ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Freshman running back Derrick Green as a unique combination of power and speed and is finally getting his opportunity to shine on the field.
Green, who rushed for 23-yards on 10 carries with a touchdown in Saturday’s 42-13 win over Minnesota, saw his first meaningful action this season after playing sparingly in the first four games.
“He’s a load,” said Borges on Green, who comes in at 5-foot-11, 235-pounds. “He’s a big ole’ strapping kid who can run. He’s got great feet for his size. He’s not easy to tackle. He’s just a powerful guy. But he’s a good athlete.
“When you got a young back, you’re going to play him if you’re going to play him early or if the game is close – you’re going to get scared to play him later.”
Borges said he wanted to give Green early carries to help lift the load off fifth-year running back Fitz Toussaint, who has received the bulk of the carries on offense through Michigan’s first five games.
“We had to take a little pressure off of Fitz,” Borges said. “Fitz was carrying too much of the load. And Fitz is in fabulous condition, but even at the end of the UConn game he was starting to run out of gas. I think anybody would.”
Moving forward, Borges says there is commitment of playing Green earlier in crucial game time situations.
“We just decided we’re going to put him early and make sure he gets some pops and hopefully if it goes as smooth as we want, will just kept playing him here and there,” Borges said. “And we did, and it worked. That worked pretty much the way we wanted. But only because we committed to doing it.
“He’s a work in progress. So as he does more and understands our offense better, like anybody else he makes less mistakes. You feel more comfortable putting him in every situation, rather than situations where he just going to carry the ball.”
Offense Making Strides
While the Michigan offense was limited to 53 plays Saturday against Minnesota, Borges says “turnovers” were the reason behind Michigan’s easy 42-13 victory.
“No turnovers No. 1,” Borges said. “That’s the offense, not necessarily the offensive line. But the offense in general didn’t turn the ball over. I said it before, when the turnovers go away a lot of the problems go away. They don’t all go away. But a lot of, cause you get possessions. That’s the key – you got to keep your possessions and take advantage of it cause they’re precious. And that’s really as much as an offensive perspective the reason we won the game as any.”
Devin Gardner finished the contest with 17-yards on seven carries and touchdown, part of that was an effort to take pressure off Gardner in the running game, said Borges.
“I think we took a step in the right direction,” Borges said. “We’re not anywhere close to where we want to be still. But part of thing is we want to take some pressure off the quarterback without taking the ball totally out of his hands too now. Cause he can be a very dynamic playmaker when he uses good judgment – he’s as good as anybody.”
However, Gardner did pass for 235-yards on 13-of-17 throws with a touchdown. Borges credits his performance with concerned focus on improving his footwork.
“Devin was adamant about improving his footwork. He was adamant as I was adamant of him doing it. You know? Coaching him through it. And he did it. You watch the tape, you’ll see he is stepping through his throws. A couple times he wasn’t right on the target – but he’s always around the target. So he gave his guys a chance to make a play.”