After a disappointing offensive performance against Alabama in week one, the Wolverines were able to get the ground game going against Air Force, led by 200+ yards rushing from senior quarterback Denard Robinson. Although Robinson's numbers were nice, the most eye-popping statistic against Air Force was 7 carries for 8 yards out of starting tailback Fitz Toussaint, who returned after being suspended for the first game.
"We wanted to get Fitz off a little more," said Borges Tuesday afternoon. "Obviously that didn't work out real good. We knew going into the game that they were going to have trouble with Denard because of the speed factor. We wanted to get our athletes out into space, and he's as athletic as anybody we have."
"So the next thing we've got to do is get our tailback more involved, and we're working our tails off to devise a plan to do just that," said Borges.
According to Borges there were opportunities missed in which Fitz could have accumulated some significant yardage against the Falcons, but Robinson chose to keep the ball resulting in a few big plays for the Wolverines.
"A couple times we missed a couple reads where he should have gotten the ball and didn't," said Borges. "One of them the quarterback took off for a 79 yard touchdown so it's hard to say he was wrong. Fitz might have been able to run that one too, and Denard will tell you that."
If Fitz and the running game as a whole are going to have consistency moving forward, the offensive line will need to continue getting familiar with one another. Borges sees a lot of similarity between last year and this year up front.
"Working in concert," said Borges, "the same five guys. We went through this a little bit last year, very similar. I've got a little déja vu of getting our guys all working and knowing the calls and working together. As they do it more, and as Elliott gets them all on the right page and they start stepping together and coming off together, you'll see it'll progressively get better and better."
Big targets emerge for Wolverines
Last year senior quarterback Denard Robinson had the luxury of relying on fifth-year senior wide receiver Junior Hemingway who had the innate ability to go up and get the football when it was thrown in his general vicinity. With plenty of speculation as to who might be able to step into that role in 2012, Saturday's win over Air Force provided a glimpse at a couple Wolverines that can fill the void.
"Its always nice to have receivers with range," said Borges. "Jeremy Jackson did a really nice job on a couple third downs, just working the holes in the defense and kind of playing basketball in there. Catch the pass and move the chains."
"Then Devin Funchess, who can get a ball in a lot of different spots, it doesn't have to be thrown right at him," said Borges. "As long as it's within his wingspan he's got a great chance to catch it. I think quarterbacks love it. And I think Devin Gardner is the same way."
The surprise Saturday might have been the consistent and impressive production out of the true freshman tight end. Borges praised Funchess but didn't go overboard.
"He is a highly skilled kid, yet he is not a complete tight end yet, and he'll be the first to tell you that," said Borges. "He's got a lot to learn about the blocking phase of it and just the nuances of the passing game. But he's really highly skilled, he can go get the ball, he runs very well for a tight end. And when he gets a little bigger and stronger he could be a complete player."
On Saturday, Funchess was complete enough to be a significant part of the Wolverines offensive attack.
"You have to identify weapons," said Borges. "Who are your weapons and how can you most effectively use them week to week based on how you're being defended. Funchess, although he was like any freshmen and didn't know the offense very well in the beginning, he started catching on a little bit more—and we found ways to get him more involved as he understood better."
"In this game we saw some ways to feature him and we took advantage of it," Borges added.
To watch video of the Borges press conference from this afternoon, including commentary on Denard Robinson's growth in year two, press play below.