Al Borges hasn't had to worry about sunburn on his Telly Savalas-like skull covering over the past two years. He's spent enough time in the shadow of Michigan's other coordinator that the Banana Boat sunscreen stayed in his back pocket.
After all, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison faced the reclamation project - a defense so discombobulated it made the Ohio State Dept. of Email Erasure look like a well-oiled machine. Mattison took the Wolverines from No. 108 in the nation to No. 6 against the score, thus earning his GV (genius visor) for Michigan practices.
Borges, meanwhile, inherited an up-tempo scoring circus that occasionally saw itself caged against better competition. It rang up the type of numbers, though, that would be tough to duplicate.
Michigan scored more points in 2012 than 2011, but certainly not enough to earn the GV. It's all about expectations.
Enough credit eventually got spread around during an 11-2 opening campaign, concluded by statement victories against Nebraska, Ohio State and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan's offense, though, struggled in just enough big games to cast doubt on the transition.
That effort continues, although the Wolverines are looking more and more like they will in the immediate future. Junior quarterback Devin Gardner is slinging it at quarterback like a veteran now, with senior Denard Robinson getting back into the game - both at quarterback and running back - in Michigan's home finale.
Here's a stat that speaks to the effectiveness of both this season: Michigan has moved the chains when it really counted. The Wolverines lead the Big Ten by a wide margin on third-down conversions, making good on 52.1 percent.
Nebraska stands second in the league, at 44.7 percent. In other words, Michigan's quarterbacks have something that an offensive mind like Bill Walsh appreciates.
The late San Francisco 49ers offensive guru is largely credited with the development of the West Coast offense. Borges doesn't use that term much, but it's the pro style look to which he leans, when personnel warrants.
He recalled a telling conversation with Walsh, involving what separates a good quarterback and a great one. Walsh insisted it was "the third play," obviously demanding further explanation.
"The system quarterbacks can run the first two plays, complete the pass, hand the ball off and not make a lot of turnovers," Borges recalled Walsh as saying. "But on the third play, when something breaks down, when I didn't call the perfect play, when a receiver falls down, when the protection breaks, when they just flat cover you, what does the quarterback do?
"Does he create, so I get more calls? Or does he just simply go down, get sacked, so that we punt? The great quarterbacks can make the third play, where the system quarterbacks usually make the first two."
Michigan's quarterbacks this year have done a solid job of creating and moving the chains, he advised.
"What is kind of cool in Denard and Devin both, sometimes you don't call it perfect, and they can improv you into the next first down," Borges said. "That's a really neat deal.
"The key is to keep the chains moving, so you can call more plays. When people are complaining about, 'Well, how come this guy isn't touching the ball more,' generally it's because you're not getting first downs. You don't get the turns. You don't get the calls out.
"Devin has done a good job of, when it isn't there, creating something to get us more calls, getting the receivers touching the ball more, getting the tailback touching the ball more."
Gardner and Robinson may both face their share of third-down situations in Ohio Stadium on Saturday. It stands to reason if they convert at least half of those, Borges could come away from his first trip to Columbus smiling, visor or no.
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