"Peace for our time."
“Obviously very disappointed. We all are. After the outcome of Saturday’s game, we need to make sure we’re finishing and doing all the things we need to do. As a coaching staff, that’s always where it starts. It starts with me. We have to do a great job of repping the things we’re going to see, which we have been. We do a great job of the details, the fine things you want to makes ure you go over. And as a team, we have to make sure we understand each and every plan. We started this thing in January with this football team. In June we inhereited the freshmen guys. Their work ethic has been exceptional. We have to translate that we do well in practice on the field, and we will do that.”
How difficult is it to plan for and execute an offense when the offensive line is struggling?
“Everyone’s going to point to the offensive line, but really it’s all of us. It’s not just them. It’s not fair. It’s never one guy, one thing, in anything in life, unless you’re golfing. I guess that would be you. In a team sport, it’s not that way. All 11 parts have to be working in the same direction. Offensively, defensively, and then you could say all 115 parts that are on this football team … it’s all of us. This has always been a ‘we,’ ‘us,’ and ‘ours’ football program.”
Can you talk about these next three games are a test of this team’s pride and passion?
“Well, there’s no doubt that there’s some adversity. We had some a week ago, and I like how our team responded. I like how those guys got after it. We had a very good week of preparation, week of practice. Again, that adversity has hit us. We will grind and we will work. There’s no solutions that won’t take hard work. Part of that is every day what we do in preparing.”
You mentioned after the game that you need to coach better. What will you do differently?
“I don’t know how many specific different things. I am pretty involved in a lot of things, from special teams to Al and I meet twice a week, talk about the plan. Maybe I didn’t handle Tuesday’s meeting as well as I could with the kids. Maybe I didn’t give them enough information. Maybe there was not enough motivation. Whatever it might be. That’s not a great answer, but it’s what it is.”
Speaking of the motivation, do you think you have a confidence crisis offensively? How do you get it back?
“I think you do a couple things. Number one: you have to take the things that you haven’t done very well, whatever it might be. Any position. It could be anywhere. We’ve got to constructively teach and use those teaching moments. You also have to show them the things they’ve done well. It’s usually similar in both cases. It may be oversetting, it may be my visual key, my eyes not being where they need to be. You’ve got to look at the negatives, and you’ve got to finish with the positives, because they know they can do it.”
Do you have to look at short term changes and adjustments that aren’t necessarily part of the long term plan?
“I think you always look at things that way as you study an opponent, as you formulate game plans. I think that’s part of it. Always will. The other day we went from spread to jet read to two backs in the backfield, two tight ends and a fullback. We hit all the buttons. When you have negative plays, though, your rhythm and everything that you want to do offensively … Coming out of halftime, we moved down the field and score a touchdown. Well, you had a rhythm. The negative plays weren’t there. We get a first down in a critical part of the game, and we miss a snap. Those things happen. Then you’re working in negatives. I think we were three of 13 on third down. They were six of 16. Negative plays on third down start on first and second down. Do you look at everythign? Yeah. You always look at personnel. You always go back to evaluate. You always look at did I work well enough on this scheme? I’ll take it individually because I’m a defensive line coach. Power scoops. Did I work enough on power scoops where Willie Henry and Ryan Glasgow can play the way they’re capable of playing?”
You talked about third downs being tied to what you do on first and second down. In hindsight, it seemed like you ran a lot of off tackle plays that didn’t work.
“I can’t tell you how many first downs we ran or not. I think sometimes we assume that. I can’t tell you that. Obviously we felt we could run the ball or we wouldn’t have called the play. I mean, I think that’s where it starts. Some of those plays are check plays depending on what you get defensively, what looks.”
MGoQuestion: You mentioned you threw out a lot of formations and hit all the buttons on offense. One of Nebraska’s players said they knew what you were going to do. Why do you think that is?
“Yeah. I don’t know if that was exactly the quote, but we know what other guys are doing, too. We knew when they were in pistol with two tight ends, and we got negative plays. Everybody has that. Everyone has -- there’s certain things people are going to do certain ways. Now, when you win a football game I think sometimes it’s easy to say that.”
MGoFollowup: Have you noticed that increase the last couple of games?
“No. Not at all. We change formations and we change personnel on the same play every week.”
With the Big Ten title always being such a deal, what do you play for with these guys?
“Well number one you’re a competitor. You want to go out and fight. We always play for our seniors and we’re always going to work hard for those guys. This group is a group that’s been through some struggles and they’re very important to all of us. The other thing is you have a chance to win 10 football games. That opportunity is always out there. That’s always been a benchmark.”
Did Blake Countess get hurt?
“Early. He was out some time after the first quarter. He should be [okay].”
On their 4th and 2, were your corners supposed to be so far off the line of scrimmage? Was it a lack of confidence they were giving the receivers so much of a cushion?
“I don’t know if it’s confidence. How about experience? I think that’s something throughout our team guys are learning for the first time.”
Did a safety need to tell them to move up?
“They could. They could. I think that’s tough. In hindsight, I should have called time out.”
"In war we're tough and able / quite indefatigable."
What can you do to help Fitz out in pass protection? Do you take him out of the game?
“Yeah, it’s not lack of effort, it’s not lack of toughness with Fitz. You all know that from what he came back from. Again, it’s something we need to do a better job with. We have to coach it. There may be points we may not be doing a good job with. Your base, your knee bend, eyes on, hand inside, all those things. He’s a good screen runner. He does a good job. Do you want to take him out because of all the other good things he does? No, not really.”
Can you look ahead to Northwestern? What jumps out?
“Well, you look at how they’ve played this year, and the games they lost, they’ve lost some heartbreakers. I think from their defense, they’re opportunistic. Tyler Scott is one of the better down guys in this league. From an offensive perspective, you have to be ready to play two quarterbacks. Some of that, the offensive scheme itself is pretty the same, but they both have different gifts in what they can do.”
The suggestion from the Nebraks player’s quote is that the offense is predictable.
What’s your response?
“He’s wrong. I mean, you could say that about a lot of teams. So.”
Do you still like the play calling after you looked at the film?
“Yeah. There’s not even a question about it.”
So is it the offense not executing? Is it what the defense is doing to you?
“I think it’s both a little bit. You have to give them credit. They’re a good football team. We have to do a good job, too.”
You said it’s not all on the offensive line. A lot of it looks like it is.
“You can pick and choose. It’s everybody who’s involved.”
Devin doesn’t look like he’s moving as quickly as he was at the beginning of the season.
Why do you think he’s holding onto the ball for so long?
“Uh, I think sometimes when things go a little chaotic and [he’s] trying to make too many big plays.”
What do you like about the rotation you have at WILL and MIKE?
“I think it’s worked out pretty well. I think it’s kept them fresh, it’s kept them healthy. I think all of them have earned that right to play. So I think with three of those guys … I think Ben Gedeon is another guy that gets better daily. You like some of the things he does.”
What do you like about Desmond Morgan that allows you to play him at both?
“He’s a smart football player with I don’t know how many games of experience. He’s one of those guys that can fit both. He runs well enough to be the covered up guy at WILL and stout enough and strong enough and tough enough to play MIKE.”
MGoQuestion: Coach Borges says he uses the bye week to do a lot of self-scouting. Is that possible to do without a bye week?
“Oh yeah. They do that really every week. They’re going to look -- we’re going to look defensively, they’re going to look offensively and see maybe what things that may be tendencies or trends formationally.”
MGoFollowup: Have you been able to identify anything fundamentally about this offense that’s an issue?
“No. No. I don’t think so. Fundamentals, yes. That’s what I thought you were talking about. Techniques and fundamentals, yeah.”
MGo: I meant --
“No, I got ya.”
MGo: So no issues.
Are you disappointed in the young players and the offensive line in not being able to progress?
“I think any freshman, number one, they’ve -- it’s a grind. They’ve been here since June. It’s a grind. They haven’t been home. It’s a grind. For the guys that have been there that have redshirted, they understand a little bit, but it’s a different thing redshirting and looking on cards and all of a sudden, man you’re out there. From that standpoint, are you disappointed? I think you’d be lying if you said you’re not because of what you see they can do. And when they do it right, it speaks so right to them being able to do it right.”
Are you disappointed in the fans that booed?
“Yeah. If they’re booing the kids, then yeah. They can boo us coaches all they want. Look, I’ve got a harder time at home than I do there. Believe me. I mean, my daughter and wife, man. You guys are easy compared to them.”
Does it get to a point where you can’t or shouldn’t run play action from certain sets?
“Certain sets, maybe. I think you’re right.”
Do defenses copy what other defenses do against you?
“Yeah. A bunch. I mean, that happens. I think you all look at -- and I shouldn’t speak for every other coach in America -- we all look at who defended somebody well or offensively what gave this defense problems. You’ll get some copy cat looks.”
Do you think that’s why they blitzed more?
“It could have, but they’re the same blitzes that they had done before and we had repped and repped and repped.”
The rest of the roundtable segment harped one the same stuff over and over again, so I’m not going to transcribe it (sorry other writers who need the quotes). I bet most of you stopped reading by now anyway.