Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-24-12: Al Borges
How are you guys doin? Kinda stoic. / File
How are you feeling about things now compared to the beginning of camp?
“Better. I think we have a little bit of feel, we’re getting a little bit of rhythm on occasion, but we still need a little more practice. We’re not there, but we feel better. I mean the thing about offense and defense is once you narrow down your field of players and you start working with them rather than work with the whole team, which you’re doing kind of for two weeks, the execution gets better. I mean that’s been the case, and that’s why spring football is hard, because you never really do that, you know. In the fall you narrow down your field of players and they start doing better.”
What exactly is the criteria for being there?
“I’ll tell you after the game whether we were there or not. The reason -- and I’m not being sarcastic -- but sometimes you think you’re there and you find out whether you were or not. You can go through a very good practice where there are very few errors and then all of a sudden the pressure of the game gets to some kids, particularly the ones who have never played before that don’t have a start. You realize that you weren’t quite as prepared as you thought you were. But all you do is the best you can to get those kids in as many scenarios that will make them react well and hope like heck they do. But there is no way to really know.”
[After THE JUMP, offensive line, freshmen freshmen everywhere, and Borges comes perilously close to admitting slot backs exist]
MGoQuestion: How’s your offensive line shaping up?
“I think pretty good. The battles have been every day and consistent, and the guys are working hard. I like that we’re starting to gain a little bit of chemistry, which is so critical for that position.”
MGoFollowup: You’ve said you wanted to have the two-deep for the offensive line set at least 10 days before gameday. Have you done that yet?
“Yeah we’re closer now than we’ve ever been. I think if we played tomorrow Elliott Mealer would be our left guard, and the rest of it I think you guys know. Now that battle isn’t over now.”
MGoFollowup: Do you have any idea who would be backing him up?
“Joe Burzynski and Kyle Kalis. They’re still in the fold.”
MGoFollowup: Is one ahead of the other at all?
“No. Not really. No.”
How concerned are you with the overall depth of the offensive line, especially now that you lost Chris Bryant?
“You know when you lose a guy it’s disconcerting, but by the same token, Darrell’s done a wonderful job of crosstraining a lot of those kids so they can play a couple different positions. So does it worry us? Yeah a little bit. But not to the point where we don’t feel like we have capable replacements.”
Who do you think would be the replacement at right guard?
“Well right now you’d get a little shuffling if that makes any sense. We have X amount of guards. You know who they are. We’re just trying to get the next guy in there. At that point who’s the next best guard? He’ll play right guard. The one thing about us and I think most teams is yeah, they kind of have a designated position, but we’re a best five. We always talk about best five, so the best five’s going to play, and we’re going to plug them in where we see fit.”
Do you have an idea for the receiver rotation at all?
“No. Not yet. We’re still pending. Still pending. And depending on how ‘Tree is, I would not commit to that yet.”
Are you optimistic that he’ll play?
“Yeah, but we’ll see. I’ve been optimistic from the beginning, but we’ll see. It’s still too early to tell.”
Have you had a chance to run with him in drills yet?
“Yeah, but mostly he’s just rehabbing. The good thing about ‘Tree is that he’s played a lot, and he knows our offense now. He’s just got to get the rust off a little bit, and he’ll be fine.”
Have you ever had this many true freshmen on the two-deep in your career, particularly on the offensive line?
“Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. At Auburn my last year we played three pure freshman offensive linemen when we went to the swamp to play Florida. Now that’s just not done. Nobody does that. Three pure freshmen on the offensive line. If you play one, that’s highly unusual, so no. No matter where I’ve been, we’ve played a kid who was ready to play or wasn’t ready to play, but we felt was our best player.”
When do you expect Roundtree to practice fully?
“I don’t know. I still have to get that from our people. I don’t really know yet. We’ll see. It’s day to day, like so many injuries.”
Are your freshman receivers ready to play yet?
“I don’t know that they’re ready to play, but they’re certainly Big Ten worthy. They’re all very talented kids who -- they’re going to play here eventually. And depending on how quickly they grasp what we want will determine when they play, so yeah.”
How are you allocating reps at running back?
“Well everybody’s getting about the same. There’s nobody taking any more than the next guy, so Fred’s managing it pretty well. Our running backs for the most part have played some or have been exposed to our offense, so it’s not completely new. Every time I look around there’s a different guy in there.”
Do you gameplan differently if it’s Fitz or Rawls?
“Well some subtleties, yeah, but not a gross departure from who we are. Occasionally there’s a subtlety that you’ll do. We are what we are. We pretty much just go to the next guy … We can’t restructure if that makes any sense. If a guy has a certain talent that another kid doesn’t, we’ll try to exploit that a little more.”
MGoQuestion: Hoke hasn’t revealed Fitz’s status to the public, but has he discussed it with you?
What’s different between Fitz and Rawls?
“They’re just different styles of runners. You’ve got one kid that’s more of a kind of battering ram with Thomas. And then you got Fitz who’s a little more stop and go, you know, lateral quickness. He plays the game a little different.”
How would you assess Rawls’s vision?
“Not bad. Getting better all the time. And that’s all just reps, because I told you all when I first got -- when we just first got Fitz, Fitz was struggling, particularly when we lined him up at the home position in our two-back runs because he just hadn’t done a lot of it. But once he ran the plays and did it more and more it all came around. Thomas is in the process of doing the same thing.”
You mentioned freshman receivers are B1G worthy. Is that because of plays they’ve made in camp? Their size?
“Yeah. Both. They’ve showed up. They’re both talented kids. Good recruits. But you know it’s like anything else. You have to find out -- you have to put them through the paces a little bit, see if they’re going to the middle and catching the balls, see if they can run by guys, and they’ve passed most of the tests. The only thing that really kills a freshman, and receivers are no different from other positions, is a little paralysis through analysis. You’re pouring what is in essence an NFL passing game at them, and that’s a lot to digest. That’s tougher than your toughest biology class, you know? But I think for the most part those kids have done a pretty nice job.”
Darboh’s somewhat unique in terms of how his size and speed …
“Yeah, as is Chesson. Chesson’s the same way. Chesson’s a 6-3, speed guy. They’re both fast kids, talented kids. I mean there’s not a lot of difference between the two. Amara’s a little thicker, but that aside they’re very similar players.”
Has anyone stepped up to back up Brandon Moore at tight end?
“I think we’re solid. Mike Kwiatkowski’s done a nice job. Our two freshman kids are kind of going through the same thing that the receivers and everyone else are going through. But again, the kids we got -- the freshman kids -- we believe are Big Ten worthy, too. But that’s a hard position to jump into. One thing you have to remember about the tight end is he’s not involved in just the passing game or running game, he’s really both. Not that everybody isn’t to a degree, but with a tight end he’s a hybrid player, particularly in our offense. We ask him to do offensive line-esque stuff one play, and then turn around and ask them to do wide receiver type stuff. That’s a tall order for a young guy, but our kids are doing the best they can, and I like some of the things I see, but we’ve still not arrived.”
MGoQuestion: Going back to the running back position, is Dennis Norfleet in the conversation at all?
“Well, he’s like the rest. He’s in the conversation like the rest of the freshmen are in the conversation. He’s still figuring it out. But who knows. I don’t know. Maybe a few games down the road, he could contribute. It’s just a matter -- with freshmen, you guys just have to understand, it just doesn’t happen right away. It just doesn’t. And sometimes a coach will see a kid show some flashes [and say], ‘God, we gotta get him in there,’ and then they can’t figure it all out. ‘But just get him in there for a few plays!’ and that works for a game or two and [other teams] figure out that when he’s in the game, they’re going to do this. So there’s a point he has to be complete. Until he’s complete, it’s hard. I get a lot of questions about freshmen. Are freshmen going to play? They’re very hard to answer at this point.”
MGoFollowup: With someone like him and Justice Hayes, though ...
“Both of them are what I call stop and go runners. Good lateral quickness, tough inside the hole, can run the ball outside. I don’t use this term, but some classify them as a ‘scat-back.’ I’ve never used that term before, but I’ve heard it.”
MGoFollowup: Are you experimenting with them at different positions?
“I would never tell if I was.”
great answer. also, excellent questions from you Heiko. keep up the good work
Agreed. And way to choose the ones about Norfleet and Hayes. I'm sure we all deep inside hope something like a Percy Harvin can emerge from a scat in our backfield since Urb thinks he's gonna come to the B1G and show us how to run a spread..hmmmph. I can get negged for conjuring RR, that's fine, but I hope that Al falls in love with the spread after running it for a couple years with growing success and my dream can remain of what I saw possible at the end of the RR era and still wanting more of Denard-like play in Michigan future. Borges' response is awesome that he wouldn't tell you if he was because it gives me hope that maybe Hayes or Norfleet could come from nowhere and be a factor in next weeks kickoff! LET'S GO
Borges is, no doubt an evil and diabolical offensive genius. Once he gets his system and players in to place, he's going to be showing a lot of different looks. Defenses will be too confused to handle it.
Your transcripts always add another element to the presser videos. Your work is much appreciated.
Perhaps. But with Borges and Mattison I am left with the sense that they will be as well-prepared as possible. If on Saturday Alabama beats Michigan, it will be because they fielded the better team, not because these coaches failed to make Michigan "ready."
Nice try but that is a file photo
The longer ago the picture was taken, the less ready for Alabama they would have been.
Those who think Borges is an uncreative, stuck-in-the-past offensive coordinator are seriously underestimating the man. To their peril.
I can never help but remember the offensive debacle that was the Iowa game. Virginia Tech too.
Couple of points:
- I believe if you search the archives you'll find some "Upon Further Review" (UFR) posts for both those games. I can't recall details, but I believe the UFRs weren't quite as critical of Borges.
- For the VT game Molk was seriously impaired with injury, which changes the dynamics of the interior OL. Plus, VT's defense is known for being pretty good.
- First year of Borges implementing new system. We also saw Borges modify game-to-game throughout the season. This year will be a better gauge of Borges's flexibility of offensive play-calling.
Let it go dude.
First thing, Michigan won the Sugar Bowl, and made a strong comeback vs. Iowa despite being outplayed all game. The fact that you call it a debacle is unsettling. Your comments make you look like one of "those" Michigan fans who are never satisfied, and I've always found very annoying. Were they great offensive performances, no. But, it was year 1 of the transition. Are you going to hold this against the guy forever?
Secondly, there is no doubt that Denard was suffering from the effects of that staph infection vs. Iowa. This made Borges, who was still trying to see if the offense was capable of playing Man Ball, go with that scheme out of necessity. Arm-chair coahing and quaterbacking is so much easier than the real thing. Borges, as other posters have commented on, has shown a willingness to develop himself to best suit the personnel that he inherited. That's pretty admirable for a profession that is more known for stubborn unwillingness to change.
Wait until you see what Borges unleashes on the nation this year. Mistakes and failures are necessary for growth and development.
just upset we only put up 40 on OSU too.
Literally. If you believe that 323 yards of offence is a debacle, you need to get some anti-hysteria medicine. It was a disappointing performance in terms of scoring and turnovers, but hardly a "debacle."
Such hate. I was only voicing my reservations about Borges being an omniscient genius whose offenses are unstoppable, since past evidence shows that the offense at times can struggle quite spectularly. I'll be the first to laud him if it never does in year two.
What offense have you ever watched that hasn't "at times struggled quite spectacularly?" You're a Michigan fan - you've watched plenty of offenses struggle spectacularly over the past half-decade. Don't act like two games can erase the fact Michigan averaged about 34 ppg last year.
Fair enough mate.
I'm not going to say that I told you so... but DAMN did I tell you so.
I didn't name my fantasy team the Gorgeous Borgeses for nothing #sodreamy
It seems like we're going to be leaning on our Jeremy Jackson's, Mike Kwiakowski's and Joey Burzynski's for the non-conference schedule.
I'm not implying that when Borges says "Big Ten worthy" that he's saying the freshman will move into more prominant roles in the B1G season.
Just with everything I've seen, from who's playing the most right now, it really seems like we're going with the experience early in the year over potential...even if they're the same "rating."
I appreciate the guy more. Zero BS. Obviously very smart. Plays the game like chess.
Seems like there were a few more MGoQuestions than normal.
I imagine the Borges-Heiko relationship like the Seinfeld-Newman relationship.
"RR's offense is like a Ferrari. I'll take the Porsche SUV. It's plenty fast enough, and while it might not have the same flash, acceleration, or top end speed...I trust it much more to handle the bumps in the road."
What a great analogy.
Borges had a lot better material to work with than RR did his first year. Why can't the neanderthal segment of the fanbase analyze Borges without seeing it as a chance to piss and moan about RR?
I would still take the spread if I had my "druthers," but Borges is doing a decent job. I think the RR era is turning out great, because he helped condition the bitchiest part of the fanbase. If Borges had come in after Carr, his offense would have looked "radical" to a lot. Now, it's actually a step toward conservative compared to the spread.
--as with the Pitt game--sometimes you just get beat; Michigan suffers from this problem from time to time, as well, including under Bo when I was a kid. I'm happy with where M stands and a Borges fan (see above) but RR struggled with a lot of stuff. And he is repeatedly heard to say that offensive styles are overrated, that it's about execution, etc.
Also, the least persuasive rap on RR was that he didn't care about defense.
I honestly agree with what you had to say. You make a compelling, if not fully accurate paraellism. In all honesty, we got to stop talking about Rich. Its over, move on already. I have said it before, it's like we had a ex that we really liked but it just didn't workout, but every person we date afterwards is now compared to them oddly enough.
have to stop talking about the RR era, then we have to stop talking about anything that happened before that. Just because it was a dark era of our history doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it. You can't understand where you are if you don't understand how you got there.
Would +1 if able.
When it comes to RR I take a very "Never Forget" approach. It was a disaster but we have to remember why it was a disaster so that it never happens again.
we still make fun of LC and MD's zone left and run run pass punt.... but nobody is like 'how dare you bring that up'
It's tough to ask the whole MGoNation to refrain from mentioning RR. On one hand, we are covering something that has been covered a million times. But that doesn't mean that the RR era is no longer relevant or that we shouldn't use it as a comparison. Frankly, RR was loved by his players, and he was dealt a bad hand. He didn't pull us out as quickly as we would have liked, but does that mean he deserves eternal ridicule? I respect the man, and I wish more here would. Anyway, RR references are fair game. We can't pretend that it didn't happen.
By the way, excellent questions, Heiko.
but I think we can do without the bashing and trying to convince people who was better. They are different coaches with different philosophies. If you want to compare and contrast, fine, but the who's better and BS of that nature is beyond overdone.
al borges hasnt done anything anywhere on the level of what RR has in terms of offensive production. people say that about GT all the time. if for some reason the offense has a bad game its "the system is a gimmick system, teams figured it out"
funny how people dont say that about more basic systems when they have bad games, just the spread teams who average 400+ yards a game
Al Borges has been part of Michigan teams that scored more points (and won more games) against Ohio than RR. The argument that RR's teams just had three consecutive "bad games" against Ohio doesn't wash. RR-led offenses averaged 8 points a game against Ohio in three tries, Borges-led offenses have averaged 40 in one try. It is pretty clear who didn't perform at the level of whom.
The difference in talent level both at OSU and at Michigan in those games certainly factors in. RR had finally gotten his offensive weapons in place and OSU had their worst season in a long while. It would have been interesting seeing RR's offense this past season, but I think we will all take what happened in The Game
I'm not going to disagree with anything you said because this debate is beyond dead horse territory. All I'm going to say is can't we just drop it? I mean, seriously...you're harping about a guy who hasn't coached here in over a year and a half, who givers a shit if you think AB is better or not.
It is an absolute certainty that you are NEVER going to convince anyone who is still of the opinion that RR was a better offensive coach than AB any different just like no one will convince any of the AB fans that RR was better. Lets just move the hell on already.
It makes me almost sick to my stomach that every time I read a post about AB on this blog I know I will be faced with posts arguing who is better. It makes me just as sick to see a board who call themselves UM fans tear down a man who once gave everything he had for this universities football team. Whether it was Carr, RR, Bo, Moeller, none of that matters to me, they all coached UM and therefore desrve a little respect in my books. Whether you loved RR or not, he's gone now and the best thing to do if you can't look back on his time with anything other than distain is it let it f*ing be, it's over.
...but is anyone else interested in asking a few more questions about the bubble screen and its place in our offense this year?