Heading into this season, some Wolverine fans were ambivalent toward offensive coordinator Al Borges.
Both Hoke and Mattison had the advantage of being “Michigan Men,” returning to Ann Arbor to restore maize and blue glory to a program tarnished by NCAA violations and disappointing results on the field.
While Hoke rallied the faithful with talk of bringing back Michigan football, Mattison did a masterful job of rebuilding the Wolverine defense, propelling the team to an 11-2 first season which culminated in a 23-20 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
Fans were somewhat surprised to learn that Borges was rewarded after his first season with a huge pay raise, becoming one of the highest-paid assistants in the Big Ten.
Scoring points wasn’t considered a stunning achievement, not with quarterback Denard Robinson torching opponents with epic runs and the occasional completed pass.
But the grumbling started in earnest last season when the offense came up lame in losses to Alabama (14 points) and Notre Dame (6) while managing just 12 points in a victory over Michigan State.
Supporters questioned the decision to move Denard back under center as opposed to keeping him in the shotgun, which allowed him to run successfully. They also shook their head at the play-calling, which sometimes called on Denard to attempt passes beyond his abilities.
What a difference a year makes.
Two games into this season, it looks like Borges might be in for another raise.
The Wolverines scored 59 points against a Central Michigan team that played in a bowl game last season and scored 41 against Notre Dame under the lights in The Big House on Saturday.
The offense, which entered the season with question marks at running back and wide receiver, looks even better than the 2011 version that helped the team to a 11-2 record.
Notre Dame threw everything at quarterback Devin Gardner, using a series of stunts and blitzes to attack the interior of the Michigan offensive line. However, with exception of one poor interception that resulted in a Notre Dame touchdown, the quarterback was able to evade defenders and find receivers all game long.
He showed extreme confidence in shredding double coverage, using his arm strength and accuracy to deliver the ball on target to Wolverine receivers.
Some wondered whether past Wolverine success on offense had more to do with Robinson than Borges.
So far this season, it looks like Robinson may have been the one holding Borges back.
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