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.”