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Did I think that an offensive line that included four returning starters and a former 4* who saw backup duty last year would be a big weakness? No. I seriously thought the line would be somewhat of a strength. Check out Maize N Brew or Mgoblog, both were cautiously optimistic about the offensive line. MNB even said that Michigan should have the strongest line in the B1G.
Expectations at the beginning of the year generally ranged between decent to really good, depending on Mealer's performance.
As for the receivers, Hemingway - groomed under RR - left. How did the players that fit the mold Borges is looking for in a receiver - Roundtree, Gardner, Robinson, Darboh - develop? Is there a receiver on this team over the past two years that has made any sort of significant leap in performance?
I think all your criticisms are fair, but simply overstated.
For example...Roundtree, Robinson, even Gallon...also RR receivers. The only guys that are truly Hoke guys in there are probably Darboh, and to a lesser extent Gardner (who, if memory serves, only started at WR in the summer; correct me if I am wrong). Funchness was a good receiver, but that is also probably only natural talent.
As for OL, I distinctly remember disagreeing with Mgoblog on that. I thought the loss of Molk was going to be huge...and it was.
I am no Borges fan, and frankly, wouldn't miss him for a second if he was fired. He has not proven he can make changes during a game, and has shown he has great difficulty adapting to players that don't really fit his system. That said, the reality remains that he is going to be around another year. I think he could be decent, now with his own offense fully instituted. But like you I will believe it when I see it.
My thing is this: if Michigan is going to compete at an elite level (B1G championships and the national playoffs), we're going to be facing games in which the OL is simply not going to be able to steamroll opposing DLs no matter how well we recruit. I don't care if every single recruiting class brings in the same or higher quality OL as the past two classes, eventually we're going to face teams that either stalemate or win the battle in the trenches. When that happens, can Borges make the adjustment? Or will he stubbornly run poor Deveon Smith/Derrick Green/whomever else into wall after wall of oncoming defenders and then when it doesn't work throw up his hands and say "welp, the OL was outmatched, what can I do?"
One other thing I'd like to say
We've already discussed itt Borges' inability to properly utilize Denard, and we'e discussed how maddening it is that Funchess wasn't worked into the game more, but I've got another gripe about Borges not tailoring his offense to take advantage of his weapons: Norfleet and Hayes. In those two guys, we have two elite athletes who can really make things happen with the ball in their hand, guys who could really thrive in a scatback/slot/move-em-around-the-field-and-let-em-make-plays sort of role...or, in other words, the exact sort of role that Denard should have been playing in for the entirety of the OSU game.
But between the two of them they only got 18 offensive touches all year, just 1.5 per game...and half of those 18 touches were the 9 carries Hayes got in garbage time vs. Illinois. Instead, our spread looks typically included guys like Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds that just dropped balls on the rare occasions they were targeted. Now, I understand that there could be extenuating circumstances (for instance, we heard a rumor this year that Hayes fumbled a lot in practice...that wouldn't explain why he got 8 times as many touches as Norfleet, who was entrusted with kickoffs, but it could be why he didnt see more of the field) that explain this, but after seeing Borges fail to utilize Denard in the second half against Ohio, I wonder if he just doesn't know what to do with players in that kind of role.
To me, this looks like a pattern. When an OC has weapons like Norfleet, or Hayes, or Denard, he should be jumping for joy with the new toys he gets to play with. We should see innovation, creativity, a willingness to try anything to get the ball into these guys' hands. Instead, we got a random jet sweep every other game and Denard on the sideline in the biggest 4th quarter of the year. Does that change next year? How does the scatback/slot/get-him-the-ball-in-space athlete fit into "Borges' system"? I don't know if they do, and that's a damn shame.
Borges is terrible with in game adjustments. Im not talking about at half time, Im talking about figuring it out on the fly in the 3rd quarter for the rest of the game
Agreed. Heck, is he even good when he has time to game plan for a specific opponent? Remember the pain at Va Tech last year?
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