The Al Borges Effect
The return of the once lauded Al Borges to the Plains has been one of the more intriguing aspects surrounding the 2017 season. I was admittedly puzzled upon first hearing of his role as an offensive analyst under Gus Malzahn, but as the summer has burned away so has my doubt about Borges’ potential on this coaching staff.
Al Borges departed Auburn prior to the 2008 season and would not return to coaching until he joined Brady Hoke’s staff at San Diego State in 2009. In two seasons there, Borges put up respectable numbers. His offenses had back-to-back seasons with three thousand passing yards and ranked 16th nationally in total offense in 2010. The following season Hoke departed for Michigan with Borges in tow.
Michigan proved to be a much rougher stint than Borges had endured at either San Diego State or Auburn. In three years his offenses ranked 42nd, 78th, and 86th nationally. There were many factors that contributed to the downfall. For starters, Brady Hoke wasn’t exactly putting the Wolverines in the best situations. The Michigan program slipped every year under Hoke’s tenure. Although his recruiting classes held talent, their development was rarely realized. After several disappointing offensive showings in 2013, Hoke confirmed that Borges would not be retained for the 2014 season.
After taking a year off, Borges was hired at San Jose State in 2015 as the offensive coordinator. His work there in 2015 and 2016 is especially impressive, considering he achieved roughly the same total offensive output as his first two years post-Auburn at San Diego State (2009 and 2010) in a completely different way. His teams in ’09 and ’10 passed for three thousand yards total. His offenses in ’15 and ’16 rushed for three thousand yards apiece. That alone proves Borges’ versatility and willingness to evolve.
Prior to Malzahn’s arrival in 2009, Borges was one of the most accomplished offensive coordinators in Auburn history (and still is). And although his previous work at Auburn is now two head-coaching staffs removed, I think it is almost guaranteed that Borges can bring some tremendous insight and innovation to the table.
There’s little doubt in my mind, Al Borges fingerprints will be scattered here and there throughout the offense. Whatever the changes or ideas may be, I think that Auburn fans are in for a bit of nostalgia this season. The Al Borges Effect may be just what the Tigers need to put them over the top in 2017.