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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2011

The End Zone: UM 11-10

RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Since January, no one has had any reason to criticize this coaching staff. Brady Hoke and his assistants have inspired confidence, their players bought in from the word go, and by golly, this defense ain't too bad.

Sorry, folks, but the honeymoon is over. The staff that could do no wrong has. Twice, in fact. A coaching blunder has smeared an indelible mark across both losses, and you have to wonder if UM might be unbeaten if each situation was handled more carefully. Against Michigan State, it was offensive coordinator Al Borges' perplexing choice to call a slow-developing pass on fourth-and-1 at MSU's 9 that cost his team a chance to tie the game in the fourth. Borges, to his credit, understands the value of relying on Denard Robinson. But by relying on Robinson's arm, and not his legs, Borges missed the point.

At Iowa last week, UM again placed all of its chips on Robinson's arm. Four incomplete passes later, it was no longer a contender in the Legends division. It wasn't Borges' fault this time. The blame instead is cast on Hoke, who wasted a timeout earlier in the quarter when he miscounted his players on the field, thinking he saw 12 of them. We can debate whether Junior Hemingway's catch was indeed a catch or whether pass interference should have been called on the final play. What can't be debated is that Hoke's gaffe hand-tied Borges in that final sequence, seeing that running the ball would be too risky.

In two big losses, Hoke and Borges came up small.

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