Nall Likes Working With Borges

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall talks about working with Al Borges and what the offensive coordinator has meant to the Auburn offense.

Auburn, Ala.--For Hugh Nall it was a tough year. Named Auburn's offensive coordinator following Bobby Petrino's exit to Louisville to be the head coach, things seemed great heading into the 2003 season, but a team that failed to meet expectations made it tough on everyone involved.

It was particularly tough on the one coaching an offense that failed to produce in early season losses on national television. A situation that almost led to a coaching change at the top instead led to a change at coordinator where Nall turned the reigns over to little-known Al Borges from Indiana. While many didn't see what head coach Tommy Tuberville saw in Borges, Nall says it didn't take him long to see they were making a good move for the program.

"To me, the number one thing you look for is character in somebody," Nall says. "When a guy like Kevin Yoxall thinks we ought to interview him and he's a good person, that goes a long way. We knew where he had been. That was a tough situation he had been in. Then you look back at what he did at UCLA, but more than anything when he came in and we talked about football on the board, that's what sold me."

Nall poses with Jeremy Ingle after beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season.

Looking for just the right fit to mesh with the current offensive coaches on the staff, Tuberville interviewed several coaches from around the country. Things were still in the looking phase when Yoxall, AU's strength and conditioning coach, mentioned that Borges would be somebody to look into. After working with him at UCLA, Yoxall knew Borges would fit in well and bring something to the table that would fit perfectly at Auburn. Nall says after just a few minutes with Borges he knew Yoxall was right.

"After 30 minutes of talking with him I knew he knew what he was talking about in the passing game," Nall says. "He was simplifying things yet making it complicated with personnel and formations.

"Then in the running game we were on the same page with that. It was just one of those fits. Here's a guy who knows what he's talking about and believes in some things that I believe in and our offensive staff believes in. That's when Tommy called me in and said ‘Hey, if you're not happy with the guy we're not going to hire him.' I felt good about that and from talking with Al I knew he was the guy.

"And, you've got to have enough confidence in what you're doing," he adds. "I was looking saying, ‘I can make Al Borges better, too' I really believed that. I said that after 30 minutes and said ‘here's the guy we've been looking for. He's a guy I know I can be a good offensive line coach for. I can swallow my pride and do what I need to do for the game of football and here's a guy that knows what he wants to do.' I really thought after the first 30 minutes it was a good mesh and that has proven to be true."

That is the understatement from a coach who has proven over and over again to be one of the best in the business coaching the offensive line. This season the Tigers had to replace three backfield starters who went in the first round of the NFL Draft and also two starters on the offensive line. All they've done is pick up right where the 2004 team left off by leading the league in total offense and scoring.

Nall has also shown more loyalty to Tuberville and Auburn than anyone in recent memory by deciding to stay at Auburn even after losing the title of offensive coordinator. Deciding he wanted to finish what he started when he came to Auburn and that was make the Tigers a consistent winner, Nall says that once again football is what it's supposed to be for him because of the hiring of Borges.

"He's been great," Nall says of Borges. "Our running game has pretty much stayed the same. There are a few things that he's done here or there that have been real positive. The best situation I've ever been in by far with the working relationship. By what I'm able to do and what I like doing. I'm having fun coaching football. That's the bottom line. That's the way it should be."

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