Al Borges Creates Common Ground in Rivalry

By Mike Young on November 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Would you ever inflict your deepest, personal, emotional pain on your worst enemy? Regardless of the answer, it’s happening in Ann Arbor.

The Bollman-ing is in full effect – this year, it takes the visage of Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges. Saturday’s game might be his last one in Ann Arbor, if the revolution to displace the Borges-eoise is successful.

Much like his creative inspiration, Borges’ play calling is the object of complete disdain within his team’s fan base.

Message boards are usually the ideal place to judge the rational feelings of human beings. With that in mind, Michigan fans responded to a thread on MGoBlog, which posed a Freaky Friday scenario. When two Michigan Men wake up and find out they have hypothetically switched bodies with Borges, one would "resign" and the other would "kill [himself]."

That might be a little extreme, but, in turn, Borges would take similar measures if he found out what those message board posters are saying about him.

"If I internalized everything a fan said, I'd slit my wrists," Borges said, in a press conference, Tuesday. "We win games and people still complain, that's the nature of the job."

Except Michigan has lost three out of its last four games, a valid reason to complain. The offense is the main reason why the Wolverines are getting de-skinned by their own fans.

They certainly are having the issues portraying the image of "Michigan football" or even "Walrus ball." The Sun and Blue aren’t close to being marginally effective running the ball. Averaging 3.2 yards per attempt puts them around 112th best in the nation.

The result of poor design and ineffective offensive line play

For those favoring a more analytical look at Michigan’s dysentery-ravaged, wagon-speed offense, Football Outsiders' FEI ratings is rather generous to them, overall. Still, the percentage of their offensive drives that result in at least one first down is good enough for no. 102 in that category.

An offense that puts up those robust numbers makes it difficult to retain Borges' job. Try and pin-point those who are defending him, particularly within the group of people who can help save his job. Head coach Brady Hoke typically hides behind the veil of lacking execution.

That is clearly a subjective term, because they’re flawlessly pulling off plays designed to fail. For example, this MGoBlog article describes the "dumbest play in the history of football." As the post details, Borges’ offense really starts to get into a rhythm once left tackle Taylor Lewan lines up in an unbalanced line on the right side and helps create a massive force of negative propulsion in the run game. (For more design flaws, check out Ross Fulton’s piece on their offense). 

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon explicitly defended Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, in a recent blog post. He remains confident in their abilities, but the offensive coordinator’s name does not appear – unless Brandon’s code words for him are either "disappointment," "frustration," "speed bumps" or "underperforming."

It’s gotten so bad that Borges doesn’t even defend the honor of people named "Al."

"I promise you, other places I have been, that my first name’s been a cuss word," he said. "You’re never going to make everybody happy, but you do your best to help your team win. That’s all."

A* Borges (no offense to those in Portland, Boise, Eugene, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Bloomington, Auburn and San Diego) isn’t the sole cause of Michigan’s troubles, but he is the perfect object for catharsis. Like his B1G brethren, Bollman, he can at least provide the fan base with a united hatred for one person.

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