has a handful of available quarterbacks and running backs along with a solid core of wide receivers with size and speed, so if they make the correct hire, there is no reason to think, Michigan’s offense can’t be as good as it once was.
So let the clock begin, because the Wolverines will begin spring practice on Feb. 25 and finish with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 5, at Michigan Stadium.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com