The 2004 Tigers have scored more than 30 points in four of the first five contests, and production has increased in both the passing and rushing game from last season. Auburn is averaging 30.2 points per game this year, the highest total for the Tigers since 1996.
With Borges bringing in his West Coast schemes, many Auburn fans were worried that the role of Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams would take a backseat to a passing game, but that has not been the case. Williams has rushed for 490 yards and Brown has rushed for 326 yards.
"When Coach Borges came in, he kind of set me and Carnell down and told us what the deal was," says Brown, a fifth-year senior. "He said we were going to have an opportunity to do different things within the offense and give a lot of different people in the offense a chance to make plays. Fortunately, I am benefiting from that. It is exciting."
Quarterback Jason Campbell is enjoying his best season as a Tiger. The senior quarterback has thrown for 865 yards, eight touchdowns with only two interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes. Campbell leads the SEC in passing efficiency.
"(Borges) puts us in a great situation to make plays," Campbell says. "I think he is doing a great job with game-planning."
Al Borges joined the Tigers just in time for spring drills this year.
Borges had success a variety of levels, starting in the high school ranks, before first gaining national attention with high-powered offensive teams at UCLA from 1996-2000. He coached NFL quarterback Cade McNown at UCLA and when he moved north to Cal for the 2001 season he coached Kyle Boller, another player who moved on to the NFL.
Borges then moved east for two seasons as offensive coordinator at Indiana in the Big Ten. Although his first IU team in 2002 set some school offensive records the Hoosiers had a tough time winning. Because of that, many people questioned Tommy Tuberville's decision to hire Borges in the off-season.
"Some of you guys (in the media) didn't think it was a good hire," Tuberville says. "This isn't my first rodeo. I know a pretty good coach, but I also listen to a lot of people. Now I'm a defensive guy...I've studied defense all of my life and I have to lean on other people for offensive help in the way of coaches. I made a lot of calls and he was the last guy we brought in. And really the guy that got his foot in the door was Kevin Yoxall, our strength coach who had worked with him at UCLA."
Borges had a 5-19 record in two seasons while on the Indiana staff, and his 2003 offense averaged only 321.8 yards per game. Even though Auburn's offensive coordinator opening drew interest from a variety of high-profile offensive coordinators from across the country, Borges' lack of success at Indiana didn't turn off Tuberville or his assistant coaches, who were involved in the decision to hire Borges.
"Sometimes you tend to not look at people that are somewhere where they're not winning," Tuberville says. "That doesn't mean they're not good football coaches. A lot of times that means that they don't have enough weapons to compete with the teams that they're playing against. That really has nothing to do with whether they can coach or not. I looked at where he's been and how he's done it. He's had good players, and players that weren't as good as the teams they were playing.
"He's won games, he's lost games, he's been around different offenses and he's definitely a student of the game," Tuberville adds. "It's always a gamble of whoever you hire--not really whether it's coaching or not, but whether they fit in with the players and the other coaches. That's usually my first criteria, and then being able to recruit. He's definitely fit in real well. Him and his wife Nikki have been a big addition to this staff."
The numbers show that Borges is having an impact. The Tigers are currently ranked fourth in total offense in the SEC and are fourth in both passing and rushing. Last year the Tigers were sixth in the SEC in total offense, third in rushing and 10th in passing offense, just three yards per game from being at the bottom of the league in passing. Through five games the Tigers have 10 passing touchdowns, which matches the total for the entire 2003 season.