Bor-ron Adjusting to Life in the Middle

After seeing time at guard in his freshman season with the Wolverines, lack of depth at center prompted a switch for Pickerington, Ohio, offensive lineman Justin Boren. After four games at his new position, Boren met with the media at Monday's press conference to talk about the snap exchange and whether or not U-M coaches and players realize they're pronouncing his name wrong.

ANN ARBOR -- After being recruited to Michigan as a five-star offensive guard prospect, it didn't take Justin Boren long to find a home in the Michigan starting lineup. In 2006, the injury bug bit on the interior of the offensive line, and, after recovering from an early season injury himself, Boren found himself in the mix starting at right guard.

Just under twelve months later, Bor-ron, as he's so affectionately called by both players and staff in Ann Arbor, has moved one spot to his left to fill a void in the lineup left by departed senior Mark Bihl.

"Yeah, all of them call me Bor-ron," the 6-foot-3, 308-pound lineman joked. "When my dad played here back in the 80's the coaches called him 'Bor-ron'. When the guys found out it just stuck. Coach knows how to really pronounce my name.

"It's not too much different, though. At center you make a lot of line calls, but Adam Kraus and I, whether we are playing guard or center, both help each other out with that," Boren said on Monday morning. "They're both inside positions, so blocking isn't that much different besides the ball handling part of it.

"The first week, I was real nervous. I was most nervous with the snap. Getting out there with Chad and stuff, he made me feel fine about it. That one CQ (center-quarterback exchange) with Notre Dame, where they moved me to guard, I wasn't nervous. You get a little feedback, but sometimes you don't know. I talk to Mallet. I get feedback every time: where is it coming; what I need to do different. We've been working on it, and I started feeling real comfortable with it."

Despite all the work, exchange issues have continued to plague the Wolverines as they prepare for their second Big 10 conference game against Northwestern this weekend. Against Penn State, no matter the amount of reps run by Boren and freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett, a poor center exchange almost cost the Wolverines in a narrow five-point win.

"It was different. In a game situation, it's always different. It's so much quicker. You concentrate on who you're going to block and where you're going. You just have to remember to get the snap up every time. That's the most important thing. That's what the coaches were saying, and we've been working on it and getting there.

"Just concentrate on getting the ball up. Ryan worked a couple different things with his hands. I think he finally got it down, some little stuff like interlocking his thumbs. They film that everyday in practice. We go through and we watch it. Basically, as a center, you just have to get the ball up and make sure it's in the middle where he can get it. Other than that, it's pretty easy."

"The ball comes up differently, so it's one of those things that you can only perfect with repetition. If you're a quarterback, you've never taken snaps from a left-handed center, it's something that takes a lot of work," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

"It's not a matter of it's anybody's fault; it's just that it's different. The ball comes up differently. We had one earlier in the season. We had one last week. We had one this week. So the goal is to get it to where it's not. That just requires a lot of work, a lot of discipline in terms of if you know that's an issue, you have to be on guard to do the best you can to make it something that doesn't occur."

Michigan's next opportunity to chart their progress comes this Saturday as the Wolverines head to Evanston, Ill., for their first road contest of 2007.

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