ANN ARBOR—Two straight games, two straight losses in disappointing and demoralizing fashion for Michigan to start the month of November.
Failing to score a touchdown in East Lansing as quarterback Devin Gardner took a pounding in the form of seven sacks by Michigan State, not to mention the rushing yardage statistic that read minus-48.
Returning home to host a Nebraska team that is banged up and not clicking on all cylinders was supposed to be the perfect remedy for the Wolverines and a struggling offense.
The Cornhuskers set the tone early and often in their 17-13 win over Michigan, blitzing up the middle, showing no fear of the Wolverines weapons downfield, nor non-existent rushing game, and handing Gardner seven sacks for the second straight week.
Michigan’s rushing total vs. Nebraska finished at minus-21.
“I’ve never had two back to back games played so poorly,” Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said Tuesday.
“The one thing you got to do in my position is maintain your perspective and understand what you have to do to get better.
“You want to change a situation, change your attitude, you know. Yeah you might beat your head against the wall a little bit but you can’t keep beating your head against the wall cause there’s another game to play.”
What is the problem with the Michigan offense?
“Well right now we’re struggling with pass protection and running the ball,” Borges said. “There’s two major things and they go hand in hand. If you can’t run the football and you’re dealing with as many long down and distances as we are, you’re with sharks in the water and you run into some issues.
“Anytime we’ve struggled it’s second and 12, second and 20 or whatever, for whatever reason, you start looking at your play call sheet going what do you call next? I mean you have those on your sheet but there isn’t a lot of third and 24 calls that are good calls.”
Michigan’s rotation, guys in and out at times on a weekly basis along the offensive line has failed to result in improvement at this point in the season.
With so many not getting the job done, particularly on the interior of the offensive line and at the running back position, could and should more adjustments be made moving forward?
“Well we’ve made so many and if you just keep changing then you have new guys making new mistakes, you know what I mean?” Borges said. “Rather than guys that you think have the best chance to help you win, growing. You can change everybody but it’s a recipe for disaster. We’ve done enough of that.
“We have to allow our football team to grow and with that, some growing pains, and that’s just the way it is.”
Looking ahead to Northwestern, the Wildcats preparing to host Michigan Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., Pat Fitzgerald’s crew has 19 sacks so far in 2013, but the Wolverines have proven that regardless of who the competition is on the other side, protecting the quarterback is an issue.
According to Borges, there’s many reasons for the issues up front and all across the board offensively, some of which, he says, has to do with an extended transition period, moving further away from the spread formations showcased in their first two seasons in Ann Arbor.
“I don’t think there’s any question we’ll have the guys here to run any system we want but there is a transitional phase,” Borges said. “What we tried to do is implement what we want to do now.
“We’re two years behind it really because we didn’t do it at the beginning so we have to start doing what we want to do and with that comes some growing pains but, at times, it’s really looked like it’s got a chance.”
Borges added, “We’ve got a direction we want to go and it’ll take and when it does take this program will be where we want to be.”