gulf coast offense
As you may or may not be aware, our offensive coordinator wrote a book. I finally got my hands on it thanks to Michigan's ILL Department and wrote up a short summary/review of it. Take from it what you will.
Title: Coaching The West Coast Quarterback
Author: Borges, Alan. Borges, Keith.
Publisher: Coaches Choice
Length: 120 pages
What This Book Is:
This is the kind of book I'd expect a high school offensive coordinator to be reading, along with giving his quarterbacks a copy of it. It does assume you already know the fundamentals and as such is light on the drills. The book tells you what kind of stance the quarterback should be in, but doesn't provide instruction for how to correct a quarterback's stance. That's left for other instructional videos (Borges also made a series of videos that carry the same title as this book).
What This Book Isn't:
This isn't some magical key into the mind of Al Borges. This book is written solely about the West Coast offense, long before the rise of the Gulf Coast offense (see snoopblue's diary on the Gulf Coast Offense).
Still Borges spent a lot of time on the West Coast and the West Coast offense definitely played a formative role in how Al Borges does things. Plus the book has value by itself, if you're a coach, it's worth at the very least paging through it.
Interesting Random Fact:
The only copy Michigan's ILL service could find is from the Library of Congress. So we don't own a copy of the book, nor does any other B1G school.
Preface and Chapter 1, The Fundamentals of QB Play:
The book opens up with a lot of the stand lines about what you want in a quarterback. You know standard stuff like leader on and off the field, toughness, etc. The most interesting part here I found were the quotes:
'Intelligence is important, but a great work ethic can overcome much of what some players lack in natural "smarts."''He [the QB] should know exactly how his coach thinks and be able to regurgitate it verbally at the drop of hat.'
The first quotation pretty much sums up Jason Campbell. At the risk of taking too much from a single sentence in the book, it does show a willingess to engage in development projects with high schools who have the talent and work ethic but no the smarts. The second quote is fairly standard, as every OC out there wants to mind meld with his QBs, but not ever coach uses regurgitate in their writing. Another point for Coach Borges.
One interesting comment though that did come out of this section is:
"Keep in mind that the quarterback does not look over 6' 4" and 6' 5" linemen. He is seeing and throwing through windows in the pass rush."
In other words, good line play can compensate for a shorter quarterback. Assuming the line knows where the QB is looking, it is their job to clear guys out of Denard's field of vision. Clearly it helps if the QB is taller, but in the book Borges specific states he values mobility over the QB standing tall and looking over linemen. An interesting fact to trot out next time you're stuck around family who want to complain about Denard being a midget.
Also in this section Borges covers the "Sprint Out" concept. Throughout the entire book, he stresses the idea of a mobile quarterback that can add an extra threat with his legs as being desirable. Although he does seem to be talking about more about a Tate Forcier kind of quarterback: pass first, use your legs to buy time, and then run for a few yards if needed. Also throwing the ball away is stressed as something that should be done as opposed to forcing the pass. You can tell the book was definitely written before the rise of the quarterbacks like Denard. The overall tone of the book though does suggest that even if we get RoboMorris, he'll be running more frequently than RoboHenne did.
We even get a little bit of option ball out in the book. Although it is merely two pages tacked on to the end of the capture on fundamentals. The main take away on the option is that "When executed precisely, the option can be low-risk and very productive." He only covers the speed and dive options though in this book.
Chapter 2, Philosophy of the Passing Game:
One of the concepts that Borges mentions here is that half the passing yards should come through the air and half the passing yards should come via yards after catch. So who knows, the days of the tiny little slot ninjas with cloaking devices might not be over. Borges also stresses the concept though of always having a deep threat wide reciever who on any play can be hit for 6 points. In terms of WRs Borges has three:
Hands Guy: Dependable at catching the ball.
Deep Threat: Can get six points
Route Runner: Most likely to be open.
From there the book goes into a review of the Delta, Flood, Option, China, Crossing, and One on One concepts. Also overthrowing or "putting it where only the good guy can get it" is stressed. So Denard's overthrows are actually a sign he is learning from Borges, although accuracy would be even better.
As an interesting side, Borges estimates that if the defense rushes six that it is unlikely for them to all remain blocked for more than 3 seconds. So if you are trying to raise a young quarterback run some drills to make reads and release within 3 seconds.
Chapter 3, Reading and Understanding
Chapter 3 is the diagram heavy chapter of the book. Covering reading the defense, hot routes, and the like. The most interesting part starts on page 40 with the contours of the defense. The contour of a defense is created by drawing a line from the one side of the field to other, connecting the defensive backs. So if all the safeties and corners are at the same depth you would have a flat line. As they move up or down you get peaks and valleys. The quarterback can guess the style of defensive coverage (three deep, two deep, man, etc) based on how the defensive backs are lined up. Although Borges does point out that a good defense will always run out of the same contour or change on purpose to bait the quarterback. A defense will poor coaching will tip its hand by changing the contour of the defense depending on the called play.
A good example of this would be when we'd push Kovacs up and create a contour that suggests we're blitzing Kovacs. We of course did just that with great success, but other times we'd have Kovacs drop and set him up for a pick. This might also help shed some light on the whole "Martin drops into coverage" thing we tried. You blitz Kovacs and then the QB throws in the direction of the blitz reflexively, but Martin is there to swat the ball.
In this chapter Borges also covers the different defensive aligments (4-3, Bear, etc) and their weaknesses. A common theme here is Borges seems to view a lot of the defensive sets as vulernable to inside-out. That is a runningback or tight end moving out and catching the ball, possibly with WRs to block and create a screen. As mentioned in snoopblue's review of the Gulf Coast offense, Borges likes throwing to running backs. Here we see the same theme covered repeatedly. Earlier when talking about receivers Borges stressed that you must have a running back with good hands.
Borges also discusses how a defender who is backpedaling and flatfooted is always a threat because the QB never knows how well he'll jump. Borges really stresses you have to force the defenders into some kind of lateral movement that creates either a leading or trailing window for the ball. Consider for a moment on the bubble screen, if the DB doesn't backpedal off the WR (because they plan to play bump, bail or kick), you're left with a defender who is flatfooted, which Borges hates. Coupled with his love of inside-out, I can understand why he might have some objection to the bubble screen, if that area of the field is weak Borges appears to prefer to send a TE or a RB into it and throw to them. Take that for what you will and of course keep in mind the age of this book.
If you were lurking around the board earlier in the season you might remember a few debates on how our DBs always seemed to be a step behind the WRs. Some of the other posters did an excellent job explaining trail coverages. On page 69 of the book Borges provides a great rundown of both DB and Safety play techinques, including trail and robber. Someone with more patience than myself and access to the torrents from two years ago should consider going back and checking to see if we were frequently changing defensive contours (thus tipping our hand) and if we altered techinques frequently. Borges specifically mentions good defensives will frequently vary techinques. Each techinque has a set counter the WR can undertake, so good defenses will alter them. Bad defenses will not and thus make it easy for the WRs to adjust.
So a defense that rarely changes contours (or changes them to bait) but frequently changes techniques (bump, bail, engage, kick, backet, etc) is a well coached defense. Defenses that do the opposite are not. I think next year I'm going to watch a lot of Michigan games and then Arizona games and see if I can spot the difference and thus prove that Gibson is a terrible, terrible, coach.
Last Third Of the Book:
The last third of the book is a specific breakdown of various routes, the footwork involved in them, and the theory behind audibles. I'll gloss over it as it is mostly mechanics. Once again though definitely something to have any future QB you are trying to raise read.
One interesting section is on page 103 where Borges breaks down third down decision making. He does not say anything like "center it for a punt and play defense", so we're definitely out of the DeBord era for what it is worth. Here also is where Borges stresses he expects the QB to be able to run for 3 or 4 years and get the first down. However you only run if you have a clear lane, scrambling is solely to buy time for the pass. I'd imagine his time around Denard may have made him rethink that last bit.
The final thing of note is on page 105 where he talks about the 4 minute offense and how to bleed the clock while moving to score (and ensure the other team won't get a chance for a rebuttal). Borges gets real specific including that the team should unpile as slowly as possible after the running play to further bleed the clock. Definitely interesting as you never hear the talking heads on TV discuss the 4 minute offense.
The book concludes with some basic QB drills like scramble drills and throwing from your needs. Borges does mention footwork is much more important than arm motion. This helps explain why Campbell had a horrible throwing motion but always was good at planting his feet and aligning his shoulders.
As I said this isn't like some super deep look at the mind of Al Borges or what he'll do here. This is a fairly straightforward "Here is how you run the West Coast Offense" text. That being said I'd encourage picking it up solely for Chapters 2 and 3. Read those two chapters, understand the diagrams, and you'll definitely increase your knowledge of the game. It's not that hard of a book to wrap your head around and you'll walk away with a greater appreciation for it.
By the way if you're a current student, staff, or faculty member, consider taking a moment to fill out a request that the library buy the book. The book itself goes for 20 dollars on Amazon or takes 3.5 weeks to get via ILL (and I'm holding the current copy of it, so you're out of luck). If a bunch of us request it, perhaps the library will buy a copy.