February 26, 2013

Borton's Blog: Fast-arriving future

Football spring practice stands less than a month away, and Michigan fans are interested to see the changeover from a Denard Robinson-led offense to the future. According to Michigan's offensive coordinator, they've already received a glimpse.

Al Borges noted that because of Robinson's injury, and junior quarterback Devin Gardner's promotion to the starting job, everyone got a little look at the future. There's certainly more than what has been seen, though.

"You guys saw the last five games," Borges said. "What you saw in the last five games was a version, or what I would call a starter set, for what we're going to do down the road."

Robinson's bolt out of town is seen by some as the end of the read-option option to Michigan's offense. Borges insists that's not necessarily the case.

That said, the QB keeper won't be a staple.

"We're going to keep some of that stuff in our offense, because we have a mobile quarterback," he said. "As long as we have a quarterback who can keep the defense honest as a runner, we're going to have bits and pieces of that that we're going to keep.

"Are we going to run it 25 times? That's over. We're not doing that anymore. But that was logical, with who we had. Now, we want the quarterback to be more of a passer-runner than a runner-passer.

"Because of that, we're going to be more in the pro style, we're going to depend more on our tailback. We're recruiting the type of linemen we think can help that cause. The last five games gives you an indication of the direction, yet it's just kind of scratching the surface."

Some of those linemen recruited will get a chance to perform, sooner rather than later. The Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden types will be eyed very carefully this spring.

Borges isn't looking for instant Jake Longs. He does like the raw materials Michigan has, though, for grooming into a more powerful offensive line.

"There is going to be some pain that goes with that, because there always is, but I like the kids we've got," Borges said. "We've got some guys who are going to be very good offensive linemen here. It's going to be a matter of how fast they can pick it up, how quickly we can train them.

"But we are in better position now, from a depth perspective, than we've ever been. Are we good? No, we're probably not quite where we want to be, but we're better off than we have been. It's all how fast we can coach them."

Meanwhile, the Wolverines are loading up on bigger backs, ready to run behind a more powerful offensive line. That's no small piece of the puzzle, he cautioned.

"That should push it to the next level," Borges said. "That should get us going even more so. More of what we've been doing, hopefully better than what we did it the last five games."

Plenty of questions remain unanswered. But the puzzle pieces to formulate the answers are quickly tumbling into place.


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