Reality Distortion Field, Captain!
Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-15-13: Greg Mattison and Al Borges
What are you stressing in practice this week?
“Well, getting ready for Indiana and getting ready for the rest of our season. It’s playing fast. Teams we play send a lot of tempo at you, and sometimes the next play is in 7 seven. It’s guys getting back to the huddle, it’s guys getting the signal on the fly, all those things. The good thing is we’ve been working on the rotation all along. If a guy has to play five plays rather than three plays, fine, we’ll get them in and out that way.”
Some teams prepare for a high tempo offense by having two entire scout offenses rotate in and out. Do you do that at all?
“Well Brady does a great job with that. We’ve played against this kind of offense before. Brady does a great job getting the tempo as fast as it can be.”
How did Jake Ryan grade out, and what was his impact?
“Jake ended up giving us another rotating guy. It was his first game since the spring. I thought he played his heart out. I thought the defense played their heart out. They played extremely hard.”
Can you take us through the last drive in regulation?
“Well when you don’t stop them. When you want to be a great defense, that’s what you play for. And both those plays, the two plays – you’re sitting there on the sideline thinking it’s intercepted. The young man that was on both of those has more interceptions and more knockdown balls in camp than any corner we have. It’s just a situation where we didn’t get the football. As far as the kid’s playing and execution, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Will you be playing tighter coverage?
“We’ve seen it all along. Like I said, in the last two plays, you can’t be much tighter. There’s three guys around the football when he catches the ball on our sideline, and the other one, you can’t be anymore on the guy. God allows one guy to be 6-4 and jump real real high, and that’s what ended up happening on that play.”
Brady said Channing Stribling could play more moving forward.
“We love what he’s been doing. He truly has been a guy in ever practice, you see him get to the football. You see him intercepting footballs, breaking passes. I think now he knows the defense, he understands everything he has to do, I expect him to be a big plus.”
Looked like the pass rush made another step forward. You had a lot of sacks.
“I don’t worry about stats. We have great pass rush sometimes when you don’t have any sacks and you don’t have great pass rush when you have four. The thing about that game is there were a lot of times where you were almost on a sack. You just about have a sack. That’s what happens all the time in those games.”
Not why Michigan lost.
Can you talk about your philosophy at the end of the game?
“Well we have the best kicker in the league. At least, we think. Especially inside of 40 yards. We were just trying to position it so we could finish, and we didn’t. The biggest thing is if you aggressively try to score and turn the ball over, you wouldn’t give him a chance. Then everybody’s going to second guess you. That was our approach. We threw the ball, what six times? Eight times? So it wasn’t like we reined ourselves totally in.”
MGoQuestion: Brady said that a lot of the blocking problems were because one guy made an error. How easy is it to identify those errors from the coordinator box?
“You can spot them. But what you have to do, what we have to do at this point is we have to obviously make it more competitive. Again, I’ve told you guys since day one that depth chart is in pencil. This week we’re auditioning more players. We’re going to see how they turn out. We’re going to iron these mistakes out one way or another and we’ll find the five guys that can do it. That doesn’t mean that the guys that are in there aren’t going to be in there. We’re going to give them a chance, too.”
But at some point you have to stop switching guys, right?
“I would have hoped that would have happened a while back, but it didn’t, so we are where we are. It’s like tailbacks my first season here. We didn’t really find Fitz [Toussaint] until six or seven games in.”
You can’t do this every two weeks, though, right?
“No, you don’t want to do this ever, but you have to find the best five. Whatever it takes to get the best five.”
Changing the offensive approach during the game?
“We did that. Because the power game wasn’t as good, you can’t just say, “We’re not going to do it anymore.’ You still have to sprinkle it in. What we did in the second half was we threw the ball more, created a few big plays, and did a pretty good job. The thing I was really impressed with was Devin Gardner. Devin’s footwork has jumped a quantum leap in two weeks. After getting a couple balls intercepted in the first half and having a fumble that really wasn’t his fault at all – he got blindsided – he recovered and showed composure throughout the football game. At no time was I in any doubt that he could not bring us back, and he proved me right.”
How much thought has been given to giving Derrick Green an entire series?
“We’re going to approach that – everything’s competitive. If we feel at one point that Derrick Green can do that, we’ll have Derrick Green in there.”
MGoQuestion: A couple delay of game penalties hurt you late in the game. What can you do to help Devin get to the line of scrimmage faster?
“That’s not all Devin, now. Some of it’s miscommunication, but it’s not all the quarterback when there’s a delay of game. They say it on the [PA], ‘Delay of game on number 98.’ But it’s not his fault. We have to do a better job of getting him in and out of the huddle, everybody in and out of the huddle, and get the play right.”
MGoIDon’tThinkYouUnderstoodMyQuestion: Is there anything systematic you can do to change how you communicate plays?
“No. This has not been a problem. How many delay of games have we had this year? It cropped up in this game. We played in a real noisy stadium. There’s some elements that could lead to that. Again, I’m not sure exactly what they were. If this were a chronic problem, I would be a lot more concerned about that.”
Devin’s your best running threat, but like Brady said, he’s one hit away from being knocked out of the game –
“Oh you hate it. I don’t like it. But you do what you have to do to win the game. End of discussion. Every week. How come your tailbacks aren’t getting anything? If no one’s getting any yards, you have a problem. I would prefer the tailback. But if the quarterback’s the guy that beats you, I don’t particularly like it, but we’ll do what we have to do to win the football game.”
Does that mean moving forward you’ll spread it out with Devin legs?
“No. I don’t want him carrying the ball 25 times. Nobody does. Because he ain’t gonna make it. Denard didn’t make it. We should have learned something from that situation. You guys have been Michigan fans for a while right? You saw what happened before we got here. It’s hard for a quarterback to carry the ball that many times and stay in one piece. But there’s going to be times in the heat of the battle, if those are the things that work and those are the things that help you win, you have to go do them. It’s that simple. And our power running game wasn’t that good, so we had to find a way. Put some pistol runs in, do some things to mix it up, quarterback draws.”
When you get less than a carry from your running back, is it more blocking problems?
“Oh yeah. We did a poor job blocking the line of scrimmage. End of discussion. Sometimes we targeted it well and still didn’t move the line of scrimmage.”
Have you lost confidence in running up the middle in third and short situations?
“No. No. We haven’t lost confidence in anything.”
MGoQuestion: Part of your problems in the run game seemed to be because Penn State loaded the box and played off your receivers. Did you ever consider doing something like, you know, throw a bubble screen?
“That’s your solution? A bubble screen?”
MGo: Just something to get the defense to play you more honestly, right?
“We threw three balls over their heads, did we not?”
“Well there you go. The answer is yes, we did.”
I am of course not expecting that Borges will collapse in a puddle of mea culpas, but how dumb does he think we are?
We threw three balls over their heads, did we not?
I wish he were trolling us but sadly I don't think he is.
So with 9 minutes to go in the game and a 1 possession difference we are going to put a primarily defensive player in on offense to run a reverse run/pass option?
If so, yes.
Borges: Hes sticking to his guns... im really starting to dislike this guy... i get the feeling he thinks he's just plain smarter than everyone... and his playcalling is trying to prove that... NEWSFLASH... its 2013... i bet D Coordinators love playing Michigan... I know i would... How simple would the gameplan be?
At some point in time I honestly expect to hear the words "decided schematic advantage" come out of his mouth. The guy sounds like Charlie Weis right now. He will not admit his failure and he refuses to look at how other teams counteract a loaded box when they don't have the line talent.
I'm an ISU fan as well. We have an awful offense as well though we do have less talent. The same struggles are happening on the line due to injury but as incompetant as our OC is, he has at least figured out that the way to counteract a bad line is not to bash into it. We run power to the outside, he's pulling all sort of linemen and throwing it outside as much as possible. The fact that a guy that coaching and fucking Michigan can't figure out easy ways to not only gain yards but change defenses is mind boggling. That alignment by Penn State is a slap in the face and if I were Borges I would be embarrassed and pissed of that a team shows that little respect for my intelligence by lining up with no one within 8 yards of my receivers.
The fact that he looks at a bubble screen as some pansy assed concept is grating. This isn't 1985. It isn't dick measuring contest to see who has the flatest forhead by the end of the game. This is modern day football which has chaged. Good lord the NFL throws bubble screens for crying out loud. Then you know what they do? They run bubble action and pop it over the top. It's not rocket science here and no, Borges, you are not smarter than everyone in the room. When you fail to acknowledge that you left yards out there on first downs, Heiko has you beat.
Sorry for my rant. I believe it's the cumulative effect of seeing my two teams sit in a wasteland of suck offensively when they should be undefeated if they had average offensive coordinators.
"Smartest guy in the room", but everyone is laughing at him.
Holy Shit. He thinks throwing deep 3 times is the way to get them to back guys out of the box? Un-fucking-believable.
I don't think he really understood the point Heiko was making, which maybe could have been phrased a bit better. The point he was making was how far off the reciever their DB's were playing, which a bubble is made to exploit.
Throwing deep 3 times over the course of a 4OT game isn't going to get them to back off. Especially when Michigan tips run in such an obvious manner.
Now yes, Heiko could have phrased the question a bit more clearly, but I think that most of us understood what he was getting at. You would think that an OC at a major college program would as well.
If he used some other terminology like "throw a quick hitch to the slot who is being ignored because they are loading the box to stop the run", it would have probably worked.
We all know that Borges has an involuntary visceral reaction to the term "Bubble Screen". Freaks him out and he shuts down.
It's the visceral reaction itself that I find terribly emotionally immature, though. If he said something like "we tried that and it got shut down because of X", fine. But there is NOTHING PROFESSIONAL about taking an option off the table for no reason other than personal preference.
Consider what he said during Heiko's in-depth interview:
"the bubble screen is an [alternative] to a run play. . . The bubble screen is a play designed to take advantage of the fact that [a DB] has moved up and inside to defend the run. When you see this, most guys want to throw a weak-[butt] bubble screen and run around it. I would rather run right into it and knock the [poop] out of this guy."
Let me explain to you why this is horribly, stupidly wrong.
When you run at the DB, you are in a footrace. The play will flow playside (duh) and thus you give the linebackers and safeties time to flow toward the ball. This is why just a simple outside run never works above high school level -- no matter where you go, the defenders will get there at the same time the ball does -- if not sooner because the playside linebacker will have a good head start. It only works when an NFL prospect is going up against a HS defense, or as/with a counter that goes in the other direction.
IN A BUBBLE SCREEN, THE BALL GETS THERE FIRST.
A football can be thrown 80+mph by an NFL arm. Most mortals can't go even a quarter that fast, to say nothing of accelerating on grass wearing pads. So hell, even an FCS QB can get the ball there far faster than the front seven can. That means the receiver only has to juke one DB and it's a free six points in PSU's above alignment. Even if the guy gets a good jump it's probably good for 4-5 yards and takes pressure off the run game.
If you RUN at the guy, you won't be dealing with the DB. You will be dealing with the playside DE, playside linebacker, the strong safety AND the DB all converging on the tailback. If you throw a bubble screen away from a stacked box, the ball starts out behind the LoS with the nearest defender -- a DB at that -- still nine yards away.
You have to be insane to not understand that.
but vive la bubble screen!
You are right, but bombing it deep is only viable in some situations. I do think PSU started play more straight up after a couple of those, but when we had to kill clock it was obvious deep throws weren't on the table, so back into the box went the safeties. In OT, on a short field, again taking the top off the defense isn't an option. Not having other ways to open up defenses really hurt us in those situations.
We're conflating two things.
Most of the presser was about us not running the ball well. Borges's deep ball answer was a reaction to that, I think, and in that regard, he's right. He's trying to back the safeties off, and bubbles don't really do that.
What they do is punish soft alignment and force the defense to spread the field horizontally. But they could still play with their safeties rolled up in the box. And they probably would. When our base D sees a 2 by 1, we generally line Ryan out wide and drop a safety closer to the line to fill the void.
I wish he'd incorporate some of these throws into the offense. Like he said, they're basically long handoffs. But I think I would be a bit tentative to throw them as well, after seeing Gardner throw INTs to everyone, including defensive ends.
If the guy was a middle-class assistant I'm right there with you.
But the dude's an OC who calls plays from a box where he can easily see the defense's alignment. He's also one of the highest paid college coaches in the country. If he's pretending to not understand, he's being irresponsible. If he doesn't understand, he's being incompetent. There is no discussion on "execution" when there are 7 blockers for 9 defenders. This is a first-grader problem.
I get your point, but there's no excuse here.
look at the big bucks Borges is making! Why try to understand the question you're being asked when you can belittle the questioner's intelligence instead?
It really just sounds like Borges has learned nothing from this horrific experience. I am disappoint.
I totally skipped the Borges section, because if he's not going to tell the truth, then what's the use. I will not read his comments the remainder of his time at Michigan. He lost this game by his inability to CORRECTLY make adjustments and I'll bet he refuses to state that FACT!
GM ... yeah Stribling AND Thomas need to see more game action. I think both of these guys "fly" to the ball. We'll need them on Saturday ... IU is quick, not big, but very quick.
Some scary shiz right there.
End real? If so, then Borges being indignant isn't a good sign.
Heiko, I'm surprised, impressed and appreciative of your boldness. Thank you.
But Borges isn't getting it, or refusing to. Next time, do bring a goddamn full-color posterboard with a picture like that, and two big red circles draw on it -- one around the stacked box, and one around the space they're giving the receivers. It may seem disrespectful but respect is a two-way street, and it's what they do on CSPAN when a legislator feigns ignorance. That's right, I just compared Al Borges to Congress because he did THE EXACT SAME THING.
P.S. Al, it's not a chronic problem this season because you've mostly played home games and scrubs so far. If you were getting delay of game penalties in a noisy away game, that's a flat-out lack of preparation on your part.
God, this guy is a dick.
I came in here to try to appeal for calm, but honestly I'm kinda pissed off myself. The guy just doesn't seem to get it. I don't think the bubble screen is a panacea for our problems, but it needs to be an option. Taking a viable option completely off the table out of spite is completely unprofessional.
Taking the top off defenses is well and good, but 3 times a game isn't going to really change the defense's much, especially in situations where everyone knows you aren't going to throw deep (End of Reg, all of OT for example). The team needs a guy that's willing to use everything available to be successful, not an ideolog.
I really wish Heiko hadn't mentioned bubble screens. Just say "quick throw" and maybe Borges doesn't fall back onto his snark about the bubble. I almost wonder if he uses his relationship with Heiko to get around answering any questions when bubble screen is mentioned.
It's not Heiko's problem. If this guy is refusing to use a constraint play because A) he doesn't like it, B) he doesn't want to hear it or C) because a reporter mentioned it, he should be fired on the spot because that's the telltale sign of a bad coach any way you slice it.
If he said quick throws to the outside, be that quick outs, WR screens, or extended hand offs, Borges would have taken it a different way. But going back to "bubble screens" but Borges in defensive mode, because it comes off as "I can call a better game than you". Calling out the specific play is what made Borges get defensive.
Pussy-footing around what he really wanted to ask, being a little too cute with the "bubble screen" comment combined with trying to be professional and respectful. Something more along the lines of "if they're going to stack the box AND give big cushions why don't you take the 5+ yards they're just giving you."
I think it's not just the box, but you have to reference the DBs too. Because if they're stacking the box AND playing tight, going deep is a legit way to back them off. But if they're not playing tight I'm not sure how you have the time to get them open on a deep route. A couple of heaves doesn't open up the box. Consistent passing threat does. I'm begininng to think we don't run a west coast offense, but run the Al Davis Raiders offense. Which, wow.
can stop Borges from being a dick if he wants to. Heiko's question noted that Penn State had "loaded the box and played off your receivers." How is that any different from yours, apart from the reference to bubble screens? If Borges wanted to give an informative answer (kinda the point of a presser, isn't it?), I fail to see how a mention of the "play that shall not be named" prevented him from doing so.
How you frame a question (especially if the subject is prone to defensiveness) is everything. Not sure how you see it otherwise. The term "bubble screen" carries a lot of baggage with it when directed at Borges, and with good reason. Gotta be more thoughtful there, rather than trying to get in a zinger about the bubble screen.
is that Michigan's highly paid OC is so insecure and prone to defensiveness that he sees every question as a "zinger" that is not intended to elicit actual information in response? We're talking Heiko here, not Drew Sharp -- a guy who has consistently asked thoughtful questions, and who got an extensive sit-down opportunity with Borges as a result. If Borges is misinterpreting the question and getting defensive in this context, I can only conclude that he knows there's a reason to be defensive. So he can either be a man and confess to poor coaching decisions, or give the dickish answer. Guess which one he chose?
Are you being willfully obtuse? Borges is human, just like you or I. The fact that he makes a lot of money at his job is irrelevant to what we're talking about.
You know just as well as anyone who has been here since The Process, that "bubble screen" became a meme (that exchange has been practically legendary on the board) all its own when Borges showed how averse to it he really is. After a performance like that, where a LOT of people are openly calling for blood, the coaches are going to be a bit touchy (look at the latest Hoke press conf. for further confirmation of this). Framing a question such that you're (not you) openly saying that a bubble screen is what he should have called, is not going to go over well in this scenario.
I never compared Heiko to Sharp, so I have no idea why you went there. Regardless of the fact that Heiko is essentially correct in what he said, there was a better way to say it. We should all be grown up enough to acknowledge that (but we too, are human, so thus we go).
let me try to state this as plainly as I can: if Heiko had not uttered the dreaded words "bubble screen" in his question, I submit that he still would have gotten essentially the same dickish answer.
Why? Because Borges knew perfectly well what Heiko was driving at -- i.e., why didn't you take what the defense was giving you, instead of ramming your head 28 times against the same brick wall? -- and he had no answer. Honestly, if Borges watched any film of the game whatsoever, how could this question NOT have occurred to him? And given that Borges knew he was dealing with an intelligent reporter -- thus my (not your) contrast to Drew Sharp -- he should have known that this obvious question would be asked and have been ready to handle it. You and I will have to agree to disagree that the phrasing of Heiko's question somehow explains -- let alone justifies, as you seem to suggest -- the answer that was given.
I think "bubble screen", especially from Heiko, is a sort of trigger for Borges. But I think the real problem is that Heiko included the safeties in the box as part of his set-up.
If safeties are rolled up, you back them up by throwing over their heads. We did this thrice. It got us points. So, it kinda worked, man.
Heiko probably shouldn't have mentioned the safeties. He should have asked specifically about punishing them for playing their corners so far off the receivers. That's what he meant to ask about anyways. So ask about it.
I agree that Borges is being an asshole, and that his answer should have been something along the lines of, "Well, football expert, lets not conflate two issues. First, we beat them over the top, thereby punishing them for playing their safeties in the box. This is how we got all of our points, because we haven't blocked well enough to get anything running. As for the second issue, that of playing their corners off, I don't have an answer. Sorry, guys. I contributed more to this loss than I would have liked to, but I'm not going to be your sacrificial lamb because my offense has still given us a chance to win every game, and if our kicker makes just one of 3 attempts at game-winners, we aren't even calling for said lamb."
I like your answer far better than Borges's.
Thanks. The problem is we are discussing Heiko's usage and Borges's comprehension. Other people are using this to form opinions of Borges's intellectual capacity. It's weird.
How many times did Gardner have time to throw the deep ball?
The play where Toussaint goes to the short side into the entire PSU team for a short loss also shows Gardner, after the handoff, circling to the wide side of the field, where we had one WR and PSU had one DB. If Gardner would occasionally keep the ball (naked reverse/option) and have the WR go long, it would put that DB in a very difficult position - cover the WR and let Gardner run free or move towards Gardner and almost guarantee a long gain on a pass. Can't Borges see that alternative from the press box?
The idea isn't to screen the WR with blockers but just to take the yards the defense is giving up, right? Maybe that's something else.
Bubble screen, lazer screen, quick hitch, quick slant... ANYTHING quick and underneath. the bubble is the most obvious based on the alignment in that screen cap, but yeah. A-NY-THING UNDERNEATH.
The fact that Borges considers going over top of guy playing 15 yards off the ball as punishing them for playing off the ball is astounding.
"The fact that Borges considers going over top of guy playing 15 yards off the ball as punishing them for playing off the ball is astounding."
Yep, the defense is probably saying "Thank you for giving us time to both get pressure on your QB, and to allow our terrible secondary to get back."
The fact that Borges considers going over top of guy playing 15 yards off the ball as punishing them for playing off the ball is astounding.
That's not what he was getting at, and that's the issue I had with the phrasing of the question. Borges is responding to the 8-9 in the box part of the question, not the DB's playing so soft. Had Heiko worded the question more precisely, we may have gotten a better (or worse) answer. I don't think Borges believes for one second that a deep throw will force DB's to play tighter in coverage, but I'm sure he thinks (and would generally be correct) the deep ball helps get guys out of the box.
Does what I'm trying to say make sense?
What you are saying makes sense, but even if that is what Borges was answering, it is still a rather lazy answer. Throwing quick passes to the WR being given a 10 yard cushion will also force a defense to take people out of run coverage. The side benefit is that it doesn't require long routes that leave Gardner open to sacks, and the quick throw has a negligable chance of becoming an INT.
But it also exposes the flaw in Borges's thinking. He's acting as if forcing the defense to defend the deep ball is sufficient to clear up the box a bit, which it absolutely isn't. It is necessary, but nowhere close to sufficient.
If you force the defenders to play deep, but you don't make them defend the line of scrimmage extended, you don't make them do ANYTHING to the defenders in the box. You just move the defenders back. If you force them to play within 10 yards of Chesson, then MAYBE they have to keep another safety deep. But if you let a one-high safety cover a slot receiver without making him come down at all, you've failed at life.
Vertical and horizontal. Borges likes vertical more, we've always known that. So when he's asked about getting defenders out of the box, he responds with how he worked to take advantage of defenders in the box.
If he was asked how to take advantage of DBs playing deep, what with quick passes, he may have worded it different.
That's what I was trying to communicate, perhaps poorly.
The problems with Michigan's offense (and thus the corrections Borges needs to make) are not limited in any way by the way Heiko or some other reporter phrases a question. If his preferred solution to getting defenders out of the box doesn't take advantage of the significant yardage the defense is giving him -- and, by the way, also doesn't accomplish the objective of moving the defenders out of the box -- shouldn't Borges figure that out and do something about it? I'd rather have a Michigan OC who tries to take advantage of what the defense is giving him -- and then, at a press conference afterward, explains what he tried and why it did or didn't work -- than one who "wins" the press conference by figuring out the cleverest way to construe a question to make the OC look smarter and the reporter dumber. As someone [edit: dragonchild] mentioned earlier, the way Borges handled this question suggests two possibilities: (i) he still doesn't understand the yardage he left on the field, or (ii) he's a dick who likes to insult peoples' intelligence. I just don't buy this as an honest misinterpretation of the question, given the discussion that must have been (or should have been) going on among the coaches after last weekend's debacle.
It may not be a "misinterpretation", but the phrasing left him a way to respond such that he didn't have to address the real point of the question.
I don't see why you're having such a hard time with that...
I just don't see the relevance of it. What you're saying, as I understand it, is that Heiko's phrasing of the question gave Borges an "out" to answer as he did. That's great, if he were a politician looking for a way to repeat a talking point or belittle a reporter, rather than actually answering the question or taking any responsibility for his job performance. If that's Borges's view of what an OC should do at a press conference, then I'd just as soon he stop wasting everyone's time by doing them.