Al Borges talks about two-QB offense with Devin Gardner, Denard Robinson
ANN ARBOR -- It's hard to describe exactly what Michigan unveiled against Iowa, with Devin Gardner at quarterback and Denard Robinson at tailback and receiver and, yes, even quarterback.
The possibilities for that offense are endless, a reality that is now Ohio State's burden.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges doesn't even have a name for it just yet, referring to it matter-of-factly as "Denard In The Backfield" and "Two Quarterbacks In The Backfield."
Either way, Borges isn't here to talk about it.
"I don't want to answer it," he said Tuesday. "You're going to try to ask the question another way, aren't you? It doesn't work. I'm not addressing that issue. I refuse to."
Then a funny thing happened.
He addressed it.
Borges wouldn't divulge his exact inspiration for the offense, which included about 15 plays in last week's win against Iowa, nor how expansive the package can become.
He did say, though, that it gives Michigan its best shot at playing the best 11 with Robinson's elbow injury still impacting his throwing. And that, for Borges, is fun.
"My creative juices are always flowing," he said. "Depending on the game, I'm considered creative or idiotic, OK? But they're always flowing. That's what makes this game fun for coordinators -- defense, offense, there's just so many things you can do with 11 guys, it's like no other game."
Borges has never had a talent such as Robinson at his disposal, and it at times has been an awkward marriage. He's tried his best to bend what he does to suit the quarterback's skill-set, often with major success but periodically with turbulence as well.
Now, he's designing an offense for two mobile quarterbacks, which should double the headache. But it's not. It's all about talent, and having it.
Borges harkened back to his days as Auburn's coordinator, when he inherited two NFL-caliber tailbacks in Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. He did his research and devised a system that would employ both.
"They were both tailbacks, and didn't seem like a fit," he said. "But if you did enough homework to figure out how to get them both back there, there were ways to do it and we made it work.
"You take what you got, and hopefully devise some kind of schematic to explore their skill-set, call it at the right time and, 'Go man, go.' The biggest problem you got is if you don't have any talent."
No. 20 Michigan (8-3, 6-1) has talent in spades with Gardner and Robinson, and the offense sparkled with both on the field last week against Iowa. It scored touchdowns on its first six drives -- Gardner accounting for each -- and Robinson led the team in rushing with 98 yards.
That gives No. 4 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) that much more to think about heading into Saturday's game in Columbus (noon, ABC).
Borges insists too much is being made of the unique look.
"At the end of the day, (coaches) want to think we're George Patton, orchestrate the battle and all that -- and we do, to a degree," he said. "But this game is won or lost by the players. Our job is to put them in the best position to succeed, knowing sometimes it's not going to work.
"They're all like that, but this Ohio State game in particular is all about the players rising to the occasion and overcoming adversity."
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday that Robinson is close to 100 percent and is ready to start at quarterback, although he wouldn't name a starter until later in the week.
It could be Robinson, with Gardner sliding back to receiver.
Or (more likely) it could be Gardner, with Robinson at, well, who knows where?
Certainly not Ohio State.